6 Best Things to Do in Boulder, Colorado

  • 01 of 06

    Experience Boulder, Colorado

    ••• Get outside in Boulder. Getty Images/Seth K. Hughes

    They call it the "curse of the Flatirons," the calling travelers feel to return to Boulder after experiencing it once.  

    Maybe it's the mountains. Boulder is located right at the base of the foothills and a short drive to the Eldora Ski Resort.

    Maybe it's the hiking trails, the historic buildings, the yoga. Oh, so much yoga and coffee and craft beer. Boulder's got international film festivals, world-renowned chefs, healthy food, pet-friendly hotels and a quirky charm we can only describe as "only in Boulder."

    It's hard to put the finger on one reason why Boulder's tourism continues to grow and so many people want to live there.

    Here are just a few of the best things to do in this Front Range city. 

    Start by Getting Outside

    Boulder has amazing trails through the foothills, along the Boulder Creek, and through town. The city is buffered by open space and nature, so it's not easy to find a way to connect with the beautiful Boulder outdoors. 

    In the summer,...MORE it's common to rent inner tubes and go tubing down the Boulder Creek. While this can get a bit dicey (the creek can run pretty fast and there are some sharp rocks along the way), visitors can also take a dip in the calmer stretches of the creek or go swimming in Boulder Reservoir. 

    One of the most popular places to hike is Chautauqua Park, right under the shadow of the Flatiron Mountains. 

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  • 02 of 06

    People-Watch Downtown

    ••• The Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. Getty Images/Gary Conner

    The Pearl Street Mall is the heart of Boulder. This historic, brick-lined, pedestrian mall offers plenty of shopping (local and chain), tons of coffee shops and restaurants and even more people-watching. The buskers and street performers that line Pearl Street provide endless entertainment during warmer months, and it's just as amusing to watch the unusual cross-section of residents walk by. You'll see hippies, college students, competitive athletes, scientists, artists and more all on one street. ​​

    Grab a coffee at Trident Coffee and find a seat on a bench or on the courthouse lawn. Relax under the often-blue sky and enjoy the upbeat, energetic vibe of this crazy downtown. 

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  • 03 of 06

    Say Cheers

    License No. 1 Boulder Restaurant
    ••• License No. 1 has a swanky, speakeasy vibe. License No. 1

    Boulder County has about 50 different breweries and taprooms to choose from, and Boulder is the home of several craft beer festivals and brew tours. 

    You can also find reputable bartenders whipping up creative cocktails in unique bars, such as License No. 1, a speakeasy-style bar underneath the historic Boulderado hotel. This bar was supposedly the first place to get its liquor license back after the Prohibition.

    There's also the extra unusual Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place, whose cocktails take the shape of "potions" that contain healthy herbs and are also made with "intentions" and "sound frequencies."

    Boulder also boasts some great happy hours (where you can score $4 margaritas) and rooftop bars with views of the mountains. The Boulder House, the Lazy Dog and the Rio Grande are three favorite spots to kick back with a cold one and watch the sunset from the rooftop. 

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  • 04 of 06

    Get Full

    Oak in Boulder
    ••• The front bar at Oak in Boulder. Oak in Boulder

    Boulder has been named the "foodiest town in America." Here, you can find James Beard award-winning chefs, as well as a restaurant run by one of the "Top Chef" reality TV shows. Find seafood and oysters flown in fresh daily, plenty of vegan and vegetarian options and menus that center around restaurants' very own local gardens. 

    One top recommendation: Oak at Fourteenth. This popular restaurant, located right off Pearl Street, rotates its menu daily and offers shared, small, large and family plates to choose from. If you're lucky, you'll find grass-fed, free-range Oak Roasted Boulder Natural Chicken, squid ink spaghetti or the to-die-for tomato braised meatballs served atop locally made, gluten-free grits and made-in-house stracciatella cheese.  

    Wash it down with house-made soda or the Steph cocktail (Reyka, St. Germain, Aperol and grapefruit), always on tap. 

    Bonus: Oak makes up different flavors of fresh donuts every morning, and late night, get free, giant,...MORE flavored pretzels with your drink. 

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  • 05 of 06

    Experience Art

    A sculpture on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder
    ••• A sculpture on the Pearl Street Mall. Chris Parker / Design Pics/Getty Images

    Boulder has been named the third top place for working artists to live in the nation, and you can see signs of that all over town. From the bustling Dairy Arts Center with its multiple galleries and stages to the well-known Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, to the colorful street murals and sculptures that adorn the city, art is everywhere here. 

    If you're in Boulder over the summer, make it a top priority to get tickets to the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, where you can watch the famous performances on an outdoor stage under the stars. 

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  • 06 of 06

    Get Active

    Boulder trail
    ••• A trail in Boulder with the Flatirons in the background. Beklaus/Getty Images

     Boulder has been named the fittest city in America and has a long list of, well, lists recognizing it for its health and fitness. Boulder also happens to be a hot spot for pro and competitive athletes to live and train, and it's home to the annual Hanuman Yoga Festival that draws yogis from all over the globe.

    It's simply not a Boulder vacation without tapping into that healthy vibe. 

    Plan an outdoor adventure or book a yoga class with world-famous yogi Richard Freeman. Rent a bike (you can find red B Cycles at stations all over town) and explore the city via wheels. Hike Mount Sanitas for a sweeping, panoramic view of Boulder and the University of Colorado. 

    Or sign up for some of the many athletic competitions in town, like the annual Bolder Boulder (a party on the street that ends with a can of beer) or the harder core Iron Man race. 

    Boulder is also a popular place to go rock climbing (both indoors and out), do aerial dance (one of the world's top schools is based here) or...MORE try parkour, pole dancing, Kundalini yoga, meditation, stand-up paddleboarding and more. 

    Every day is an adventure in Boulder, and it seems there's always a new way Boulderites are getting active.