Boulder, in the state of Colorado, is best known for nestling at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and although it sits at a high elevation to many neighboring towns, this doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do here expect mountain climb.
On the contrary, Boulder has a swinging downtown area that is famous for its diverse shopping, dining, and nightlife, much of which is concentrated around the central hub of Pearl Street.
Aside from this shopping thoroughfare, Boulder is also home to a range of art galleries and engaging museums, as well as the resident Boulder Chamber Orchestra.
To add to all of this, the outdoor majesty for which Boulder is so famous certainly won’t disappoint, and nature lovers can spend their days hiking, climbing, fishing, or picnicking while taking in some of the most spectacular scenery in the United States.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Boulder:
1. The Flatirons
One of the most iconic sights in the Boulder area, the Flatirons are a series of stunning rock walls that stand to the side of the equally spectacular Green Mountain.
There are both large and smaller formations here and if you are feeling active (and brave!) then you can try rock climbing, which first began in the 1940s.
If that doesn’t appeal, then there are more serene activities such as enjoying the majesty of the Flatirons by hiking several trails around the area.
Depending on your experience, endurance ability, and enthusiasm, there are a variety of long and short trails that will let you take in these picturesque hills.
2. Boulder History Museum
The Boulder History Museum is something of a legend in these parts and is the proud home of over 45,000 antique artifacts from the region.
The museum is a period attraction in itself as it sits in the Harbeck-Berghei House which is also a National Historic Landmark in the town.
The mission of the museum, which sits on University Hill, is to educate visitors about the historical significance of Boulder and to that end you will find rotating exhibits that tell the story of the town and the surrounding area.
Items of interest here include historical documents, period photographs, and local antique items.
Chautauqua is actually an extension of Boulder Mountain Park and sits to the southwest of the city.
Less well promoted than other parks in the area, Chautauqua is said to be one of the photogenic and picturesque and was first founded in the 1800s, so there is a lot of history in this part of Boulder.
Now a National Historic Landmark, you can enjoy verdant paths and leafy gardens here that are perfect for anyone who likes hiking or biking, and picnicking is also a common pursuit in the area as you take in the gorgeous vistas that Chautauqua offers.
You can take it as easy as you like here, or you can venture out using the surrounding nature trails that skirt along the neighboring mountains if you are feeling adventurous.
4. Boulder County Farmers Markets
The Boulder County Farmers Markets are the place to come if you want to get a taste of the famously fresh Boulder produce.
Coming straight from the source, the Boulder County Farmers Markets showcase the agricultural prowess of local farmers and growers and you can get your hands on fresh fruit and vegetables as well as homemade food and local handicrafts.
Products such as locally made honey and baked goods are also popular here and the markets run throughout the year and feature seasonal produce in line with the changing crops.
5. Pearl Street Mall
Anyone with even a slight shopping addiction needs to pay a visit to Pearl Street Mall while they are in Boulder.
This shopper’s paradise sprawls from 8th to 20th streets in the downtown area of the city and you will find all kinds of retail options here including local quirky boutique stores as well as more mainstream brands.
There are also a variety of restaurants here and a strong cafe culture so that you can stop for a drink and take in the atmosphere of Boulder.
Visitors here will also find entertainment options like live music as well as a range of galleries and even street art.
6. University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
For those interested in the flora and fauna of the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest, the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History is the best place to come to learn all about it.
The museum aims to educate visitors about the stunning natural environment of this region of the United States, and there are an impressive four million geological artifacts from around the area.
Renowned for being one of the most extensive natural history museums in all of the United States, the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History was founded in 1902 and has collections that include diverse areas of botany, zoology, paleontology, and anthropology.
7. Fiske Planetarium
Located on the University of Colorado campus, the Fiske Planetarium is the place to come if you want to see some stars in Boulder.
As you would expect, the planetarium is dedicated to all things related to the night sky and there are static and rotating exhibits, presentations, and shows that will tell you all you need to know about the galaxy.
Daily shows take place in the Sky-Skan theatre dome where you will get the chance to be surrounded by a 65 foot screen that has the capacity to display over 20 million stars for your enjoyment.
All shows are narrated with interesting information about the universe and if this ignites your enthusiasm even more then there are stargazing evenings held on Friday nights at the adjacent Sommers-Bausch Observatory.
8. Avery Brewing Company
For those who fancy a beer in Boulder, the Avery Brewing Company has everything you need to quench your thirst.
Established in 1993, the Avery Brewing Company has a wide range of craft beers, and visitors here can tour the on-site tap room to learn firsthand about how these are produced.
There are also tours of the wider brewery available which will take you all the way through the production and bottling process and the best part is that you get to sample the products as you take the tour.
There are both guided and self-guided tours to suit your preferences and you can buy many of the blends to take home as souvenirs.
9. Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art first opened in 1972 and has since made a name for itself as the authority on contemporary works of art in the Boulder area.
The mission statement of the museum is to inspire and educate visitors on the dynamic regional arts scene and to that end you will find rotating exhibitions, presentations, and a large collection of both local and international art.
The building that the museum is housed in is itself also a living work of art, and was built in 1906 and is a National Historic Landmark, so don’t miss checking it out as the same time as the collections.
10. Eldorado Canyon State Park
One of the best known attractions in the Boulder region, Eldorado Canyon State Park has everything you could want in the way of outdoor attractions.
If you enjoy hiking then there are a number of trails that skirt along the impressive sandstone bluffs here, or you can try your hand at fishing in the South Boulder Creek.
For those who are a fan of rock climbing, Eldorado Canyon State Park is famous for having some of the best rock climbing in the entire world and there are over 1,000 routes here that offer all different levels of difficulty.
When winter approaches, cross country skiing is a popular activity here.
11. Boulder Chamber Orchestra
Founded in 2004, the Boulder Chamber Orchestra is famous for featuring a whole host of world class musicians and audiences come from all over the nation just to take in a concert here.
With that in mind, if you love classical music then this is not to be missed in Boulder and there are concerts held throughout the year.
Aside from actual performances, the Boulder Chamber Orchestra also hosts a number of educational programs and workshops that visitors can join if they want to learn more about the arts in Boulder.
12. Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
For a quirky afternoon activity in Boulder why not make a trip to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse? The teahouse sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains and is located in Central Park next to neighboring Boulder Creek which offers spectacular vistas of the local scenery.
The teas here are all sourced from Dushanbe, Tajikistan which is Boulder’s sister city and the teahouse is here to showcase these amazing blends.
The buildings itself is something of an experience and visitors should make sure to look out for the handcrafted touches here such as the carved ceiling and decorative wood paneling that lines the interior.
The highlight here is certainly the English High Tea which comes with homemade cakes, pastries, and sandwiches which are paired with the Dushanbe teas.
13. Cure Organic Farm
Open in 2005, the Cure Organic Farm is the brainchild of Ann and Paul Cure and has over 100 different kinds of organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers on display that visitors can also buy in the farm’s store.
The farm sprawls over 12 acres of lush farmland and lies to the east of Boulder.
You can also purchase their products at the local farmer’s market and this is a fantastic place to visit if you want to see some of Colorado’s finest organic produce.
You will also find a range of cuddly farm animals here including resident ducks, geese, pigs, and cows.
14. Long’s Gardens
Long’s Gardens are impressive as they were first started over 100 years ago in 1905 by J.D Long.
Now run by the third generation of the Long family, the gardens are known for showcasing the beauty of irises in the Boulder area.
The farm grows bearded iris flowers and these can be purchases here for those looking for a souvenir of these gorgeous indigenous flowers than can grow over 27 inches long.
There are also a range of other souvenirs on offer here to remind you of your trip here and the peak blooming season is from May to June when the gardens burst into a riot of color.