I’m a Colorado local with insights into the most fun and unique things to do in Boulder!
Boulder is known for its eclectic community, made up of college students, nature enthusiasts, creatives, artisans, and more. This bustling town puts on engaging cultural events and wonderful dining opportunities. There are tons of free things to do in Boulder, Colorado, including a variety of outdoor activities.
This guide covers all of these interests and more — including a few hidden gems that you won’t want to miss!
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33 Best Things to Do in Boulder
Eldorado Canyon State Park
Enjoy endless outdoor recreation at one of Colorado’s best state parks.
Eldorado Canyon State Park showcases the best of Boulder’s outdoor scenery and activities. Hands down, it’s one of the best state parks in Colorado!
There are many hiking and biking trails in the park. The rock climbing routes draw people from around the world, and there’s great fishing, too. If you love nature photography, Eldorado Canyon State Park is also a wonderful place to take pictures!
👉 Pro Tip: The park gets crowded on weekends and holidays. Arrive early, and use the shuttle service in summer to avoid parking headaches.
Pearl Street Mall
Explore shops, watch street performers, and experience Boulder’s eclectic food scene.
One of the best things to do in Boulder, Colorado, Pearl Street Mall is an outdoor shopping area with stores, bars, restaurants, and street performers. You’ll see shops you recognize, but there are also lots of independent stores where you can find something unique along the mall to bring home from your day in Boulder.
This area is also my top pick for the best areas to stay in Boulder for visitors, with many excellent hotels in the neighborhood.
🚲 Want a good overview? Try an Electric Cruiser Fat Tire Bike Tour to take you past the big sights in Boulder like CU, Chautauqua, and more.
University Of Colorado Boulder
Wander this iconic campus where cultural events are hosted year-round.
The University of Colorado Boulder (known as CU Boulder… and among locals, simply as “CU”) is the biggest Colorado university campus. No surprise that there’s plenty to do here, whether you’re a student or a tourist!
Visit the University of Colorado Heritage Center to see a moon rock, memorabilia from famous students like Glenn Miller, and a model of the university made entirely of LEGO. If you visit Boulder in summer, check out the Colorado Shakespeare Festival on campus, and if you’re there in fall, see a football game.
📚 Related Reading: If you’re staying in Colorado for a while, be sure to check out our list of 33 Fun Things To Do in Colorado (written by a local!).
Discover miles of trails, fine dining, and a National Historic Landmark at this can’t-miss Boulder destination.
Chautauqua Park is a great place to start when you’re looking for things to do in Boulder, CO! It’s part of a landmark area that the City of Boulder set aside to be preserved more than 100 years ago.
Now, the park is home to some of the best hikes near Boulder. Visitors can hike or go on a bike ride on the many trails that wind through the park. There’s also a playground and tennis courts if those are more your type of activity. After you work up an appetite out on the trail, the Chautauqua Dining Hall is a delicious, special place to eat!
Hike this short, easy trail to picturesque waterfalls.
Boulder Falls is just a short, easy hike from the parking area, but the falls are beautiful and even earned the area the name “Yosemite of Boulder Canyon” (which may have been stretching things just a bit!). The falls are pretty impressive, though, and a fun, quick trip from Boulder where you can find a picnic area and enjoy the outdoors.
Eldora Ski Resort
Ski at this affordable resort just outside of Boulder, a great spot for beginners and families.
If you’re looking for winter things to do near Boulder, CO, check out Eldora Ski Resort. It’s a great ski area for beginners, families, and all experience levels, and ranks as one of the top ski resorts in Colorado.
It’s conveniently located just 21 miles from Boulder and 47 miles from Denver, and because it’s smaller than big resorts like Breckenridge, it’s much more affordable.
Boulder Farmers Market
Fill your tote bag with local produce, artisan breads and pastas, kombuchas, cheeses, and more!
The Boulder Farmers Market is perhaps the best farmers market in all of Colorado. There are tons of vendors with plenty of fresh produce, free-range animal products, and vendors selling handmade and other unique items.
Take the morning to just stroll through each farm stand, and maybe pick yourself up a tasty treat while you’re there! You’ll find tons of options at Boulder County Farmers Markets!
Drive up switchbacks to witness both city and mountain views.
📍 Google Maps | Entrance: free/$5 parking permit
Flagstaff Mountain, a near-7,000 foot peak just north of the iconic Flatirons, provides some of the best scenery in Boulder, CO. Consider taking this drive at dawn or dusk, and pull off at Panorama Point to collect a $5 parking permit.
From there, you can make additional stops at Sunrise Amphitheater and other viewpoints, then hike trails around the summit. Eastern views of the town of Boulder and western views of the Continental Divide are sure to amaze, and it’s a great experience for the whole family.
National Center for Atmospheric Research
Learn about climate science at this laboratory surrounded by scenic hiking trails.
NCAR has a Mesa Laboratory and Visitor Center that offers tours and allows visitors to check out the exhibits and learn about atmospheric science and research. You can learn more about weather and climate science here, too.
Outdoor Activities in Boulder
Get up close to these iconic rock formations — or even try rock climbing them!
The Flatirons are the most striking scenery in Boulder — they’re rocks that jut up out of the ground west of the city. Getting up close and personal with the Flatirons is one of the best things to do in Boulder, CO!
There are lots of hiking trails that will take you near the Flatirons, and many of those trails start at the Chautauqua Trailhead. The Ranger Cottage nearby has trail maps and you can get advice on the hikes. Flatiron Loop is an easy, two mile hike but there are others that will make your trip longer if you want more of a challenge.
Also, many Boulderites go rock climbing on the Flatirons, so that’s an option, too!
Walk Boulder Creek Path year-round, and tube down the water on hot summer days.
This creek runs through downtown and there are lots of places where you can sit and enjoy it! Boulder Creek Path is a 5 and a half mile path you can walk or ride, that follows the creek from Boulder Canyon on the west to Stazio Ballfields on the east.
The creek is also the main source of the beautiful tributary, South Boulder Creek, which is a popular choice for fly fishing.
The Peoples’ Crossing Park
Spot wildlife and red rock formations in this scenic hiking area.
The trailhead at the Peoples’ Crossing Boulder mountain park leads to many red rock hiking trails. Dogs are allowed on the hiking trails, and you may encounter bear, mountain lions, and mule deer. You’ll also get amazing views of the Boulder area and the red rock sandstone formations on these trails.
👉 Pro Tip: The Peoples’ Crossing Park was renamed from “Settler’s Park” in 2021. The new name is meant to honor the area as a crossroads for Indigenous Peoples who long traveled and lived in the Boulder region.
Boulder Central Park
Picnic and play at this green gathering place located in the heart of downtown.
Central Park is downtown near the Boulder County Farmers Markets and the Pearl Street Mall. There’s a playground there, and access to the creek, along with space for kids to run or for you to bring some food you bought on Pearl Street and have a little picnic.
Flagstaff Mountain Nature Center
Learn from interactive exhibits at this center located at the top of Flagstaff Mountain.
Driving to Flagstaff Mountain is going to give you beautiful views of Boulder down below. The Nature Center is at the summit, and you can learn about the wildlife and geology of the area. There is a kids’ corner with books and other activities for children, and there are interactive exhibits for everyone to see.
📚 Related Reading: Don’t miss my list of the 41 best places to visit in the state of Colorado, including some Colorado spots and destinations locals might not even know about!
Explore this remote recreation area, one of the best things to do near Boulder, CO.
Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a beautiful spot year-round, and there are plenty of hiking and biking trails you can explore in summer. But it’s really popular as a snowshoeing and cross-country skiing spot in winter. Pack yourself a thermos of hot chocolate and hit the trails!
👉 Pro Tip: A timed-entry reservation is required to enter Brainard Lake Recreation Area. You can learn more here.
Valmont Bike Park
Mountain bike through all types of terrain, including easy trails and expert jumps.
Valmont Bike Park is a natural terrain park that has different tracks and features for different kinds of mountain biking. There are calmer, flatter trails, but also trails with jumps and plenty of opportunities for daredevil moves. If you’re a mountain biker, this is one of the more adventuresome and fun things to do in Boulder, Colorado!
Spend a beach day at the Rez, offering both exciting and relaxing recreation.
If you’re visiting in the summer and not sure what to do in Boulder, Colorado, you can easily fill up an afternoon at Boulder Reservoir. Referred to as “the Rez” by locals, this 700-acre reservoir draws boaters, sunbathers, swimmers, and anyone seeking lakeside fun.
Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards can be rented on-site, and fishers can cast lines in hopes of bass and rainbow trout. On land, you’ll discover hiking trails with plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.
Whether you’re off exploring or lounging on the beach, this is easily one of the top things to do in Boulder.
Eldorado Springs Resort & Pool
Splash into one of Colorado’s most historic swimming pools — which will be even better after this year’s restorations.
Eldorado Springs Resort & Pool has been around since 1905, and the pool is fed from an artesian spring. The water is a gorgeous clear blue, and it stays at 80° F. The architecture of the resort building and the view of the Rocky Mountains beyond make one of the best things to do in Boulder on a nice afternoon!
Note that due to construction, the pool is closed but plans to reopen on July 1, 2023. Until then, you can take a dip in one of the best Colorado hot springs!
Museums & Culture
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
Admire works of art while supporting the local community.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is a really inexpensive way to enjoy some local culture! Even the building is cool — a 1906 downtown Boulder building that used to be a warehouse. Along with showcasing art from many talented adults, the BMoCA has programs for youth as well.
This is one of those things to do in Boulder that you’ll find interesting and educational… and you’ll be supporting the local community!
📚 Related Reading: Denver also has great museums and culture. Check out our list of cool things to do in Denver for more activity inspiration!
Boulder Museum of Natural History
Find interesting, interactive exhibits at this CU Boulder museum.
The Boulder Museum of Natural History is one of the Boulder museums that’s part of CU Boulder. This Colorado museum has interactive exhibits for kids and lectures and hands-on activities for adults. Learn about ancient life in the Boulder area and tour the Paleontology Hall to see fossil plants and animals.
Boulder Mural Tour
Bike or walk to various street murals throughout town.
Boulder has a vibrant artist community, and some of the best public art is in the form of murals all over the city. The murals on this list are mostly along Pearl Street, so you can take a nice walk as you admire them all!
🚴 Take an eBike Mural Tour: You’ll visit murals around town on the Wall to Wall Boulder eBike Mural Ride, and learn anecdotes about Boulder life from your guide.
Attend star shows, films, and more at this attraction located within Boulder’s university.
Fiske Planetarium is part of CU Boulder, and hosts live talks, concerts, special events, and star shows. It’s a great place for kids or adults who love all things space! The planetarium also sometimes hosts laser fantasy shows (some of those are a little less kid-friendly!)
Boulder Chamber Orchestra
Listen to instruments form harmonic sounds in one of Boulder’s beautiful venues.
Listen to the songs of violas and cellos in one of the most beautiful cities on earth! The Boulder Chamber Orchestra tends to play at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Boulder, which is a large venue and doesn’t often sell out. They usually do seasonal pieces around Christmas, and also have some mini-chamber performances along with larger concerts.
Visit one of the best Boulder attractions for live music!
Once an opera house, the Boulder Theater is now one of the coolest places in town to experience live music. It also shows films, hosts spoken word readings, and a variety of other events.
📚 Read Next: My epic list of the best day trips from Boulder will give you plenty of ideas for excursions and getaways around the Boulder area!
Museum of Boulder
Learn the history of Boulder, CO to further appreciate the area and its locals.
The Museum of Boulder is one Boulder museum among many! The museum has lots of artifacts and photos tracing the history of the area and Boulder’s impact on the wider world. The Playzeum is a kids’ space where they can experiment and they’re allowed to touch the exhibits. There are also exhibits showing local artists’ creations.
👉 Pro Tip: The Museum of Boulder used to be known as the Boulder History Museum, and you may find some people who still refer to it that way.
Dairy Arts Center
Tour the visual arts gallery and attend a live performance.
The Dairy Arts Center was formed as a place for local artists to work. Now, you can get a ticket for a live performance or tour the visual arts gallery during the day. You can also pop in for happy hour at the Polk Cafe and learn more about the space.
NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory
Discover scientists’ environmental research and protection efforts at this prestigious institution.
One of the more unique things to do in Boulder is to check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration! They do lots of research and work on weather forecasts both on Earth and in space. If you’re a meteorology buff, this is right up your alley!
👉 Important Note: NOAA is currently not conducting its tours, but plans to resume in fall, 2023. Be sure to check the website to find out when they’ll be back on!
Food and Drink
Avery Brewing Company
Sip craft beer at one of Boulder’s most impressive breweries!
Colorado is well-known for its craft beer industry, and Avery Brewing Company is one great brewery in Boulder where you can pop in and have a pint. Visit the taproom to sample a variety of pours, which are even better when paired with its elevated pub food.
Or for an inside look, take a tour of Avery’s impressive facility! It’s one of the most fun (and tasty) things to do in Boulder.
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
Have a cup of tea paired with globally-inspired bites.
Not sure what to do in Boulder, Colorado? The Dushanbe Teahouse is a gorgeous downtown teahouse that I highly recommend visiting.
It was actually given as a gift from Boulder’s sister city Dushanbe, Tajikistan. You can have a full meal inside, an English afternoon tea, or a small treat like dessert or appetizers.
👉 Want More? Next, read my guide to the best stuff to do in the state of Colorado.
Sample local honey wines in a cozy tasting room.
Tucked away in what appears to be a strip mall, Redstone Meadery is unassuming from the outside. But inside lies delicious pours of local mead, all-natural honey wines infused with fruit and spices.
Sample several flavors in their cozy tasting room, and consider purchasing a bottle to go. Personal favorites include the Red Raspberry Mountain Honey Wine and Peach Reserve, a port-like dessert wine that pairs perfectly with Palisade peach cobbler!
Visit this New American bistro for an elevated farm-to-table dining experience.
Farm-to-table restaurants are celebrated for their sustainable practices and use of local flavors. Black Cat takes this dining concept to the next level, sourcing their ingredients from their 425-acre organic farm right outside of Boulder. Their produce, grains, and livestock support the creation of beautiful, flavorful dishes.
Book reservations at this downtown restaurant, and if you fall in love with Black Cat, you must check out Bramble & Hare, their sister location. Or for a special occasion, look into seasonal dinners at the farm for an even more elevated ambiance.
Cure Organic Farm Tours
Wander an organic farm to learn about sustainable, healthy ways of living.
Farm tours are fun things to do in Boulder! The Boulder community tends to be very conscious of living with an eco-friendly, healthy view towards their food and other things they consume.
An organic farm tour can show you how food is grown, teach you about composting, or introduce you to the farm animals. You’ll spend the day outside and learn a little something, too!
Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory
Savor tasty pours of earthy, spicy, and fruity teas on this popular Boulder tour.
See where one of the world’s most popular tea brands is made (on Sleepytime Drive, of course!). You’ll get to sample some teas, and it’s definitely one of the best-smelling tours you’ll ever take.
👉 Pro Tip: Tours are currently on hold. You can check the tea tour website to find out when they’ll be offered again.
FAQs About What to Do in Boulder
What is Boulder best known for?
What is interesting about Boulder, Colorado?
What is interesting about Boulder, Colorado is its eclectic community and their contributions. Visitors can enjoy artisan food and drinks, cultural activities that involve art, history, and live music, and much more.
When visiting Colorado, it’s so worth checking out the variety of things to do in Boulder. Hopefully, this guide helped you discover what makes this town so special!
Travel Lemming editor Abigail Bliss contributed to this list of fun things to do in Boulder, Colorado.
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