Colorado is not all about weed. The legalization of marijuana has caused an increase in cannabis tourism, but Colorado has much more to offer. A favorite place of mine and one that has a special place in my heart is Boulder. I will admit that I’m biased as a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder (sko Buffs).
Located 30 miles northwest of Denver, Boulder is tucked into a valley below the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and offers access to outdoor adventure and a charming small-city atmosphere. And did I mention that there are 300 plus days of sunshine each year?
If you have a chance to visit Boulder I highly recommend it. Below are some of my tips so that you can experience the city as the locals do.
What to Do
Brewery Tours & Tastings- Colorado is referred to as the “Napa Valley of Beer” (the state has the second most breweries in the nation) and Boulder boasts twenty of its own microbreweries. Some of my favorites include Avery Brewing Co. and Sanitas Brewing Company.
- Chautauqua Trailhead– From this trailhead, you can access trails that let you get close and personal with the Flatirons, grunt up the peaks or stroll through wildflower meadows all while taking in an incredible view. My favorite is the Royal Arch Hike (3.2 mi.; 1,200ft elevation gain), which is a moderate-strenuous hike. At the top of the mountain you are rewarded with a sweeping view of the foothills.
- Coot Lake (1.2 mi.)- When I was looking to be outdoors but was not interested in a strenuous hike this path was my go-to spot. It is little over a mile long and provides views of the Flatirons and glances of wildlife. This trail is not located in downtown Boulder so you need a car to get there.
- Boulder Creek Path (5.5 mi.)- This path along the Boulder Creek provides you with flexibility on how intense you would like your workout to be. You can take a casual stroll through downtown Boulder or bike up all the way to Boulder Canyon.
Pearl Street- A four block pedestrian mall that is colored with flowers and livened with street performers. You can easily spend a full day exploring the boutique shops, a majority of which are locally owned. While on Pearl Street make sure to take time to pause and people watch. There are no shortage of unique characters on Pearl Street. This is also where you will find a majority of Boulder’s best restaurants.
Boulder Farmer’s Market– Boulder has a reputation for being liberal and some might go as far as to say hippy. While there were some downsides to this (i.e. sitting in class next to a guy who thinks showers aren’t necessary) there are lots of benefits including a demand for locally, produced organic vegetables. Boulder’s Farmer’s Market features dozens of vendors every Wednesday and Saturday from April to November and has been voted one of the best in the Country. A couple of my favorite stands to visit are Lordana’s and Pappardelle.
What to Eat
The Buff ($$)- The Buff is an ideal spot if you are looking for a lively and typically boozy brunch. Aside from offering delicious breakfast options, The Buff serves 99¢ bloody marys and mimosas making it a popular places for college students. The one thing to note is you should not go to the Buff expecting a quick meal. On weekends the wait it typically 25-45 minutes for a table but it is acceptable and common to grab a drink at the bar while you wait.
Cured ($$$)- Boxcar/ Cured is a gourmet café that sells cheese, cured meat, coffee, and wine. One of the best parts of Boulder is being outdoors and this is the great place to stop and pick up some food for a picnic to enjoy in a local park.
Dunshabe Tea House ($$)- This Tea House was a gift to the city of Boulder from its sister city Dunshabe, the capital of Tajikistan. The building was built in Tajikistan and then packed into pieces and shipped to Colorado. It is the perfect place to get some light bites and enjoy the ornate building.
Dish Gourmet ($)- Dish serves gourmet and inventive sandwiches sandwiches that you can eat there or take out.
Rio Grande ($$)- If you are looking for a place to pause after a hike or shopping than I recommend getting a margarita at the Rio especially if it is nice out. On warm days the Rio opens their roof deck making it the perfect place to soak in the views and sun while enjoying a drink.
Brasserie Ten Ten ($$)- a bistro that serves French-inspired dishes for lunch and dinner. This is a great classy but unpretentious place for dinner.
License No 1 ($$)- To wrap up your day head to License No 1 for an after dinner drink. Located in the Hotel Boulderado, License No 1 offers good drinks, a cosy atmosphere and rich history. The bar has been serving drinks since 1909 but only legally since 1969 (Boulder was a dry city from 1907-1969).
When to Visit
Boulder is beautiful year round but in order to enjoy outdoor activities the best time to visit is between May-September.
What to Pack
It is hard to predict what kind of weather you will get in Colorado. Colorado is the only place I have ever been where I have been able to wear a sundress during the day and needed snow boots at night- yes, that really happened. Boulder is 5,430 feet above sea level so the weather shifts drastically and does so quickly. The best way to prepare for the different kinds of weather you may experience is to wear layers.
I hate driving which may or may not be one of the main reasons I live in NYC. This is also one of the reasons I loved living in Boulder. Boulder is a walkable city. The AB bus takes you straight from Denver International Airport into Boulder for $11 a trip and once you are in the city you can walk around the downtown area easily or take a local bus. Outside of Boulder it can be more challenging to get around so if you plan on stopping in some other places in Colorado I recommend renting a car.