Planning a solo trip to Boulder, CO? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Located northwest of Denver, with a population of around 108,000.
- Located at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills (elevation: 1,655 meters.
- Considered to be one of the best places to live in the United States.
- Nicknames: People’s Republic of Boulder, Berkeley of The Rockies, The Boulder Bubble
- Currency: U.S. Dollar (USD)
- Spoken languages: English.
- Best time to visit: winter is great for skiing (but not much else), summer brings the best weather (though the city can get somewhat crowded).
- Arriving via airport: you’ll have to travel from the Denver International Airport. The RTD SkyRide AB line will take you there for $10.50 (pay cash on the bus, or cash/card at the station vending machines) – expect the journey to take 30 minutes to an hour. Taxis will cost $89 (flat rate) + tip.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: Boulder Adventure Lodge. If you love the great outdoors, this is the spot. Exceptionally clean, very spacious (big beds, big rooms), and welcoming staff that foster a sense of community. It’s five minutes out of town, so you’ll have to use Uber or public bus to get there and back (if you don’t have a car). Beautiful natural setting, and great value.
- Most hotels can be found right at the heart of downtown Boulder between Central and East.
- Luxury lodges can be found on the North and West outskirts of the city, while budget hotels (or ‘motels’) dot the Denver Boulder Turnpike.
- On foot – most sights in Boulder are located within a two-mile radius of the center.
- Cycling is common in this college town, so consider joining the city’s bike-sharing program B-Cycle. It’s an easy, safe way to see the central sights and also get out a bit into the foothills.
- If you’re thinking about renting a car, keep in mind that traffic is usually choked, parking downtown is tight, and parking garages and parking/speeding tickets are expensive.
- The RTD bus system has fares divided in sections. For instance, it’s $5.00 for local trips, $9.00 for regional trips. This is not the most useful way to get around Boulder, but is best if you’re heading toward Denver.
- Drinking age is 21, and last call is at 1:30 AM (bars close by 2 AM).
- Nightlife is centered downtown in two areas – The Hill and Pearl Street.
- Boulder is a college town and The Hill is right by campus, so expect rowdy freshmen and football fans eating pizza and drinking beer well into the night. A few sleek establishments and music venues round out The Hill.
- Pearl Street is where Boulder’s lefties go out to play after-dark, and the street is completely lined with microbrew pubs, locavore restaurants and arty dive bars. The taverns here are a cozy place to spend a cold Colorado night.
- Great bars for solo travelers: Rayback Collective, Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, The Bitter Bar ($$$ – cocktails), and Dark Horse (burgers and drinks).
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is very Boulder. Community-minded and free during farmer’s market, (Wednesdays and Saturdays right out front,) MOCA’s three galleries are full of cutting-edge modern art.
- The Pearl Street Mall is shopping – Boulder Style. Because it’s not really a mall at all, but a pedestrian-only promenade that takes up four blocks downtown. Street performers are everywhere on Pearl in the Summer.
- Boulder’s sister city is Dajanbe, Tajikstan, and their gift to the town was a one-of-a-kind teahouse, unlike any other structure in North America. Every inch of the blue, Persian walls was hand-painted, making the tea-drinking experience completely surreal.
- The Boulder Farmer’s Market takes place Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings just in front of the Museum on 13th street, and demonstrates the city’s true essence. The dumpling stand is famous (for good reason.)
- The Boulder Creek Path is perfect for walking and runs right through the city center bus is speckled with parks and grassy knolls. Walk north on it from downtown to the foothills of Fourmile Canyon – it’s just 7 miles long.
- While Boulder isn’t big or overflowing with tourist attractions, its proximity to Denver makes up for it. It mostly appeals to students, adventure travelers and progressives in general. Access to fresh, local food, the outdoors and yoga, especially is widespread, and many travelers end up wishing they could live here!
- Great restaurants to try: Tandoori Grill (Indian with many vegan options), Chez Thuy Restaurant (Viet), II Pastaio Ristorante (Italian), Pizzeria Locale, and Under The Sun Pub & Pizza.
- Where to find good cheap eats: numerous international restaurants serve high-quality food on The Hill for under $15. Additionally, some pizza places in The Hill are very cheap. Likewise, some dive bars and gastropubs on Pearl serve cheap bites – just look around.
- Dangerous areas: Boulder doesn’t have any scary neighborhoods, but women traveling alone should be particularly alert around The Hill on a dead night or after bars close.
Recommended trip duration: 1-2 days