Boulder, Colorado is beautiful.

It’s tucked into the Rocky Mountain foothills and perfectly positioned between the mountains and the city. It’s one of our favorite places to take friends and family when they come to visit because it honestly has something for everyone. Beer lover? Boulder has 22 craft breweries to drink your way through. Outdoor junkie? You can walk, hike, climb, or bike your way through town. Art obsessed like me? There are so many creatives in Boulder, so there’s never a lack of art galleries or stores to check out. Foodie? Boulder has been named “America’s Foodiest Town!” These are my top recs if you’re planning on visiting Boulder.

How to Get There

Visiting Boulder will only take you 30 minutes from downtown Denver, making it easy to hop on the highway heading out of downtown. There are over 3,700 public parking spaces in their downtown area, whether you prefer parking garages close to all the action or street parking. If you want to do some eco-friendly exploring while you’re there, you can rent bikes through their B-Cycle program!

Where to Stay

I’m an Airbnb girl, so I recommend checking what options are available during your trip before looking into any hotels. If you do decide to go the hotel route, some of the most popular places are the St. Julien Hotel and Spa, the Hotel Boulderado, Basecamp Boulder, and The Bradley Boulder Inn. Boulder does tend to be on the pricier side, so you could also check out your options in towns nearby like Louisville, Superior, and Broomfield.

Sites to See

  • Pearl Street – If you talk to anyone who’s traveled to Boulder, I can guarantee they spent time on Pearl Street. It’s a cute, brick-paved street in the heart of town and is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, regardless of the season. I love window shopping and stopping for cozy hot chocolate when I need to warm up in the winter or a cold ice cream cone when it’s hotter than balls. If you do only one thing when visiting Boulder, Pearl Street has to be it.
  • Flatirons – Boulder isn’t up in the mountains, but you still get the mountain views thanks to the Flatirons. They’re made up of big, slanted slabs of sandstone and are a backdrop unique to Boulder. Chautauqua Park is a great spot to see them up close, and if you’re down for an adventure there are tons of trails you can hike up.
  • Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse – Hear me out. Even if you’re not a tea drinker, this place is INSANE. It was handcrafted and imported all the way from Asia, so it feels like you’re in a whole different world. It’s stunning. I would highly recommend making a reservation if you’re interested in going – they offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a traditional tea time.
  • Museum of Boulder – History buffs, like Alex, will love this stop to learn more about how Boulder became Boulder. They have interactive exhibits so it’s not super boring, and it’s conveniently located right downtown. If you go, make sure you check out the roof! The views of the Flatirons are some of the best around.

What To Do by Season

Where do I even start? Like I said, you’ll be able to find something exciting for whoever you’re traveling with and whenever you’re visiting.

Summer (June – August)

  • Boulder Farmers Market – Named one of the country’s best by USA Today, there are 150 farmers and other vendors selling veggies, cheese, pastries, and more here! It runs every Saturday morning from April to November, and every Wednesday night from May to October. On Wednesdays you can listen to live music and check out their food court for pizza, dumplings, barbecue, and, my personal favorite, ice cream.
  • Art Walk – If you’re an artsy adventurer, Boulder does not disappoint. It’s home to over 25 galleries that showcase everything from painting, photography, and jewelry. If you’ll be there during the summer, you HAVE to check out the Pearl Street Arts Festival in July. It’s an art lover’s paradise.
  • Boulder Creek Path – You can bike, jog, walk, or even skate. The 5.5 paved miles run right through Boulder and are easily accessible for anyone on your trip. If you’re not feeling that much movement, you could also set up a picnic, go fishing, or just take a relaxing dip in the water.
  • E-bikes – Alex and I rented some on one of our trips recently, and holy shit you guys, they are so fun! There are a couple different places you can rent from in Boulder and zoom all over town. Pedego Bikes will even take you on a tour through historic downtown Boulder. 

Fall (September – October)

  • Downtown Coffee Trail – Whatever your coffee craving is, you can find it somewhere in Boulder. They have their own “coffee trail” that takes you from the East end to West end of the downtown district. If it’s too much caffeine for one day, you can spread it out over your trip!
  • Beer Trail – This trail also runs from East end to West, but this one is focused on beer and bar food. If you take on this trail, make sure you’re drinking responsibly boo.
  • Chautauqua Trailhead and Park – Great views overlooking Boulder and considered the gateway to the Flatirons. It’s a favorite among locals (and me) for hiking, picnicking, biking, rock climbing, and more! It’s conveniently located a mile and a half from Boulder and offers scenic views, a dining hall, concert hall, and all the trails your heart desires.
  • Hiking spots – There are some great trails outside of downtown, like Eldorado and Boulder Canyon. At Eldorado Canyon, climbing is a popular choice. It’s one of the top climbing destinations in the world with over 500 technical rock climbing routes! If you opt for Boulder Canyon, you’ll also find amazing climbing and some spots for fishing.

Winter and Spring (November – May)

  • Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing – There’s something relaxing about being out in nature in the winter. Betasso Preserve and Walker Ranch have miles of trails that are great for snowshoeing and cross country skiing, or you can easily hop on the road and head up to the mountains. Brainard Lake Recreation Area, about a 45-minute drive from Boulder, has a designated snowshoe trail that will lead you straight to some hot chocolate.
  • Skiing – No, you can’t go skiing IN Boulder, but the locals love being so close to Eldora Ski Resort! In just 45 minutes you can be up on the mountain and still be back in Boulder for happy hour. It’s pretty low key compared to the bigger name ski resorts in Colorado, so it’s great for newbies or pros.
  • WinterskateThis is for all my Christmas lovers. The area is turned into a friggin’ winter wonderland, complete with a massive ice skating rink, horse-drawn carriage rides, Christmas movies, and more. It’s open from November to Februaryish and is just a quick 20-minute drive from downtown Boulder.

Where to Eat

One of the best parts of vacation is trying all the new food, am I right? Don’t worry, Boulder has allll the choices.

  • Lucile’s Creole Cafe – You’ll want to get up early to beat the crowd at this Boulder favorite. Get the beignets – trust me.
  • SALT – Right on Pearl Street, this place is great if you’re looking for something a little more upscale. Definitely make a reservation ahead of time – they’re always busy!
  • Blackbelly – Their menu changes with the seasons, offering fast-service breakfast and lunch with a more formal experience for dinner. They also have a butcher counter that sells hormone and antibiotic-free fresh sausages, salami, and charcuterie from local Colorado farms and ranches.
  • Half Fast Subs – If you’re traveling with a picky eater, bring them here. They have over 100 different sandwiches on their menu. Yes, you heard me right – ONE HUNDRED. Plus, there’s happy hour seven days a week.
  • Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant – For all of my fellow vegetarians, this place cooks with only locally grown produce that comes from the owner’s own farm!
  • Rooftop decks and sidewalk patios – There are plenty of these in Boulder. A few popular spots are a West End TavernRosetta Hall, and Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant
  • Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives – These spots have been on TV, so that means they have to be good, right? Check out Foolish Craig’sZoe Ma Ma, and The Post.

What to Pack

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the weather in Colorado is unpredictable, so pack for anything and everything! Speaking from experience (hail storms aren’t fun), it’s way better to be safe than sorry. Make sure these get in your suitcase:

  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Clothing that’s easy to layer
  • Daypack or backpack
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Rain jacket

Kenzie’s Favorite Boulder Vendors

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