Boulder’s remarkable charm lies in the innate combination of cultures: the student world, the hazy every-life of its elderly residents, artisan food stalls, tech start-ups and the energetic arts scene all mix together. The taste is: tantalising.
Although this article may well have been twice as long, I’ve carefully selected the 5 top things you mustn’t miss in the mountainside Colorado campus town of Boulder. Here goes!
1. Pearl Street
As it turns out, exploring Boulder’s high street is a task that could take all day.
Strolling down Pearl you can’t help but notice only one mainstream chain shop: Starbucks. And even this was only half-full, with most residents choosing to get their loyalty card stamped at an independent cafe such as Amante or The Laughing Goat. When in Boulder you get the feeling not everyone has blown away their morning cobwebs and spend most days in a sultry high-summer daze; it’s a pretty addictive feeling.
The non-corporate artisanal vibe of downtown is exemplified twice weekly in the Boulder Farmer’s Market. All the basics: giant sunflowers, fresh komboocha, spiced meats and globally inspired food stalls which rival Camden Market.
It’s one thing for Pearl Street to look like the set of Gilmore Girls, and it’s another for it to taste better than Luke’s Diner.
2. Alpine Modern
What no one tells you about the languid Colorado coffee houses is that celebrities walk in like college students: you don’t know whether that’s their #style or their #pajamas.
Logan Paul’s entrance at Alpine Modern made my sumptuous decaf iced latte taste a little bitter. However, apparently the staff and the other customers were used to this, or were they just too engrossed in their student assignments, heads over laptops?
Head to Alpine for wonderful artisan coffee, and not just to see YouTube’s latest controversial phenomenon, life-sized and wearing sliders. Just a few moments walk from the university campus or from mountain trails, get caffeinated here and top up your tan in the outside lounge area.
3. Mountains at dusk
Packing to hike up the mountains at dusk, Gen X edition: leave the mosquito repellent, take the phone charger. Leave the extra clothes, take the lipgloss!
Despite my just-healed mosquito bites, trekking up the mountain to see the lights come on in Boulder town is well worth the hike. You can head up to Panorama Point or take an extra few minutes drive to Flagstaff Mountain Summit, with either giving you a vista of the town below and over the barren plains to Denver city, visible on the distant skyline.
Take an extra hoody and check out the holiday-hack contained in no Time Out or Lonely Planet guide. Trust me, your Instagram feed will thank you.
I thought I was on a movie set in Boulder oh, maybe, twice a day. One of those times was definitely in a bookshop. At 9pm. Because some of them only open at night. I’m super casual about this and the groovy downtown basement with Soho-esque neon lights outside definitely didn’t excite me.
Okay fine! So if abundant editions of Thoreau’s “Walden”, vintage Catholic postcards or a selection of old jazz records from the 1950s are your thing, check out Beat Books after dark.
The charm of this store is encapsulated in the truth that it’s the side-hustle of a sixty-something bearded gentleman who opens the shop nightly, probably after a 9-5 day. You’re welcome!
5. Fall Fest
But here’s the crazy thing about Boulder. Whereas in England getting school pupils to dance with brass instruments whilst chanting their school anthem would be like, sooooo lame, I still have the “Goooo… Buffs!” chorus in my head.
Every autumn, Fall Fest takes over Boulder high street where the local high school marches through, riling up alumni to join in with the “Go Buffaloes!” theme song, and local band Funkiphino perform their grooves late into the evening. Besides the entertainment, the plethora of market stalls makes you question, couldn’t Christmas markets become a whole-year-round thing?
Boulder typifies the artsy culture of liberal America. Students swan in Lululemon swigging iced-coffee whilst its permanent residents buy their fresh weekly produce at the Farmers’ Market, because who even uses supermarkets anymore?
For two weeks I was happy to live the svelt existence in Boulder, shielded from by the Rocky Mountains from most of the world’s ills; it’s an indefatigable sensation from which you can hardly pull yourself away.
GIF credit: Giphy.