Boulder, Colorado is a great city located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It is a college town and a very pleasant place to live and visit. It should be noted that it is also a very expensive place to take up residence as the City of Boulder, as well as Boulder County, has strict zoning and building regulations that limit developement.
These days, Boulder wears several hats: as a university town, home of the University of Colorado at Boulder and others; as a hi-tech town that is rapidly spawning bedroom communities in outlying farm towns; and as a center of alternate culture, with various new age institutions, Naropa University, meditation centers, Buddhist centers, and the like. What perhaps distinguishes it most from other cities of similar size in the United States, however, is its status as a mecca for serious athletes, many of whom have made their home here for the conditioning advantages of high altitude, combined with businesses, facilities, and a community that provide opportunities for serious training and competition. Even the average nine-to-fiver Boulderite is much more likely than the average American to be a serious cyclist, runner, skier, etc., and you will see the difference as you're about town.
Boulder is placed in the Front Range region of Colorado here, even though it is virtually contiguous with Denver. This reflects the reality that it's the "front door" to the mountainous country to the west, with many outdoor attractions, and also the fact that there are all manner of cultural differences between Boulder and Denver.
Boulder is easily reached from Denver International Airport via car or bus. The public Regional Transportation District (RTD) "AB" bus runs hourly between DIA and Boulder. The AB bus is a clean, safe, and easy way to get to town. Boulder is only 20 miles from Denver, and is an easy drive via US highway 36.
Boulder has decent mass transit for such a small city. Boulder and Denver share a common mass transit system, known as RTD. If you choose to drive around town, be aware that there is heavy traffic on the main throughfares, and parking downtown can be a bit tight. There are a number of city-owned garages tucked behind the buildings downtown. Keep your eyes open for the large green "P" signs outside their entrance ramps, as they don't look like parking garages from the outside. Be careful parking in the University area, as tickets can be quite expensive.
- Downtown covers a large area, with the Pearl Street Mall (see below) at it's core. Downtown features shopping, eating, and entertainment for all ages. Be sure to check out the restaurants on Walnut Street, between 9th Street and Broadway, as they offer several good options just off the Pearl Street Mall. Also check out the West End of Pearl Street, between 8th Street and the Pearl Steet Mall, as it offers additional shopping and more restaurant options. For home furnishings, make sure to check out Pearl Street's East End, from the Pearl Street Mall to 20th Street. Stop by the Boulder Farmers Market on 13th St., between Canyon and Arapaho Avenues, on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings - an experience not to miss.
- Pearl Street Mall. This five block long downtown pedestrian walking mall is surrounded by historic buildings containing shopfronts and restaurants. Along Pearl Street you will find many boutiques and independent shops featuring everything from clothing to trinkets and art. Also along Pearl Street are some national chain shops, and several street performers. For food, the Pearl Street area offers a large variety of cuisines from around the world, and is priced from $8 to $30 per person.
- University Hill. This small area is located West of Broadway across from the main campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Commonly referred to as just 'The Hill,' the area caters to college students with a variety of restaurants and bars, and services such as barbershops, bookstores, and coffee houses. There are also several entertainment venues that showcase up-and-coming talent from around the world.
- University of Colorado at Boulder. The flagship institution of the state of Colorado, CU-Boulder (as it's called locally) has a 600-acre campus, with beautiful gardens and buildings tucked away in it's mainly pedestrian core that's worth a visit. Check out the Heritage Center located in the Old Main building, for a look at the history of CU. There are also art galleries and museums located throughout campus.
- Boulder Creek Path. This miles-long path sits on the banks of the Boulder Creek, cutting right through the middle of town. Along this path you will find beautiful walking, biking, and other forms of recreation. In the downtown area, pick up the path at Civic Park, located on Broadway, between Canyon and Arapaho Avenues.
- Chautauqua Park is located at the base of the Flatiron's rock formation, at Baseline Ave and 8th Street. For a minor hike, take the trail to the 3rd Flatiron. This hike will show you sweeping vistas of town and an up-close and personal look at the Flatiron's rock formations. During the summer months, the Boulder Symphony performs at Chautauqua, with the mountains as a stunning backdrop.
- Rhumba. Located on the west end of Pearl St. (near Pearl and 10th), Rhumba features great Caribbean food, drinks, and music on certain nights. Don't leave witout trying a Mojito--a blend of rum, soda water, sugar, mint, and lime. For bold types, the famous Brazilian cocktail known as the caiparinia is a must and worth the money.
- Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. A great place to enjoy a cup of tea and enjoy architecture from half way around the world. The food is moderately portioned and deliciously prepared.
- Illegal Pete's. A favorite for students of CU-Boulder, there is a location on "The Hill," close to Jones Drugs, across the street from the CU Economics Building, and one on the far east side of the Pearl Street Mall. Economically priced, very generously proportioned Mexican food and beer.
- West End Tavern. The classic American tavern is reborn! The rooftop deck is open (weather permitting), affording remarkable views of the Flatirons beneath 300 days of sunshine a year. Visit the Boulder locals' favorite for a cold brew and some good eats.
- Brasserie 1010. For a more expensive meal, visit Brasserie 1010, on Walnut Street downtown, where french-inspired cuisine is served in an elegant setting with delicious daily specials.
- Hapa Sushi. Located on the Pearl Street Mall, Hapa is a cosmoptolitan sushi house with japanese influences. Reasonably priced, watch as sushi chefs prepare your meal at the sushi bar.
- Q's Restaurant. Q's is located in the Hotel Boulderado. Q's delivers it's extraordinary cuisine at reasonable prices. For a truly exquisite display of the culinary arts, this is the place to be.
- Boulder Chophouse. Yes, it's part of a national chain, but it's still worth a visit to experience wonderful beef and seafood in a moderately priced environment.
- Flagstaff House. Tucked up on Flagstaff Mountain, the Flagstaff House has breathtaking views of the City of Boulder just below it. Visit for cocktails, dessert, or stay for a full meal, the views will astonish you. Located up Baseline Ave, on Flagstaff Mountain, just 3 minutes outside of town.
- Mountain Sun/Southern Sun. Two locations in Boulder for your delight. The original Mountain Sun is located on the east end of Pearl Street while newer location, called the Southern Sun, is in South Boulder at the intersection of South Broadway and Table Mesa in the Table Mesa Shopping Center. Some excellent beers (particularly the Java Porter) and often excellent Boulder granola music.
- Boulder Beer. Claims to be Colorado's First Microbrewery, but there is no doubt that their beers have been around forever in Boulder. Brewery/Pub is located in north Boulder (in what always seemed an odd location) near the train tracks and off of Valmont near Foothills Parkway. They make great beers and have excellent happy hour deals.
- Walnut Brewery. Boulder's Original Brewpub that serves up a generous (and one of my favorites) heaping-high plate of Nachos. Many classic beers that Boulderites rave about years after they leave Boulder. Located in the heart of Boulder on Walnut St, near 11th. Parking can be a pain in this area; best to use the parking garage across the street and hope for validation of your ticket.
- Boulder Inn. Prominently located directly across from the University, the Boulder Inn gives guests easy access to Boulder's principal attractions, NIST, NOAA, premier shopping, and extraordinary dining. Stylish, well-appointed rooms reflect a gracious ambiance, found throughout the hotel.
- Hotel Boulderado. A four-star getaway located one block off the Pearl Street Mall, with easy downtown access. Everything is within a five minute walk and you don't even need to worry about finding a parking place.
- St. Julien Hotel. This new five-star hotel is the luxury experience in downtown Boulder. Located at 9th and Walnut streets, the St. Julien offers everything you could desire while only being three blocks from the Pearl Street Mall.
- Boulder Outlook Hotel. This new hotel is located adjacent to the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is the quintessential Boulder hotel experience. They have a black lagoon pool and a rock climbing area indoors. They even allow you to bring your dog along to stay with you.
Crime and personal safety
Boulder is very low crime and has no bad neighborhoods, but use common sense. University Hill, which is bordered by Baseline, Broadway, and Canyon can be come ruckus in the evenings, especially on weekends. Downtown Boulder, especially at night, is frequented by panhandlers, which can at times be aggressive but are not dangerous. Aggressive panhandling is illegal in Boulder, and you may report it to the police. Throughout the hiking trails and near University property, Boulder has black posts with phones in them that only dial 911.
Boulder has a dry climate and during any season, dehydration can be a problem for visitors and residents alike. Drink plenty of water. If you go hiking in the evening, bring two quarts of water. At night tempatures drop remarkably, so bring warm clothing if you'll be out at night. (This is true even during summer months.) Beware of mountain lions while hiking. Although mountain lions almost never attack adults, they may attack unattended children.