Boulder, Colorado, offers much to explore, having been named a top travel destination for 2024. Home to the University of Colorado’s main campus, Boulder boasts over 300 days of sunshine annually. It’s also within easy reach of the capital of Denver and its large airport hub on Colorado’s Front Range. With over 30,000 acres of open space, outdoor activities are at a premium. Additionally, the great outdoors, history, art, and restaurants provide Boulder a well-rounded experience for any visitor in any season. Make sure your phone is handy to snap photos of all the Instagrammable places around town. Here are the best things to do in Boulder, CO.
Visit Pearl Street Mall
Perusing the Pearl Street Mall, the heart of downtown Boulder, is a must and a great place to start any visit. Restaurants, shopping, art galleries, and people-watching are the main highlights. History buffs will want to check out the famous Hotel Boulderado, which opened in 1909. The entire downtown area was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and plaques lining the streets make for a great walking tour.
While strolling on the streets, visitors often hear live music or see crowds watching street performers. It was one of the first places I fell in love with and made me choose Boulder, Colorado, for my college years. It’s a repeat stop for me on any return visits to Boulder, even if I sit and take in the sights around me.
Try Tea Tasting
While many may put Boulder, Colorado, on the map for its microbrews and farm-to-table dining, it is, in fact, also a tea lovers’ haven. There are plenty of places to sample and enjoy tea around town, many of which are produced locally.
Celestial Seasonings Tea
The largest tea manufacturer in North America, Celestial Seasonings, has called Boulder home since 1969. When visiting the factory just outside of downtown, take part in the 45-minute tour, including the production floor, and watch the process from start to finish. Inside is also the Mint Room, where visitors can taste 90-plus teas and view the art gallery, which features paintings from the tea boxes. It’s no wonder that the readers of USA Today named this tour one of the best food factory tours in the United States.
Other Tea Destinations
Boulder also features other tea sights in town. One is the Dushanbe Teahouse, a gift from Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan. Each hand-crafted piece of the teahouse was shipped and then assembled in Boulder. They offer over 100 types of tea, local cuisine, and an afternoon tea service. Other options include the Ku Cha House of Tea, Old Barrel Tea Company on Pearl Street, and Pekoe Sip House, which have three locations in town. Enjoy Korean recipes and ingredients for health improvement at A Cup of Peace.
Go Hiking, Biking, and Play on the Water
Without a doubt, Boulder, Colorado, is an outdoor lovers’ dream, featuring 300 miles of captivating hiking and biking trails and 45,000 acres of protected open space. There’s also water recreation for paddlers and kayakers along Boulder Reservoir and feeling the mist at Boulder Falls. A hot summer day will find tubers and swimmers enjoying Boulder Creek, which runs adjacent to the campus and in the main town area.
Additionally, Wonderland Lake is a wildlife sanctuary known for hiking, bird watching, and fishing. Boulder welcomes any outdoor lover, whether for the first time or a repeat visitor, with one guiding principle in mind. All visitors are asked to help keep the natural beauty in Boulder alive and “leave no trace” of their presence.
Check Out Chautauqua Park and the Flatirons
There isn’t a more iconic viewpoint of Boulder than the Flatirons mountain range, which makes up the skyline. It draws many visitors and prospective University of Colorado students to Boulder. Seasoned climbers can put on gear and tackle the face of these flat mountains. For those wanting to stay closer to the ground, hiking from Chautauqua Park is one way to get a close-up view of the Flatirons. Visitors can also enjoy a locally sourced meal at the Chautauqua Dining Hill or take in a show at the Auditorium, built in 1898 and home to the annual Colorado Music Festival.
Hit the Slopes
While Boulder doesn’t make the top list of skiing destinations in Colorado, adding a visit to the slopes is possible during a visit. Eldora Mountain Resort lies within minutes of the city proper. With ski terrain and runs for all levels of skiers, restaurants, and other winter activities, one doesn’t have to hit the most well-known resorts to experience a great day on the mountain. Eldora is also the only ski resort served by RTD, the main public transportation provider across the Front Range. Daily busses head up to Eldora three times in each direction per day, allowing anyone access without a car.
Visit Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, the town known as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, is 38 miles from Boulder. Pop culture enthusiasts will know Estes Park as home to one of the most haunted and documented hotels, The Stanley Hotel, which was made famous in the horror movie The Shining. Estes Park is also the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the United States. It’s an easy day trip to check out from Boulder for those visitors with a car.
Where To Eat in Boulder
Boulder, Colorado, has many coffee shops, breweries, and restaurants ready to aid busy travelers throughout their exploration. Food-centric areas such as Pearl Street Mall and the University Hill area feature a variety of options for any budget or taste level. A visit to Boulder would only be complete with a visit to The Sink, its oldest restaurant since 1923. Named one of the top foodie towns in the United States, many eateries have been featured on TV shows on several networks and won culinary awards.
One of the great things about Boulder, Colorado, is that getting around without a car is easy. You’re nearly a Hop, Skip, Jump, or Bound ride away from most places to visit. The larger regional RTD busses also make daily trips into the city, Denver International Airport, and neighboring areas. With parking at a premium, this can make exploring easy–and affordable– for many people. Boulder also boasts 300 miles of bikeways, with many streets in the city prioritized for bicycle travel, another popular non-car method to get around Boulder.
There aren’t too many places quite like Boulder, Colorado. Its picturesque landscape provides the perfect backdrop for any vacation and various activities for any visitor. During any season, Boulder’s year-round outdoor activities, culture, shopping, and food are ready for discovery. It served as an excellent four-year home for my educational journey, and on every return visit, I find new places to explore while enjoying many of my old haunts. Adventure, history, and culture await in Boulder.