Want to see how the folks in the country’s happiest and fittest city live? Pack your Spandex and hit the trail on the search for all the best things to do in Boulder, Colorado. Nestled in the foothills of Colorado’s majestic Rocky Mountains, this free-spirited town is a mecca for rock climbers, outdoor enthusiasts, and lovers of all things “green.”
Take in stunning views on Boulder’s many winding hiking trails. Savor pristine pine-scented air as you bike or hike through stunning parkland or chill out on a lazy tubing trip on shady Boulder Creek. And dive into Boulder’s vibrant cultural scene, chock-full of world-class museums and galleries, cool music venues, funky eateries, and bustling breweries.
Stoked for a great green adventure? Grab this guide to the best places to visit in Boulder, Colorado—and you’ll be golden!
Must-see places to visit in Boulder, CO
Boulder Creek Path
If you want to get the Boulder Big Picture, there’s no better place than on the Boulder Creek Path. Join the locals, and take a scenic trek on a paved path that stretches from East Boulder to Boulder Canyon in the west.
This picturesque trail hugs the banks of Boulder Creek, winds through beautiful city parks, skirts the impressive CU campus and delivers you to bubbling downtown Boulder. Whether you walk, jog, blade, or bike it, Boulder Creek Path is a don’t-miss experience.
Take a breather along the way! Hit the Farmers Market before you go, and dig in at a picnic spot on the creek’s grassy slopes. Slip into a kayak for a paddle, take a dip, scope out a fishing spot and cast a line, or just tube on down the lazy river.
Pearl Street Mall
Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, or inveterate shopper, the Pearl Street Mall has to be on your bucket list of what to do in Boulder. With its eclectic eateries, trendy galleries, funky shops, and street performances galore, this is where you’ll feel the city’s pulse.
Explore the Downtown Historic District to view beautifully-preserved Victorian buildings. Cruise bustling Pearl Street to soak up Boulder’s urban energy. Sample cuisine ranging from delectable deli to fine dining. Relax with a libation at one of the city’s world-renowned breweries.
Give your wallet a workout at a fantastic range of vintage shops, bookstores, and independent boutiques. Tip: Pearl Street Mall is known as the “Rodeo Drive of outdoor apparel,” so get geared up here!
Up for entertainment? Check out Pearl Street’s “living theatre” – the energetic antics of the renowned “Boulder Buskers.” They’re everywhere, and they won’t cost you a dime!
Eldorado Canyon State Park
Craving some wide-open-spaces time? There’s plenty on tap in Eldorado Canyon State Park, just 20 minutes south of town. Part of the Colorado State Park system, this often-overlooked Boulder County gem covers nearly 900 acres and is loaded with ways to get your adrenaline pumping.
With golden cliffs reaching heights of over 8,800 feet, Eldorado Canyon State Park pulls in peak baggers from around the world. But don’t worry – you don’t have to be a mountain goat to enjoy this spot.
Eldorado Canyon State Park also features miles of biking and hiking trails with panoramic vistas. Lace up or saddle up and wend your way through lush pine forests and stunning landscapes.
Stake out a fishing spot on Boulder Creek’s banks, or slip into a kayak and go with the flow. Pull over for a picnic on the creek’s grassy slopes, and watch for eagles, hawks, and falcons soaring overhead.
If photo-worthy vistas are your thing, set your sights on Chautauqua Park. Part of Boulder Mountain Park, this piece of paradise was set aside for preservation over 100 years ago and is now a National Historic Landmark. Featuring awesome mountain views, Chautauqua Park is one of the top tourist attractions in Boulder and the perfect place to get snap-happy.
At Chautauqua Park, you can stroll through lush meadows and gardens or explore the scenic hiking trails. Let the kids loose on the playground – or hit the courts for a round of tennis or B-ball. In the mood for some tunes? Check out the nearby Chautauqua Auditorium – host of the famous Colorado Music Festival – for live music.
Hungry? Set yourself up in a picnic pavilion and dig in. Or snag a table at the Chautauqua Dining Hall, where you can tuck into a delicious meal made from farm-fresh ingredients. If you want to linger, settle down for the night in one of the park’s cozy cottages.
Looking for a place that’ll be a hit with the whole gang? Then head over to Flagstaff Mountain, just five miles out of town. Rising over Boulder Mountain Park, this impressive rock formation tops out at nearly 7,000 feet. Hardcore climbers will be in their element – but there are paths to suit just about every skill level.
And who says you have to hoof it to the top of Flagstaff Mountain? Get behind the wheel for a scenic cruise. Featuring hairpin turns, this is one exciting ride! Pull over at Panorama Point for beautiful views of the city.
Reach Flagstaff Mountain’s summit and you’ll discover the Nature Center, a kid magnet featuring interactive games and exhibits. Hike the trails that wind around the summit for jaw-dropping vistas of the Continental Divide.
Top off your trip at the Flagstaff House Restaurant for some truly fine dining. Book ahead!
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
Want to do some armchair traveling? Just slip into a seat at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, and you’ll feel like you’ve journeyed to a foreign land. Set in Boulder’s Central Park, this enchanting oasis was a gift from Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan.
Handcrafted by Tajikistani artisans, this architectural gem was shipped piece by piece to Boulder for assembly. And the final product is a visual knockout. Exquisitely detailed, every inch is covered with vividly-colored paintings and intricate carvings.
Soothe your senses in the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse as you relax to the sound of the dining room’s trickling fountain. Choose from over 100 types of tea, and delight your tastebuds with a variety of scrumptious dishes ranging from tangy Moroccan chicken to spicy Indonesian peanut noodles. For dessert: sweet and savory pastry. Heavenly!
Ready to experience the “Yosemite of Boulder Canyon”? Then you’ll want to take a trip to Boulder Falls. Set just outside Boulder, Colorado, this natural wonder makes for a fun hike with a splashy finale.
Boulder Falls is a short, scenic drive from town that offers plenty of places to pull over and take some snaps. From the parking area, it’s a quick trot to the (very short) hiking trail. You’ll reach a cliff-lined incision in the canyon where Boulder Creek comes tumbling down. And voila: Boulder Falls!
At about 70 high, it may not quite be up there with Yosemite, but it’s a beaut ‒ and definitely one of the region’s most spectacular waterfalls.
There’s no swimming here, so just absorb the natural beauty around you. Savor the sound of rushing water, feel the cool mist that rises off the falls, and inhale the scent of giant ponderosa pines.
Boulder’s reputation as a magnet for performers dates back beyond its hippie heyday – and the Boulder Theater is living proof. Built in 1906 as a venue for silent movies and musical productions, today’s all-around entertainment venue carries on the grand tradition of the original structure.
One of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in the state, the Boulder Theater is a designated Colorado Historic Landmark. And it’s a visual gem, from its art deco facade to the beautifully preserved murals that line the main room. You’ll have no trouble finding theater, thanks to its iconic neon marquee.
Still a multi-tasking venue, the theater is the place in Boulder to rock out to live music, take in film screenings, or laugh it up with standup comedy.
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
If you’re looking for a family-friendly art fix, look no further than the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Founded in 1972, the museum is housed in a landmark warehouse building in downtown Boulder. Explore the site’s three galleries to take in colorful contemporary works by regional, national, and international artists.
And be sure to check out the Art Stop, a family-friendly hands-on art-making program that the whole gang can get in on. Held on the museum’s front porch during the Boulder County Farmers’ Market, it features creative projects designed to complement current exhibits at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and reflect the colors and textures of the market’s fare.
Here’s one just for the kiddos: Young Artists at Work. These day camps are the perfect way for youngsters to explore artists, art materials, and their own creativity.
If there’s one place that spells “Boulder,” it’s The Flatirons. They aren’t Colorado’s biggest mountains, but their golden slopes are beloved Boulder icons. Set on the Front Range, these massive sandstone slabs are the gateway to the Rockies – and they’ve captivated rock-climbing fans for decades.
You’ll get a great view of these unique peaks from Chautauqua Park. Choose from dozens of scenic trails that feature stunning rock formations, fragrant pine forests, and awesome vistas of the breathtaking landscape.
Got energy to burn? One of the best things to do in Boulder is to hit the trail for Green Mountain, a crowning jewel of the Grand Mesa. This family-friendly trail winds along the edge of the Flatirons and offers amazing views of Boulder and the Flatirons peaks.
Ready to rock on and embark on one of the top-rated day trips from Boulder? Pack your pitons and take on the First and Third Flatirons, some of the most popular rock-climbing routes in the country. At over 8,000 feet, you’ll feel on top of the world!
Avery Brewing Company
All your Boulder rambling is bound to work up a thirst. Lucky for you, Boulder is brimming with places to quench it – and the world-renowned Avery Brewing Company is one of the best places in Colorado to pop in for a pint.
If you’re a suds fan, you’ll want to check out this craft brew superstar, where “Hop Freaks Unite.” And with an 80-barrel brewhouse, they don’t disappoint!
Check out their brewery tour, where you’re taken up to a catwalk for a birdseye view of the production process. Bonus: you can tipple while you tour. (All part of your scientific research, right?)
Finish up in the taproom, or chill on the patio. Dig into some tasty pub grub, and take your pick from thirty craft brew varieties. The Avery Brewing Company calls its creations “bold and offbeat” – so prime those taste buds!
Shelby American Collection
Attention, car lovers! Are Cobra, Shelby Mustangs, and GT40s up your alley? If so, buckle up and cruise over to Boulder’s Shelby American Collection, one of the finest displays of those speedy superstars in the US.
Celebrating the legacy of racing legend Carroll Shelby, the Shelby American Collection highlights the history of the most famous racing machines in the world. And it features some of the rarest and most valuable cars anywhere in the world.
Whether you’re a collector or just someone who’s always dreamed of getting behind the wheel of one of these classics, this pitstop is a must. Get up close and personal with beautifully restored originals ranging from street Cobras to Shelby Mustangs.
Browse through a vast collection of memorabilia, photos, and life stories that’ll give you the inside track on the rich history of racing and its pioneers.
Wonderland Lake Park
Are you and your gang up for a Wonderland adventure? Don’t worry – you won’t fall down any rabbit holes at Wonderland Lake Park. This Boulder lakefront park is completely family-friendly! Chock-full of recreational space for quiet enjoyment, this spot will put a smile on everyone’s face.
The 80-acre wildlife sanctuary at Wonderland Lake Park gives your whole crew plenty of room to relax, play, and explore. Settle back with a good book while the kiddos cut loose on the playground. Stake out a spot in the designated fishing area, and show the youngsters how to cast a line.
Or take to the trails on foot or bike. The Wonderland Lake Loop takes you through the diverse ecosystem encircling the lake. Journey along streams, past wetlands, and through short-grass prairie that provides a haven for the abundant local wildlife. Keep the binoculars handy!
Gateway Park Fun Center
If it’s time to treat the fam to a good old-fashioned fun-for-all, Gateway Park Fun Center in North Boulder is one of the best places to go in Boulder. Set on 15 acres at the foothill of the Rocky Mountains, this spot is Boulder’s only complete indoor/outdoor family fun hub.
Gateway Park Fun Center lives up to its name: There’s more than enough here to keep everyone from the pint-sized set to their grandparents happy.
Swing a club at one of the park’s world-class 18-hole mini-golf courses – or go for the grownup version on its 300-yard driving range (complete with complimentary clubs).
Take a wild ride on Colorado’s longest go-kart track, or test your skills at the batting cages. Get lost in a human maze, or try your luck in a newly renovated indoor arcade.
Valmont Bike Park
If you’ve been itching to take a freewheeling spin in beautiful Boulder, Valmont Bike Park is the perfect place to do it. Spread out over 40 acres, this state-of-the-art bike park is guaranteed to be a blast for cyclists of all skill levels. Featuring natural terrain biking trails that cater to everyone from beginning mountain bikers to professional riders, Valmont Bike Park hits all the right notes.
Little ones will have a great time in their own play area. For the more advanced, there are lots of ways to indulge a need for speed. Explore everything from family-friendly paths to rugged cross-country trails. The adventurers in your crowd will want to take on the park’s dirt jumps, pump parks, and dual slalom race courses.
Phew! Take a break to refuel at a picnic table – and watch those daredevils shred the gnar.
University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
Curious about beautiful Boulder’s “early years”? The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History can take you way back – say, thousands of years. With over four million specimens and artifacts, this site houses one of the region’s most extensive natural history collections.
You don’t have to be a history buff or nature nerd to be fascinated by a treasure trove that features findings in the fields of paleontology, zoology, and anthropology. You’ll marvel at a wealth of discoveries ranging from dinosaur bones to 13,000-year-old stone tools to Colorado’s largest collection of bee specimens.
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The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History has five exhibition galleries where you can explore the region’s intriguing human and natural history through interactive exhibits. Youngsters will love learning at The Discovery Corner, where everything is hands-on.
Pop into the gift store on your way out for some unique treasures
The Museum of Boulder
Is it something in the water? Wondering how the heck Boulder got to be the eco-friendly, tech-savvy place it is? Check out The Museum of Boulder to get the inside scoop.
Dedicated to showcasing local history, The Museum of Boulder displays thousands of artifacts ranging from carriages to musical instruments. Browse an amazing archival collection that includes thousands of fascinating historical documents and photographs, and take in exhibits featuring the works of Arapaho artists and stories from Boulder County’s Latino community.
And learn more about Boulder through fun, interactive exhibits. The Boulder Experience Gallery offers multimedia experiences that trace the history of Boulder from the earliest days of its First Peoples through to the building of the Kepler telescope.
Want a crystal-clear view of Boulder today? Hit the museum’s rooftop for some of the finest views of the Flatirons anywhere!
Recommended places to stay in Boulder for sightseeing
For most travelers, the most popular places to stay in Boulder fall in & around Downtown Boulder, including the Pearl Street Mall and Twenty Ninth Street. These areas offer plenty of accommodation options to fit every style and budget, from hotels to vacation rentals.
Occupying a heritage building from 1909, this historic hotel greets guests with a marvelous stained glass ceiling tied together with Victorian decor and touches. After engaging all of Boulder’s sightseeing options, unwind with cocktails and a delicious meal at the classy on-site steak & seafood restaurant.
Just a short walk from Pearl Street, this bed & breakfast inn offers comfortable rooms fitted with en-suite bathrooms. Add a dash of romance to your vacation by booking a room with a spa tub, fireplace, and private balcony. Reservations include homemade breakfast and an evening wine & cheese reception.
Showcasing lovely views of the Flatirons, these mid-range suites offer a little extra space and extra amenities like fridges and microwaves. Before heading out to check out the top points of interests, fuel up with the complimentary hot breakfast. In the evenings, relax with happy-hour drinks or lounging by the rooftop pool.