Boulder is nestled at the base of the iconic Flatirons and is loaded with natural things to do. It’s a big city of about 104,668 people as of 2020 and consistently appears on many “best places to live” lists due to its laid-back lifestyle, beauty, and endless recreation.
If you want a blend of both city and outdoors, Boulder might be perfect for you. Boulder features a booming tech industry and blooming recreation around every corner. It resides at 5,328 feet of elevation in Boulder County.
Boulder was home to Native Americans before it was populated during the gold rush. Back on Oct. 17, 1858, a group of people seeking gold camped near the entrance of the Boulder Canyon. In just about a year, they formalized a company called the Boulder City Town Company, which was headed by the first president A.A. Brookfield. The competition during the gold rush was intense.
Since it was also a mining supply town, many tried to acquire lands and homes in the area. Eventually, the residents built railroads, hospitals, and schools to cater to the needs of the community. A local town government was also elected. In 1880, Boulder’s population finally passed the 3,000 mark, which was the minimum requirement for a city to be formally established.
Boulder was known to be a thriving community. One of its main attractions at the time was the very first private school in the area, Mount St. Gertrude Academy. Neighboring visitors would travel via the railroad to bring their children to this school because of its comprehensive educational system.
Tourism also picked up. By 1905, it was evident that the town had a booming opportunity in tourism. In 1906, the funding for the construction of the very first first-class hotel was raised. It was not complete until Jan. 1, 1909, when Hotel Boulderado opened for business.
Come the 20th century, new residents came to Boulder to enliven the community. Beautiful public amenities and parks were built, as well as new neighborhoods and shopping centers. Even though the town has experienced continued growth over the decades, the local government and communities are still adamant about maintaining their historical heritage and natural parks.
Learn more about the things that make Boulder famous.
Celestial Seasonings – Free tours daily of the world’s most advanced tea production plant. See how teas are blended, packaged, shipped, and participate in tastings. There is also a Tea Shop and Celestial Cafe with breakfast and lunch.
Chautauqua Park – If you’re looking to hike Boulder’s famous Flatirons, most treks start from this park. There are several trails, plus an expansive lawn for year-round enjoyment. Additionally, you can grab a meal at the Chautauqua Dining Hall.
Pearl Street Mall – Boulder has its own promenade lined with colorful shops and restaurants. It’s the perfect place for an evening stroll to experience the vibrancy of Boulder.
The University of Colorado – The town is home to the University of Colorado, the state’s largest university. Head over to Folsom Field to catch the Buffs take on Pac-12 rivals.
Read about the top things to do in Boulder.
- Head 30 minutes southwest of town to find the Gross Reservoir. The lake offers fishing and motorless boating, and there is a primitive campground with 20 tent-camping sites.
- A winding drive toward Nederland and Ward will lead you to Brainard Lake Recreation Area. This gorgeous land has multiple lakes, hiking, and 47 RV sites to choose from.
- Read about the camping near Boulder and Nederland.
Disc Golf – Discover the top disc golf courses near Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs.
- Walden Pond is only 15 minutes from town and offers peaceful fishing in a few different ponds. It is common to catch bass, catfish, and rainbow trout here.
- Boulder Creek can be accessed right in town, but you’ll have more luck if you hike toward Boulder Canyon. It is a great spot for fly fishing.
- Boulder Reservoir sits right to the north of town and has water stocked with crappie and catfish. They have boat rentals and ice fishing as well.
- Read about the lakes and rivers to fish near Boulder.
- Boulder Canyon trail can get pretty busy because of the prime location of its trailhead, but don’t let that deter you. It’s an easy 2-mile hike that’s perfect for getting some fresh air.
- The Enchanted Mesa trail has gorgeous views of the Flatirons and is about a 3-mile loop.
- Sugarloaf Mountain is a local favorite right near Boulder. It takes an average of 45 minutes to complete and the peak offers great views of the town.
- Read about the hiking trails near Boulder.
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Hotel Boulderado – For more than 100 years this historic 3-star hotel has served downtown Boulder. The beautiful property has maintained its historic charm and has a cafe for the public to enjoy.
St Julien Hotel & Spa – Luxury 3-star accommodation that hosts some of Boulder’s top live music during the summer months.
Bradley Boulder Inn – A serene weekend getaway located in the heart of downtown. This adults-only B&B offers a complimentary hot breakfast and a wine and cheese happy hour each day.
Boulder A-Lodge – Also known as the Boulder Adventure Lodge, it’s a hostel located a couple of miles from downtown in Fourmile Canyon.
Chautauqua Cottages – As one of two national historic landmarks in Colorado with lodging, this makes it one of the most iconic places to stay. The lodges and cottages are open year-round, and you can enjoy the park in your backyard and food and drinks at the Dining Hall.
OAK – A New American restaurant serving eccentric dishes in an airy, open space. They also have a great cocktail and wine list to enjoy.
Flower Child – Everything in this colorful restaurant is made from scratch with local ingredients. Their menu is very flexible for all diets including vegan, vegetarian, and paleo.
Sherpa’s Adventure Restaurant and Bar Kitchen – If you’re feeling adventurous, Sherpa’s has a menu full of unique Himalayan cuisine.
Read about the vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Boulder.
Check out these Boulder date ideas to combine with your dinner night.
Mar – Boulder International Film Festival – Usually held Thursday through Sunday, this festival features parties, food, and a look at the top new international films.
May – Boulder Creek Festival – A three-day festival held during Memorial Day weekend along Canyon Boulevard. Local vendors sell food and other products, there is live music, and events like a rubber duck race down Boulder Creek are also hosted.
Jun – TEDxBoulder – TED-style talks and performances held at the Chautauqua Auditorium in early June.
Jun-Aug – Colorado Shakespeare Festival – Three months of theatre plays in Boulder, showcasing the performances of William Shakespeare and other famous authors.
Jun-Aug – Colorado Music Festival – Six weeks of concerts to delight the classical music lover, held at Chautauqua Auditorium from late June to early August.
Jul – JUL-IPA – All July, Boulder’s Western End Tavern celebrates badass IPA beers. The Kick-Off Party on July 1st and the Rooftop Party at end of the month are fun events. Proceeds benefit charity.
Aug – Boulder International Fringe Festival – Twelve-day art festival celebrating a wide variety of arts including theater, music, and dance, held in mid-August.
Aug – Boulder Craft Beer Festival – This is a beer festival uniquely suited to the lifestyle of its local residents. In addition to beer, partake in lawn games, yoga, and fresh food. It’s held in mid-August.
Aug – Opera in the Park – Boulder Opera presents a free Saturday night of opera performances in the Boulder Bandshell in Central Park, held in late August.
Oct – Handmade In Colorado Expo – Weekend of local Colorado artists selling their crafts in Central Park, held in early October.
Read about the top events in Boulder.
Activities near Boulder
- Backpackers Pantry
- Bhakti Chai
- Bobos Oat Bars
- Bookcliff Vineyards
- Boulder Beer
- Boulder Canyon Natural Foods
- Boulder Cookie
- Boulder Organic Ice Cream
- Celestial Seasonings Tea Company
- Cocktail Punk
- Colorado Spice
- Colorado Teardrops
- Holden & Hay
- Keen One Quinoa
- Made In Nature
- Moksha Chocolate
- Open Road Snacks
- Redstone Meadery
- Settembre Cellars
- Skinny Crisps
- Stanley Brothers
- Studio Shed
- Udis Gluten Free
- Vapor Distillery
- Boulder Creek
- Brainard Lake Recreation Area (25mi)
- Gross Reservoir (15mi)
- Indian Peaks Wilderness
- Roosevelt National Forest
- Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park (38mi)
- Eldorado Springs Pool (8mi)
- Indian Hot Springs – Idaho Springs (39mi)
- Read about the hot springs near Boulder.
River Tubing and Kayaking:
- Eldora Mountain Resort (17mi)
- Boyd Lake State Park (32mi)
- Eldorado Canyon State Park (11mi)
- Golden Gate Canyon State Park (32mi)
- Saint Vrain State Park (23mi)
- Allenspark (35mi)
- Bellvue (51mi)
- Denver (27mi)
- Eldorado Springs (8mi)
- Fort Collins (46mi)
- Golden (20mi)
- Greeley (54mi)
- Lafayette (11mi)
- Longmont (15mi)
- Loveland (32mi)
- Lyons (16mi)
- Nederland (16mi)
- Niwot (9mi)
- Ward (19mi)