Boulder Colorado in 48 Hours-A Guest Post by Clarissa Chappell
When the lovely ladies at The Sophisticato and I first began brainstorming about our "Trading Places" guest posts, I was beyond stoked to provide a "Boulder, CO in 48 hours" pseudo-guide to the city; I could whip that up no problem!
But there was a problem. After creating an outline of all my favorite places, I realized I had WAY too much content to squeeze everything into 48 hours! Ok, so it’s more of a "not-problem" kind of problem.
Honestly, you guys, working on this piece and playing tourist in my own city, has only served to reinforce just how much I love this place. We moved here three years ago and even after looking over everything I’m recommending in this guide (and then some!) and then comparing it to what I have left on my “Colorado Bucket List”, I’m still amazed at how much this state has to offer!
At least we’re only doing one city (cue sigh of relief). That being said, I’ll leave you with this before we jump in: THIS WAS HARD to whittle down. There are so many more restaurants, hikes and attractions I would love to gush about, and if you ever have much more time in this beautiful city, hit me up because I would be MORE than happy to show you around! So with that said, welcome to Boulder! Located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where “gluten-free”, “kombucha”, and “grass-fed organic” are just common phrases, you’ll find the home of some of the healthiest people in the United States, who also know how to have a seriously good time.
Saturdays in Boulder are magical, and they usually (for me, anyway) start with taking in the mountain view over a cup of coffee, and then heading straight to the Farmer’s Market. It’s located downtown (parking is free in the downtown garages on Saturday and Sunday!), right along the Boulder Creek, and has some of the best street food you’ve ever had. I highly recommend grabbing some shrimp spring rolls (with peanut sauce!), a few (believe me, you'll want more than one) amazingly crispy gluten-free eggrolls, and a Thai iced tea from the aptly named Savory Saigon tent.
And don’t forget to stop by the Rowdy Mermaid (link) Kombucha stand! If you’ve never had Kombucha, it’s a fermented tea and is somewhat of an acquired taste (think, slightly vinegar-y fruit-flavored soda) but it's loaded with live probiotics and antioxidants. So ya know, be healthy and stuff. And then continue the health trend and ogle all the amazing, fresh, produce!
Bordering the Farmer’s Market is our next stop: The Dushanbe Teahouse. To give you some background, Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan and is known to be Boulder's "sister city". This teahouse was a gift from the people of Dushanbe, with hand-carved elements and hand-painted with ancient Persian designs, it sits majestically along the Boulder Creek. It took 40 artisans to construct each part of the teahouse in Tajikistan before it was disassembled and shipped to Boulder, CO.
I highly recommend stopping here to admire the beautiful architecture, and if you have time, for lunch!
Next up, Pearl Street Mall. Just a couple of blocks over from the Farmer's Market & Teahouse, it's the epi-center of Boulder's downtown. You could spend hours on Pearl Street! So many boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, juiceries, bakeries - it's fantastic. But the thing that sets Pearl Street apart from other downtown hubs? Entertainers. Street Performers. Musicians. So many artists out there doing what they love! On any given day, there'll be someone juggling fire, someone else contorting his body to fit into a tiny acrylic box, at least 4-5 musicians spread out amongst the strip of the mall - it's practically a festival every day.
Definitely stop by Ozo Coffee for a Bhakti Chai - an incredibly popular local chai tea from a Boulder-based company - it's a must-do while you're here! And when you're exhausted, and ready for dinner, you MUST stop at Shine. If any place screams "Boulder", it absolutely does, Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place. And it's right there on Pearl Street so no driving required. Shine is owned by three triplet sisters and boasts a 100% gluten-free, GMO-free kitchen with menu options to satisfy vegetarian, vegan, and paleo diets as well. My absolute favorite dish on the menu is the "Cappellos Grain Free Ravioli" - "house stuffed with local wild mushrooms, goat cheese & herbs with brown butter sage sauce & yam butter over seared seasonal greens and sprouted pumpkin seeds, topped with 100% grass-fed braised buffalo"
Are you kidding me??? It's beyond words. And don't forget to get a potion while you're there!
Ok, Day 2! Time to work off all the delicious goodies from yesterday's exploring by starting your Sunday with Yoga on the Roof! The Rio Grande restaurant in downtown Boulder has a beautiful rooftop seating area with mountain views, and every other Sunday during the summer months, they clear the space for Core Power's Yoga on the Roof! It's totally free (but get there early because it fills up FAST!), instructor led, and you even get a FREE mini margarita with chips and salsa when the class is over! They call this "detox, then retox" - It's all about balance right?
I recommend stopping back by The Rio for a meal if you're craving Mexican food - it's delicious and their margaritas are no joke (they have a maximum limit of 2 per person!).
After some breakfast (top picks: The Buff, Tangerine, or The Huckleberry - that last one isn't technically in Boulder, but it's so good that I'd recommend making the 15-minute drive to Louisville), it's time to take in the thing that people actually come to Boulder for: the mountains. The glorious, glorious, mountains. Chautauqua Park is one of the best places to take in an incredible view of the Flatirons (the smaller, craggy, mountains that surround the city of Boulder at the base of the Rocky Mountains) and to explore some hiking options. The views are stunning but be mindful of how harsh the environment can be out here! At a higher elevation, you may struggle for oxygen so take it easy – pace yourself during your hike. Wear comfortable shoes (preferably hiking boots to protect your ankles on some of the rockier hikes), and above all else, remember to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen – the sun is INTENSE here.
If hiking isn't your thing (or shit, if it is, and you're just ready for more!), head to the Boulder Reservoir for some easy kayaking. It's not rigorous by ANY means (the water is almost completely still) but it's a good arm workout and a great way to spend the day in the sun and out on the water. Plus, you can rent SUPs, have a picnic, or even go for a swim at the other end of the reservoir. For lunch, stop by Blackbelly Market – a restaurant/bar/butchery that was opened a few years ago by Top Chef winner, Hosea Rosenberg. It's a little pricey, but not bad at all if you go for either lunch or happy hour. And after lunch, it's time to kick back with a beer. One of the first things that comes to mind when I think about Boulder, is beer. There's are breweries galore here guys. Beer is not a beverage in Boulder. Beer is a lifestyle. Sounds dramatic, right? It is! People LIVE for beer here - the craft, the recipes, the creation, the vibe - it's a culture.
One of my favorite breweries here is Avery Brewing - you've probably had their beer before since they're sold nearly everywhere, but the tap house is something to experience! Rugged wood decor, an outdoor seating area (dog-friendly!), and delicious, hearty, food – you could easily get lost in the vibe here for hours.
Not too far from Avery (you can walk!) is another, much smaller, brewery: Finkel & Garf. I'll be honest guys, I'm actually not a big beer drinker. I mostly drink sour beers, which Avery has plenty of, but Finkel & Garf does not. However, my boyfriend really likes their beer and more importantly, this brewery is fun. It's family-oriented, dog-friendly, each table is adorned with a basket of Mega Blocks to play with, there are kid-snacks galore, game rentals available and an outdoor seating area with lawn chairs. Another place I feel like you could just hang for hours, drinking, playing games and catching up with friends.
Ok, one last stop to end your evening. You guessed it - another brewery. Boulder Beer! It's all in the name...it's in Boulder, there's beer, what more do you need? A beautiful patio with games and great food? Done. Did I mention that Boulder Beer is ALSO dog-friendly?! Luna appreciates all the doggy love here in Boulder.
So that's Boulder! Not really “in a nutshell”, because there is just SO MUCH MORE that it seems inadequate to say the above list is entirely representative of this beautiful city. But it IS a fair round-up of some of the best spots to spend 48-hours if you're ever in the area. Thanks for reading and don't forget to contact me if you're ever in beautiful Boulder!
Looking to start planning your tips to Boulder? Kathy & Rebecca have some fabulous travel planning secrets that you should definitely get your hands on!
Clarissa is the blogger (read: creative mastermind) behind theviewfromhere.is - a DIY-focused creative space where she also dabbles in recipes, travel adventures and her life in Boulder, CO with her boyfriend and their three incredibly spoiled fur babies.