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Colorado Day Trips: Boulder

When planning your vacation in Colorado, it can be hard to fit everything that you want to do into your itinerary. Colorado is a huge state with wildly varying adventures and activities, so how you do see everything you want to see? When you’re feeling spread thin, consider planning individual day trips to the destinations that interest you most. Boulder is one of Colorado’s top destinations with its multitude of outdoor activities, laidback college vibe, and bustling downtown, but you may be worried that you won’t be able to truly experience it without sacrificing another destination.

A day trip to Boulder can give you a feel for the town and allow you to enjoy the best of the local attractions without taking up your entire vacation. Here’s our recommendation for your day trip to Boulder- 8 different ways to enjoy Boulder, all within a brief 12 hours.

9 am Caffeinate

Boulder Coffee Shops and Breakfast RestaurantsWhether you spent the night at a hotel in downtown Boulder or ventured into town from Denver or another nearby town, you’ll probably want to gear up for the day with a hot cup of coffee, fresh brewed tea, or a quick snack. Grab your morning fuel once you’ve arrived in Boulder at one of the many local coffee shops.
  •                 For coffee: The Cup       
  •                 For a snack: Breadworks Bakery
  •                 For breakfast or brunch: Lucile’s

9:30 am Explore the Great Outdoors

One of Boulder’s greatest assets is that it offers incredible access to the outdoors just minutes away from downtown. Grab your running shoes, your road bike, or your climbing gear and spend a couple hours enjoying the gorgeous foothills, forests, and meadows that surround Boulder. Heading out first thing in morning means you’ll avoid the midday heat and potential rain showers.

12:00 pm Refuel Boulder-Style

Boulder Farmers MarketAfter a morning of adventure, you’ll probably discover you’ve built up quite an appetite, so don’t miss the opportunity to check out Boulder’s various lunch options from traditional restaurants to one of the numerous food trucks that can be found throughout the city. Or, do what the locals do, and head to the park with a picnic lunch.

1:00 pm Wander a Local Museum

There’s no better way to relax after lunch than visiting a local museum or attraction. Whether you’re a fan of contemporary art, local history, science or nature, you’ll find plenty to explore. You’ll find ample opportunity to learn more about Boulder and Colorado as you do.
  •                 For something scientific: Fiske Planetarium
  •                 For contemporary art:  BMoCA  
  •                 For western art & sculpture: Leanin’ Tree Museum

4:00 pm Window-Shop Pearl Street

The heart of downtown Boulder can be found on Historic Pearl Street. From quaint shops, cafes, and spas to live entertainment and colorful local characters, you could easily spend the entire day wandering up and down Pearl Street window shopping, dining, and enjoying the atmosphere.

5:00 pm Imbibe

Boulder MicrobrewsBoulder is home to a dozen different microbreweries, from the well-known Avery Brewing and Boulder Beer Companies to relative newcomers like Upslope Brewery. Several more brewing companies are located in nearby towns. Looking for a happy hour drink? Drop in for a brewery tour and couple of samples. Or, if you don’t want to venture away from Pearl Street, consider bellying up at one of Boulder’s hottest bars for pint during happy hour. Tastings and tours aren’t just limited to beer, however.

6:00 pm Taste the Local Flavors

Boulder has been recognized as a foodie destination for years, so enjoying dinner at one of the top local restaurants is must. You can find a variety of styles of cuisine from sushi to oyster bar to farm-to-table to burrito stands. Many restaurants have received awards, as well.
  •                 For farm-to-table: Black Cat
  •                 For community: The Kitchen
  •                 For tapas & Mediterranean: The Med
  •                 For a James Beard Award-winning wine program: Frasca

7:30 pm Catch Some Entertainment

Boulder offers consistently great entertainment at a variety of venues and in a seemingly endless mix of styles. From outdoor musical extravaganzas downtown to performances hosted by nearby University of Colorado, you’ll find options nearly every night of the week. Boulder is also home to multiple music festivals and a Shakespeare festival, so be sure to check the calendar when you get into town.  
Boulder has enough variety that you can easily fill an entire vacation exploring the streets, shops, restaurants, rivers, and trails and still have more to explore, but don’t let that stop you from planning a day trip. Even if you can’t see everything, you’ll still be able to thoroughly enjoy this popular Colorado destination.

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