Affectionately known as ‘the city nestled between the mountains and reality’, Boulder is in a league of its own being a quaint and charming University town teeming with energy and outdoor adventure. Nestled in a valley with the Rocky Mountains towering above it, Boulder, Colorado is consistently included in the top 10 for the happiest and healthiest U.S cities to live in and it’s not hard to understand why.
From pine-scented trails to afternoon tea, Boulder can offer something for everyone. Arts and culture, outdoor adventure, lots of sunshine, craft beer, snow-capped mountains, the list goes on! An outdoor paradise for nature fans and most definitely an adventure playground for fitness fanatics, Boulder has hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and year-round skiing and snowboarding just to name the major activities.
Boulder isn’t just loved for its nature though, it’s a hub for tech companies with Google, IBM, and Twitter having offices in Boulder and is well known for having an entrepreneurial spirit. There are a few co-working spaces to choose from and an abundance of laptop-friendly cafes with plenty of networking opportunities with like-minded people to motivate, educate, and inspire.
Boulder allows people to lead an active outdoor lifestyle without having to give up their urban way of life, it’s truly a match made in heaven. Downtown, the historic and delightful Pearl Street is at the heart of Boulder with restaurants, bars, and clubs galore. There are craft beer tasting rooms, tea rooms, and nationally renowned restaurants to keep your taste buds tickled – Boulder isn’t called described as ‘America’s Foodiest Town’ for no reason!
Where to Stay in Boulder Colorado
This sunny University city is literally a breath of fresh air for many people who seek a better quality of life within a small-town vibe. With more than 60 parks you’re never far from nature and the opportunity to exercise but Boulder also boasts renowned music and film festivals and a vibrant young-at-heart lifestyle.
Boulder really can provide the best of both worlds when you seek a good ratio of nature and nightlife in your life, but some areas of the city lean more on one side than the other so it’s important to choose your location carefully – Those who seek a peaceful retreat won’t do well in downtown whilst those who need the hustle and bustle of city life to thrive won’t want to be stuck ‘in the wilderness’!
Whether you’re a digital nomad visiting Boulder for a week or a month, or an expat with long-term plans read on to get an understanding of where to stay in Boulder, Colorado.
[First Pick] Downtown
Stay in the energetic heart of the city with its red brick-lined streets and Victorian buildings. With shopping, food, beer, entertainment, and nightlife plus live music and street performances, there’s never a dull moment and spirits are always high. Pearl Street is the most famous street that visitors flock to, lined with indie shops, art galleries, cafes and some top restaurants plus microbreweries.
[Second Pick] South Boulder
Located in the foothills with stunning views of the Flatirons, this is the area to stay if you’re a laid-back, eco-conscious, outdoor/nature loving person. You’ll find hiking trails on the doorstep but also ethnic restaurants, cafes, and shops in the Table Mesa shopping area and concerts and yoga at Chautauqua park which has its own special vibe.
[Third Pick] University Hill
Otherwise referred to as ‘The Hill’, this young and energetic neighborhood is just uphill from downtown and across the road from the CU campus meaning it’s a hub of student activity. There are lots of bookshops, cheap bars and cafes, nightlife, and live music events to enjoy with the Fox Theatre on the doorstep plus Fiske – One of the most sophisticated planetariums in the whole of the U.S.A.
This is the main residential area of the city and is also a shopping hub with lots of chain stores with both smaller and larger shopping malls along with a cinema and casual dining options. It’s close to everything making it a popular location for visitors to Boulder but does have its rougher edges with people sleeping homeless.
Referred to as ‘The Brooklyn of Boulder’ this up and coming area has a flourishing art and tech community with plenty of coffee shops, breweries, gyms and bike trails to explore (perhaps not the last 2 at the same time!) along with some hidden gem restaurants. If you like to keep fit you’ll find dance studios, CrossFit, and yoga studio’s on the doorstep.
Lovingly referred to as No-Bo, this arty green neighborhood, with its delightful mountain views, has shed its industrial past to become a family-friendly arts hub. Explore the art galleries, indie art shops, breweries, and wineries plus restaurants or get active at North Boulder Park with ball sports and cross country skiing.
Best Time of Year to Visit
Considered as being in the high desert, Boulder has a semi-arid climate and can boast 300 days of sunshine a year but still enjoys 4 seasons of weather. Temperatures vary drastically throughout the year with cold but bright Winters and warm sunny Summers though, compared with other parts of the country, temperatures are often described as mild. January to March is the best time to visit to make full use of the skiing and snowboarding facilities nearby, or June to August if you want to hike and sight see in the Summer season. If you want to see Boulder without too many tourists and enjoy its authentic vibe visit in Spring or Fall but beware of the sudden changes in weather and pack for all conditions!
January – March: January is the coldest month in Boulder with visitors flocking to the city to use it as a base for skiing and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains. The city itself doesn’t get so much snow and when it does snow it usually only lasts a few days but night-time temperatures drop so wrap up warm and pack plenty of layers. The Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) takes place in February showcasing new feature films, animations, short films, and documentaries and has become one of the most influential film festivals in the whole of the U.S.A.
April – May: Spring weather in Boulder is unpredictable so come prepared for all weather conditions as you might experience heavy snow, Spring showers, and/or warm sunny days. The temperatures are still low at night with frosts still fairly common but the daytime temperatures increase daily. April and May are both wet months, receiving about 19 days of rain each which puts most visitors off but don’t disregard Spring altogether as there are some plus point, namely the 15,000 tulips that bloom in Pearl Street and all the beautiful wild flowers that can be seen on the fairly-quiet hiking trails. In April the delightful Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival takes place as well as the Taste of Peal food festival. Boulder gets busy in May with CU Graduation week and Memorial Day weekend but the Boulder Creek Festival shouldn’t be missed with lots of concerts and live performances taking place.
June-August: The Summer months are the busiest in Boulder and the warmest. Though the students might have left, the tourists flock to the city to experience the great outdoors and soak up the warm weather. July is the hottest month with temperatures just a couple of degrees lower in August. There are lots of Summer events taking place in Boulder… Bands On The Bricks runs all Summer as does the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. For a week in June, the sporting event Ironman takes place at the foot of the Flatirons and there’s the International Dance Festival. July brings the Open Arts Fest and the Rocky Mountain Tea Festival whilst in August the Boulder Craft Beer Fest takes place.
September-December: As Summer departs so do the tourists with the arrival of Fall also bringing the University students back to Boulder. Fall might be short and unpredictable but it’s gloriously picturesque. By November the snow has returned to the Rockies and Winter is in full-swing but snow sport fans can still enjoy the slopes mostly to themselves until the holidays. The 3 day Fall Fest takes place in September with music, markets, and micro-brews all taking part in Boulders version of Oktoberfest. Then it’s time for the festivities to begin, Switch On The Holidays takes place in November followed by the Lights Of December Parade which sees floats, marching bands, festive carolers, and dancing elves all parading through Boulder for a fun-filled festive family event.
Tal Gur is a world traveler and personal development enthusiast. An adventurer at heart, after trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, Tal spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey continues as a location-independent blogger, lifestyle entrepreneur, and coach. Tal’s published two books: One Year to Freedom, a 1-Year Roadmap to Living Life on Your Own Terms; and, his most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living – 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World.