Boulder Colorado is another of our favorite small Colorado towns. This hip town is home to the University of Colorado. It has developed into the state’s primary education center and primary technology hub. It is home to several corporate research labs, government organizations such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics and increasingly, tech startups. It is also home to Colorado’s first microbrewery, the Boulder Beer Company, a couple of wineries and much more.
The Pearl Street pedestrian mall has long been the social center for the community and the location of shops, galleries, and restaurants. While formally stretching only four blocks, it was informally expanded to six blocks during the pandemic to permit restaurants to operate for outdoor dining on a couple of adjoining streets. The Saturday and Wednesday 13th Street Farmers Market is where everybody seems to know everybody else and breakfasts are again (post-social distancing) becoming an event.
Speaking of events, Chautauqua Colorado offers a full summer program of musical events and the Dining Hall with its lovely wrap-around deck and very credible, if not a gourmet menu. And that is not to speak of its miles of hiking trails—as if Boulder with its Flatirons, Flagstaff Mountain, and hundreds of other trails—did not have enough.
We recently were in Boulder during a heatwave. As we are not great hot weather hikers, we only took a few shorter hikes
Bald Mountain Trail is a scenic, roughly one-mile, modest loop trail at the top of a mountain. Two sides of the mountain, and much of the surrounding valleys, were denuded by a large 2010 wildfire. This does, however, provide great views, including to the 13,000 foot Mt Audubon (the first 13,000 foot mountain that Tom climbed).
Another pretty, relatively easy, roughly three-mile walk is in the city’s Newlands neighborhood, up and along the ridge of Goat Trail than along the 4th Street bike path around Wonderland Lake.
And then there is The National Center for Atmospheric Research, a lovely, hilltop complex (designed by I.M. Pei). It is set on an equally lovely site overlooking the city and virtually in the shadow of the Flatirons. The property includes an easy, 0.4-mile “Weather Trail” with interpretive signs that describe the weather, climate, and atmospheric conditions and patterns of the Rockies.
Boulder Alcohol Options
We also found many home-brewed options in Boulder that we explored.
BookCliff Vinyard is one of the first and oldest (number 14) vineyards in a state that now claims over 150 wineries. It grows all its own grapes (and sells half of them to other vintners) in four chalky, limestone-based soils, they produce about 20 different varietals ranging from viognier to malbec and souzão.
We tasted roughly 10 wines, particularly enjoying a number including the aromatic, lemongrass taste of the 2020 Viognier, the 2018 Ensemble left Bank blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot), the 2018 Tempranillo and the 2018 Malbec reserve.
Boco Hard Cider offers a large range of hard ciders that range from dry (like Rhone Dry) to sweet (like Trifecta), with many different styles (including a standard English Style) and those aged in differently treated barrels such as those that had been used to age bourbon (Son of Bourbon) and conditioned in maple syrup (Trunk & Twig). We particularly enjoyed their Native Haze (which uses IPA yeast and hops), English Style, and Trunk & Twig.
Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery is one of a small chain of breweries. Tom focuses on tasting Ambers and especially IPA Pale Ales. He particularly enjoyed the Annapurna Amber, Dank Nugget IPA, and the F.Y.I.P.A.
In addition to trails in Chautauqua, it also has the Chautauqua Dining Hall. We joined some friends for dinner where we had a strategically located table with a mountain view on the lovely wrap-around deck. While the menu is not especially complex, we were very pleased with the Elk Bratwurst which came with snow-pea slaw and pilsner mustard. We also enjoyed the main dish of crisp-skin, Colorado Striped Bass in a fennel-seafood broth with couscous and fennel salad. A credible Burgundian Chardonnay from the limited list—a 2019 Domaine Justin Girardin—added to our enjoyment. Then we splurged, sharing two desserts: a refreshing strawberry shortcake with vanilla sponge cake and mascarpone cream and a decadent 5 Layer chocolate cake salted caramel ice cream.