This has been my third time visiting Boulder and it has always held a little place in my heart. From the relaxed vibe to the stunning view of the flattens stretching across the horizon of the city. Boulder has always been a place for me to unwind and relax.
My full-time job is at a startup. Our HQ is in Boulder so after a business trip to Colorado, Robin flew out and I stayed on longer to enjoy the city for the weekend. Here’s everything we did and what we wish we would have done differently so you can have all the information you need for the best trip to Boulder!
Noon: Robin flew out of San Francisco at 6am (he’s a champ!) and took the RTD into Boulder form the airport. It’s $9 and the bus makes a few stops along the way, but takes just under an hour to go from the Denver Airport to Downtown Boulder. I’ve taken it before and it’s a cheap and quick alternative to renting a car. Taking an Lyft from the airport will cost you at least $60, so… don’t do that.
12:30: Robin meet me for lunch, we went to Pizzeria Locale on Pearl Street. This is hands down the best Italian style pizza I’ve had since leaving Italy. In Italy, the pizzas are smaller and thinner than here in America. This lends towards people ordering a whole pizza to themselves. I love it. This place has a variety of great pizzas, but I recommend the Sausage Broccolini.
1:30: We finished up and head to Hotel Boulderado, a few blocks away, to check in a tad early. Hotel Boulderado is the best hotel to stay in while visiting Boulder for sure. It’s incredibly large, has an interesting history, great restaurants, friend;y staff and its just a block off Pearl Street. Hotel Boulderado made a great home base as we explored Boulder. You can read a full hotel review HERE.
2:30pm: By this time, we had checked in, took a tour of the hotel (don’t forget to check out the basement speakeasy!) Because we were both really tired, we opted to put on the food network and take a nap! I wanted to take some of the pillows home with me – so comfy! If you live in a low elevation like we do, remember that high elevation is going to mess with your body. I always combat it with drinking a large amount of water and taking naps when I can. Elevation does different things to different people. For me, I just get tired, like a train ran over me. For Robin, it makes him ill (headache, stomachache, etc).
A quick afternoon nap really helped us to combat that elevation sickness!
4:15pm: After a power nap, we pulled ourselves together and walked around Pearl Street a bit, We ended up near Central Park (much smaller than the one in NYC) and ended up at the Boulder Teahouse. We both wanted some caffeine to help wake us up, and a coworker recommended this spot. The Dushanbe Boulder Teahouse is an authentic teahouse from Tajikistan and is filled with ornate ceilings and columns, beautiful pillows and lots of plants. I found it so relaxing. We shared a pot of black tea and also tired one of their Early Grey Tea cocktails. It gets busy, so be prepared to wait a little but, but it’s totally worth it!
6:00pm: After feeling awake and relaxed from the tea. we headed back the Hotel Boulderado to change for dinner! If you’re new to Whimsy Soul, it’s important to know that Robin and I are big beer fans, so we just had to check out a few of the breweries while we were in town.
6:30pm: West Flanders was the closet to our hotel, so that was the first one on the list. It’s right on Pearl Street and gets busy in the evening. On warm days, sit outside! I honestly had mixed feelings about West Flanders. I wasn’t a big fan of my burger (I got the veggie burger – it was an atypical veggie burger and not in a good way) and we tried a few beers, but I only liked half of them.They are also priced a bit higher than neighboring places (think 14-16 per entree vs. 9-13). But, the staff are really nice and they have a wide selection of food and beer, so maybe it was an off night.
8pm: Since we’re beer lovers, we headed to Mountain Sun next for a nigh cap (which is the fancy way of saying we ordered a whole flight of beer). We LOVED Mountain Sun. Inside it was packed with locals so we instead opted to sit outside. It was a bit chilly, but we had our beer blankets on. I preferred it that way – less noise and great people watching! They have a whole shelf of board games, so we grabbed Trivia and quizzed each other. Our server was uber friendly and helped us pick a great flight of beer to try. From smoky beers to flavorful IPAs, Mountain Sun was my favorite brewery we visited in Boulder. They also serve food here if you are looking for a bite to eat!
10pm: Still getting used to the time change, we wandered back to Hotel Boulderado and fell fast asleep!
8:30am: Vacation is all about sleeping in and easy mornings, am I right? Due to our cat, who demands morning cuddles, we usually don’t get to sleep in much at home, so it was great to be able to have an easy morning snoozing and lounging in bed. We put on the morning Food Network shows, one of our favorites.
9:30am: We’ve heard great things about Spruce, the restaurant downstairs attached to the Hotel Boulderado, so we headed there for breakfast. We requested a seat by the window for great people watching and some sunshine (got to get that vitamin D!). On top of two big cups of coffee, I ordered the Jalapeños Cheddar Biscuit and Robin got the Prime Hash both which were delicious! We tired to have a filling breakfast because we knew we wanted to go hiking later that morning, and I felt stuffed after leaving (in a good way!)
10:30am: We had a slow breakfast and a chose to watch some Food Network while letting out stomachs settle a bit. Nobody likes to hike on a full stomach! Plus, most of our trips are go go go! From one place to another, so it was nice to just relax a bit.
11:30am: We called a Lyft. Here the regular Lyfts are almost the same price as the Lines, so we treated ourself to a normal one for once! The entrance to Chautauqua Park is 1.5 miles away and up a hill, so we chose to spend $6 getting there so we had energy left to actually hike. It’s my tradition to hike Chautauqua every time I visit Boulder. The Flatirons are just so magical up close, but you get to treat yourself to a great view of the city at the top!
I’ve always hiked the lower flatirons loop because it’s the easiest hike in my opinion. The upper trial leads you up up and up pretty much to the top of a the 1st flatiron (or at least it looks that way on the map) and I’m never in enough shape when I visit to do that. When you hike, I will say, don’t give up too soon. It looks deceiving, but the first part of the trail is actually the hardest. It’s a steep walk up to the base of the mountains and a lot of people get to the edge of the woods and call it a day. It DOES get better! One you get high enough, the lower trail is more level and is much easier and enjoyable to walk on. You have to do a little boulder climbing, but hey, that’s the fun of being in Boulder!
Remember to bring water, sunglasses and wear sunscreen!
1:30pm: By this time, we had finished our 2-ish mile hike along the lower trail. We debated about taking a Lyft back to our hotel or walking since it would be downhill this time. The weather was beautiful – mid 60’s and sunny, so we opted to walk down. This leads you past The Hill, aka the college area of Boulder. It was fun seeing the campus and the types of stores/bars the kids go to. This walk then takes you over the river and to Pearl Street.
2:30pm: Instead of going to our hotel, we instead diverted to the West End Tavern to grab water and a beer on their patio. The downstairs is really dark, but head right upstairs for a cute little patio that offers glimpses of the Flatirons. They were on their last day of Beer Week, so we treated ourselves to local craft beers, lots of water and relaxed after a long day of walking.
3:45pm: In the mood for a change of scenery, we headed a block down to the Rio Grande, a place I went to last night I visited Boulder and remember for their amazing rooftop patio. Boy, I forgot how great this place is! From string lights to umbrella to fountains, all topped with the best view of the flatirons in town, we had a great time here We ordered specialty margaritas and chips and guac. I really loved soaking up the sun. I will say – other than hiking, the only things to really do in Boulder are to eat and drink, so you might as well find a great patio to sit on while you’re doing that! Warning – this place does get crowded, but it’s totally worth waiting for a rooftop table vs. sitting inside.
5pm: We headed back to our hotel slowly and took our time. It was a beautiful evening and because CU was on Spring Break, it was peaceful.
6pm: We were loving all this weather, so we opted to eat at the Corner Bar, part of Hotel Boulderado, and sit outside on the patio to eat. At this point, it was a bit chilly, but we stopped by our room first to drop things off and change into warmer gear. I ordered the trout, which was delicious. The perfect amount of flaky vs. crust ratio. Robin got a burger and I stole some of his fries! Hehehe. I imagine this place is extra fun on a warm summer night when you can sit on the patio, drink a beer and people watch.
7:30pm: I must say, at this point, my body sort of revolted. My phone told us we walked over 5.5 miles that day and on top of that exercise, we pretty much have been non-stop eating since arriving in Boulder. So, instead of trying to go out for drinks, we opted to hang out own our historic hotel room and watch..more Food Network! It was honestly the best thing I’ve done in aw while I’m always on the phone or computer working, never actually just relaxing, so I loved laying down and cuddling with my boo.
8:15pm: Despite feeling stuffed to the brim, we did want to at least try some Boulder Baked cookies. Despite the name, they are not pot cookies, but instead the most popular desert spot in town. They’re open late, so I sent Robin on a cookie run. I recommend getting the flavor of the month, plus a few extra! I had half a cookie that night… and the rest of my share in the morning for pre-breakfast (opps!).
9am: We slept in again! Oh, how a treat. The Hotel Boulderado is pretty quite and we had such comfy beds. We chose to slowly pack and not rush ourselves that morning. Our flight left at 9pm, so we knew we had all the time in the world on Sunday.
10:30am: We checked out and Hotel Boulderado held onto our luggage for us so we could walk around town more. Also, it started to pour rain that day, so I was thankful I could keep my camera safe indoors!
11am: Friends kept telling me about Lucile’s, a creole breakfast spot. It happened to be about 3 blocks away from Hotel Boulderado, so we walked right there for breakfast. And apparently a lot of other people did, too! We had to wait about 20 minutes, but it wasn’t raining yet and because we live in San Francisco, we were really used to waiting for brunch. Finally we got seats – really great ones on the porch! – and settled in for one of the best brunches I’ve had in a long time! I recommend grabbing a Chicory Coffee and Beignets to start you off. They have the BEST beignets outside of the south, I swear. I then ordered the Eggs Pontchartrain with grits and HOLY MOLY this was fantastic. The grits and the fish were perfectly seasoned, and it came with a huge biscuit on the side that I swear to goodness is the best biscuit I’ve had in ages. Robin got the eggplant and grits and also the huge biscuit. I stole a bite of his and it was just as good. We actually couldn’t finish our food because there was just so much. I was sad I couldn’t take it with me! When you are visiting, I highly recommend visiting here. They close at 2pm, so much sure to come for brunch!
Noon: By this time, it started to rain. Hard. Good thing I brought our umbrellas! I was very thankful for good weather for the whole week leading up tot here. We kept checking and it went from rain all the days, to no rain, to snow, to low temps and back again. I would have been so bummed out if we couldn’t go hiking! We didn’t have a chance to explore Pearl Street by day, so we took this time to walk up and down it. They have a lot of cute little stores with everything from art to clothes to toys to pipes (hey, it’s Boulder after all). I stopped in LUSH to buy some hard shampoo and conditioner. There isn’t a store in the Bay Area and I wanted to chat with the people in person. I’m really excited to try them out while traveling and will let you know my thoughts!
1:15pm: So, Pearl Street is big, but not that big. We quickly walked the whole thing. As I mentioned before, the only things to do in Boulder is to hike, eat and drink. It was at this point that I wish we had rented a car so ew could go take a drive in the Mountains. There are some close towns that take about 45 minutes to drive to and it would have been really nice to get out of the city. Next time we come, I’ll be getting us car rental. IF you are spending more than a couple of nights in Boulder, I recommend you also get a car so you can get out on day trips if you want. Our flight ended dup being delayed until 11pm, so we totally would have had time to go on a longer day trip (Say, to Elko to visit the Stanly Hotel) and get back tot he airport in plants you time. But, alas, no car. So, since it was till pouring rain, we chose to head back to Mountain Sun and play boardgames all afternoon. They were really nice and let us sip on a couple of beers and hog all of the good games for a few hours.
4pm: We headed back to the hotel to grab our luggage and walk to the bus station. We took the RTD back to the airport (Because Lyfts are crazy exposed to the airport there). And, that was the end of our trip!
MORE THINGS TO DO
- For sure rent a car if you are spending more than a couple nights in Boulder. It makes a good home base for day trips to the Rockies or to Denver
- The Kitchen Upstairs is another very good restaurant right on Pearl Street. I recommend going the tapas route.
- Stop by Boxcar Coffee Roasters for craft coffee!
- Remember to pack sunglasses. Apparently, it’s a “rookie mistake” to not have your sunnies on hand at all point sin time because it’s always so sunny in Colorado.
- If you have a car, or can spend about $20 roundtrip on a Lyft, drive up to Flagstaff to the lookout point. You can climb over some boulders and see for miles and miles. It’s very beautiful.
- Take advantage of the legal weed. #JustSaying
I hope this helps you plan your trip to Boulder, Colorado! Leave a comment below if you have anything to add or have questions!!
Shop my packing list:
Thank you to the Hotel Boulderado for providing a complimentary media stay. All opinions are my own.