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If you want to enjoy a weekend in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Colorado, Boulder is hard to beat. One of the state’s most popular towns is filled with spectacular views, abundant sunshine, artisan eats and craft brews while outdoor adventure abounds. With so much to see and do, here are some of the best ways to spend a weekend in this city.
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Often rated as one of America’s top leading open-air pedestrian malls, Pearl Street Mall is a must-experience when in Boulder. It serves as the central hub, a top spot for people watching and free, live entertainment. On any given day of the week there are all sorts buskers, with everything from the famous zip code man who’s memorized more than 30,000 zip codes to fire-eaters, contortionists and talented musicians. If you’re into shopping, there’s a wide range of options, including high-end fashion retailers, bookstores, unique boutiques, art galleries and more.
The iconic Flatirons that you’ll see when approaching Boulder are not only visually stunning, they serve as a popular destination for hikers and climbers. There are multiple trail options, but if you’re looking for some of the best Instagram-worthy shots, take the Flatirons Vista Loop Trail. You’ll walk through pine trees and wide open spaces, skirting the Flatirons that lie just south of the city. The 3.3-mile trek is an easy one and also brings the opportunity to watch for wildlife like black bear, mule deer, bobcat and coyote.
Boulder’s farmers’ market has been ranked as one of the best in the nation. Many locals shop at this growers-only outlet ever week as it guarantees the highest quality selection of locally-grown seasonal produce along with herbs, flowers, cheeses, meats, eggs, wine, gourmet food products and more. Local chefs, hard-core foodies and others come for the best selection right when it opens at 8 a.m., a time when you can enjoy breakfast in the outdoor food court, including fresh-brewed coffee, baked goods and all sorts of tasty prepared foods while listening to live music.
There’s always live music playing somewhere in Boulder. In fact, the Boulder Library offers a free monthly concert series and the Twenty Ninth Street outdoor mall hosts live concerts every week in the summer through late August. The Boulder Theatre and the Fox Theatre, the latter considered one of Boulder’s finest venues housed in a gorgeous Art Deco theater, frequently showcases big-name artists. You’ll find multiple local acts playing on any given day in bars, pubs and eateries throughout the town as well.
If you’ve never visited Tajikistan, you’ve probably never seen an authentic Dushanbe Teahouse, but you can while in Boulder. Handcrafted by artisans in its sister city of Dushanbe, it was shipped piece-by-piece before being assembled here. It’s a true one-of-a-kind place, incredibly tranquil and inviting for sipping practically any tea your heart desires with a choice of some 80 premium teas. You can also enjoy a bite to eat while marveling at the intricate carvings and paintings that cover every inch of its interior. International cuisine is on the menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, or come for traditional afternoon tea.
If you like offbeat attractions, you can come to Boulder and take part in the escape room craze at Boulder Escape Room. Experience being abducted by aliens, recovering the work of a scientist or some other unique twist in this popular attraction. It’s the opportunity to forget about your smartphone and discover clues, solve riddles and decipher hidden messages in order to escape in time.
Goat Yoga came to Boulder in 2017, and this craze is one that looks like it’s here to stay with classes selling out well in advance. Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga offers a 45-minute goat yoga class that includes 15 minutes of decompression time, which means cuddling up with the goats. This is when you can enjoy that powerful yet relaxed feel while petting the animals and capturing photos to brag about the experience on social media. It’s said to be great for relieving depression and anxiety too.
While Colorado is obviously landlocked, you can still enjoy plenty of activities out on the water. Visiting during the warmer months of the year, there are multiple lakes and rivers to enjoy. Boulder Reservoir is a great spot to kayak, paddleboard, sail, swim or simply enjoy soaking up the sun on the swimming beach, open through Labor Day. As the water temperature here is much more comfortable than the chilly lakes and rivers in the mountains, typically in the mid-70s on a hot summer day, it’s one of the best destinations in the area for splashing around and having a good time.
Another option, right downtown, is Boulder Creek, named one of the top 10 tubing rivers in the country by Men’s Journal. In the summer, you can rent a tube from one of several outfitters and glide downstream, or simply relax along the shore soaking up the sunshine, occasionally wading in to cool off.
While you can head further up into the hills away from the light pollution to take in a starry night’s sky, the Fiske Planetarium right in Boulder is ideal for astronomy enthusiasts. Located at the University of Colorado, the Fiske Planetarium showcases a variety of exhibits, presentations and shows all focused on the stars and the universe. It hosts some of the world’s most notable stargazing machines as well as laser shows that are set to everything from Lady Gaga’s music to Pink Floyd classics too. The university’s Sommers-Bausch Observatory also offers public viewing sessions through 16-and 18-inch telescopes every Friday evening when school is in session.