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Boulder, Colorado

Great Destination:

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Total Stars:

Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • In spring, it can cost up to $36,000 to open the high-altitude Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Actor Robert Redford was a janitor at The Sink restaurant and bar before he made it big.
  • The city’s east-west Baseline Road sits at the 40th parallel seen on world maps.
  • Astronaut Scott Carpenter named his space capsule Aurora 7 for his Boulder home on Aurora and Seventh.
  • The Boulder area, with Coors, Anheuser-Busch and microbreweries, is the world’s largest beer-producing triangle.

From greenbelt to green food

Boulder is a modest-sized city northwest of Denver, but with a distinct personality, colored by its geography, its mix of academia and science labs, and the mindset of the Boulderites themselves.

The high-altitude Boulder (5,430 feet) sits against the foothills that mark the transition from the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains. The mountains to the city’s west provide a year-round playground for hikers, rock climbers, skiers and more. The Rocky Mountain National Park, less than an hour away, is part of this package, as well.

Boulder’s climate is dry, sunny and generally comfortable; the city boasts 300 days of sun yearly.

The University of Colorado brings to Boulder all the culture usually associated with an institution of higher learning, the lowbrow as well as the highbrow. Students account for about a quarter of Boulder’s 100,000-plus residents.

The greater Boulder area also is the base for several major federal science and research centers. Among other things, the scientists focus on climate change, environmental sciences and renewable energy, topics that dovetail nicely with a long-established local commitment to protecting what is both a beautiful and healthy environment.

Boulder, founded in 1859, first began preserving land with the 1898 purchase of Chautauqua Park. In 1967, Boulder started levying taxes for the acquisition, management and maintenance of open space — thus funding a 45,000-acre greenbelt around the city.

In this way, Boulderites, self-described fanatics about fresh air, have bought for themselves and every visitor easy access, even before heading to the mountains, to open spaces for biking, hiking, picnicking or simply ambling among the trees. In addition, a Boulder law restricting buildings to four stories preserves the mountain views for everyone.

Finally, Boulder is a foodie’s town and has been recognized as such by food writers and certainly by those who travel to the city for its food events or cooking classes. Sustainability is a theme in the kitchens, too, with many restaurants embracing the notion of local and seasonal cooking. The outstanding Boulder Farmers Market, in downtown next to Boulder Creek, provides another clue to the city’s essence.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Hike or pedal a mountain bike on some of the more than 300 miles of biking and hiking trails, many in the 45,000 acres of protected land that surround the city.
  • Test your skills as a kayaker on whitewater at the Clear Creek Whitewater Park in Golden. The 800-foot course was designed to challenge experienced as well as novice kayakers.
  • Try skydiving, which is on offer in nearby Longmont. Or, see Boulder and area from a hot-air balloon.
  • Boulder has three summertime Ironman triathlon events. Compete in the one that suits you.
  • Dress in an outlandish costume and make the Polar Bear Plunge on Jan. 1 at the Boulder Reservoir. There is a charitable-giving aspect to this not-so-hot idea.
  • Look for a brewpub on or around Pearl Street, or determine if a big-name musician is appearing at the Boulder Theater. The Hill, next to the University of Colorado campus, is the place for student-centered — and hence often lively or sometimes rowdy — nightspots.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Cycle the Boulder Creek Path, which meanders along Boulder Creek through the historic downtown.
  • Choose romance or tragedy at Boulder’s Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
  • Join a horseback trail ride. Several businesses in or near Boulder offer riding options. Or, in winter, ski at Eldora Mountain Resort 21 miles west of Boulder. Or head farther afield for your fun.
  • Combine an interest in performance arts and visual arts by attending the springtime Estes Park Jazz Fest and Art Walk.
  • Tour the Boulder Distillery and then taste the 303 vodka and 303 whiskey made at the distillery using a family recipe brought from Poland.
  • Sign up for cooking classes, a fitting way to spend some of your time in a foodie’s town.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Make a day trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park. In season, drive the Trail Ridge Road, America’s highest (11,000-plus feet) through-paved road.
  • Browse the shops (buy a few things, too) and be diverted by the street entertainers on Pearl Street Mall. Have dinner in the historic downtown afterward.
  • Select from dozens of teas sold at the Dushanbe Teahouse, or have a meal there. The establishment, distinguished by hand-painted ceramic panels and other handmade features, was built in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, disassembled and reassembled in Boulder as a gift to the city. The two are sister cities.
  • Spend a day on the beach, at the Boulder Reservoir, one of the state’s larger beaches.
  • Attend a concert — symphonic or rock ‘n’ roll — at the historic Colorado Chautauqua auditorium in Boulder.
  • Have dinner with dessert and see a Broadway show at Boulder Dinner Theatre.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau at