Discover Boulder’s Best: 19+ Great Things to Do

Julie Diebolt Price Avatar
Things to Do in Boulder -  The Flatirons

Boulder, Colorado, was founded during the Colorado gold rush in the mid-19th century in 1859. Often referred to as “the city nestled between the mountains and reality,” it is a unique blend of outdoor adventure and urban sophistication. With a population of just over 100,000, it’s a city that’s small enough to feel intimate yet large enough to offer a wealth of experiences.

My recent road trip to this Colorado town wasn’t my first visit. But I discovered many new ways to enjoy the city’s natural beauty and cultural gems.

3 Things Women Love to Do in Boulder

Things to Do in Boulder - From Corrida Restaurant Rooftop.
The Flatirons from Corrida rooftop. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

1. View The Flatirons

The stunning Flatirons, part of the Rocky Mountains Front Range, are the city’s backdrop. These five blocks of sandstone that jut into the sky provide a playground for climbers and nature enthusiasts.

The five primary Flatirons on the eastern slope of Green Mountain are the most recognizable. They are numbered north to south—their unique, flat, iron-like shape results from the differential erosion of the tilted rock layers. When the pioneer women first saw these geological formations, they said the mountains looked like their flat irons–an old-fashioned iron used for pressing clothes.

At 1,400 feet high, the Third Flatiron is famous for individual climbers who were naked, wore roller skates, wore full scuba gear, climbed without using their hands, and climbed it in eight minutes.

Many locations in town have a tremendous view of the peaks. I enjoyed a rooftop dinner at Corrida with an uninterrupted view of the Flatirons during the unseasonably warm fall. It was extra special because the fall foliage made a vivid blanket of color at the base.

Things to Do in Boulder - Pearl Street Mall, West End.
Pearl Street Mall, West End. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

2. Stroll Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall

Downtown Boulder is a walkable area known as Pearl Street Mall. It is a bustling hub of activity that is a must-see experience that includes boutiques, eateries, cafés, a dining hall, and entertainment for the kids.

In the Pearl Street Mall, you’ll find a mix of historic buildings, unique shops, art galleries, and various restaurants offering everything from farm-to-table cuisine to international delicacies. Musicians and street performers add to the festive atmosphere, making each visit a unique experience.

Things to Do in Boulder - Avery Brewing Co. in Downtown Boulder.
Avery Brewing Co. in Downtown Boulder. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

3. Check Out the Boulder Beer Scene

Many great breweries produce craft beer in Boulder, and Avery Brewing Company is rated No. 1 by TripAdvisor for brewing companies. They’ve been brewing beer for 20 years and offer draft beer and food in their taproom and restaurant just 12 miles northeast of downtown Boulder.

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Things to Do in Boulder - Historic Boulderado Theater.
Historic Boulder Theater. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

4. Boulder Theater

One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is the Boulder Theater. This historic venue, located in the heart of downtown Boulder, has been a cultural hub since its inception in 1906. Originally built as an opera house, the Boulder Theater has evolved over the years, reflecting the city’s growth and transformation.

The Boulder Theater’s Art Deco façade has geometric patterns and bold, streamlined designs. The theater’s interior is a grand spectacle, with its ornate detailing, plush red velvet seats, and the mesmerizing glow of the vintage marquee.

Over the years, the Boulder Theater played host to silent films and vaudeville shows in its early days and concerts, film festivals, and community events in recent times.

I enjoyed most seeing the Boulder Theater from my Hotel Boulderdo room window as the neon marquee lit the night sky over the surrounding neighborhood.

Things to Do in Boulder - Hotel Boulderado at the Corner of Spruce and 13th Street.
Hotel Boulderado at the Corner of Spruce and 13th Street. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

5. Hotel Boulderado

The Hotel Boulderado, a beloved historic landmark in the center of Boulder’s downtown, greeted me with its old-world Victorian charm. With a history spanning 120 years, this hotel skillfully combines Victorian design, a touch of Spanish Revival, and up-to-date comforts.

The lobby, with its eye-catching stained-glass ceiling and a grand staircase made of cherrywood, immediately transports you back to an earlier time. However, the well-furnished suites have all the modern conveniences you’d expect in the 21st century.

Things to Do in Boulder - Cherrywood and Stained Glass Hotel Boulderado Lobby.
Cherrywood and Stained Glass Hotel Boulderado Lobby. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

The hotel offers hosted tours led by their historian of 40 years, Laurel McKown, and a self-guided tour of the third floor. These tours provide insight into the history of both Boulder and the Hotel Boulderado. During the tour, peek behind the window coverings and glimpse the open space above the stained-glass ceiling.

When I was there, guests and staff used the original Otis elevator to ascend to the upper floors. A front desk staffer had to operate the elevator for all guests. The construction of a self-operated elevator steps away went into service soon after my departure.

Things to Do in Boulder - Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark
Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

6. Chautauqua Park

Established in 1898, Chautauqua Park was part of the Chautauqua Movement, an adult education and social movement that gained popularity in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Designed as a cultural and educational retreat, the Park was where people could gather to learn, socialize, and appreciate the arts. The iconic Colorado Chautauqua Auditorium, a National Historic Landmark, still hosts various cultural events and performances throughout the year.

Chautauqua Park remains a beloved destination for both locals and tourists. The Park’s charm lies in its ability to blend history with the natural beauty of Colorado.

The Park’s lush green meadows, dotted with wildflowers, are framed by the majestic Flatirons, the rock formations defining Boulder’s landscape. These towering rocks provide a stunning backdrop for the Park and offer a range of hiking trails for all fitness and adventure levels.

Chautauqua Park is home to a charming dining hall that dates to 1898, offering visitors a taste of history along with their meals. With its wrap-around porch and stunning views of the Flatirons, the Chautauqua Dining Hall serves up a menu that reflects Colorado’s culinary heritage, using locally sourced ingredients.

Things to Do in Boulder - Boulder Creek Path.
Boulder Creek Path. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

7. Boulder Creek Park

Boulder Creek Park is a verdant oasis with a rich history dating to the late 19th century. Originally a popular gathering spot for the Arapaho tribe, the Park became a bustling hub for gold miners in the early 1900s seeking their fortune in the creek. The remnants of this era can still be seen in the form of old mining equipment scattered throughout the Park.

Boulder Creek meanders through the city, and Boulder Creek Path is a 5.5-mile trail that follows the creek. Cyclists, joggers, anglers, birdwatchers, and families enjoy outdoor activities along the scenic trail. The gentle rapids offer a thrilling ride on an innertube.

Things to Do in Boulder - Chautauqua Trailhead Connects to Flagstaff Trailhead.
Chautauqua Trailhead Connects to Flagstaff Trailhead. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

8. Flagstaff Mountain

One of my favorite spots in this vibrant city is Flagstaff Mountain, a majestic peak that stands tall at 6,983 feet. The well-marked trails range from easy to challenging. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Boulder and the spectacular surrounding plains.

Trailhead parking is at the base of Flagstaff Mountain and shares space with Chautauqua Park by the Ranger Station. When I was there, the parking lot filled quickly with hikers and visitors to the Park.

Things to Do in Boulder - Exhibit at Ranger Cottage.
Exhibit at Ranger Cottage. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

In Flagstaff Mountain’s heart lies the Flagstaff Nature Center, where you’ll learn about the local flora and fauna through interactive exhibits and guided tours. The center also offers various educational programs that provide insights into the area’s rich biodiversity.

9. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

Red Rocks Amphitheater, located near Boulder, is a natural, open-air amphitheater carved into the red rock formations. The acoustics are world-class, making it a favorite venue for musicians from all over the world.

Since its opening in 1941, Red Rocks Amphitheater has been central to Colorado’s cultural scene, hosting everything from live music rock concerts to symphony orchestras.

When I visited the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Boulder, they were gearing up for a concert that night. Traffic was intense, and I opted not to hike in the Park.

There are public shuttles and private vehicle services to get you to Red Rocks Amphitheater from Denver and Boulder. These options are your best choice to avoid traffic, parking hassles, and driving after drinking. It’s super easy to get to performances at Red Rocks Amphitheater. There is a pick-up point where the rideshare will drop you off and pick you up because rideshares aren’t allowed in the parking lot.

10. Fiske Planetarium

In the College of Arts and Sciences, Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences Department of the University of Colorado Boulder, the Fiske Planetarium is a place to gaze at the stars and explore the universe.

Fiske Planetarium offers full-dome films, theatrical productions, star talks, live talks, laser fantasy, liquid sky music shows, and concerts. The 65-foot diameter dome is the largest planetarium between Chicago and Los Angeles. It seats 200 guests.

Things to Do in Boulder - Historic Landmark Warehouse Building Houses BMoCA
Historic Landmark Warehouse Building Houses BMoCA. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

11. Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, BMoCA, celebrates current, modern-day art. Founded in 1972, BMoCA produces thought-provoking exhibitions, engaging works by emerging and established artists, and educational programs that inspire creativity for all ages.

The Museum resides in a 1906 historic landmark building that was once a warehouse. I found the building itself an interesting art piece, as well as the large installation artworks outside.

Things to Do in Boulder - Interactive Art at BMoCA
Interactive Art at BMoCA. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

While there, I enjoyed watching visitors work with gallery art pieces. A couple quickly learned how to interact with the art using goggles for the virtual reality exhibit. Other exhibits displayed sound mechanisms and a kombucha leather biomaterial.

The exhibits truly reflected contemporary thoughts and ideas made into art.

12. The Museum of Boulder

Blending the old and the new, interactive displays at The Museum of Boulder showcase Boulder’s progression from a small mining town to a bustling city.

The Museum is a community hub as a venue for events and programs like art workshops and historical lectures.

The Boulder Experience exhibition space showcases the innovation developed in Boulder from the early times of Native Americans to the present day.

13. National Center for Atmospheric Research

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is a world-renowned institution for scientists and researchers from around the world who work to unravel the mysteries of our planet’s atmosphere.

The Center has interactive exhibits and educational programs for people curious about Earth’s climate and weather.

14. Museum of Natural History

The CU Museum of Natural History has a collection that spans millions of years, showcasing everything from ancient dinosaur fossils to exhibits on modern-day climate change.

For youngsters, interactive displays and hands-on activities make learning enjoyable and exciting.

If you are a history or science enthusiast or looking for an educational outing, the Museum of Natural History is a must-visit.

15. Farmers Market

Located next door to The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, the Boulder County Farmers Market is open seasonally on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Farmers Market is stocked entirely by Colorado producers.

Things to Do in Boulder - Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

16. The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

In Boulder, you must see the award-winning Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. Even better, you should have tea or a meal there. This popular tourist attraction is a local favorite for its great food, tea, and atmosphere.

The Teahouse offers an international cuisine menu for lunch, teatime, afternoon tea service, dinner, and weekend brunch. They have over 100 fine, loose-leaf teas from the world’s most exclusive tea-growing regions for countless cups of tea.

I had dinner when I was there in the fall and ordered their signature dish, the Tajikistan Plov, which is a traditional rice dish with carrot, onion, chickpea, spices, grilled beef, tomato-cucumber salad, dried fruit, and house-made naan.

Things to Do in Boulder - Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse Painted Ceiling Detail.
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse Painted Ceiling Detail. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

Dushanbe is Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan. The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse was a gift to Boulder. More than 40 artisans from Tajikistan created the decorative elements of the Teahouse (without power tools), including the hand-painted and hand-carved ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels. The colors are vibrant, and the intricate designs are breathtaking.

The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, owned by the City of Boulder, is operated as a private concession. Ongoing restoration is carried out by visiting Tajik masters.

17. University of Colorado

Boulder is home to the University of Colorado, a leading research university that adds a youthful energy and intellectual vibrancy. The university’s presence has helped foster a thriving tech scene, making Boulder a hotspot for startups and innovation.

18. Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Since 1958, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival has been associated with the University of Colorado Boulder. The professional theatre company celebrates Shakespeare through top-notch productions, community engagement, and education.

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival has performed under the stars in the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre for over 60 seasons. The theater was named after Mary Rippon, the first female professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. This year and possibly in 2025, all performance seasons will occur inside the newly renovated Roe Green Theatre.

19. Outdoor Activities

With 45,000 acres of unspoiled open space and 300 miles of biking trails and hiking trails in Boulder, countless outdoor activities keep you occupied and entertained.

The Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department of the City of Boulder offers in-classroom and experiential programs for non-disabled persons to give them the experience of accessing nature using equipment built for people with disabilities. For people in wheelchairs or experiencing some disability, hikes on OSMP-accessible trails include wildlife, wildflowers, birdwatching, photography, and fall colors.

Day Trips from Boulder

Make Boulder your home base, and in an hour’s drive, you can access a national park, a wilderness area, and two state parks.

20. Rocky Mountain National Park

Boulder is about an hour southeast of Rocky Mountain National Park, where you can hike, picnic, and camp. The Trail Ridge Road is a breathtaking 48-mile route between Estes Park and Grand Lake, with 11 miles of highway above the treeline, near 11,500 feet. Spectacular views, wildlife sightings, and alpine wildflower displays can be seen from your vehicle. The Tundra World Nature Trail is a half-hour walk that begins near the Rock Cut parking area.

Some of the area’s most notable waterfalls can be found in Rocky Mountain National Park. Ouzel Falls is one of the greenest spots in Colorado. Several smaller waterfalls and cascades lead up to Ouzel Falls, which drops over 40 feet through a sliver in the dark rock wall surrounding it and flows into a chilly pool below.

21. Estes Park

Estes Park is a natural playground where you can rent a bike, take a fly-fishing lesson, hike to mountain peaks, play miniature golf, try your skill on a go-cart track, or slide down a giant slide.

While white-water rafting is not for me, you might find me in a kayak or on a pontoon boat on Lake Estes. Better yet, taking a tour of haunted Estes or watching coffin races–seriously!

22. Eldorado Canyon State Park

Eldorado Canyon State Park is a 20-minute drive from Boulder. You can hike or mountain bike through sandstone cliffs along South Boulder Creek in “Eldo,” as it’s known to the locals. Eldo is a rock-climbing mecca because it offers over five hundred technical rock-climbing routes.

She Buys Travel Tip: Eldorado Canyon State Park requires timed-entry reservations on holidays and weekends from May 15 to September 15.

23. Boulder Falls

Located nine miles west of downtown Boulder, Boulder Falls is easily accessible from the parking area, making it a popular hiking location. Ponderosa pines and the cliffs of Boulder Canyon surround the 70-foot-high waterfall.

She Buys Travel Tip: The trail is closed in the winter, and the parking lot holds less than 20 cars, so go early to get a spot.

About Boulder

Known as the Happiest City in the United States, according to the National Geographic Gallup Special Index in 2017, Boulder is where Americans are “living their best lives.” The metrics include healthy eating, learning something new daily, financial security, vacation time, and civic engagement.

With its extensive network of bike paths, its emphasis on local food, and numerous green initiatives, Boulder is clearly committed to sustainability. It’s a city that values health and wellness, too, with many yoga studios, organic food stores, and outdoor activities.

Final Thoughts

Boulder, Colorado, is more than just a city. It’s a lifestyle, a mindset, and a community that welcomes all who appreciate natural beauty, active living, and a vibrant cultural scene. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, a tech guru, or simply someone looking for a place that values health, happiness, and community, Boulder is a city that has something for everyone.

Julie Diebolt Price is an award-winning professional photographer, educator, author, and travel writer. She writes about two things – photography and travel (along with a little food and beverage). Julie educates and mentors aspiring photographers. As a journalist who loves to travel, she creates memorable experiences and shares them with words and pictures.
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