Boulder PrideFest 2018

Downtown Boulder
Downtown Boulder's leafy and lively Pearl Street Mall, a great spot for people-watching and shopping. photo by Andrew Collins

Vibrant and picturesque Boulder (population 105,000) is about a 45-minute drive northwest of Denver, and it's a great place for a day trip or an adventure of a few days. A funky, eco-sensitive college community, the gay-friendly town is a cycling, mountaineering, and hiking mecca - it's an ideal base for a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park and the even closer Eldora Ski Area. It's home to as diverse and trendy a collection of shops, many of them independently owned, as any small city in the Rockies.

The University of Colorado Boulder accounts in part for the politically progressive atmosphere and the strong appreciation residents have for the fine and performing arts. The city's philharmonic orchestra is highly respected, and several music festivals draw thousands throughout the year.

There's a sizable gay community in Boulder, and although the nearest LGBT-specific bars and nightclubs are 30 miles away in Denver, the many bars, coffeehouses, and restaurants in the city's pedestrian-friendly downtown are uniformly welcoming of lesbian and gay patrons. Each September, the city plays host to a Gay Pride celebration called Boulder PrideFest, which observes its 13th anniversary this year. The date is September 9, 2018.

The organizers, OutBoulder, also organize a number of other gay events and fundraisers throughout the year, from a Garden Party in June to Transgender Awareness Week in November to an annual Red Party in February. The organization also has an online Business and Organization Directory of establishments with strong ties to the LGBT community.

Boulder PrideFest runs from 11 am until 6 pm on Sunday, and is held at Central Park (13th St. and Canyon Blvd.), a leafy, creekside expanse downtown within a short walk of the many shops and eateries on Pearl Street Mall and a 15-minute walk of University of Colorado's hilly and attractive campus.

There's a good bit to see and do around Boulder, especially the more historic area on the west side of town; the eastern and southeastern sections of Boulder have become increasingly subject to suburban sprawl in recent years, but downtown is well-planned and great for strolling and biking. The western reaches of town sneak up into the foothills, and from many points you can see craggy mountains on that horizon. Fine examples of Craftsman and Victorian architecture grace Boulder's walkable downtown, which includes engaging restaurants and shops - including a bounty of art galleries - along the Pearl Street pedestrian mall and adjacent downtown streets.

Small-scale but deserving a visit are the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (1750 13th St., 303-443-2122) and Boulder History Museum (1206 Euclid Ave., 303-449-3464).

Rising slightly above downtown to the south is University Hill, the campus of the University of Colorado. The area has some fine-art galleries and is always a good bet for upcoming theatrical and musical performances. If you're looking for cheap eats and secondhand records and clothes, roam the hill's small commercial district, around 13th Street and College Avenue. The Colorado University Art Museum is another noteworthy attraction.

Again, although Boulder is without gay-specific bars, there are some hangouts in town with strong LGBT followings, and just about everywhere you'll encounter a welcoming vibe. Just east of downtown, the Walnut Cafe (3073 Walnut St., 303-447-2315) has long been popular with the gay set for brunch and lunch, and at night, the Bitter Bar (9th and Walnut St., 303-442-3050), the taproom at Avery Brewing (5763 Arapahoe Ave., east of downtown, 303-440-4324), and Proto's Pizza (4670 Broadway, north of downtown, 720-565-1050) are all very supportive of Boulder's gay community.

OutBoulder also organizes Longmont Gay Pride, which takes place nearby in the community of Longmont in late June - the event next year is expected take place in late June 2017.

Boulder Gay Resources

For more information on the gay scene in Boulder as well as in nearby Denver, take a look at the excellent LGBT newspaper OutFront Colorado as well as the above-mentioned website, OutBoulder. Also have a look at the Visit Boulder website, which is produced by the city's official tourism organization. And also look to the GLBT travel page at the Denver CVB's Website for more on travel in the region.