Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Boulder
Why We Love Boulder: Boulder began as a supply town for gold miners in the 1850s who were headed into the nearby Rockies to try their luck. It has morphed into a funky college town, with tons of outdoor activities, performing arts venues, and hip restaurants. Whether you want to spend the day hiking the Flatirons, those peaks that seem to jut straight out of the ground, or check out a cool local brewery, you’ll find plenty to do here!
Best of Boulder
There’s so much to do in Boulder, including hiking, shopping, and sightseeing. Your biggest challenge will be picking just a few things!
- Eldorado Canyon State Park – Eldorado Canyon State Park has the best of Boulder’s outdoor activities and views! Hike, bike, and more.
- Pearl Street Mall – Pearl Street has shops, restaurants, bars, and great places to sit and watch people.
- University Of Colorado Boulder – Visit the museum-like CU Heritage Center, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, or a football game.
- Chautauqua Park – Chautauqua Park is home to some of the best hikes in Boulder. It also has biking, tennis, and more.
- Boulder Creek – Boulder Creek runs through downtown, with a bike or walking path and plenty of spots to sit.
👉 Explore all the things to do in Boulder.
If you’re unfamiliar with Boulder, these are our top recommended areas to stay:
- Pearl Street Area – The center of historic downtown Boulder, and near the city’s signature hotels. Lots of shopping & dining!
- The Hill – Across from CU’s campus, it’s popular with students and has plenty of restaurants, bars, and live music.
- Chautauqua – Its spot at the bottom of the Flatirons means amazing scenery, with hiking, concerts, and a restaurant.
👉 Read full guide to the best places to stay in Boulder.
🛎️ Best Hotels
From a newer $36 million hotel & spa to a 100+-year-old institution, Boulder has a variety of hotels to suit anyone’s taste!
- St Julien Hotel & Spa – Built in 2005, this premier hotel & spa offers lots of amenities, plus views of mountains or the city.
- Hotel Boulderado – This first luxury hotel in Boulder is over 100 years old, with Victorian-inspired rooms and mountain and city views.
- The Bradley Boulder Inn – Close to Pearl Street and CU Boulder, some rooms at this hotel have fireplaces, jet tubs, and balconies to admire the view. Complimentary snacks and breakfast.
Boulder has become known as a foodie haven, where you can get Michelin-starred meals or grab a sandwich to take along on a hike.
- Frasca Food and Wine – This James Beard Award-winning restaurant features Northern Italian food and amazing wines.
- The Sink – Famous for being the place Robert Redford worked in college, The Sink has a classic college dive-bar feel.
- Avanti F & B – When everyone wants something different, head here. Avanti has two bars and a series of food stalls.
⛰️ Day Trips
- Denver – Visit museums, grab a cocktail, or see Red Rocks and go for a hike in the nearby foothills.
- Nederland – Tons of the best Boulder-area hiking trails and amazing drives make this a great short trip!
- Rocky Mountain National Park – Wildlife, hiking trails, and perhaps the best mountain views anywhere in the state.
- Hot Sulphur Springs – One of the closest hot springs to Boulder makes for a great day trip.
👉 See the full list of the best Boulder day trips.
- Pearl Street – The heart of historic downtown Boulder and the best place to stay.
- North Boulder – An up-and-coming place for young families and small businesses, with breweries and restaurants.
- Central Boulder – A good location to get to everything in Boulder, with nearby restaurants, hotels, and attractions.
- The Bitter Bar – A cocktail lounge that prides itself on simple, unstuffy cocktails, with friendly, welcoming staff.
- DV8 Distillery – A self-proclaimed queer bar featuring comedy, drag shows, art installations, and delicious drinks.
- Pearl Street Pub and Cellar – Pearl Street dive bar with cheap food, music, and a buffalo head everyone kisses when they turn 21.
- Flatirons Vista Trail – A flat, easy trail with amazing views of the Flatirons and lots of wildflowers in season.
- Eldorado Canyon Trail – A moderate-to-difficult trail with gorgeous canyon views that ends at Boulder Creek.
- Mount Sanitas – A short but steep trail with spots for bouldering and beautiful views at the summit.
👉 Read full guide to best hikes in Boulder.
Boulder Travel Advice
🗓️ Best Time to Visit
Boulder, like Denver, can get late snow but also pleasant days mid-winter. Pack plenty of layers – you may need them all in one day.
- 🍂 Fall – Local college football, mild weather, and fall foliage make this the perfect season to visit.
- 🌼 Spring – Tulips cover Pearl Street, and trees are budding. The weather is unpredictable, but there are mild days.
- ❄️ Winter – Definitely cold, but there are plenty of outdoor activities and nearby skiing.
- 🌞 Summer – Lots of festivals, an outdoor farmer’s market, tons of hiking, and outdoor activities.
🚌 Getting Around
Boulder prides itself on being eco-friendly, and you can get to many places without needing a car. Here’s how to get around:
- 🚶♀️ Walking – Boulder’s WalkScore is 57. Pearl Street and CU Boulder are suited for walkers.
- 🚗 Driving – You don’t need a car unless you want to head outside the city to hike or visit.
- 🚇 Public Transit – Boulder has a local bus network and a system connecting with Denver and beyond.
- 📲 Ride Share – You can get Uber and Lyft rides, though they’ll cost more at peak times.
- 🚴♀️ Biking – Considered one of the most bike-friendly cities, with lots of paths and bike lanes.
- 🛴 Scooters – Boulder partnered with Lime and there are e-scooters in various parts of the city.
👉 Tips & Things to Know
- 💧- Stay hydrated – The altitude, combined with city walking and outdoor activities can dehydrate you before you know it. Drink plenty of water!
- ⛰️ – Take time to acclimate – If you’re hiking or doing other activities, you may get out of breath. It’s the altitude! Take it slow at first.
- 🌦️ – Check the weather – Colorado gets snow in May and warm days in winter. Check the weather each day and pack plenty of layers.
- 😎 – Always wear sunscreen – Don’t let cool weather fool you – you can get a nasty sunburn just about any day in Boulder. Sunscreen up!
- 🌿 Know the 420 rules – Boulder has many dispensaries, but you can’t smoke pot in public places. Rentals will often specify if they allow it.
🧳 What to Pack
- 🧥 – Layers – It can snow in the morning and be sunny in the afternoon! Bring plenty of layers, especially if you’ll be outside.
- 🧢 – A hat – A good hat will shield your eyes and protect your face from sunburn.
- 🥾 – Hiking boots – If you plan to hike the trails around Boulder, sturdy hiking boots will save your feet and ankles.
- 🧴 – Lotion – Colorado’s dry air will do a number on your skin! Bring a nice, thick lotion and keep it handy.
- 🚰 – Water bottle – Between the elevation and the exercise you’re likely getting, it’s important you stay hydrated!
🤓 Facts & Info
- Census Population (2020) – 330,758
- Time Zone – Mountain Time (UTC -7 / UTC -6 during daylight savings)
- Area Codes – 303, 720
- Airports – Denver International Airport (DIA)
- Nickname – The People’s Republic of Boulder (said in jest)
- Demonynm – Boulderite
- State – Colorado
- Country – United States of America
💵 Costs & Budgeting
- 3 Star Hotel Room – $95-$290/night
- 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $66-150/night
- Rental Car – $75+/day
- Public Transit Ticket – ~$2.60 ($6 to airport from center)
- Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $60-70
- Take Out Meal for Two – $24-30
- Sit Down Dinner for Two – $60-80
- Draft Beer – $6-10
FAQs About Visiting Boulder
Is Boulder safe for tourists?
Boulder is generally a safe place for tourists to visit. Boulder’s violent crime rates are below average for Colorado. The main crimes that happen in Boulder are property crimes – some theorize that’s due to the large number of college students.
Is Boulder worth visiting?
Boulder is definitely worth visiting! Granted, it’s not as popular of a tourist spot as Denver, but that’s part of what makes it great. It’s also a close drive to Denver and a close drive to Rocky Mountain National Park.
What is Boulder best known for?
Boulder is best known for the University of Colorado Boulder – known locally as “CU.” It’s the biggest university in Colorado, located in the heart of downtown Boulder. Boulder is also known for its variety of outdoor activities, craft beer, and its relaxed atmosphere.
Why is Boulder Colorado so popular?
Boulder Colorado is popular because of its outdoor activities, healthy lifestyle, and bike-friendly community. There are numerous hiking trails, several popular running races (including one of the biggest 10k races in the world), performing arts centers, museums, and more.
Is Boulder pedestrian-friendly?
Boulder is very pedestrian-friendly! There are several outdoor malls and the pedestrian mall on Pearl Street is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. If you get tired of walking, Boulder also has a bike rental program and excellent public transportation.
How many days do you need in Boulder?
You need three days in Boulder to see the sights of the city! Of course, you can certainly enjoy yourself for longer than that – especially if you take some day trips from Boulder to other nearby places in Colorado.
Travel Lemming’s team of local Colorado writers is working to build the Internet’s #1 resource for traveling across this amazing state. Check out our other popular Colorado travel guides here:
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Meet Our Boulder, Colorado Travel Expert
Laura Falin is a freelance writer in Colorado who has written for publications like BabyCenter, Colorado Parent Magazine, and Denver Parent. Laura loves hiking, paddle boarding, camping, and snowboarding, and she has run exactly one marathon. She now lives in Littleton, Colorado with her husband and four children. They love exploring the state and the rest of the U.S., usually by car, and they are pros at 20-hour road trips!