Boulder (Colorado)

Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Colorado Boulder

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Introduction

Boulder is the home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Boulder County, and the 11th most populous municipality in the U.S. state of Colorado. Boulder is located at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 5,430 feet (1,655 m) above sea level. The city is 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Denver. The population of the City of Boulder was 97,385 people at the 2010 United States Census, while the population of the Boulder, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area was 294,567. Boulder is known for its association with American frontier history and for being the home of the main campus of the University of Colorado, the state's largest university. The city frequently receives high rankings in art, health, well-being, quality of life, and education.

Boulder is known for its outdoors and the residents with one of the healthiest lifestyles in America. It is very true, no matter what the weather, there are always people outdoors; running, biking, walking, hiking. It has a great atmosphere and beautiful sights. Living in Boulder is very expensive. Along with being one of the most active towns in America, it is right up there with the living expense. Smaller towns are popping up around Boulder that are cheaper, but may take 10–15 minutes to get into this vibrant town.

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Sights and Activities

  • Downtown. Covers a large area, with the Pearl Street Mall (see below) at its 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 Street 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 four 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.
  • Pearl Street Performers. As you stroll down Pearl Street, there are many street performers (when the weather is nice). One of the most famous is the "zip-code man" this is one performance not to miss. He knows every zip code throughout the entire world and there is always a huge crowd around him. Other performers include magicians, mimes, and other assortments of crazy acts. Pearl Street is always somewhere to find live entertainment. Make sure to come at the right time though, usually in the winter the performers are not out, obviously.
  • 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 Boulder. The flagship institution of the state of Colorado, CU (as it's called locally) has a 600-acre campus, with beautiful gardens and buildings tucked away in its 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. In the summer, many parts of the creek become popular swimming holes. You can buy (and fill) inner tubes at local gas stations, should you want to have a down-the-creek journey. It follows Boulder Creek, making this path anything but boring.
  • Chautauqua Park, At Baseline Ave and 8th Street.. Located at the base of the Flatiron's rock formations. 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. The Chautauqua Auditorium is a large wooden building constructed in 1898, and there is a restaurant (the Dining Hall) which was built at the same time.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

Boulder has a temperate climate typical for much of the state and receives many sunny or mostly sunny days each year. Under the Köppen climate classification, the city has a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). Winter conditions range from generally mild to the occasional bitterly cold, with highs averaging in the mid to upper 7-9 °C. There are 4.6 nights annually when the temperature reaches -18 °C. Because of orographic lift, the mountains to the west often dry out the air passing over the Front Range, often shielding the city from precipitation in winter, though heavy falls may occur. Snowfall averages 220 cm per season, but snow depth is usually shallow; a strong warming sun due to the high elevation can quickly melt snow cover during the day, and Chinook winds bring rapid warm-ups throughout the winter months. Summers are very warm and dry, with 30 days reaching 32 °C or above. Diurnal temperature variation is typically large year-round due to the high-elevation dry climate. Daytime highs are generally cooler than most other Front Range cities with similar elevations. However, Boulder's nighttime lows, particularly during winter, are some of the mildest in the state. Daily average temperatures remain above 0 °C year-round.

The highest recorded temperature of 40 °C occurred most recently within the city on June 25, 2012. The lowest temperature recorded in Boulder was -36 °C on January 17, 1930. The lowest maximum temperature in Boulder, -24 °C, was on February 4, 1989. In contrast, on June 24, 1954, Boulder's overnight low temperature did not drop below 27 °C.

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Getting There

By Plane

Boulder is easily reached from Denver International Airport via car or bus.

By Car

Boulder is roughly 30 miles from Denver, and is an easy drive via US highway 36. The drive is pretty spectacular, with beautiful scenery as you drive straight toward the Rocky Mountains.

By Bus

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates bus service to and around Boulder and is a clean, safe, and easy way to get to town; the Skyride 'AB' bus runs hourly between Denver International Airport and Boulder, while the Flatiron Flyer offers fast service along express highway lanes between Boulder and Denver.

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Getting Around

By Car

If you choose to drive around town, be aware that there is heavy traffic on the main thoroughfares, high numbers of pedestrians (cyclists) 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 when parking in the University area, as tickets can be quite expensive. Boulder's police are vigilant about drunk driving, so keep out of the car when you find yourself tipping down a local microbrew or two. Watch carefully for the school zones: when the yellow lights are flashing, slow down to 20 mph. Many of the main streetlights have cameras that can capture you running the tail end of yellow lights. Watch out, or you may get tickets in the mail!

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Boulder and Denver share a common mass transit system, known as RTD. which won "Best Public Transportation" in a nationwide survey in 2008. You will also notice that a large percentage of locals use bicycles to get around the down town (most of the city sights are within 2 miles). Many locals use the "Skyride" RTD bus to get to and from the airport. It's greener and easier.

By Bike

  • Boulder B-Cycle. Bike sharing program with stations downtown and near campus. Unlimited rides under 30 minutes. $8/24 hours; $20/7 days.

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Eat

  • Efrain's II, 1630 N. 63rd St., ☎ +1 303 440-4045. This restaurant is a small dive that serves up excellent Mexican food. A little out of the way on the east side of town, it is well worth the drive. $.
  • China Gourmet, 3970 North Broadway, ☎ +1 303 440-3500. Just north of town, China Gourmet is a local restaurant that has been serving up great Chinese food at reasonable prices for years. $.
  • Khow Thai, 1600 Broadway, ☎ +1 303 447-0273. M-F 11-3 & 5-10; Sa-Su 4-10. Tucked into a small space on the east side of Broadway just south of Arapahoe Ave, this restaurant has repeatedly been voted the best Thai food in Boulder. Not expensive and really good, especially the green curry. The owner is surprisingly anti-veg*n, so don't expect gracious substitutions or a warm reception.
  • The Kitchen Upstairs, 1039 Pearl St, ☎ +1 303 544-5973. M-F 8-close; Sa-Su 9-2, 5:30 to close. A fantastic neighborhood bistro that sources most of its food from local growers and producers. Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Located at the west end of Pearl Street. Check out Monday night's Community Dinner, a $35 prix fixe meal that's off-menu, served family style around a huge table -- it's the best deal in town for the variety, quality, and quantity of food (reservations recommended).
  • Kim's Vietnamese Food to Go, 1325 Broadway St, ☎ +1 303-442-2829. 8AM-10PM M-Sa Sunday's closed. A fantastic asian hole in the wall. Its a little shack facing broadway in a parking lot. The best food I've ever had. Kim makes everything fresh in front of your eyes and the place is very homey and fits in well with Boulder lifestyle. A hit among college students, it's a great place.
  • Centro, 950 Pearl St (near Pearl and 10th), ☎ +1 303 442-7771.
  • Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, 1770 13th St, ☎ +1 303-442-4993. 8AM-9PM. 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. In the summers, outside dining is available, and when the rose garden is in bloom it is amazing.
  • Illegal Pete's, 1530 16th St, ☎ +1 303-623-2169. 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. Perfect college town restaurant. The burritos are out of this world.
  • West End Tavern, 926 Pearl St, ☎ +1 303-444-3535. 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. edit
  • Brasserie Ten Ten, 1011 Walnut St, ☎ +1 303-998-1010. 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.
  • Sushi Zanmai, 1221 Spruce (one block north of Pearl Street), ☎ +1 303-440-0733. Zanmai is a traditional sushi house with the best rolls in town. Reasonably priced, watch as sushi chefs prepare your meal at the sushi bar. For the best deals, go to Happy Hour, from 5PM-6:30PM or all day Sunday. Try the Z-Number 9 and the Firecracker role or for an appetizer try the green mussels.
  • Boulder Chophouse, 921 Walnut St, ☎ +1 303 443-1188. 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, 1138 Flagstaff Rd, ☎ +1 303 442-4640. Su-F 6PM-10PM, Sa 5PM-10PM. 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. If you are just visiting Boulder, this is a definite must!
  • Mountain Sun/Southern Sun. On the East End of the Pearl Street walking mall, the Mountain Sun is well known for homebrewed beers, but also serves seriously tasty American fare. In the last 5 years, it built a sister restaurant in South Boulder, the Southern Sun, that is roomier and even more raucous. It's loud and filled with earthy Boulder locals. At dinner no matter what day of the week, you may wait for 20–30 minutes for a booth, but their quesadillas, nachos, salads, burgers, pizzas, and vegetarian options are sure to please every time. (Note: Neither the Mountain or Southern Sun accept credit cards, and can be flaky about out-of-state checks. Both have ATMs onsite.)
  • Boulder Cork, 3295 30th St, ☎ +1 303 443-9505. A high quality restaurant since 1969, serving excellent dishes from prime rib to lobster ravioli. Located on the west side of 30th street.
  • Sherpa's, 825 Walnut St, ☎ +1 303 440-7151. Run by Pemba Sherpa, this restaurant is just outside off Broadway and Pearl. Featuring authentic Nepalese food that is made fresh to order, this restaurant is a must of Boulder.
  • Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, 928 Pearl St. Home to Top Chef Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg.
  • Red Rock Coffeehouse, 3325 28th Street #9, ☎ +1 303-443-1975. In the Safeway shopping center on the corner of 28th and Iris. Locally-owned cafe serving locally roasted Organic Fair Trade Coffee, local food and pastries, naturally brewed Sanctuary Chai and locally Micro-Blended Tea.

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Drink

  • The Sink. The sink is a Boulder institution with its colorful walls, great food and stories past (Robert Redford was the janitor) it attracts a large crowd for burgers, beer, gourmet pizza, and drinks almost every day of the week. Bring a black magic marker, and you can sign your name on the ceiling like generations of graduating CU seniors. Do not write on the walls, though.
  • Mountain Sun/Southern Sun. Two locations in Boulder for your delight. The original Mountain Sun is 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. Remember that it's a cash only bar.
  • 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 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. 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.
  • Frasca's Food and Wine, 1738 Pearl St, ☎ +1 303 442-6966. World-class Northern Italian cuisine. The tasting menu can be pricey, but the food is astounding. $40-80.
  • Dark Horse Bar and Grill, 2922 Baseline Rd, ☎ +1 303 442-8162. 11AM-2AM. A total dive pub with beer, burgers, and bands. The walls are plastered with memorabilia and whirling machinery. The ceiling is lined with suspended hearses.
  • Sanitas Brewing Co., 3550 Frontier Ave, ☎ +1 303 442-4130. A brewery with a small tap room on site.

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Sleep

  • Boulder University Inn, 1632 Broadway, ☎ +1 303 417-1700. The most affordable downtown lodging option. It is one of three hotels officially located downtown- the other two are upscale establishments (Boulderado and St Julien). Rooms are clean and spacious. Has wireless internet, a business center, and an outdoor swimming pool.
  • Rodeway Inn & Suites, 555 30th St, ☎ +1 303 444-3330. This hotel offers amenities for business travelers and vacationers alike.
  • Best Western Plus Boulder Inn, 770 28th St, ☎ +1 303-449-3800.
  • Briar Rose Bed and Breakfast, 2151 Arapahoe Ave, ☎ +1 303-442-3007. Bed and breakfast in the heart of Boulder offers organic breakfast, fine teas, private baths and ecologically-conscious hospitality.
  • Housing Helpers, 2865 Baseline Rd, ☎ +1 303-545-6000. Offers high quality executive rental apartments and homes backed by superior customer service. Housing Helpers corporate rentals are more comfortable, convenient and affordable than a hotel.
  • Millennium Harvest House, 1345 28th Street, ☎ +1 303-443-3850. Located adjacent to the University of Colorado. This hotel features lodging guestrooms and suites, a restaurant, bar, and meeting and event space.
  • Quality Inn & Suites Boulder Creek, 2020 Arapahoe Ave, ☎ +1 303-449-7550.
  • Residence Inn Boulder, 3030 Center Green Dr., ☎ +1 303 449-5545.
  • Alps Boulder Canyon Inn, 38619 Boulder Canyon Dr, ☎ +1 303 444-5445, toll-free: +1-800-414-2577, e-mail: innkeeper@alpsinn.com. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. This historic 1870s mansion/castle was originally built of local stone and log construction. The Alps is now luxurious and completly remodeled into an award winning three-star bed and breakfast country inn. The Alps offers complimentary gourmet breakfast, afternoon tea, evening desserts, high-speed internet, local and domestic long-distance calling.
  • Hotel Boulderado, 2115 Thirteenth St, ☎ +1 303 442-4344. A three-star getaway located one block off the Pearl Street Mall.
  • St Julien Hotel, 900 Walnut St (9th and Walnut), ☎ +1 720-406-9696. This new three-star hotel is the luxury experience in downtown Boulder.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 18. Last edited at 9:49 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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