48 Hours In Boulder: Things To Do

BOULDER | Located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, just a half hour drive from downtown Denver, Boulder is a city of 102,000 people that has a lot to offer visitors.

There are plenty of things to do in Boulder, owing to both its location, and the fact that it’s a bustling student town. Boulder is home to the largest campus of the University of Colorado, with the impact of the active student population apparent throughout the city. There’s loads of great places to eat and drink, a vibrant street art scene, and plenty of live entertainment on offer.

Boulder is also a great base for outdoor activities, with its location providing easy access for nature-themed day trips. Without further ado, here’s my list of things to do in Boulder.


Admire A Traditional Tajik Tea House

Dushanbe, Tajikistan, is one of Boulder’s sister cities. The relationship began in 1983, when a group of Boulder locals set out to increase international understanding and peace by forming a connection with what was, at the time, part of the Soviet Union.

In 1987, Dushanbe’s mayor announced that he would present Boulder with a Tajik chaikhona, a place to sip tea (chai), meet up with friends, play chess and enjoy light snacks. It was handcrafted in the city, and sent disassembled to Boulder. In May 1998 it was finally reassembled and opened as a restaurant and cafe, Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. It’s been treasured by locals ever since.

Check Out A Museum

There are many excellent museums in Boulder, catering to a wide variety of interests. The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art was founded in 1972 and is an inclusive, diverse, creative place that showcases contemporary art from local and national artists. The Shelby American Collection Museum, meanwhile, celebrates the history of Carroll Shelby and the Shelby American Team. It’s a must visit not just for those with a passing interest in motorsports, but for those who admire the aesthetics of classic cars.

At the University of Colorado, Boulder campus, two museums worth a visit are the CU Museum of Natural History, and the Fiske Planetarium.

Eat And Drink Your Way Through Town

January Coffee is the place to go for some of the best coffee in Colorado. Boxcar Coffee Roasters also brew fantastic coffee, and features a small retail section where you can purchase pantry items made by local artisans.

Visit Zoe Ma Ma for great handmade noodles and dim sum; The Buff for classic American bunch fare done right; and Santo for contemporary New Mexican Fare. Also check out the epic breakfast burritos and produce driven dishes at butcher/restaurant/cafe, Blackbelly Market.

Bramble & Hare is a great option for contemporary American dishes and drinks. For a great vibe, burgers, and craft beer, check out eclectic saloon The Dark Horse, which has been doing its thing since 1975. For beer lovers looking for craft breweries, be sure to visit Wild Provisions Beer Project, Upslope Brewing Company, and Avery Brewing Company.

Go Out Into Nature

There are no shortage of outdoor options for visitors to Boulder. Whether you’re planning on exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park, keeping it super local at Chautauqua Park, or visiting any of the other parks in the area, Boulder is a perfect base. Popular outdoor parks and trails beyond the two mentioned include the Royal Arch Trail, Mount Sanitas, Flagstaff Mountain, Eldorado Canyon State Park, and Boulder Creek.

You can hike, kayak, rock climb, cycle, paddleboard, ski, snowboard, camp and more. Boulder’s has outdoor activities for all ages and fitness levels.

Look For Street Art

The street art scene in Boulder is diverse, with large murals you can’t help but notice on main streets, and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stencils and paste ups hidden down unassuming alleyways. The art draws upon a variety of themes from the social and political, to the historical and fun.

There’s loads of street art all over town, check out my Boulder Street Art Guide for a rundown of where to find the best murals.

Peruse The Pearl Street Mall

The Pearl Street Mall is a four-block pedestrian mall in the heart of downtown Boulder. It’s filled with cafes, restaurants, bars, and an assortment of independent (and not so independent) stores selling all sort of of things.

There’s art installations, installations for children to enjoy, and various spots for street performers and musicians to set up and entertain passers by.

Sample The Region’s Produce

Boulder has built a reputation for being a haven for lovers of good food and drink. The city prides itself on supporting and promoting local ingredients, quality produce, and local talent.

One of the best ways to get a sense of the quality produce on offer in Boulder is to visit the Boulder Farmers Market. It’s a growers-only market that’s been operating since 1986, where you can find some of the best and freshest produce and foodstuffs in town. It’s open on Wednesdays from May to October, and Saturdays from April to November.

Visit Chautauqua Park

If you’re running short on time, and can only do one outdoorsy activity during your time in Boulder, Chautauqua Park is your best bet. The trailhead and park is the gateway to the Flatirons, striking red sandstone formations that slant up toward the sky at the western end of the city.

The base of the trailhead is just a 30 minute walk from downtown Boulder. While there, you can hike, picnic, bike, rock climb, and more.

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