boulder city guide
Boulder is the quintessential mountain town sitting just on the edge of the Rocky Mountains forty-five minutes outside of Denver, Colorado. The nearly 104,000 residents, 30,000 of which are college students, living in the small town are all about healthy living. So, you will likely come across kombucha tap rooms, vegan restaurants and a plethora of outdoor activities during your travels. With weather staying fairly sunny and temperate year around, Boulder is all about being outside all the time!
With the Rockies right at your fingertips it’s easy to spend a day hiking one of the many hikes out of Chautaugua Park, rock climbing somewhere in Boulder Canyon, ice climbing, mountain biking, skiing the local mountain, or a quick day trip to Arapahoe Basin, Keystone or Breckenridge.
The restaurant scene is on point, and the majority of the cafes and restaurants have large decks for outdoor dining. Here’s to hoping you drink beer, because breweries are all the rage in Boulder! What goes with a lot of beer drinking? A lot of live music!! Similar to cities like Austin and Nashville, there will probably be live music somewhere no matter what day of the week!
There's really not too many options in Boulder, other than chain hotels and Airbnb. However, the locally-owned St Julien Hotel & Spa is right off Pearl Street in the center of Boulder and is the perfect home-base to explore the town.
Boulder has been deemed a foodie town by a number of magazines including Bon Appetite, Sunset Magazine and Forbes and I couldn't agree more! The selection spans from tacos, sushi, vegan, juice and smoothie shops, and new American restaurants. For something quick there's always, Cured, the specialty grocery shop off Pearl Street. Basically, you can dine fancy, or you can hit up a dive bar, there is literally something for everyone in Boulder.
If you're not huge into the brewery scene, rest assured there is always Frasca Food and Wine which won a James Beard Award for having the best wine service in the country. Would you like some Italian food with your wine? Frasca is where it's at!
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is an experience in and of itself. Teleport yourself to Central Asia for just an afternoon and post up at one of Boulder's finest tea house's. In 1987 Mayor Maksud Ikramov announced he'd be opening a teahouse named after the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe. For the following two years, over 40 artisans from Tajikistan designed elements of what is today Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. From the hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, to the stools, tables, columns and exterior ceramic panels.
The best restaurant off Pearl Street, OAK at Fourteenth, is a new American joint opened by Bryan Dayton. Dayton was formerly the beverage director at Frasca, so it's no surprise the cocktails are outstanding! Summer in Patagonia with Absinthe Verte is deliciously light, but have two and you'll be toasted. I recommend the Grateful Bread Ciabatta Toast with anchovies and Brussels & Romanesco.
Emmerson. Part cafe, part bistro, part cocktail bar is a trendy spot right on Pearl Street. Their burger is bomb, and they've been known to hold a cocktail class or two (at least they were when I was there!).
Zeal - Food for Enthusiasts. Literally. This is the spot for vegans, health nuts, or anyone looking for MCT oil or kombucha on tap. They have stellar smoothie bowls, acai bowls, gluten free banana pancakes, and kickstarter coffee (their version of bulletproof coffee).
Other awesome spots...
The Bitter Bar
Wonder Press - An adorable juicery and smoothie bar right across from St. Julien Hotel & Spa. I started my mornings with either the Banana Chip smoothie or the Maca Pecan. They're equally delicious.
For quick coffee to go, or a work cafe, definitely check out Alpine Modern Cafe or Boxcar Coffee Roasters.
I would consider Boulder a playground. If you love mountains and the great outdoors you will never get bored in Boulder. There are so many hikes it would be difficult to recommend which ones to do in a short city guide. The best way to go about deciding which hike to venture to is to download the AllTrails app on your phone. Do a local search and choose one that suits you best. However, if you want to stay close to Boulder and want hikes with awesome views, stay close to the Flatirons. Start at Chautaugua Park, and you can't go wrong. Lost Gulch Lookout is quite popular, and views up on Flagstaff Mountain are awesome!
I spent a day mountain climbing with Bob Culp, who's been rock climbing for decades and running a climbing school since the 70s. He took me into Boulder Canyon for a half day rock climbing adventure, and he taught me a lot in just a short period of time. I could tell he is great with beginners or experienced climbers!
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art before or after the Dushanbe Teahouse would be an ideal afternoon if it's snowing.
There is always indoor spaces to turn to for daily fitness as well. Check out Mecha and The Daily Method for fitness classes, The Subtle Mind for meditation classes and Amana Yoga for traditional yoga classes.
After all the outdoor activities, and working your butt off you deserve a little r&r! The Alchemy Face Bar is the perfect spot for a quick mini spa retreat.
Haven is a boutique right off Pearl Street and in between Emmerson & Zeal restaurants. It's a woman owned business and she carefully curates all the goodies in the shop. She's a total sweetheart and very passionate and knowledgable about the products she carries. She helped me choose a Moon Juice dust to take home, showed me her most popular candals, and explained what adaptogens were to me.
Similar shops off Pearl Street to check out...
Cedar & Hyde Mercantile