One of the hippest cities in Colorado, Boulder has become the neo-hippie mecca, loaded with outdoor adventure enthusiasts who are close to the Rockies' mountains, rivers and snow, as well as great coffee houses, restaurants, a hopping nightlife and great shopping.
WHAT TO DO
When it comes to Boulder, maybe the more apt question is not "what is there to do?" but rather, "what is there not to do?" With its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, Boulder has a plethora of great hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails a stones throw from the center of town.
Boulder is home to the country's first pedestrian outdoor mall at Pearl Street. The mall, which stretches nearly a mile from beginning to end, hosts a number of shops, restaurants and bars, where you can find everything from new outdoor gear to high-end duds to a great margarita. The cobblestone pedestrian area is also full of great street performers, beautiful flowers in the summer, lots of trees, and festive of lights in the winter time. Visitors can catch a show or a movie at the art deco Boulder Theatre, get a drink and overlook downtown and the Flatirons at the West End Tavern, or get the best margarita west north of the border at the Rio. With great people watching, excellent shopping, superb dining options and a hot nightlife, Pearl Street is a sure not-to-miss spot in Boulder.
Chautauqua Park is nestled against Boulder's defining backdrop of the Flatirons and has a huge network of great trails that range from easy to moderate strolls to strenuous, long hikes. There is also a lovely Dining Hall at the park, where diners can eat looking up at the stunning Flatirons and a popular, intimate music venue where you can catch concerts, and a lovely park popular with picnics on sunny days (which there are certainly no lack of).
Young people are aplenty in this outdoor lovers paradise and home to the University of Colorado, so there is no lack of things to do in this city after hours. With more than a dozen bars within a few blocks in downtown Boulder, visitors can bar hop and pub crawl their way through town. Those looking to get a Rocky Mountain west vibe and peak into where the locals like to hang should not miss the Sundown Saloon, located west of Broadway on the Pearl Street Mall (the bar is actually below street level, only adding to its appeal). Near the University of Colorado campus, visitors can also stroll The Hill, where they will find more bars, restaurants and shops. Be sure not to miss heading to The Sink, which has been a local institution for as long as anyone can remember and serves up stiff drinks, great pizza and fun atmosphere.
If you make it to Boulder in the wintertime and love to ski or snowboard, there is no way you should miss out on hitting the slopes. With many of Colorado's major resorts just 1-2 hours away and a smaller ski area called Eldora only 30 minutes from town, Boulder's proximity to the mountains make it a perfect ski destination.
Boulder is located about an hour from the Denver International Airport (airport code DEN), which serves as a major hub for Frontier, Continental and United Airlines. Because of Denver's strategic location about equidistant from the west and east coast, it is a major connecting point for flights from all over the country and makes getting a great deal on a flight to Denver super easy.
Once you have arrived in Denver, there are a few ways to get to Boulder. A bus runs between the two cities for $10 and takes just over an hour. There are also a variety of Denver airport shuttles that can take you directly from the airport to wherever you are staying in Boulder. For those driving, arranging your Denver airport parking in advance can save you both time and money.
WHERE TO STAY
There is a wide range of hotels in Boulder, though visitors should keep in mind that Boulder is notoriously known for not having enough hotel rooms (especially during high tourist season and during events in town). Because of this, hotels are often much pricier in-town than in neighboring cities like Broomfield (about 20-20 mins away). However, getting a room in town, if you have the cash, is totally well worth the extra money as neighboring towns have few points of interest. (Plus, after a night out on the town or a day on the slopes you’ll love being able to stumble back to your room in town).
For those who want to stay in town, but are on a super tight budget, there are a few hostels in Boulder, including one located right on University Hill. Because the small city is a popular national and international destination, you won’t have a hard time getting a cheap bed and make some friends.