Boulder, Colorado enjoys year-round sunshine, clear mountain air, a welcoming and positive vibe, entertainment and culture, outdoor activities and adventure. What more could you ask for?
Boulder has also been voted in the top three cities for healthy eating in the US, and the food is indeed fabulous. It is perfectly situated in a stunning setting at the base of the Rockies’ foothills and the people are fun, friendly and justly proud.
I was lucky enough to visit Boulder in the Fall, to pick up an award at the Moondance Film Festival, otherwise known as the American Cannes, and its celebrations coincided with the annual Fall Fest. The town was buzzing with music, restaurants, bars, street-theatre and public art. This however, is not just for the festival season but is the backdrop to everyday Boulder. Pearl Street in the heart of downtown and that is where it all happens.
Pearl Street is pedestrianized and electric with activity and entertainment. Every few feet is a musical maestro; a couple playing the didgeridoos, another on cello and glockenspiel, a young boy on guitar. Some musicians were busking, others just playing for their own and others’ benefit. The street entertainment included fire, hatchet, and knife throwers, Rainbow People offering healings and readings, a contortionist who pulled himself through a toilet seat by means of joint dislocation, as well as stalls selling local arts and crafts.
On Saturday in 13th street down by the Creek, is the Farmer’s Market, filled with stalls selling plump vegetables, giant beetroot, red Indian corn on the cob, orange pumpkins, lemonade made with the famous local Eldorado Spring water, flowers, the first in the season apple cider and healthy snacks. Boulder’s Dushanbe Tea house with its intricately hand-painted panels is in the heart of the Market and we escaped into its cool interior for a glass of Rainforest and Hibiscus iced tea, pork ribs, samosas, Masala dosas and curry wraps; all for $43.32 for two and all delicious.
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse:(303) 442-4993; www.boulderteahouse.com
Boulder has beautiful weather all year round, clear blue skies and even in September is a dry comfortable 80 to 90 degrees. In the winter it may snow 20 inches but by the next day the sun is out again, the snow has melted and people are back in their shorts and t-shirts. Access to skiing and snowboarding is no more than a 20 to 30 minute car drive away up in the mountains and costs $350 for a week’s pass.
Running through the town is Boulder Creek and we walked along the path all the way to the base of the foothills. The water bubbled over boulders and we were shaded by the trees and wild flowers that lined the creek. We came across a red rock sculpture of a hand carved Arapaho Indian Chief and further along there more adhoc offerings; a wooden tepee and a carefully stacked pile of stones balanced at the water’s edge. There was the promise of bears, foxes, deer, raccoons and white-crested kingfishers but we just caught the flash of a snake as it slithered away into the parched grass. We caught our breath (it is high altitude here but drinking lots of water helps) on a bench by a rainbow trout pond. An inscription on the bench read: “Fishing heals a man’s heart and soothes his soul.” Certainly the intoxicating smells of the pine-woods helped too.
Boulder loves its bicycles and we hired two bikes from University Bikes on 9th and Pearl street for $30 for four hours. We took the Broadway cycle route up past the University and towards the Flat Irons- giant rocks protruding from the mountain range- and we cycled through the clear mountain air up through residential Colombine Avenue to Chautauqua Park overlooking Boulder. This is one of the famous parks set up by the Progressive Movement to encourage families to get out of the towns and into the environment to enjoy leisure and culture. We sat and listened to a banjo player framed by the mountain peak behind him.
My favourite restaurants
We were keen to explore Boulder’s healthy food fare and we were not disappointed. My favourite meal was seared Salmon on quinoa with finely chopped raw vegetables in a roasted Squash sauce at Tahona Bistro on Pearl Street. However breakfast in America is not a meal to be missed and we relished our crepes and maple syrup at Foolish Craig’s, giant pancakes and virgin SeaBreezes at Centro, and Creole Beignets (New Orleans donuts) at Lucile’s. We added in the healthy aspect with bowls of fresh fruit! Coming from Britain it was a pleasure to eat out and not be breaking the bank. The service was always impeccable, positive and welcoming. The 18% tip was always well-deserved.
Staying in Boulder
We flew into Denver International Airport which is 50 kilometres away and then caught the super easy Super Shuttle bus that you share with other passengers who are dropped at various locations in Boulder. (Cost: $25 per person each way) We stayed at the Hotel Boulderado, which is a National Register Landmark and only a block away from Pearl Street. It was opened in 1909 and was Boulder’s first luxury hotel. With its magnificent stained glass atrium ceiling and stylish décor it has the feel of being in The Great Gatsby! Our room was immaculate and we were treated to a little chocolate each night. We managed to get a good deal and instead of costing £745.25 we got a Queen size room for £607.44 (including Tax & fees) for four nights.
Hotel Boulderado, 2115 13th Street, Boulder 80302, United States.
Tahona Bistro: (303) 938-9600; www.tahonaboulder.com
Foolish Craig’s: (303) 247-9383; www.foolishcraigs.com
Centro: (303) 442-7771; www.centrolatinkitchen.com
Lucile’s: (303) 442-4743 (the queue is worth the wait)