12 Things To Do in Boulder, Colorado

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is a vibrant city in Colorado filled with natural beauty and exciting activities. Known for its young, active population and environmental ethos, it offers visitors a unique blend of outdoor recreation, art, culture, food, and innovation.

Whether you want to explore the great outdoors, learn something new, or simply relax during your time here, Boulder has something for everyone. From hiking stunning trails and climbing epic rock formations to touring local breweries and immersing yourself in the arts scene, here are 12 of the best things to do in Boulder, Colorado.

Explore Pearl Street Mall


As the heart of downtown Boulder, Pearl Street Mall is a lively pedestrian area filled with shops, restaurants, street performers, and galleries. Walk along the red brick-paved promenade under strings of lights to do some shopping, people watching, or grab a bite from the eclectic mix of eateries.

Stop by during the Pearl Street Farmers Market on Saturdays between April and October to pick up some local produce, baked goods, and artisanal crafts. Don’t forget to snap a photo with the Pearl Street Mall bear statue, a Boulder icon. Spend an afternoon or evening exploring this vibrant district to truly experience the culture and community of Boulder.

Hike the Flatirons

No trip to Boulder is complete without hiking among the iconic Flatirons in the Flatirons Nature Preserve. These striking rock formations jutting out at angles up to 90 degrees are a can’t-miss sight just west of downtown Boulder. There are plenty of scenic trails ranging from easy to difficult that wind through the Flatirons.

For an easy hike with spectacular views, head to the Flatiron Loop Trail or explore Royal Arch. Experienced hikers can tackle more challenging routes like Bear Peak or Scramble up the first flatiron for unparalleled scenery and bragging rights over conquering such an iconic peak. Just remember to bring plenty of water and wear proper footwear when hiking the Flatirons area of Boulder.

Visit Chautauqua Park


Transport back to 19th century charm at Chautauqua Park situated at the base of the Flatirons. Designated a National Historic Landmark District, these cottages and buildings were built in 1898 for the Colorado Chautauqua educational retreat.

Today, visitors can stay in the cottages, eat at the Chautauqua Dining Hall, learn during educational programs, and access numerous Flatiron hiking trails from the park grounds. Don’t miss the Chautauqua Auditorium still in use today or the iconic Flatirons wrapping around the grassy meadows. Built before cars, Chautauqua Park gives a glimpse of a simpler time in Colorado’s history while still offering modern amenities and services for an idyllic mountain escape.

Tour Celestial Seasonings


As a hub for natural products and health foods, it’s no surprise that Celestial Seasonings tea company was founded in Boulder back in 1969. Take a free factory tour to learn about the history, see how the teas and kombuchas are blended, watch production, sniff aromatic herbs in the mint room, and sample over 80 varieties of teas.

The iconic Sleepytime bear also greets visitors in the lobby gift shop filled with tea-themed goods after finishing the tour. Don’t forget to pose with the colorful flower mural outside too! Touring Celestial Seasonings offers a tasty experience unique to Boulder.

Drive Scenic Highway 119


One of the most stunning drives in Boulder is along Scenic Highway 119 as it winds through Boulder Canyon along fast-flowing Boulder Creek. The curvy road passes rock walls towering overhead on one side and Boulder Creek rushing below on the other side as you make your way from Boulder into the mountains.

Pull off at one of the many roadside turnouts or parking lots to admire views of the striking Flatirons, enjoy a picnic, wade in Boulder Creek, or hike to waterfalls like Ethel Harrold or Bear Canyon Falls. Drive slowly as you’ll be sharing the scenic road with cyclists and fellow sightseers relishing in the fresh mountain air, verdant forests, and spectacular vistas surrounding Boulder Canyon.

Bike ‘The Hill’


Active Boulderites have a love-hate relationship with the famous steep incline known as “The Hill” located on 9th Street between 9th and 11th Streets. Rising over 130 feet in elevation gain in just three blocks with an average 6.8% grade and one block as steep as 9.9%, it’s a beast for runners and cyclists.

Test your endurance walking, running or biking up the short but extremely steep route best accessed from the university area. Feel smug satisfaction conquering this brutal but popular training hill with locals pushing baby strollers or cycling up effortlessly. Just pace yourself on the quad-burning incline without stopping to really earn bragging rights of overcoming the most infamous hill in Boulder.

See Street Art in RiNo District


Just 30 minutes from downtown Boulder, Denver’s hip River North Art District known as RiNo has exploded with trendy breweries, eateries, dispensaries, galleries, music venues, and street art. Wander the neighborhood’s vibrant streets to discover an ever-changing outdoor gallery of colorful murals and graffiti tags sprawled across walls and buildings.

Snap photos strolling by eye-catching urban artwork around every corner like the Love This City mural, bird murals along the South Platte River Trail, and the giant Rabid Radish wall. Don’t miss the CRUSH Walls Festival each September when the world’s top street artists leave their mark across this Denver arts district, many of which stick around all year.

Shop on Pearl Street


Called the “heartbeat of Boulder,” Pearl Street is a bustling pedestrian street packed with locally-owned boutiques, galleries, restaurants, cafes and street performers. Stroll four blocks along the vibrant brick-lined open air mall to shop small at the myriad retailers and eateries.

Find Boulder-centric gifts at Into the Wind like funky socks emblazoned with the Flatirons. Peruse records at Albums on the Hill or handcrafted jewelry at Designs by Colorado. Grab some bubbly at BookCliff Vineyards tasting room or a cinnamon roll dripping in frosting from Cinnamon Tree. With no chains or big box retailers, Pearl Street offers a uniquely Boulder experience showcasing the city’s hip, outdoorsy vibe through its shops, eats and street performers.

Tour the Dushanbe Tea House


An unexpected gem located in downtown Boulder is the ornate Dushanbe Tea House gifted from Boulder’s sister city Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Handcrafted by Tajik artisans, this exquisite work of architecture features intricate carvings, colorful mosaic tiles, and painted ceilings in traditional Central Asian design.

Enjoy an afternoon traditional tea service on site paired with some snacks in this special space promoting cultural exchange. Wander the interior taking in the meticulous details or relax in the outdoor gardens after exploring Pearl Street. Don’t forget to peek inside the small museum room in the back showcasing traditional costumes, artwork and artifacts from Dushanbe adding deeper cultural context.

Have a Farm-to-Table Meal on a Farm


One of the top foodie towns in America, Boulder spoils diners with fresh locally-sourced bites from the abundant Front Range region. For the ultimate farm-to-table experience, enjoy an on-farm dinner from events organized by Colorado Farm & Food. Dine under string lights on an organic vegetable farm or mingle with sheep during a meal at Lamb Spring lamb farm.

Seasonal multi-course dinners might include just-picked greens and vegetables, grass-fed steaks from nearby ranches, or Colorado lamb paired with regional wines and beers. Meeting the farmers and ranchers cultivating the fare while surrounded by gardens or animals makes for memorable and meaningful culinary adventures where you can taste Boulder’s passion for sustainability.

Party on University Hill


Known as The Hill by locals, this neighborhood adjacent to the University of Colorado Boulder campus caters to the student crowd. Broadway is lined with affordable eats like late-night slices or breakfast bagels fueling an all-nighter study session. You’ll also find laidback cafes, hookah lounges, dive bars with free popcorn or Salsa Saturdays, and the hip Fox Theatre concert venue.

Wander side streets to admire murals splashed across brick walls in alleyways or stop for a custom tattoo. When classes wrap up each day, students spill onto Pearl and Pennsylvania Streets buzzing with happy hour specials, patios filled with games, and thumping dance clubs. Experience the spirited college vibe that influences so much of Boulder’s culture with some good eats and entertainment atop University Hill.

See a Show at Red Rocks

The legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre should be on every music lover’s bucket list. Located just outside Denver, this awe-inspiring venue is set within red sandstone rocks formations created by nature offering jaw-dropping views. Since 1947, iconic musicians have graced the hallowed stage framed by towering monoliths on either side including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and U2.

Beyond legendary concerts, comedy shows, fitness events and film showings also happen against the scenic geological phenomena holding 9,500 cheering fans. If not catching a show, you can do a daytime tour or workout on the stairs to admire the surroundings though nothing beats the atmosphere during an epic performance at what’s dubbed the best live music venue on Earth.

Conclusion


With epic nature, a vibrant food scene, thriving arts and culture, and active community, Boulder offers visitors endless things to experience.

From conquering the iconic Flatirons to exploring downtown and University Hill, admiring street art in Denver or learning at a tea house, Boulder’s stunning natural playground paired with urban hipness gives you plenty of options tailoring to your interests.

Whether planning a jam-packed itinerary mixing the outdoors with arts and culture or simply strolling Pearl Street soaking up the festive ambiance, there are so many amazing things to do in this dynamic Colorado town.

With scenic beauty around every corner and welcoming community spirit, Boulder invites you to explore local shops, eateries, trails, and cultural attractions highlighting everything that makes this innovative mountain city so beloved.

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