Boulder, Colorado is the perfect spot for an active vacation. Here’s what to do and where to eat during your trip.
I had been told for years that Boulder, Colorado is my dream city. Turns out that’s very accurate. It has everything I’d want – fantastic running, gorgeous mountains, amazing food, not too crowded. And the mountains make it feel like home — I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. And it’s the perfect spot for an active vacation!
What is Boulder, CO known for?
Well, this depends on who you ask! But, I’ve always known it as a city that’s great for people who are active and healthy! My favorite parts?
- The outdoors! It has such easy access to trails for amazing hiking, running and biking.
- FOOD! I have to eat gluten-free and it was NEVER a problem while I was there. Every restaurant we went to was incredibly accommodating with dietary restrictions.
Here’s what I did during my few days exploring the outdoors and some of my favorite restaurants!
Things to do in Boulder for an active vacation
Even with my short time, I was able to fit in so many activities! Running and hiking are my personal favorite options though!
Even though I was spending a few days solo, I’m grateful I had a running friend in town for the BolderBoulder 10K as well (who then introduced me to more friends) so I had company on my runs. It’s definitely more fun sharing amazing views with someone else!
For hiking and exploring other areas of Boulder, I had someone from the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau, Leah, to show me around! Small world: Leah grew up in Winston-Salem and now lives in Boulder. We hit it off instantly!
Where to run
Even after the race, I ran every day while I was in Boulder since there are just so many amazing options!
One day I ran on a groomed path around Davidson Mesa, just outside Boulder. It was especially fun running there with Tommy before he headed home!
Another day I hit the trails below the Flatirons. Look at these views!!!
Another day I ran different trails with a friend, Jonathan (whom I met through Inside Tracker), near the Boulder Reservoir. We meandered through a rolling trail that carved a path through fields with cows and stunning views at every turn.
Mid-run, we bumped into Jonathan’s running coach, David Roche, who captured perhaps the best running photo I’ll ever have.
There are just SO many options for amazing running within 5-15 minutes of downtown. It was especially fun to see elite runners out near the Boulder Reservoir!
When (not if) I go back to Boulder, I would book two solid extra days to dedicate just to hiking. I just got a taste with some shorter hikes that left me wanting more!
- Chautauqua + Flatirons
This is probably the most well-known hike in Boulder and for good reason. There are gorgeous views and so many route options. You could do a short and easy stroll or a long and strenuous hike. And it’s only 10 minutes from downtown.
There’s a restaurant at the base of the Flatirons to grab a bite pre- or post-hike and a cute general store with sandwiches, ice cream and souvenirs. And while it’s a popular tourist spot, none of it feels touristy.
The city of Boulder and its residents have done a great job of protecting the area so it can’t be over-developed. And that’s a HUGE win in my book, considering I grew up in a small farming town just outside Salt Lake City, Utah that’s now overgrown with subdivisions and strip malls.
This was perhaps my favorite hiking spot even though my hike was VERY short since I ran out of time! (I was trying to cram in a lot during my trip!) But, now I have a great reason to go back!
There are trails that start right behind the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the views are BREATHTAKING, right from the start. And again, this is 10 minutes from downtown!
Other things to do in Boulder for an active vacation!
I read somewhere that more people commute to work in Boulder via bike than any other city in the U.S. It’s easy to see why – there are lots of trails throughout the city and if you’re on the main roads, drivers are courteous.
There are plenty of bike tours in Boulder if you want someone to guide you around the city vs. exploring on your own. We started a bike tour with appropriately named Boulder Bike Tours but got rained out after about 10 minutes. But hey, I look the part, right? (Never mind I’m terrible on a bike!)
If walking is more your speed, there is a path that runs next to a creek that runs right through Boulder’s downtown area. The entire downtown area is super walkable so you could walk down Pearl Street for some shopping and dining, then over to the Boulder Creek Path for stroll next to the water.
Where to eat in Boulder
These are the places I visited and every place I ate was extremely accommodating for gluten-free options! They almost seemed stunned I even asked if they could accommodate gluten free.
- Vitality Bowls – perfect spot for pre- or post-run (or hike) fuel!
- Shine Restaurant and Potion Bar – I got an amazing kale salad with salmon. Highly recommend starting with a biscuit too.
- Ozo Coffee – Matcha latte was 10/10 as was the drip coffee.
- Wonder Press – gorgeous interior, great smoothies and juices!
- Spruce Farm & Fish – amazing oysters!
- River & Woods – such a great ambiance! Very cozy and great food too. I especially loved the bison burger and sweet potatoes.
- Japango Sushi
- Corrida – GREAT spot for drinks with a view! They specialize in gin & tonics, and I loved the anchovies and olives tapas. I stopped her for a drink before walking to Japango.
Bottom line: Boulder is perfect city for an active vacation
Boulder would seriously be the PERFECT spot for a girls’ trip, a couple’s trip, or really anyone who wants a vacation spot that makes it easy to be healthy and active!
I could go on and on about Boulder and I feel like I barely scratched the surface. I’m already planning to go back next May for the 10K and to play some more!
HUGE thank you to the Boulder CVB for hosting me during my trip and to Laura Hobbs from Darling Creative for the gorgeous photos of me hiking and running! While this post is sponsored, everything is 100% my honest opinion, including that it’s my dream city. 🙂
Have you been? What’s your favorite part of Boulder?
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