Location: Boulder, CO
Distance from Denver: 29miles (35min) ♡ ♡ ♡
Parking Situation: Street parking or parking in a garage. It is v crowded on the weekend so you may be cruising for a bit before a spot opens up. I wish light rail ran up here! ♡
Parking Fee: bring coins for street parking
Boulder is one of my favorite day trips from Denver. It is right in the foothills of the Rockies, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, and not to mention that it has its own laidback vibe that is amazing to soak in! Every time we go to Boulder, I want to do it all! It is so hard to choose between a day in town (a must) and partaking in a hike (absolute must). So we have taken the time to carefully curate a day where you can do both! What a magical day! ♡
Where to Stay:
If you’re not from Denver on a day-trip, or if you just want to spend a weekend up in Boulder, here are our top picks for places to stay on all budgets.
Where to Eat
Boulder has really transformed itself from a hippy town to a hip-foodie friendly town. There are so many options spanning a wide array of budgets, and we’ve compiled our absolute favorites below!
If you’re in town for breakfast, head over to Seeds Library Cafe. Trust us, it’s worth the trip into the library on your vacation! Another must-eat location is the Buff, which is practically an institution in town!
Lunch options run the gamut, but our go-to’s are Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage, Rincon Argentino, Alloy Thai, and Mountain Sun Pub. Head over to Rayback Collective after for some adult beverages + games, or for our favorite happy hour in town!
Things to Do
If you’re in Boulder, you’re really here for the great outdoors! Hiking is one of the best things to do while you’re in town & I’ve rounded up our favorite spots to take out-of-towners.
A few miles into Boulder Canyon, Sugarloaf Mountain is an absolute must-do for anyone - local or visitors! It is a hidden gem and one of our favorite places to spend the day. You can check out our trail report here: Sugarloaf Mountain.
Closer to town, there is always a quick stroll around Chataqua (we’d recommend picnicing here for out-of-towners because any hiking at the park will get your heart pounding because of the elevation). Mallory Cave is a quaint stroll through the meadows that will get you a bird’s eye view of town.
If you’re willing to drive ~30min outside of town, you absolutely have to check out Lake Isabelle! It is the easiest of all of these trails and the end vista is simply breath-taking. Our trail report is here, but we went on a rainy day so the views of the mountain were obscured.
Apart from the outdoors, you can stroll around historic Pearl Street Mall, catch a Pac 10 football game at the college stadium, or simply make your own beer tour around town! If you’re not sure, I’ve included an itinerary below that captures all of the best things to do in Boulder!
the Perfect Day in Boulder:
- Drive into Boulder and grab a light breakfast at Seeds Library Cafe.
- Walk around Pearl Street Mall for the morning & take in all of the street performers. Be sure to stop by our favorite stores: Ku Cha House of Tea, Kilwin's Fudge, and Fior a Latte.
- Eat lunch at one of the many spots we’ve recommended or take your lunch to go & make a picnic of it at iconic Chataqua Park.
- Drive into Boulder Canyon & hike Sugarloaf Mountain. At the summit, eat the celebratory fudge you purchased at Kilwin's.
- Drive to Panorama Point for a selfie, (optional: HH at Rayback Collective), then head back home!
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