Just 45 minutes from Denver’s airport, gorgeous landscapes, a walker- and biker-friendly compact downtown and plenty to do, you’ll be just as inspired as the locals to enjoy a day packed with activity.
The pedestrian Pearl Street Mall is Boulder’s central hub. Fuel up for the day at any of a dozen or so downtown coffee shops, where you’ll sit alongside students, freelancers and professorial types clicking away on their laptops. Then spend some time strolling the brick-paved Pearl Street, lined with historic buildings that now house on-trend boutiques and longtime favorites, like the Boulder Bookstore, Art Mart and Peppercorn.
For more shopping, head to Twenty Ninth Street, an outdoor mall headlined by H&M, The North Face and Apple. Hook up with Boulder Walking Tours to see the Boulder through its neighborhoods, historic areas and open spaces.
If you’re visiting May–October, stroll to the Boulder Farmers’ Market, held Saturdays and Wednesdays. One of the best in the state, the market has a strict sell-what-you-grow policy and a lovely setting next to Boulder Creek. Local chefs are often spotted shopping for the freshest produce, so you may find yourself tasting some of the market veggies while dining later.
After taking in the riot of color at the market, further entertain your senses at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA), whose doorway opens to the market’s main aisle. The museum always has a fresh rotation of works by forward-thinking painters, sculptors and multimedia artists. Creativity is found in every corner of Boulder, with more than 30 galleries, four museums, many theaters, dance studios and a large number of cultural performances each year.
Head next door to the Dushanbe Teahouse to admire the intricate paintings and carvings adorning this building that was shipped, piece by piece, from Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan. Have a bite to eat and order a pot of tea from the teahouse’s exhaustive menu before embarking on your afternoon adventures.
The afternoon is a perfect time to discover the beautiful hiking trails that fuel the passions of Boulder’s avid outdoor lovers. Chautauqua Park has a network of trails to suit every level of hiker and will give you an up-close view of the famous Flatirons — the slanting slabs of red sandstone that are Boulder’s most recognizable landmark — framed by a beautiful meadow that blooms with wildflowers in the summer. Stop into Chautauqua Dining Hall, which has been serving Boulderites since 1898.
Boulder was recently named the “Foodiest Town in North America” by Bon Appetit magazine, so dinner at one of the city’s countless restaurants is a must. Wander around the Pearl Street area for plenty of options, including James Beard Award-winning Frasca; Black Cat, whose chef Eric Skokan frequents the Boulder Farmers’ Market for ingredients; Salt, where a strong farm-to-table philosophy leads to deliciously simple dishes; or The Kitchen, where the food is as tasty as the restaurant is eco-friendly.
After, visit a brewpub to taste the local suds and take a tour — there are more than 20 now, pretty serious for a town of 100,000 people! Consider Mountain Sun, West Flanders Brewing Company or Walnut Brewery, to taste some of Colorado’s best craft brews. Or catch a ride on the Boulder Brew Bus and then head to OAK at fourteenth, where Vanity Fair-featured mixologist Bryan Dayton demonstrates the art of handcrafted cocktails for your sipping pleasure.
In Longmont, you’ll find three golf courses, beautiful parks and a Certified Colorado Creative District. Survey the work of local artists in galleries and coffee shops. The area’s brewery scene is also noteworthy. Left Hand Brewing Co. and Oskar Blues’ Tasty Weasel Tap Room are longtime favorites, while 300 Suns, Longs Peak Pub & Taphouse, Mountain Sun Großen Bart, Shoes & Brews and Wibby recently opened their doors (with one more, SKEYE, on the way). For those seeking thrills, Mile-Hi Skydiving Center hosts excursions to Longs Peak and the Rocky Mountains for divers of all experience levels.
While not a traditional ski town, Boulder was named a “Top Winter Town” by National Geographic Traveler for its proximity to skiing and charming downtown vibe. The magazine cites the ability to ski nearby Eldora Mountain Resort in the morning and head back down to town for a hike or bike ride in the afternoon. Non-downhill skiers love Eldora’s Nordic Center, which offers lessons and trails designed specifically for cross-country skiing, skate skiing and snowshoeing.