As a travel destination, Colorado is probably best-known as a wintertime playground. From the first significant snowfall, folks begin arriving, from far and near, to enjoy the world-class ski slopes high in the Rocky Mountains. The stunning beauty of the snowy mountains along with the variety of winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice climbing, compels several people to choose Colorado their winter vacation destination.
Colorado can be gorgeous in the summertime also. The little city of Boulder, Colorado—nestled along the eastern “front range” of the Rocky Mountains, at a modest altitude of 5,300 feet—is an absolutely glorious place to be from late-May through September. If you find yourself spending some summer days or weeks visiting Boulder, Colorado, here are some things you can do.
Iconic Boulder Summertime Destinations
Walk the Pearl Street Mall
This four-block brick pedestrian mall will delight you with its fountains, street performers, and abundance of gorgeous flowers (tulips of every imaginable color; and other varieties later in the summer). Not to mention all the charming restaurants and small businesses that line it: a discerning shopper’s heaven! But really, simply strolling down the mall on a sunny summer afternoon has persuaded more than a few visitors to become permanent Boulder residents.
Take in a Bands On The Bricks performance
Every Wednesday evening from 7:00-9:00 pm, June through August, you can enjoy a couple hours of free music and dancing, beneath the Colorado sky. Bring a blanket to spread on the courthouse lawn, purchase a microbrew or margarita in the beer garden, and put on your dancing shoes. If you’re not in the mood to dance yourself, you can watch local street dancers do their thing.
Walk or bike the Boulder Creek path
This sweet 5.5-mile paved path is peacefully shared by walkers, bikers, joggers, and skaters. As its name implies, it runs parallel to the Boulder Creek. You can get onto it right downtown (e.g. near the Dushanbe Teahouse) and then travel west toward the mountains (and a bit beyond the Boulder city limit), or to the eastern parts of town. Both directions are beautiful. Additionally, you can raft the river itself—a great option, in particular, for super-hot days.
Enjoy Boulder Open-Space hiking
Much of the western edge of Boulder, Colorado is designated “Open-Space” that are intentionally kept free from commercial development. There are many great hiking trails around these designated areas, just a stone’s throw from central Boulder. Some of the best ones are:
- The trails emanating from centrally-located Chautauqua Park (onto Green Mountain or the Flatirons)
- The more northern Mount Sanitas
- The magical Shanahan Ridge trailhead—at the far southern end of the city—which links up with the spectacular Fern Gulch trail, which will take you to the summit of Bear Peak.
Visit the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
This might be the most beautiful teahouse you’ll ever see and it has a fun and inspiring history as well. It came in the mail, piece by piece, as a gift from Boulder’s sister city, Dushanbe (the capital and largest city of Tajikistan). The hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels were all lovingly crafted by Tajikistan artisans. There’s a fountain in the middle of the teahouse, tables inside and out (with the Boulder Creek running nearby), and a bar counter from which you can order a cup of award-winning homemade chai. Whether you come just for tea, or to share a lunch or dinner with friends, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is a place you cannot miss!
Boulder Restaurants & Colorado Cuisine
With authentic Nepalese, Indian, and Tibetan cuisine, Great momos (Tibetan stuffed dumplings) among other things, and delightful decor, Sherpa’s Restaurant is a must see. It is located just west and a block south of the Pearl Street Mall.
Visitors can find excellent Japanese food at Sushi Zanmai, with great happy hour prices for lunch (11:30 am – 2:00 pm) and dinner (5:00 pm – 6:30 pm). Right downtown, a block north of the Pearl Street Mall.
Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
This is the place in Boulder for awesome, elegant vegan and vegetarian fare, just a half-mile or so east of the Pearl Street Mall.
Boulder Farmer’s Market
For a sampling of authentic Colorado cuisine, check out the farmer’s market on Saturday morning or Wednesday afternoon. It sits in front of the Dushanbe Teahouse and some of the native favorites that you’ll find there include:
- Palisade peaches, and a variety of melons– The climate is perfect for producing luscious peaches and melons—not to be missed!
- Trout or striped bass–caught fresh from one of Colorado’s many rivers
- Roasted green chilis, and various hot sauces–The scent of roasting chilies is something you’ll encounter frequently in summertime Boulder. Elk, venison, bison or wild boar, in the form of steaks, sausage, or burgers. Wild game roam freely in the mountains and plains, and their meat is a Colorado delicacy.
- Rack of lamb–Colorado is one of the nation’s leading producers of lamb, and it is known to be especially delicious.
- High-end granola–Boulder is a mecca for endurance athletes as well as outdoor enthusiasts (campers, climbers, hikers, etc.). The high demand for high-quality granola means we have a vast variety to choose from. Yum!
Charming Boulder Bookstores
The Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe
The Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe is great for poetry-lovers and literature buffs. This sweet bookstore is “on the hill” in the middle of the University of Colorado campus. It is a great place to have a cup of tea or coffee while reading some new or old favorite poems.
A staircase takes you from the busy Pearl Street Mall down into this basement hideaway, that features a great array of metaphysical and spiritual titles, along with an in-house psychic and tarot readings. Classic Boulder.
What To Do On A Rainy Day In Boulder
Take in a show at the Sommers-Bausch Observatory
If there happens to be a special multimedia show–in the observatory’s circular auditorium–you’re in for a real treat.
Enjoy a performance or art show at The Dairy Arts Center
The movie theater, array of galleries, and performance spaces provide inspiring options for art, dance, and theater lovers.
Music compliments of the Chautauqua Concert Series
Get tickets for a concert at the Chautauqua Auditorium or Community House: beautiful venues nestled at the base of the Flatirons.
Awesome Day Trips From Boulder
Brainard Lake Recreation Area
A 30-40 minute drive from Boulder, this recreation area features jaw-dropping gorgeous alpine lakes and high-mountain forested trails. The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is open to hikers only during the summer months and is well worth the drive.
Nederland’s Carousel of Happiness
A half an hour drive through the stunningly-beautiful Boulder Canyon will place you in the quirky yet charming Nederland, which can easily be explored on foot. The Carousel of Happiness–with its beautiful hand-carved animals–is definitely worth a ride, or two.
Whether you’re just passing through, or enjoying a more extended visit, Boulder, Colorado in the summertime is sure to delight you!