Boulder is a quaint university and research town located at the Front Range, where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains in Eastern Colorado.
Languages: English (US)
Currency: US dollar
Getting Around: Much of the city center is walkable. To get around the rest of the city, it is possible to use the city’s bike sharing program or ride buses. It is also easy to take a bus to Denver. If you plan on going far into the mountains, you’ll likely need to rent a car.
When to visit: Boulder is a great place to visit year round, although avoid the winter if you do not like cold or snow.
How to visit: Fly into Denver International Airport. Award tickets through most programs will cost 25,000 miles roundtrip. Redeeming Southwest Airlines miles may be cheaper, depending on the price of the ticket. If you are lucky enough to live in Seattle, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, or Chicago it is possible to fly direct for 15,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip; and those leaving from New York, Charlotte, or Miami can fly for 20,000 Avios roundtrip. Flying from cities on the west coast could also cost as little as 15,000 Alaska miles roundtrip. If you are looking to pay for a ticket, low cost carrier Frontier Airlines has its hub in Denver and sometimes has good deals, just be prepared to travel very light if you do not want the extra fees, as they only allow one small backpack (8″ x 14″x 18″) for free. From Denver International Airport, public buses AB and ABA run to Boulder every hour or so.
Highlights of Boulder:
Boulder is a growing research and tech hub in the United States. It is particularly well known for its research in atmospheric science and other natural sciences, and is home to the University of Colorado. The Rocky Mountains begin to rise up from the west side of Boulder, which means that stunning views are just a short jaunt away from the city center. Additionally, Boulder has a hippie-like culture of its own, complete with local breweries, tea, and shopping.
The obvious thing to do in Boulder is go hiking! The best trails close to the city center depart from Chautauqua Park, where there is a huge trail network for all skill levels. The most strenuous trails lead to the top of some of the peaks. If you prefer to drive through the mountains, try taking the Flagstaff Mountain scenic drive (Flagstaff Road), which quickly gains elevation and has great views of the city and surrounding plains. In addition, Rocky Mountain National Park is only a short drive away from Boulder, with some of the best mountain scenery in the United States.
Skiing is also popular at nearby resorts in the winter. There is a bus that goes from downtown Boulder to Eldora, and plenty of other world-famous resorts are within driving range.
If you are into museums or cutting edge research, you have your choice of exploring the University of Colorado campus, with its planetarium, natural history museum, and beautiful architecture; going to one of the art museums in town (the Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art or the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art); or going to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research’s Mesa Lab, which sits above the city and houses an exhibit on atmospheric research.
If you enjoy drinking tea, Boulder is a great place to be. The Dushanbe Tea House is a gift to the city from Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan. Its Central Asian architecture may seem out of place in the United States, but is still quite marvelous. Inside, an array of international dishes is served, each with its own recommended tea pairing. In addition to the tea house, the Celestial Seasonings factory is located in Boulder, and it offers tours which explain how Celestial Seasonings’ herbal and non-herbal teas are produced and packaged.
Boulder has a bustling microbrewery scene as well, with many located all over the city. Perhaps the most popular brewery is Avery, with a tap room, restaurant, and seating areas which provide a view of the brewers at work.
The Pearl Street Mall is a pedestrian-only walkway in the middle of the city which provides opportunities to browse, shop, or try out local restaurants and coffee shops. At the very least, it is worth a look. Altogether, Boulder is a laid-back place to explore for a few days, or even a week if the opportunity arises.