Front Range » Things to do in Boulder
Boulder, Colorado is an outdoorsy college town known for its quirky people, good food, and cool vibe. There’s so many things to do in Boulder Colorado and the surrounding mountains. Boulder has a wide range of outdoor activities, shopping, restaurants, and cultural events. There’s a little bit of everything to do in Boulder.
Visiting from out of state? Consider staying in Boulder. The walkable downtown and variety of activities make it an excellent place to stay. One of the perks of staying in Boulder is that you’re able to explore the mountains and then quickly rinse off at your hotel before exploring the town. There are several cute boutique hotels in Boulder, including Hotel Boulderado.
Driving from Downtown Denver to Boulder only takes 45 minutes. If you’re west of Denver, consider stopping in or going through Golden. It’s another cute college town nestled in the foothills.
8. Pick out fresh & local food at Boulder Farmers Market
Want to shop for fresh produce and homemade bread while sipping on locally-made Kombucha? Or, Maybe sipping on a local craft brew while enjoying a comforting food truck meal is more your thing. Heck, maybe you want to do both! Either way, the Boulder Farmers Market is the place to do it.
Everything sold at the Boulder Farmers Market is local to Colorado. You can expect to find produce, baked goods, spices, wines, soaps, jewelry, home decor, and soooo much more. Both markets have food trucks with food court-style seating. They often have live music.
The Boulder Farmers Market is held every Wednesday and Saturday from mid-spring to late fall. The exact opening and closing dates vary, please check before going!. The Saturday market is from 8am to 2pm, and the Wednesday market is from 4 to 7:30pm. It’s in downtown next to Boulder Creek. Pair it with a trip to Pearl Street Mall or the Dushanbe Teahouse next door.
7. Walk or bike around the University of Colorado at Boulder’s campus
The University of Colorado at Boulder is known for its beautiful campus. It’s a great place to walk or bike around. There are beautiful gardens and architecture all around.
Even if you’ve already visited, seeing it in different seasons is fun. The campus turns bright shades of gold, red, and orange in the fall. Autumn leaves are everywhere, and it feels like you’re experiencing a perfect New England Fall. In the winter, the campus is often covered in fluffy white snow. The University is good about keeping the streets and walkways clear, so walking around is still enjoyable. In the summer, the campus is lush and green.
While there, you should see what events are happening around campus. UC Boulder often has Theater and Dance Productions, art showcases, history lectures, etc. Check out the campus events calendar for more info.
6. See a live show at Boulder Theater
The Boulder Theater is a historic entertainment venue featuring live music, theater, and film screenings. Acts range from local to national. The Boulder Theater is along Pearl Street, so there are many great places to get food and drinks before or after a show.
See the upcoming Boulder Theater events here.
5. Enjoy a Decadent Meal at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is where great food meets beautiful atmosphere. The Teahouse’s decor was handmade by Tajikistani artists in the 1980s. The exterior features traditional Central Asian art. Plants and statues fill the inside of the restaurant.
The Dushanbe Teahouse serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even afternoon tea. Afternoon Tea at the Dushanbe Teahouse is a memorable experience. Guests are encouraged to share the experience with family and friends. Together you’ll enjoy delicious tea, pastries, and good conversation. No matter the meal, expect high-quality food in a beautiful setting.
4. Pearl Street Mall
Pearl Street Mall includes four manicured blocks of pedestrian-only walkways lined with shops and restaurants. Big-name shops like Patagonia and Billabong sit next to many local shops. You’ll find everything from outdoor gear and clothing to home decor, books, and records.
There are SO many top-rated restaurants in the area. Ruthies is my go-to for a quick and inexpensive lunch after hiking in the mountains. If you want a meal or drink with THE BEST views in Boulder, head to Avanti. The Avanti food hall has a stunning rooftop patio (pictured above). If you’re interested in Boulder breweries, you must check out Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery.
There is SO much to do in Pearl Street Mall that I could easily create a post focusing on that alone. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments below!
In the meantime, here’s a list of the best restaurants on Pearl Street.
3. Hiking or rock climbing at Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado Canyon State Park is internationally famous for rock climbing. It features over 500 technical routes along beautiful sandstone cliffs. If rock climbing is not your thing, Eldorado Canyon is worth the visit for hiking, biking, and fishing. It’s a popular spot for snowshoeing and even has some cross-country skiing routes.
Rattlesnake Gulch is one of the best hikes in the park. The 3.6-mile loop takes you by Crags Hotel Ruins and the Continental Divide Lookout. Be careful during the warmer months. There’s a good reason for Rattlesnake Gulches’ name!
2. Tubing Down Boulder Creek
Visiting in the summer? Consider going tubing down Boulder Creek. This isn’t typically a leisurely, ‘lazy river’ kind of experience. Expect rapids through most of the summer. Since the creek is fed by snowmelt, it’s still cold during the summer. Still, it feels soooo nice when it’s hot out. The river floats under a canopy of cottonwood trees, making it a beautiful float.
When tubing, get in at Eben G. Fine park. Anything further west has rapids that are too dangerous for tubing. If you’re looking for a more leisurely float, get in at either 6th street or near the Boulder public library. On any float trip, get out at or before 55th street.
Tubing in Boulder Creek is almost free. All you have to do is buy or rent an inner tube plus any protective gear you’d like. You should also wear legit water shoes. Flip flops fall off too easily in the rapids, and losing them litters the beautiful shores. The rocks can be pointy and unpleasant, so don’t expect to go barefoot, either! Helmets and lifejackets are also recommended, especially for kids.
1. The Boulder Flatirons
The Boulder Flatirons are an iconic series of giant flat rock formations on a mountain next to town. Although you can see them from way outside of Boulder, the BEST way to see them is up close in Chautauqua Park. Chautauqua Park has so many different trails to choose from, from easy to challenging. My personal favorite is the Royal Arch Trail. It’s a challenging 3.4-mile trail that leads to a massive arch rock formation with great views of the city.
If you’re looking for something not as steep and rocky, try the First and Second Flatirons Loop. After passing by the second flatiron, you’ll hike to the peak of the first flatiron. Even if you’re short on time, it’s worth visiting the park. You can get great photos of the flatirons from the field at the trailhead.