I moved to Boulder, Colorado almost a year ago now and have explored nearly every nook and cranny possible in this town.
I’ve tried over 100 restaurants/bars/breweries. Have done nearly every hike you could think of. Found the camping spots with the BEST views. Met the coolest people, and have really dialed in the absolute best things to do in Boulder.
Whether you’re looking for places to eat or drink, shop, hike, camp, or sit back and enjoy the mountains, this blog post covers everything you need for an epic visit to Boulder!
What To Expect In This Post:
- The absolute best places to eat and drink that are unique to Boulder!
- Where to hike and find the best free campsites in Boulder
- Outdoor activities you can’t miss, including a guide to Eldora ski resort!
Stay tuned until the end to learn some of the best tips and tricks from your favorite local!
The Best Things to Do in Boulder, Colorado
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WHERE TO STAY
I’ve stayed in a couple of places in Boulder that I’ve really loved. If you’re more outdoorsy, I’d recommend camping or finding a cabin on airbnb. My friend and I stayed in a little cabin in the woods with a hot tub before I moved to Boulder and we LOVED it. It was snowing at the time so it was extra cozy.
If you’re looking to stay in town, I recommend Hotel Boulderado. Hotel Boulderado is a charming, older Victorian style hotel. They have a speakeasy bar downstairs where locals love to hang out, a corner restaurant, and a spa. This hotel is located right next to Pearl Street Mall so it’s perfect if you love shopping or trying all the restaurants downtown. It is also located at the bottom of the canyon so it’s an easy base for mountain activities too!
PLACES TO EAT
One thing I’ve noticed since moving to Boulder is that there is an endless amount of local restaurants, coffee shops, and bars to try. If you’re looking for delicious, unique, small businesses to support, Boulder is the place to be. My favorite Colorado fare is the breakfast food. Try a Denver style omelette or a breakfast burrito and do as the Coloradoans do: smother whatever you get in homemade green chili.
I’ll make a more in-depth guide just on ALLLL of the best places to eat or drink in Boulder. But for a general overview, below are my top three places to eat and places to drink that you MUST try next time you’re in town for a visit.
THE BUFF RESTAURANT
A local favorite, where my friends and I spend every Friday morning. The Buff is a popular brunch restaurant that has delicious Colorado inspired food, 99 cent mimosas, and friendly staff. Try the White Buffalo and an omelette when you stop by!
location: 2600 Canyon Blvd. Boulder, CO 80302
HAPA SUSHI GRILL & SAKE BAR
Hapa is a delicious sushi restaurant located on Pearl Street that has excellent deals. Stop by during lunch or happy hour for half off appetizers, $5 sushi rolls, and discounts on drinks.
location: 1117 Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, CO 80302
AVANTI FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Avanti is a great place to go if you have large groups or picky eaters. It’s a cafeteria style eatery with different vendors for food and drinks. You can check out menus and vendors on their website!
location: 1401 Pearl St. Boulder, CO 80302
RELATED: 10 Best Breakfast Restaurants Near Denver Colorado
PLACES TO DRINK
THE RAYBACK COLLECTIVE
If you ever come to the Rayback Collective, I can almost guarantee you will find me here.
The Rayback Collective is a super trendy bar with indoor and outdoor seating (including a beer garden and fire pit). They have tons of the best Colorado beers on tap, and local food trucks to try.
It’s a great place to get work or homework done during the day and relax by the fire at night. Bring your dog, or hang out with a group of friends.
location: 2775 Valmont Rd. Boulder, CO 80304
DUSHANBE TEA HOUSE
The Dushanbe Tea House is a beautiful building located right next to Pearl Street that was gifted to Boulder from its sister city, Dushanbe. Stop by for a unique cocktail, afternoon tea, and to enjoy the architecture.
location: 1770 13th St. Boulder, CO 80302
AVERY BREWING CO
This wouldn’t be a Colorado travel guide without mentioning the best brewery in town. Stop by Avery Brewing Co for the best local beers in Boulder, specifically the White Rascal and Avery IPA.
location: 4910 Nautilus Ct. Boulder, CO 80301
RELATED: 10 Best Breweries Near Denver Colorado
THINGS TO DO
VISIT PEARL STREET MALL
If you’ve only ever seen one picture of Boulder, it’s probably the cobblestone streets of Pearl Street Mall with the Flatirons in the background.
Spend an afternoon on Pearl Street strolling through the shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars.
Some favorites and the most popular places to eat or drink on Pearl Street include (but is certainly not limited to): Pizzeria Locale, Snooze, Foolish Craig’s, Mountain Sun Pub, Sundown Saloon (“The Downer”), Bar Taco, and Rio Grande (The Rio).
WHERE TO HIKE
I have an entire guide on the Best Hikes In Boulder. So I’ll give you a quick overview of my favorites here and direct you to that page if you’re interested in learning more.
RELATED: 5 Best Hikes in Boulder
Chautauqua Park is home to the famous Flatirons and a plethora of the best hiking trails in Boulder. Here you can hike the Flatirons loops. Hike to the iconic Royal Arch, or sit under the Boulder star on your way to summit Flagstaff Mountain.
If you’re in the South Boulder area, make sure you stop and summit Bear Peak for my personal favorite hike in all of Boulder. It’s a good 5-6 hour hike, but the views are well worth the climb.
If you’ve got a little extra ammo in you once you summit, keep going about a half a mile to summit South Boulder Peak as well.
MOUNT SANITAS AND SANITAS VALLEY
Located off of Canyon Blvd, Sanitas Valley is a beautiful place to explore in the summertime, and when you climb to the top of the steep Mount Sanitas you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the city of Boulder down below.
I recommend you download the AllTrails app to find maps for specific trails, download maps to use offline, and look up reviews and photos of each trail.
WHERE TO CAMP
If you’re looking to camp in Boulder, you MUST make a trip up Sugarloaf Mountain. There are tons of free campsites with beautiful views of both the sunrise and sunset over the mountains and Boulder.
From central Boulder, follow Canyon Road all the way up to Sugarloaf Mountain Road, turn right and continue all the way up until you see signs for Switzerland Trail. Turn right and follow the dirt road up to a circular clearing at the start of Switzerland Trail.
If you have a 4×4 vehicle, Switzerland Trail is an easy but beautiful offroading trail to try with free campsites all along the trail.
If you do not have a 4×4 vehicle or are just looking to camp, all the roads in this clearing lead you to free campsites.
Some things to note:
-There are fire bans in place in the summertime (in all of Colorado) which are strictly enforced, so bring a stove if you plan on cooking food.
A link to my favorite camping stove can be found here, or there is a more portable option in my Backpacking Essentials Guide.
-While I’ve camped here dozens of times and have never seen a bear, they have been spotted in the area so make sure to research the area before you go and bear bag your food overnight.
RELATED: Car Camping Packing Guide and Tips
Like half the people who live in this state, I drive a Jeep Wrangler. While most of my favorite offroading trails are in other areas of Colorado, Boulder does have a couple easy and beautiful trails to drive.
The most popular trail (for good reason) is Switzerland Trail. The directions to the trailhead are the same as the camp sites.
It’s not marked, but the entrance to the trail is going to be the pull-off directly in front of you on the left. There is a map at the trailhead if you get confused!
My favorite thing to do during a summer evening in Boulder is drive Switzerland Trail, stop at a pull-off for sunset, and then camp at the end of the trail.
Eldora Mountain is Boulder’s ski resort. It’s a smaller mountain located right outside Boulder and Nederland so it’s perfect if you’re looking to avoid the mountain traffic or long lines, or if you’re just looking to get in a couple of runs in the afternoon. They have runs for every skill level ranging from beginner to expert, but really caters to families and beginners. They have a great ski school and kids’ ski program. You can park there but parking can fill up, so I recommend catching the RTD bus in downtown Boulder, which will drop you off at the mountain for less than $5!
Eldora is on the Ikon Pass, or they have day passes available too! There are two types of passes, Alpine and Nordic. The Alpine pass allows you to access the mountain where the Nordic pass is for those looking to ski in the back country terrain. The Nordic Pass is available when conditions allow, so be sure to check their website if you’re looking to purchase a Nordic Pass.
One of the most popular things to do in Boulder in the summertime is any kind of water sport you can think of with kayaking and paddleboarding being some of the most popular.
You can rent these items or bring your own, and take them out at the Boulder Reservoir (most popular, permit is required) or Gross Reservoir, which is located more in the mountains toward Nederland.
I hope you enjoyed this guide and found it to be helpful! You can click here to be directed to my other Colorado travel guides, or click here to learn more about all the outdoor adventure opportunities in Boulder and the rest of Colorado.
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