The Best of Boulder for Foodies, Shoppers, Art Lovers and Adventure Seekers

Get a taste of this quirky, quaint town just up the road from Denver.

The municipality of Boulder is a mixing pot of working professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, hippies and college students. About 30 minutes northwest of Denver, the Denver-Boulder Turnpike (U.S. Highway 36) turns into 28th Street, leading right into the quaint community, with scenic views of the Flatirons to the west and the beautiful and historic University of Colorado Boulder campus on either side of the street. 

Known for its relaxed vibe, outdoors scene, local dining and shopping options, and mountain-town aura, many Boulder locals will tell you there’s no better place to live. Experience the best Boulder has to offer for foodies, shoppers and art lovers, and adventure seekers. Before it’s time to leave, you, too, just might fall under Boulder’s enticing spell. 


The food scene in Boulder is top notch, with focuses on local produce, sustainable practices, craft cuisine, and vegan and vegetarian options. You can’t go wrong dining at Blackbelly Market, which sources much of its produce and meat from Blackbelly Farm; vegan- and vegetarian-friendly Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant; and Pizzeria Locale and Basta for craft pies. For a true foodie experience, however, these four stops are musts. 

The Kitchen Upstairs
Sip craft cocktails at The Kitchen Upstairs. (Courtesy The Kitchen)

Celestial Seasonings: This internationally known tea company's beginnings occurred in 1969 when Mo Siegel began making tea bags with herbs from the Rocky Mountains, which he eventually went on to sell in health food stores. The tea factory offers free, 45-minute tours, seven days a week; afterwards, visitors can sample a variety of teas and shop for take homes. 

The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse: Located along Boulder Creek, this teahouse is a gift from Boulder’s sister city Dushanbe, Tajikistan. And we mean that literally—the building was built in Dushanbe, deconstructed and shipped to Boulder. Global entrées include a Greek breakfast scramble, lamb kabobs, Thai curry and a Korean barbecue pulled pork hoagie. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, teatime and dinner menus are available throughout the day. 

Avery Brewing Company: The brewery has been brewing craft beers since 1993, and the new facility recently opened in 2015. Afternoon tours of this popular brewery, located at the north end of Boulder, are one-hour long and free of charge. Spend some time in the taproom and sip a pint of the White Rascal Belgian-style white ale or the Raspberry Sour, among other drafts. 

The Kitchen: Born in Boulder, this community bistro concept has since expanded to Denver and beyond, and focuses on environmentally friendly practices (and great food). Co-founders Kimbal Musk—brother of Elon Musk—and Hugo Matheson also founded The Kitchen Community nonprofit, which builds learning gardens in schools across the country. Dine at The Kitchen on Pearl Street and then visit adjoining concept Upstairs for a post-meal cocktail.  

Shoppers and Art Lovers

Boulder is peppered with locally owned boutiques, shops and galleries. Whether your objective is relaxed browsing for spontaneous buys or a dedicated shopping spree, two centers satisfy both desires. Meanwhile, art lovers may veer off the shopping paths to a couple one-of-a-kind art destinations. 

Pearl Street Mall
Pearl Street Mall attracts shoppers, diners, nightlife seekers and festival goers all throughout the year. (Courtesy Downtown Boulder)

Pearl Street Mall: One of the most popular destinations in Boulder is a pedestrian-only stretch along Pearl Street, filled with locally owned gift shops, clothing boutiques, fine art galleries and eateries. Park along the metered side streets or in public lots and meander from shop to shop until your heart’s content. 

Twenty-Ninth Street Mall: This outdoor shopping mall is home to a range of retailers—charming charlie, The North Face, Sur La Table—spas, fast-casual dining concepts and sit-down restaurants. A movie theater and children’s play area provide further entertainment. 

Dairy Center for the Arts: Rotating visual arts exhibits are displayed in the McMahon Gallery, the Polly Addison Gallery, the In Focus Gallery and the MacMillan Family Lobby. The center is also a performance theater for cinema, dance and music. 

Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art: The private Western American art collection of Ed Trumble, publisher of fine art greeting cards, spans seven decades and includes paintings as well as large-scale sculptures that influenced many of Trumble’s greeting card designs. Once you’ve self-toured the gallery, take the guided production tour (M-F) through the greeting card printing factory and browse a vast collection of cards inside the gift shop. 

Adventure Seekers

Hikers, rock climbers, runners, cyclists and outdoors explorers of all kinds are found along the trails in Boulder. Just remember to take a step back from your usual intensity level if you’re not acclimated to Boulder’s higher elevation. Nonetheless, reaching the top of Flagstaff Mountain or completing the annual BolderBoulder 10K is worth the extra huffing and puffing. 

BolderBoulder 10K
Run the BolderBoulder 10K and then sit in the stands at Folsom Field and watch the pros race. (©William Andrus/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Boulder Creek Path: This paved multi-use path runs along Boulder Creek and extends west and east of the city center, connecting with other paths along the way. There are multiple points of entry for quick walks to long runs and bike rides, and plenty of opportunities to jump off of the path through the downtown and university areas to grab a bite to eat. 

Eldorado Canyon State Park: Activities range from easy hikes to technical rock climbs in one of Colorado’s most popular state parks, located southeast of Boulder. Trails include the one-mile (round trip) Streamside Trail and the seven-mile Eldorado Canyon Trail. Camping is permitted in several designated areas. 

Chautauqua Park and Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks: Located at the southwest end of Boulder, off of Baseline Road, the Chautauqua Trailhead leads to a variety of connecting paths that wind through the forests and meadows at the base of the Flatirons, including the popular seven-mile Mesa Trail and the scenic Royal Arch Trail. Or, choose to hike the Flagstaff Mountain trail, north of the Flatirons and accessible via the Gregory Canyon Trailhead, to reach one of Boulder’s most popular summits and a spectacular view of the city. 

BolderBoulder 10K: This annual Memorial Day road race attracts more than 50,000 runners to Boulder, and is one of the most popular 10K races in the country. Run down Pearl Street and through hilly neighborhoods where you’ll find locals cooking (and handing out) bacon, tossing marshmallows, hosing down front-lawn water slides, belly dancing and cheering on runners. The course finish takes runners onto Folsom Field, home of the CU Buffaloes. After you’ve finished your race, take a seat in the stands to watch the professional race—broadcasted on the stadium’s TV—and cheer for the runners as they enter the stadium and cross the finish line. Then stick around for a moving Memorial Day ceremony.