I’m a Colorado local with trustworthy recommendations on where to stay in Boulder, Colorado.
First-time visitors will likely want to book lodging in the Pearl Street neighborhood. It’s near some of Boulder’s main attractions, and is a short distance from the University of Colorado Boulder. It’s also home to some of the best hotels in Boulder, like St. Julien Hotel & Spa and Hotel Boulderado.
However, there are several other great options nearby. This guide identifies the best places to stay in Boulder, CO — and who each area is most suited for. I also share insights on each neighborhood’s top places to eat, drink, and more!
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7 Best Places to Stay in Boulder
Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Boulder, Colorado? Here are my top picks:
- 🏆 Best Overall Hotel – Hotel Boulderado
- 🍸 Best Luxury Hotel – St. Julien Hotel & Spa
- 👪 Best for Families – Boulder Adventure Lodge
- 💻 Best for Business – Courtyard by Marriott Boulder
- 🏨 Best Boutique Hotel – Basecamp Boulder
- 🎓 Best Near The University – Boulder Marriott
- 🛏️ Best Budget – Boulder University Inn
That’s the short answer, but let’s do a deep dive of the best areas and neighborhoods to stay in Boulder:
7 Best Neighborhoods and Areas to Stay in Boulder
You’ll want to stay in the Pearl Street neighborhood if you want to be in the downtown area. It’s where you’ll find many of the best things to do in Boulder.
Consider The Hill if you’re looking for places to stay in Boulder, Colorado that are near the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) campus.
This map shows all of Boulder’s neighborhoods and might be helpful as you consider where to stay in Boulder.
Pearl Street Mall Neighborhood
First-time Boulder travelers will likely enjoy staying near Pearl Street Mall. This area is home to some of the best hotels in Boulder, including our top recommended stay: Hotel Boulderado. Guests praise its upscale amenities and historic quality, amplified by Victorian-style decor.
But no matter where you stay in this neighborhood, Pearl Street Mall is nearby. The outdoor pedestrian mall in downtown Boulder stretches many blocks. You’ll be within walking distance of lots of restaurants, bars, and shops. A bike and walking path along Boulder Creek is also within walking distance, as are outdoor areas where children can play.
The mall is the historic center of Boulder, with lots of beautiful buildings and views of the Flatirons looming in the distance. The area is especially beautiful in spring when hundreds of tulips bloom all along the pedestrian streets of the mall.
Pros of Staying in the Pearl Street Mall Neighborhood:
- Near all the sightseeing and Boulder landmarks
- Pedestrian and bike-friendly
- Close to trendy bars, farm-to-table restaurants, and shopping
Con of Staying in the Pearl Street Mall Neighborhood:
- Hotels can be pricey, especially during peak travel periods
📚 Pearl Street Mall Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for First-Time Visitors
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Pearl Street Mall
🎟️ Top Attractions – Boulder Creek Bike Path, Boulder Theater
University Hill Neighborhood
If you’re headed to visit a student at CU or going to watch the Buffs play at Folsom Field, University Hill is the best place to stay in Boulder, CO. The college town neighborhood is close to CU and you can walk or bike to many of the places on campus. Just be aware – “The Hill” is an actual hill and you may need to stop and catch your breath while walking it!
While at University Hill, you’ll be near the great dive bars and funky shops that always seem to surround college campuses. Be sure to grab a meal at The Sink, where Robert Redford once worked as a janitor before getting kicked out of CU.
Pros of Staying in the University Hill Neighborhood:
- Close to CU
- Lots of bars, restaurants, and shopping
Con of Staying in the University Hill Neighborhood:
- Parking is hard to find (and probably not free!)
📚 University Hill Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for College Visitors
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in University Hill
🎟️ Top Attractions – CU Boulder, Fox Theater
The Colorado Chautauqua is a National Historic Landmark that has cottages built in 1925 for rent, and you can eat at the delicious Chautauqua Dining Hall. The park originally hosted performances, concerts, and lectures, and still has concerts, films, and other events to this day.
Boulder hiking trails are abundant in this area. These include a hard, but rewarding hike up the Flatirons, offering amazing views of Boulder and the Rockies.
Pros of Staying in the Chautauqua Neighborhood:
- Lots of hiking
- Quieter and calmer than downtown
Con of Staying in the Chautauqua Neighborhood:
- Need to drive to get to most bars, restaurants, and shopping
📚 Chautauqua Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Outdoor Lovers
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Chautauqua
🍸 Where to Drink – Chautauqua Dining Hall
👉 Best Area For Arts & Breweries | ✨ Best North Boulder Area Hotels: Hampton Inn & Suites Boulder North • Holiday Inn Express Boulder • Residence Inn by Marriott Boulder Canyon Boulevard
North Boulder is popular with young families, and trendy businesses like breweries and wineries are sprouting up in the area. This area used to be industrial, but is now being transformed by small businesses moving into the region. There are also plenty of restaurants and shops to browse.
Pros of Staying in the North Neighborhood:
- First Friday Art Walks showcase local artists
- Breweries, wineries, and small businesses
Con of Staying in the Chautauqua Neighborhood:
- More suburban-feeling than Pearl or The Hill
📚 North Boulder Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Art And Craft Beer Lovers
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in North Boulder
🎟️ Top Attractions – First Friday Art Walk, Wonderland Lake
Twenty Ninth Street
There’s lots of shopping at Twenty Ninth Street — it’s an outdoor shopping mall district with brand-name stores. It also has gorgeous views of the mountains beyond.
Twenty Ninth Street isn’t far from CU or downtown Boulder, but it has a completely different vibe with its modern stores. In summer, there are outdoor concerts and live music.
Pros of Staying in the Twenty Ninth St. Neighborhood:
- Lots of shopping
- Plenty of places to eat or grab coffee
Con of Staying in the Twenty Ninth St. Neighborhood:
- Lots of chain stores and restaurants
📚 Twenty Ninth St. Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Outdoor Shopping
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Twenty Ninth St.
👉 Best Area For Parks | ✨ Best South Boulder Hotels: Hilton Garden Inn Boulder • Residence Inn by Marriott Boulder Canyon Boulevard • Boulder Marriott
South Boulder is a calm, suburban area. It’s the best area to stay in Boulder, CO for grassy outdoor parks. The Rocky Mountain foothills loom above the area, providing a beautiful backdrop for everything that goes on there!
Play disc golf at Harlow Platts Community Park, or walk around Viele Lake to get some fresh air. There are also several pubs and restaurants where you can grab a pint or get some lunch.
Pros of Staying in the South Boulder Neighborhood:
- Lots of outdoor parks and trails
- Quiet and laid back
Con of Staying in the South Boulder. Neighborhood:
- Lacking the nightlife of downtown
📚 South Boulder Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Outdoor Parks & Trails
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in South Boulder
Gunbarrel is known for their delicious craft beer scene. You can also check out Twin Lakes and the Boulder Reservoir, where you can boat, swim, fish, or walk along the loop trail.
Pros of Staying in the Gunbarrel Neighborhood:
- Lots of hiking & outdoor activities
- Several great breweries
Con of Staying in the Gunbarrel Boulder. Neighborhood:
- Removed from downtown
📚 Gunbarrel Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Breweries & Hiking
🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Gunbarrel
🍸 Where to Drink – Gunbarrel Brewing Company, Avery Brewing Company
🎟️ Top Attractions – Twin Lakes, Valmont Bike Park
Tips for Staying in Boulder
It’s a common joke in Colorado that if you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes. During all four seasons here, you can get warm sun and cold breezes. In fact, it has snowed in every month of the year at some point here!
Layers are key for spending a day exploring Boulder and the surrounding areas. Thin, warm layers you can easily take on and off are going to make your exploring much more comfortable. And, of course, you’ll want a backpack to carry them around!
⛰️ Read Next: Best Places to Stay in Colorado
Always wear sunscreen
Cloudy days can trick everyone into forgetting to sunscreen up, but you can easily get burned on those days! If you’re here in winter, reflection from snow can make UV rays even more intense. You’ll definitely want a sunscreen formulated for your face, plus a sport sunscreen for the rest of your body!
You Can Go Hiking Right From Town
One of the wonderful things about Boulder is all of the many hiking trails close to Boulder. Several of the best ones don’t even require a rental car – the trail entrances are close enough to downtown that you can just go by foot!
Boulder is a Great Day Trip Base
With that said, if you do have a car, Boulder has very easy access to the mountain and makes a great base for exploring the nearby nature. Check out my guide to the best Boulder day trips for some ideas.
Denver and Boulder Have Very Different Vibes
For tips on what to do, eat, and more, check out our full Denver travel guide.
FAQs About Places to Stay in Boulder, Colorado
What is Boulder known for?
Boulder is known for its year-round outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, rock climbing, and boating are popular in the warmer months. In winter, people snowshoe, cross-country ski, and visit world-class Colorado ski resorts.
Boulder is also known for its craft beer scene and for Pearl Street Mall, which has plenty of outdoor shopping and food.
Can you see the Rocky Mountains from Boulder?
You can definitely see the Rocky Mountains from Boulder! The Rockies are visible from Pearl Street Mall and many other parks and areas of the city.
If you want an even closer look at the mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park is just an hour’s drive from the city. You can drive more than 12,000 feet up into the mountains along Trail Ridge Road on your visit!
Do I need a car in Boulder?
You do not need a car in Boulder. If you’re planning to stay in the city itself, you can walk to many places you’ll want to see. There are also great bike rental programs.
However, if you want to take a day to explore Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park, or other areas outside of Boulder, you may want a car for that.
Hopefully, this guide on where to stay in Boulder, CO has been helpful. Safe travels and enjoy exploring one of the best places to visit in Colorado!
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