Blake Walsh

17 Best Things to Do in Boulder, CO

  • Published 2022/10/15

Boulder is a city just 30 minutes from the state capital Denver.

It’s the county seat of Boulder County and is one of the most populated cities in the entire state of Colorado.

Situated at the foot of Colorado’s world-famous Rocky Mountains, Boulder teems with natural resources and geographical wonders.

On top of its scenic topography, Boulder also has a rich city culture full of art, museums, and festivities.

Check out this list of the best things to do in Boulder, Colorado, to start your adventure.

Explore the Flatirons

Daytime view of the Flatirons

Jennifer Yakey-Ault /

The Flatirons should be the topmost part of your Boulder itinerary as it symbolizes the city’s natural beauty.

Geographically, flatirons are triangular rock formations with steep slopes, almost like miniature mountains.

The Flatirons got its name because it comprises five flatirons that span north to south along the eastern slope of Green Mountain.

They form part of the Rocky Mountains.

Hiking trail leading to the Flatirons

Mike Demmings /

You can enjoy the Flatirons from afar, but you can also hike several of its trails with varying difficulties.

Just take note that the hike is not beginner-friendly.

You can begin your journey to the Flatirons by parking along Baseline Road or starting at Chautauqua Park.

Peak of the Flatirons

Jeremy Janus /

Commune with Nature at Chautauqua Park

Scenic view of Chautauqua Park

Sidra Monreal Photography /

Chautauqua Park is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places because its heritage dates back to the late 1890s.

Chautauqua Park is now one of the best places to observe the city’s scenic beauty as a symbol of a social movement that aimed to preserve Boulder’s lands.

You can access many mountain trails from the park, including The Flatirons trail.

On the other hand, you can enjoy nature here with friends and family if you’re not into hiking.

Hikers at Chautauqua Park

Page Light Studios /

Many of its picnic areas and walking trails are close to nature and offer picturesque views.

Chautauqua Park is a can’t-miss destination in Boulder.

You can visit it along Baseline Road and 9th Street.

Mountain trail at Chautauqua Park

AlviseZiche /

Hike to Realization Point

Scenic mountain views from Realization Point

Petr Olsak /

If you’re looking for fantastic mountaintop views with a relatively easy hike, Realization Point is a good option among Boulder’s many peaks.

As part of Boulder’s Flagstaff Mountain, Realization Point has many beautiful rock formations that change in appearance depending on the season.

You’ll see the sprawling slopes all over Colorado when you reach the summit.

The cloud formations here are nothing short of spectacular during a clear day.

Many locals reach this point even with their young children, making Realization Point a family-friendly hike.

You can reach Realization Point by beginning your hike along Flagstaff Road.

Jog around Twin Lakes

Boulder is home to several lakes as part of its rich geographical location.

The Twin Lakes are two of the best lakes in the country.

The Gunbarrel neighborhood is well-known as a picturesque and serene area.

The area got its name because of the two almost connected lakes.

Each lake has walking trails, but you can easily combine the two for a more extended jog.

It’s also one of the best places to bring your pup to Boulder.

You can walk your dogs off-leash, too.

The Twin Lakes is near Gunbarrel Avenue and 63rd Street.

Shop and Dine at Pearl Street Mall

Shops at Pearl Street Mall

Arina P Habich /

Pearl Street Mall is first on the list showcasing Boulder’s rich urban life.

Established over 30 years ago, Pearl Street Mall is easily the most iconic shopping district in Boulder.

It’s a four-block pedestrian shopping mall that will keep you walking because of its varied offerings.

Bed of tulips on Pearl Street Mall grounds

Arina P Habich /

It’s complete with everything you can ask for, such as dining establishments, clothing stores, and bars.

This shopping district is also home to the Boulder County Courthouse.

Pearl Street Mall is at Pearl Street and stretches from Boulder’s 11th to 15th Street.

Night scene at Pearl Street Mall

littlenySTOCK /

Experience Central Asia at Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Exterior of Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Kit Leong /

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is an iconic Boulder landmark that practices ancient tea art from Central Asia.

The teahouse is mainly named after the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe.

In Boulder, the teahouse got its name after over 40 Tajik artisans worked on the assembly parts of the teahouse.

Filled with colorful wood carvings and ceramic panels, its exterior and interiors look like they came out of a movie about royalty.

Interior of Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

littlenySTOCK /

While the place is an attraction on its own, its menu does not fall far behind.

Their tea quality and selection are excellent, and they have meals for breakfast to dinner.

Very few places are as Instagram-worthy as Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse in the U.S., located at 1770 13th Street.

Beautiful interior design of Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

jenlo8 /

Meet the Locals at Boulder County Farmers Market

Vendors and shoppers at Boulder County Farmers Market

jenlo8 /

When trying the state’s local produce and products, Boulder County Farmers Market is an excellent addition to your itinerary.

The market has been going strong since 1987.

It features many of the state’s fantastic food businesses that sell various grab-and-go dishes.

Large quantities of fresh produce are available here.

Fresh baked pretzels at Boulder County Farmers Market

Red Herring /

A wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables are reasonably priced.

You can also buy other items at the farmers’ market, like art, personal care, and household items.

Put Boulder County Farmers Market in your itinerary, found along 13th Street.

Plants for sale at Boulder County Farmers Market

Sherie Croft /

Visit the Museum of Boulder

The Museum of Boulder is one of the many museums in the city.

You can get a comprehensive understanding of the city’s rich heritage that dates back centuries ago.

They have two primary collections: archives and artifacts.

Thousands of documents and photographs of the city’s modern history are in the archives.

As for its artifact collection, the Museum of Boulder houses over 45,000 items, all significant to the city’s history.

You’ll enjoy an immersive experience at the Museum of Boulder at 2205 Broadway.

Take a Campus Tour at the University of Colorado

Welcome sign of the University of Colorado

Red Herring /

Boulder is home to the state’s largest and most prominent university—The University of Colorado.

One of the leading science and engineering universities in the U.S., touring the campus is a sweet addition to your trip, whether you’re an aspiring student or a regular visitor.

There are several campus events open to the public year-round that you may want to check.

Aerial view of a lacrosse field at the University of Colorado

University of College /

It’s also home to the Fiske Planetarium, where astronomical exhibits and events occur.

However, a campus tour is best if you genuinely want to experience everything the campus and programs offer.

The University of Colorado is along Colorado Avenue.

Fiske planetarium at the University of Colorado

Sharon Wildie /

Explore the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

Exterior of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

Gaurav, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Inside the university lies the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

You can learn about various aspects of natural history here, including geographic discoveries, anthropological findings, and prehistoric life.

Several exhibits are available, such as one focusing on Antarctica, Earth’s climate, and several wildlife species.

Triceratops skull in the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

University of Colorado Museum of Natural History , CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While its expansive collection and prehistoric and ancient fossils make it famous, dinosaurs, mammals, and human fossils are plentiful in their exhibits.

If you’re not planning on touring the university’s campus, then the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History is a destination on its own.

Go on a Water Sports Adventure at Boulder Creek

Rushing waters of Boulder Creek

Kit Leong /

Boulder Creek is one of the ancient land and water formations in Boulder and the city’s most prominent body of water.

The creek got its name first before the city.

Stretching over 30 miles long, the creek comprises three areas (north, middle, and south) where you can do water sports such as tubing, fly fishing, and wading.

It’s trendy to fish here, as Boulder Creek is rich in various fish ranging from bass, bluegill, and carp to trout and shiners.

Water-tubing on Boulder Creek

Kit Leong /

If you want to appreciate the creek without getting wet, Boulder Creek has a pathway where you can cycle and walk around.

It also has markets and other festivities at specific points in the year.

You can access this natural wonder through Boulder Creek Path, accessible along Boulder Canyon Drive.

Rapids of Boulder Creek

egvisuals /

Zoom across Boulder with the Boulder Tour Company

Boulder offers you a fun and social way of discovering the hotspots and hidden gems of the city with the Boulder Tour Company.

This tour company provides an innovative electric bike that lets you zoom across the city without breaking a sweat.

Expert tour guides manage the tours with extensive knowledge of the city’s culture, geography, and history.

They’ll take you to varied areas in Boulder, from urban districts to scenic mountain views.

The Boulder Tour Company adds spice to your trip and lets you meet new people.

You can learn more about this service by visiting their shop off Dellwood Ave & 7th Street.

Appreciate Art at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Exterior of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Kit Leong /

If you’re into the arts and have spare time, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art makes a great addition to your adventure.

It’s only a small museum that you can fully explore in an hour.

Despite its size, there are different mediums of contemporary art present inside from various artists.

There are plenty of rotating and temporary exhibits throughout the year, so check their website before visiting.

You can find the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art at 1750 13th Street.

See Legendary Race Cars at Shelby American Collection

1964 shelby cobra in Shelby American Collection

Sicnag, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shelby American Collection is one of the most underrated niche spots in Boulder.

It displays an extensive collection of vintage racing cars, making it a must-visit for any racing or automotive enthusiast.

The vintage racing cars are tightly packed in their small space, giving its interior a rare aesthetic that will be a hit on any photo gallery or Instagram wall.

1966 Ford GT in Shelby American Collection

Sicnag, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some cars here were driven by legendary racers such as the museum’s namesake, Carrol Shelby, and others like Ken Miles and Mario Andretti.

Shelby American Collection also has a team of highly knowledgeable staff who will guide you through the history behind each car.

You can visit them at 5020 Chaparral Court.

Take a Swim at Boulder Reservoir

The waters of Boulder Reservoir

Wan Kum Seong /

Located along 51st Street lies Boulder Reservoir, the city’s primary water storage facility.

Boulder Reservoir isn’t only just a water reserve, however, as this 700-acre body of water is also used for several recreation activities.

For starters, you can take a swim at this massive reservoir and cool down during the intense summer heat.

Boating activities such as sailing and water skiing are also frequently done at Boulder Reservoir.

If you’re not into getting wet, you can enjoy the reservoir through its jogging and cycling trails and its relaxation spots, where you can observe various migratory birds.

See a Show at the Historic Boulder Theater

Exterior of the Historic Boulder Theater

jenlo8 /

Boulder Theater is a go-to place in the state if you’re looking to watch a comedy, performance, or concert in a historic theater.

Groups such as the Lumineers and Brandi Carlile have held several legendary concerts here.

Even if you’re not looking to watch a performance, you can explore Boulder Theater as a city symbol, established back in 1906.

Marquee of the Historic Boulder Theater

jenlo8 /

Its architecture is also some of the finest on the West Coast, boasting an Art Deco style that includes a 22-foot mural and a picturesque facade that’ll take you back in time.

Boulder Theater also has a stylish lounge if you want to dine and drink.

You can visit the theater along 14th Street.

Posters on the Historic Boulder Theater's facade

jenlo8 /

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy the Outdoors at Eldorado Canyon State Park

Welcome sign of Eldorado Canyon State

FotoKina /

Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of the largest mountain-climbing areas in the U.S.

However, this park makes for a great family adventure as well.

It has over 500 rock climbing routes, quickly making it one of the best climbing areas in the world.

The waters of Eldorado Canyon State

Yarik Sychov /

If you’re just a casual goer, you can enjoy rock climbers congregating in the area while having a picnic with family or friends.

Eldorado Canyon State Park has many other activities, such as fishing and wildlife observation.

You can access the park through Kneale Road in Eldorado Springs, Colorado, 16 minutes from Boulder.

Rock-climbing at Eldorado Canyon State

Zachj6497 /

Final Thoughts

Boulder is a natural wonder that showcases the beauty of Colorado and its mountains.

If you’re done with all the outdoor adventure, there’s more to do in the city’s urban districts.

You can go shopping, watch a performance, or visit several of its fascinating museums and educational centers.

Maximize your time there and save this list of the best things to do in Boulder, Colorado.

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