So many US cities are overlooked as tourist destinations in favor of NYC, Chicago, Boston, LA and San Fran, but there are many attractions in Boulder that shout “hey, come visit me!” Visitors to Boulder can enjoy an urban space within a countryside environment. With 30,000 students at the University of Colorado, the city is blessed with a cool party vibe, with plenty of sidewalk cafés, shops and street performers. And when in Boulder, you’re only an hour away from Colorado’s snow sports resorts and the Rocky Mountains National Park. The attractions of Boulder suit city lovers and outdoors lovers.
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True to form, the boldest of attractions in Boulder, Colorado is the great big boulder of rock that overlooks the city from the southwest edge. Free to visit, the Flatirons are both beautiful to view and rigorous to hike. Some come only to admire the rocks, because they can be quite arduous if you’re looking for a casual stroll. With most trails being steep and slippery, you’d do best to bring along some good hiking shoes and plenty of water.
If you’d rather a family-friendly hike, shoot for Flagstaff Mountain, which is located about five miles southwest of Boulder in Boulder Mountain Park. Though the altitude of 7,000 feet may sound a bit rough, there are a number of trails to choose from for various levels of endurance, and the summit is worth the effort, with countless picnic areas, incredible vistas and even a nature center, in which kids can play around with geography- and wildlife-related interactive games, exhibits and activities.
Pearl Street Mall
Pearl Street is a pearl of a street, with Boulder boutiques alongside beatnik shops, trendy cafes alongside hip art galleries, fine dining alongside hole-in-the-walls, and vintage clothing stores smashed up to brand names, like Banana Republic and Urban Outfitters. Extending from 8th to 20th streets in the city’s downtown, come to shop, eat or people-watch, as the brick road is full of fantastic street performers who love to share their arts. When I was there, an Eastern European festival was being celebrated, with lively dance, colorful costumes and serving up traditional cuisine. You never know what’s gonna go down on Pearl Street, as it always serves up something fresh.
To the southwest of Boulder extends tiny Chautauqua Park, a small arm of Boulder Mountain Park with huge offerings. This most photogenic corner of the city was established in the late 19th century as a retreat, but now plays host to festivals, concerts and other community events. Whether or not there’s any event on schedule, Chautauqua is, in and of itself, the perfect place to go when you need a breather. Countless paths wind their way round the park, allowing plenty of bike and hike space for everyone to share. There’s grass to picnic in and gardens to paint in and rocks to climb on. The facilities even include dining and lodging, as well as auditoriums with outstanding acoustics. You can take a guided walking tour, dine in one of the delicious eateries or simply toss a Frisbee around. Don’t worry, someone will catch it.
Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory
Come and take a tour of the largest herbal tea producer in North America, and one of the most calming attractions in Boulder. Celestial Seasonings has called Boulder home since 1969, and its success is no secret. The company packages and ships over 8 million tea bags daily, and internationally serves over 1.6 billion cups of tea annually. With red, green, white and chai varieties, chances are even the most coffee-fueled person will be sure to find their cup. And there’ll be plenty of samples, so don’t you worry! Not only that, but you’ll watch the whole tea packaging process from beginning to end. The Factory also has a Mint Room, which serves up a powerful aroma of peppermint and spearmint tea.
Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art
If you prefer a landscape painting to the real thing, then after you’ve guzzled enough tea for a lifetime, head over to the Leanin’ Tree, right next door to Celestial Seasonings. The Leanin’ Tree is home to a large private collection of Western artwork, including stunning depictions of the purple Colorado Rockies alongside cowboy life in the nitty-gritty west. The sculpture garden is a real kick...literally, with bronze broncos buckin’ off their riders and other quintessential Colorado scenes.
National Center for Atmospheric Research
One of the most scientific of attractions in Boulder, the National Center for Atmospheric Research sits atop Table Mesa, in an unassuming building chock full of brain power. Scientists here research weather patterns and atmospheric effects which are weather-related, such as the greenhouse effect or ozone reduction. A visit will allow you to observe the gadgets by which the lab rats conduct experiments, such as satellites, weather balloons and robots too!
Now you know some of the attractions of Boulder, will you pay a visit?
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