Best Things to Do in Boulder

Boulder's Bountiful Attractions and Activities for Avid Culture and Outdoor Enthusiasts

With all of the things to do and see in a city, deciding how to spend your time can be quite an agonizing decision. 10Best has narrowed all of the available attractions in Boulder to a list of the most appealing and reputable, to aide in your decision making. You can rest easy knowing that any choice you make from our list is sure to please. Amongst the activities we're compiled, you will find two of the best parks for outdoor recreation in the country, Eldorado Canyon State Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, the Boulder Theater which hosts some of the finest local and big-name acts, and the Great American Beer Festival where you can take in some much-needed carbs after a long day of hiking. If you haven't had enough of Boulder's mountains just yet, let us recommend Chautauqua Park for some of the most beautiful local hikes and views for miles around. If you're really adventurous, you can even climb a Flatiron while at Chautauqua and then stop into their famous dining hall for some delicious lunch. With this eclectic mix of activities, you'll have no trouble finding ways to spend your time indoors, out-of-doors, or both.


Named by the "Wall Street Journal" as among America's leading open-air pedestrian malls. Whether it's books, clothing, sporting goods, candy, or jewelry, there's a little something here for everyone. The area includes galleries, entertainment venues, historic sites, and architectural landmarks, while the extensive dining options range from Russian to Thai. The site of frequent outdoor concerts and community events, the Pearl Street Mall is frequented by locals of all ages. Big names such as Patagonia, Athleta, and Prana can be found on the mall, as well as local favorites like Boulder Art Mart, Peppercorn's, and the quaint Boulder Book Store.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Shopping, dining, and breweries await on Pearl Street; Boulder's most famous strip.

Hope's expert tip: Stop into Piece, Love, Chocolate for a sweet treat with your honey.

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Bands on the Bricks is a free, weekly concert put on by the City of Boulder on downtown Pearl Street at absolutely no cost. A beer garden featuring local brews from Avery, West Flanders, and Upslope Brewing Company can be enjoyed, as well has the delicious food from Pearl Street restaurants. At this event you'll find all ages and creeds of people dancing and enjoying the merry-making together. A pop jet fountain nearby, entertaining street acts, and a small rock playground are perfect for entertaining the little ones in between sets. If you're looking to spend a little dough, you can always shop before or after at the numerous local and big-named retail shops along the mall. This event runs June-September.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Bands on the Bricks is a summer-time favorite for those who love to get their dance and drink on downtown.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to take advantage of the beer garden and nearby restaurants on Pearl Street.

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Avery Brewing Company

Hands down, one of the best breweries you'll ever visit; Avery Brewing Company offers an escape from the bars and pubs of downtown. The lively atmosphere immediately invites you to snuggle up with your honey, cheers with your friends, or just relax solo and sip in some solitude. Their Cajun-inspired appetizers include cured meats and pungent cheeses, Pork Green Chili, and Barbecue Nachos, to name a few. Some of their signature brews include the hoppy India Pale Ale, the light Belgian-style White Rascal, and the nutty, savory, Elle's Brown Ale. Avery's new brewhouse is located on the outskirts of Boulder and offers a taproom downstairs, brewery tours, and an elegant dining room for those who prefer to sip their brew in a more intimate and quiet setting. Watch for release parties and special tappings throughout the year.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Avery's new location, complete with dining room, downstairs taproom, and brewery tours is the perfect way to spend your afternoon your evening.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to grab a pint of the Karma, Avery's most drinkable and refreshingly crisp beer.

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Built in 1975, this notable CU-Boulder landmark features Zeiss, one of the most remarkable stargazing machines in the world. Star shows, lectures, and laser light productions are featured on Thursdays, Fridays, and select Saturdays. This season, Fiske will begin a transformation into "one of the most sophisticated planetariums and multimedia centers in the country" by building an all-new immersive theater system. As such, Fiske's dome will be able to show our universe with remarkable detail and breathtaking clarity. A state of the art star projector will show as clear a sky as could be seen high in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. Visitors will be treated to 360 degrees of surround video and sound courtesy of the new and improved video projectors. Subjects will include astronomy, travel videos, art, music creations, and more.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: For the astronomy nerds out there, this world-class planetarium teaches you about star gazing so you can go do it in the mountains.

Hope's expert tip: Lazer-light productions are sure to provide shock and awe.

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Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Photo courtesy of Colorado Shakespeare Festival

This prestigious event is one of the top Shakespeare festivals in the country. It's held at Mary Rippon Outdoor Theater on the campus of the University of Colorado and at the University Theatre. Everyone associated with the plays is a trained Shakespearean professional. Before the show, be sure to take a romantic stroll next to Boulder creek. Enjoy concessions in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival Gardens, featuring wine, beer, dinner, snacks and a garden inspired by Shakespeare. After the curtains are down, a stroll hand-in-hand down lovely Pearl Street to stop in for a night cap is highly recommended.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: For bikers, runners, and picnicers, the Creek Path is a lazy but lovely way to spend the day in Boulder.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to buy tickets months in advance since they go fast!

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This beautiful Art Deco theater was built in 1906 as an opera house and was later converted to a movie theater. Today, it's one of the city's finest venues for live music, independent films, and community events. Concerts draw everything from local jazz bands to international performers and speakers. "E-Town," an NPR program focusing on entertainment and the environment, broadcasts from here as well. What's makes this theater special? Its intimate atmosphere. The stage and it's players can be seen well from any vantage point in the theater and, for most shows, the audience moves about so fluidly that you can often make your way to the front or various parts of the theater during the course of the show.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Movies, music, and top-notch events make the Boulder Theater a funky local favorite.

Hope's expert tip: If you're planning a trip to Boulder, be sure to order your tickets well in advance as shows sell out fast.

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The highlight of the 415-square mile park is the Trail Ridge Road. Travel 50 spectacular miles over Trail Ridge Road, the nation's longest continuous road at such a high altitude, and experience incomparable changes in climate, vegetation, and eco-zones. Witness panoramic views of mountain ranges and peaks and close-ups of deer and elk grazing, bighorn sheep, birds, and other indigenous critters. If you're camping, stop off at Moraine campground that boasts a crystal clear view of the Rockies from almost any site, bathrooms, and easy access to hiking. The Cub Lake trail is moderate and perfect for travelers who have yet to acclimate to the high altitude. Pack a camera and get ready to take some amazing shots of pristine creeks, mountain lakes, and wildlife including majestic elk.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Camping, hiking, rock-climbing and general thrill-seeking await in Rocky Mountain National Park; one of the most beautiful parks in the US.

Hope's expert tip: Take a joy-ride on Trail Ridge Road or hike the Emerald Lake and Bear Lake hikes to tackle one of the 10 Best Hikes in America.

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Boulder County Farmers' Market

Independent farmers and growers offer their wares at this lively community farmers' market. You'll find fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, along with plants, trees, shrubs, coffee beans, baked goods, and crafts. The market emphasizes and supports local agriculture. Where the free part comes in has to do with the delicious samples offered by local vendors and the free music put on my local artists and bands. You can walk the Farmer's Market to get a taste for the true flavor of Boulder, including its people, its food, and its music. The Boulder Library and Creek Path are both nearby if you need to stop in for free wifi, to grab some books or games for the kiddos, or go fishing in the free children's pond.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Boulder Country Farmer's Market provides the perfect opportunity for visitors and local alike to sample and purchase delicious, fresh, produce from the area.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to bring cash and reusable bags.

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With more than 1,000 acres of land, this park is a favorite site for hiking and horseback riding on 10 beautiful miles of trails with varying degrees of difficulty. The park's 850-foot sandstone canyon wall is popular with world-class rock climbers. Fish for rainbow trout in the park's streams or enjoy a relaxing lunch at the picnic area along the creek at the bottom of the canyon. The Visitor's Center includes exhibits and displays about the geological formations in the canyon and the history of the park, not to mention the trails give hikers a breathtaking view of the canyon as they switchback up rocky ridges.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: For those who love a scenic hike or the thrill of climbing the perfect route, Eldorado Canyon is perfect for adventurers.

Hope's expert tip: Hikers and rock-climbers: Come during the week to avoid the crowds and get on some of the best trails and routes.

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Chautauqua Park
Photo courtesy of © 2014 City of Boulder Parks & Recreation

This meadow-like foothills park is ideal for a lazy afternoon with a book, a family picnic, bird watching, or a vigorous hike on numerous trails that will suit any skill level. The hiking trails take you into the Flatirons and the Bluebell Shelter or the top of Flagstaff Mountain. A century old community center occupies the middle of the park. Numerous lectures and musical performances are scheduled, including the Colorado Music Festival, which is held each summer. The Royal-Arch and Green Mountain hikes are not-to-be-missed but should only be attempted if you're in good shape, have plenty of water, and have had a few days to acclimate to Boulder's altitude.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Chautauqua Park offers hiking, rock-climbing, dining and entertainment placing it at the top of our list.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to tackle the strenuous Royal-Arch hike which provides a spectacular view well worth the climb.

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Meet Hope Gately

Hope Gately should have a bumper sticker proclaiming "Not a Native...But I Got Here as Fast as I Could!" A transplant from the Midwest, Hope has fallen in love with Colorado's mountains playing...  More About Hope