Playfully referred to as the People's Republic of Boulder, this city nestled in the foothills of the Front Range is known for its progressive attitudes, stemming from its hippy heyday in the ’60s and ’70s. Today it is perhaps more accurately characterized by its scientific research centers, the University of Colorado and a hyper-athletic population of outdoor lovers. With gorgeous landscapes and plenty to do, you’ll be just as inspired as the locals to get out and enjoy a day jam-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.
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.
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.
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, such as the Mountain Sun or Walnut Brewery, to taste some of Colorado’s best craft brews, or head to The Bitter Bar, where the winner of the Cocktail World Cup will demonstrate the art of handcrafted cocktails for your sipping pleasure.