Boulder’s Best in One Perfect Day

Photo by Pedro Szekely

Where outdoor fitness competes with craft brews and creative cuisine in Boulder

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It’s possible to see the best of Boulder in one day. Boulderites are fit because they spend a lot of time outdoors, whether it’s bicycling to work, hiking the nearby foothills or climbing in Eldorado Canyon. But even if you don’t have a fitness vibe, there is plenty to do.

If you’re staying near the Pearl Street Mall, head to Snooze for corned beef hash on eggs, a breakfast burrito or simpler fare to get you fueled for the day. Other choices around town include Walnut Cafe (or the southside) and Turley’s on Pearl near 38th Street.

Boulder: hike and bike

Grab some healthy snacks, water, sunscreen and a jacket; it’s time for a hike or a bike ride. The Boulder Creek path is an easy 5.5 mile route following a meandering stream. Parts run near the Pearl Street Mall, the University of Colorado and the foothills. (Caveat: Joggers and bicyclists use the path, too, and on weekends it can get crowded.)

For a serious hike or relaxed walk, head to Chatauqua Park and into the Flatirons. Make a beeline for Royal Arch, or walk the Mesa Trail. All trails deliver great views of Boulder — once you hike uphill a bit.

Eldorado Canyon, a quick drive from downtown, is the most stunning place to hike. Trails range from easy to extremely difficult, and the steep sandstone cliffs are popular with local climbers. Other choices include Mt. Sanitas off Mapleton, NCAR, Mallory Cave and Bear Mountain if you’re feeling ambitious.

Lunchtime: brown bag or sit down?

If you haven’t gathered a picnic at Whole Foods to eat trailside, there are lots of choices in town. The Organic Sandwich Company always has creative choices. Boulder’s most interesting experience (with good food) is lunch at Dushanbe Teahouse, built without the use of power tools in Dushanbe Tajikistan, a sister city to Boulder. The Kitchen is a deservedly popular community bistro.

Western sculptures, celestial teas, weather balloons

Spend the afternoon at a more relaxing pace. For western art, head to the Leanin’ Tree Museum and Sculpture Garden of Western Art. The free museum houses a spectacular collection of paintings and sculptures by artists such as George Lundeen, Joe Beeler, Allan Houser and Glenna Goodacre. Pick up some of Leanin’ Tree’s greeting cards; tours of the production area are offered.

For tea lovers, the Celestial Seasonings headquarters offers a 45-minute tour, cafe and tea shop.

Or check out one of Banjo Billy’s tours. Or check out NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, with fascinating exhibits to help better understand weather patterns. Children will enjoy several hands-on exhibits.

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Toward the end of the day or early evening, head to the pedestrian-only Pearl Street Mall for Colorado’s best people-watching. The area features mom-and-pop and brand name shops, plus lots of restaurants in all price levels, and pubs. Wander aimlessly, perhaps popping into the Trident Booksellers and Cafe, the Alpine Modern Shop or Patagonia. Kids love playing on the rocks.


Let your stomach and wallet guide you to dinner on the Pearl Street Mall or a surrounding street. One of our favorites is Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill – it’s big, noisy, has lots of TVs and great BBQ and burgers. Another is Mediterranean (good for lunch, too), with a menu culled from countries surrounding that sea. (Think paella, tapas and marguerite pizzas.) Jax Fish House is a popular happy hour spot with a large oyster menu and lots of fish dishes at dinnertime. The award-winning OAK at fourteenth offers shared, small, large and family plates.

T/aco – an urban taqueria serves tacos that we bet you’ve never seen before. Zolo serves excellent southwestern fare. SALT features farm-to-table cuisine. Frasca Food & Wine, with its award-winning chef and sommelier combo, is arguably one of the top restaurants. Reservations are a must.

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