Boulder has long been at the top of my list of small American cities to hit. So when it came to putting together my summer travel itinerary, I used my younger sister’s graduation from the University of Colorado as the ultimate excuse to finally make it happen. But seeing as it snowed the majority of the time we were there, this summer weekend guide to Boulder really comes courtesy of her (thanks again, sis!).

That said, even the couple of hours of sunshine we had in the city made me completely fall in love.

The way the flatirons glow in the light is truly beyond. And throw in some seriously good beer, winding trails, and more tacos than anyone can realistically consume in a weekend? You’ve got epic few days on your hands. So scroll on for a local’s guide to summer weekends in Boulder. I’ve already added that creek float to the top of my list for next time I make it out to the Centennial State.

Image by juliette sandak

image by @brittboice

Where to Stay

St Julien Hotel & Spa – If you’re looking for a place to catch up on serious R&R after hitting the Flatiron trails, this is it. The St. Julien is one of the plushest hotels in Boulder, and with a location in the heart of Pearl Street is close to all of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and shops.

Hotel Boulderado – Check in to the 100+ year-old Hotel Boulderado, also in the heart of the Pearl Street district, for a taste of the city’s history. An added bonus? The hotel is dog friendly should your pup be traveling with you.

Basecamp Hotel – For something with a bit more playful flair, check in to Basecamp Hotel. This outpost of the boutique chain features plenty of lounge space, an indoor bouldering wall (because, obviously), and complimentary local beer. The rooms themselves are simple, but it’s an ideal jumping off point for any summer weekend in Boulder.

image by tom mcgovern

What to Eat

Dinner

Oak at Fourteenth – It’s nearly impossible to mention all of the restaurants worth stopping into in one single summer weekend guide to Boulder, but Oak at Fourteenth should be at the top of everyone’s list. The menu rotates seasonally, and their cocktail list—which is broken down by high and low alcohol drinks—is to die for.

Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar – If you’re looking for seafood, make a b-line to Jax. The restaurant is constantly rated one of the best in Boulder, and you’ll find tourists and locals alike devouring the Sriracha fried oysters.

Frasca Food and Wine – For a world class wine list and an indulgent tasting menu, book in at Frasca Food and Wine. Our biggest tip? Ditch the jeans in favor of a food baby-proof flirty dress—because pasta this good should never go uneaten.

Lunch

Bar Taco – Which restaurant serves the best tacos in town is a point of high contention for Boulder locals, but Bar Taco makes pretty much everyone’s short list. The tacos can all be ordered individually, so load up on a variety of different types and grab a margarita.

Boulder Dunshabe Teahouse – A gift from the Dushanbe, Tajikistan (and built without the use of any power tools), the Boulder Dunshabe Teahouse is one of the most beautiful places to spend an afternoon in the city. Go for an afternoon tea—your stomach, and Instagram, can thank us later.

The Kitchen – Another no-brainer for any summer weekend guide to Boulder, there’s something for everyone at the Kitchen’s trio of Pearl Street restaurants. Head to the Kitchen and Next Door for more casual, bistro style lunches and brunches, or settle in at the Upstairs for a dinner of shared plates and glasses of rosé.

Breakfast

The Buff – With its expansive brunch menu and commitment to sustainability, it’s no wonder why the Buff is a local favorite come Saturday morning. Fuel up for the day with classic huevos rancheros and granola pancakes.

Trident Booksellers and Café – For a more low-key vibe, head to Trident Booksellers and Café. The sweet spot is exactly what it sounds like, so plan on sticking around to browse the selection of books after breakfast. (Need a suggestion for what to read this summer? We’ve got you.)

Ozo Coffee Co – More than serving some of the best cups of coffee in town, Ozo offers coffee-based classes at its cutting-edge Lab space. The shop’s fundamental barista skills class is a must-do for any coffee lover.

Drinks

Rayback Collective – With a dedicated space for food trucks, a fire pit, and live music nearly nightly, the Rayback Collective is ideal for a casual summer night out.

Avery Brewing Co – You can’t spend a summer weekend in boulder without hitting up at least one brewery. Avery is a firm favorite among locals—and their IPA is one of the best in town.

Corrida –  For something a little bit swankier, head to the rooftop bar and lounge at Corrida. There, you can grab a gin and tonic off of the mobile gin cart and settle in to watch the Flatirons glow in the sunset.

image by braden collum

What to Do

Hike the Flatirons – No summer weekend guide to Boulder would be complete without a Flatiron hike or two, so don’t forget to pack a hike-friendly backpack and some trail-ready shoes. Most trails are a quick drive from the center of town, and there is something for every level of ability. The Royal Arch Trail is a great place to start.

Take a Yoga Class – Locals love to stretch out sore muscles with a yoga class, so be sure to book in a session at one of the many local studios in town. Bulldog Yoga is a Pearl Street favorite.

Float Down Boulder Creek –Throw an inflatable raft in your suitcase and join the locals as they float down Boulder Creek. We won’t lie, the water is cold—it’s snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains—but there’s no better way to cool down on a sweltering day.

Boulder County Farmers Market – You can’t go wrong adding a farmers market to you itinerary wherever you’re heading, and Boulder’s Saturday morning market is no exception.

See a Show at Red Rocks – Though technically not in Boulder, be sure to check the schedule at Red Rocks Amphitheater while putting together your weekend plans. The venue is legendary for a reason and just half an hour away from the city.

image by cedar & hyde

Where to Shop

Cedar & Hyde Mercantile – With two beautifully curated spaces for fashion and home on 10th Street in downtown Boulder, you could really spend all day at Cedar & Hyde Mercantile. Both shops are stocked with pieces from independent designers—so be prepared to do some damage.

Peppercorn – Peppercorn is the kind of novelty home wear shop that vacation browsing is made for. The two-story space is packed with everything from hand-crafted dog toys and slogan glasses to small batch jams and an impressive variety of cookbooks.

Common Threads – When it comes to vintage shopping in Boulder, Common Threads is the best place to start. The boutique mainly stocks pre-loved designer clothing, so expect to find vintage Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Celiné, and more.

Savannah Bee Company – For a quirky shopping experience that mixes honey, skincare, and mead, head to Savannah Bee Company. The boutique is stocked with small batch honey—plus a wide variety of products made from the good stuff—and you can stop in for a honey and mead tasting as you wind your way along Pearl Street.

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