Considered by many to be the most beautiful city in Colorado, the city of Boulder stands out as one of the toniest destinations in this Rocky Mountain state. As chic as Aspen–although in a more understated way–some go so far as to refer to Boulder and the surrounding area as the Marin County of Colorado. Both down to earth and dialed in, Boulder’s allure as a happening city in the foothills of the Rockies has grown largely due to the high tech boon it has experienced in recent decades.
Named after Boulder Creek, the granite boulder-punctuated water source that flows through town, the city boasts a huge amount of open space, conservation easements and nature preserves to showcase its natural beauty. Located about fifty miles northwest of Denver in Boulder Valley where the Rockies meet the Great Plains, the city’s most recognizable feature lies just to the west. From almost every vantage point in and around Boulder, you can see the immense, reddish-colored, slanted slabs of sandstone known as the Flatirons.
For most visitors and residents, it doesn’t seem to matter that the nearest big ski resort is almost a couple of hour’s drive away. No, there’s plenty to enjoy in terms of recreation in this town that enjoys glorious weather most days of the year. Situated at only 5,430 feet–a mere pittance for the Rockies–Boulder is blessed with a temperate climate kissed with sunshine most days of the year.
Hiking, biking and rock climbing rank among the top outdoor activities year-round. No wonder Boulderites tend to be super fit, often clad in fleeces or puffies and yes, in their own understated way, they exude a certain bodacious air about themselves. Thankfully visitors can easily join in this outdoorsy scene by renting a bike at one of the many bike rental shops, by hopping on one at one of Boulder’s bike share stations or by outfitting themselves in just the right outdoor clothing and gear at one of the many outdoor speciality stores in town such as Mont-Bell.
The latter is located on Pearl Street just across from the Pearl Street Mall. Don’t confuse the word mall with the big sprawling indoor retail spaces that you find in much of suburbia. No, here the Pearl Street Mall is anything but that:it’s outdoors, full of greenery (at least in the fair weather months) and animated with all kinds of street entertainment. It’s a happening place for visitors and locals alike where you’ll find all kinds of shops, bars, eateries and food carts.
Stop into KuCha House of tea to experience a traditional Chinese tea house and to shop for all kinds of teas, tea paraphernalia and tea-related gifts. It might be just the thing to do after you’ve stopped into the Boulder Psychic Institute for a reading. Or, depending on the news, go into West Flanders Brewing Company for a cold and frosty. With so many microbreweries and artisanal distilleries in Boulder, you have a wide selection of what kind of medicine you want to sample. And this being Colorado and an oh-so liberal town, you also have your pick of dispensaries for recreational marijuana. Helping Hands Herbals is just down the way on Pearl Street whereas The Village Green Society may be found at the opposite end, toward the east, just one block north of Pearl Street. If you’ve never visited a marijuana dispensary before, do–even if you’re not shopping. They offer a real cultural experience as well as another glimpse of life in bodacious Boulder.
You’ll find the renowned Hotel Boulderado just a few pedals from Pearl Street Mall. Opened in 1909, this glittering historic gem embodies all the charm of the Old West. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this landmark property warrants a quick look-see, or a leisurely latte and pastry at their Boxcar Coffee Bar or even better, a three-night stay in one of their handsomely-appointed rooms. When here, check out their old Otis elevator in the lobby, a true classic. Christmas is especially festive here, since the hotel looks dazzling festooned in holiday decor. Check their event calendar for lots of live music offerings as well.
There was a time when the Boulderado was the number one property in town. That changed when the St. Julien hit the scene. This contemporary-styled hotel and spa has received accolades for its stunning setting–replete with view of the Flatirons–its exceptional service, its dining and lodging as well as its spa. They, too, offer a vibrant music scene for hotel guests and visitors. One of their more unique offerings, however, features an afternoon tea on Saturdays. In the tradition of grand hotels throughout the world, this event delights one and all, whether you’re a tea lover or not. How beautiful. How bodacious.