Boulder has transformed itself time and again, from farm country to hippie haven to an epicenter of the modern tech boom. Like the budding tulips that will pop like kernels of corn along its famed Pearl Street next month, the city at the base of the foothills is relaunching again in this post-pandemic world. Welcome to the Boulder you’ve been overlooking.
We’ll be the first to admit it: We Denverites are often guilty of disparaging our neighbor to the northwest. At best, we consider Boulder a small college town worthy of the occasional visit to grab a bite or when we’re in desperate need of something to do with visiting family (see: the Pearl Street Mall). At worst, we see it as the ’burbs, rife with all the typical suburban problems, including a shocking lack of racial and ethnic heterogeneity (the town is 90 percent white) and a cost of living that favors the wealthy (average single-family home prices sit north of $700,000). Yet, we must concede that when we make the trip up U.S. 36, we always enjoy ourselves.
We aren’t the only ones who’ve succumbed to Boulder’s wiles over the years. Since the late 1850s, settlers have been drawn to this picturesque valley, first for the gold mining, then as a university town, next as a hippie refuge, and today as a bastion of the eat-well, play-hard Colorado lifestyle. Here, you will indeed find a multitude of craft breweries, trendy boutiques, and farm-to-table restaurants. These things, however, are only part of what makes Boulder a desirable place to spend a day or a weekend.
If you take the time to look past the high sheen, you’ll also discover a still-groovy town full of brainy entrepreneurs nurturing innovative startups, ultra-athletes plying the same trails as weekend warriors, artists creating works that both inspire and challenge the mind, and, yes, plenty of yogis, crystal healers, and meditation gurus waiting to help you find your Zen.
In other words, the People’s Republic is no longer a one-note burg. Yes, Amazon and Google may have settled in—and Coach Prime, too—but even with a new layer of sophistication, Boulder has managed to preserve much of its laid-back nature. If you know where to look, you can still find the magic that locals say is the reason people have long been enamored of this city that abuts the Flatirons. —Daliah Singer, contributing writer