Ah beautiful, bountiful, fresh aired Boulder — the epitome of health, education, fitness, and drive all wrapped into the perfect little package: “The Boulder Bubble.” Here, patrons escape on lunch breaks to run in the rolling greenbelts, have winter board meetings between runs down the slopes, and somehow always manage to squeeze in a morning yoga flow or five-mile run along the babbling creek that traverses the spine of the city.
Once a well-kept secret, Boulder has attracted a lot of attention in recent years as it emerges as one of the next “Silicon Valleys,” home to some of the fastest growing tech and startup companies; (Google recently opened its second head office in central Boulder).
As a member of a city that’s a role model for environmental awareness and protection, each Boulderite —whether born, bred, or transferred — seems to have the innate desire to conserve and protect the area and the expansive open spaces it has to offer. Plus, with the legalization of its unofficial mascot, locals seem to be extra… “happy.”
With a plethora of outdoor activities and five-star dining locales, it can be hard to decide which ones to choose first. So if you only have time for a quick day trip, here’s an itinerary to spend the perfect day in this mountain gem.
9 am -
9th St & Baseline, Boulder, CO 80302
What would a day in Boulder be without frolicking in one of its most beautiful attractions! Start your day off with some of those infamous Colorado endorphins and that refreshing mountain air at Chautauqua Park. Its trailheads begin at the base of the magnificent flatirons that famously jut out of the rolling, evergreen-lined hills and neighboring fields of gold. Slap on some sunscreen, bring a hat and a water bottle, and get going. While there are many different trails you can take depending on how much time you have and your fitness level, we recommend "The Chautauqua Trail" for its scenery and gradual elevation gain, (helpful for those not used to our thin mountain air).
11 am - Alpine Cafe
904 College Ave, Boulder, CO 80302
Caffeine time! Congrats, you've certainly earned it! Stroll downhill through one of Boulder’s historic neighborhoods along 9th Street, (about three-quarters of a mile), to the adorably quaint and compact coffee grounds of Alpine Modern Cafe. Founded by husband and wife duo, Lauren and Lon McGowan, this airy space was one of the couple's many creative endeavors; (others include a curated boutique downtown and a design and architecture-focused print magazine). The two decided they also wanted to create a welcoming space for the community to gather, and so, Alpine Modern was born.
Grab a late breakfast here and a caffeine kick; the bright locale boasts an ample menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner specials as well as a beer and wine list. Take your cappuccinos, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches and find a cozy corner or the patio.
Walk along Boulder's historic downtown outdoor mall, Pearl Street. Wherever you go, those beautiful flatirons will always be your backdrop (and your "due West!").
12:30 pm - Get Cultured: BMOCA
1750 13th St Boulder, CO 80302
At the start of the historic downtown quarter, you will find the city's prized museum of contemporary art. While the space is charmingly compact, it's just the right dose of modern art and a refreshing contrast to the outdoorsy themes of the town. Plus, with admission prices at only $1, (and free on Farmer's Market Days, Wednesday and Saturday), it's an easy "yes."
BMoCA is currently showcasing, "Evolving Visions of Land and Landscape," a stunning exhibit compiling the works of artists who lived in Boulder from the mid-1800s to the present day. The work is a melange of abstract, metaphorical, and literal interpretations of the American West. Get your eye-fill and then head next door for a lovely high tea.
2 pm - Afternoon Tea at Dushanbe Tea House
1770 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302
Stepping over the threshold into the interior of the Dushanbe tea house is the closest form to teleportation in the city. Guests are immediately greeted with the stunning colors of the Far East, and the intricacies and details of this special place. For three years, forty different craftsmen in various cities of Tajikistan built various components of the teahouse, expending a tremendous amount of artisanal effort and skill into the hand-carved and hand-painted ceilings, paneling, columns, and tables of this sanctuary. In 1990, each piece of the teahouse was delicately imported from overseas and assembled into the magical space it is today.
Enjoy an afternoon high tea with plates of hummus, tea cakes, Middle-Eastern-inspired entrees, and a menu of over fifty types of tea.
3:30 pm - Tapas at The Med
1002 Walnut St, Boulder, CO 80302
A city-favorite, The Med offers some of Boulder's top fare as well as some of the city's best outdoor dining. While you cannot go wrong with anything on the Mediterranean region-focused menu, we recommend ordering a variety of "tapas" (small plates) to share with the table. A favorite? "Gamblas a la Plancha," griddle garlic, lemon shrimp topped with a fresh salsa verde.
Enjoy the rest of the afternoon shopping through the boutiquey, mom and pop shops of Pearl Street.
7 pm - Dinner at Pizzeria Locale
1730 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302
The brainchild of Frasca Food and Wine's chef/owner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and sommelier Bobby Stucky, Pizzeria Locale is as close as you can get to Italy while still having the Flatirons as your backdrop. Born from a passionate cooking career between Europe and the States — as well as a significant amount of time exploring Southern Italy — Pizzeria Locale first opened its doors in 2011 and has been dishing out authentic, Napoleon pizza ever since. In true Italian fashion, the restaurant focuses on using simple, fresh, and local ingredients and letting them speak for themselves.
Grab a spot next to the wood-burning oven at the heart of the restaurant for the best view. While sipping on Aperol spritzes and cutting into pizzas — topped with artisanal ingredients like imported prosciutto and truffles — you're only a sip and bite away from Italia. Buon appetito!
9:30 pm - Drinks at Bitter Bar
835 Walnut St, Boulder, CO 80302
On the far, west side of downtown, you will find the unassuming, adobe-esch exterior of the best mixology bar the city has to offer. Eclectic, posh, laid-back, and pretentious in all the right ways, Bitter Bar offers a fantastical note to end your night. The mastery and skill of the mixologists are quickly evident from the unique menu — think raw meringue and jalapeño topped margaritas, just for starters. For those adventurous type, ask your mixologist for his or her favorite, or pick your poison and ask for something new. And if the melange of cocktails and decorations was not entertainment enough, the bar draws an eclectic crowd that can be fascinating to watch or converse with. Drink your heart out.
11 pm - Still Going?
Down the street, you can find Boulder's famed and dangerously strong margaritas at The Rio, but be warned! These bad boys are fantastically deadly- the reason for the restaurant and bar's three-drink limit. Head up to the roof for a stunning view of the city and mountains and one last drag of that invigorating, Colorado air.
And, if you are still going after that, Tahona's Tequila Bistro offers some great after-hours dancing. (Maybe that's the real fitness here!)