GPS: 40°01'N 105°15'W
Conveniently located at the base of five of the world’s most impressive slabs of sandstone, the Flatirons, it's no surprise that this town is considered something of a climbing mecca. Boulder residents recognize their town’s potential as an outdoor adventurer’s cloud nine, and have successfully preserved over 36,000 acres of nature preserve and recreational space.
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Both top-roped and bouldering routes abound, but for beginners, the 3rd Flatiron offers one of the best routes in the country. The climb has a multi-pitch ascent with comfortable belay stations and a stunning view of Boulder and the fellow Flatirons. If trekking is more your style, Boulder is replete with hiking trails up into the Rocky Mountain foothills. For a quick day trip with great city views, head up the Mount Sanitas trail from just north of downtown (bouldercolorado.gov
), or take the Anne U. White Trail, a 3.2 mile trip along the wildflower-studded Fourmile Canyon (protrails.com
). And if you just want to kick back in the great outdoors, take your cue from the locals with a leisurely afternoon float down Boulder Creek in an inner tube (bouldercoloradousa.com
). In the winter, enjoy ice skating at the downtown ice rink, or hit the 10,000-plus-foot slopes at Eldora Mountain Resort, just west of Boulder. There's cross-country and snowshoe trails, along with beginner to expert runs and four terrain parks.
In this university town with a ski-bum vibe, most restaurants specialize in all things local, natural and eco-oriented. Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery on Vine Street is a kind of beer-topia, decorated with colorful chalk-art menu masterpieces that announce the pub’s ever-evolving, award-winning beer selections. The food is traditional pub fare done right, with portions large enough to satiate those coming in from the slopes or on a study break.
The Bradley Boulder Inn, located right off the quaint downtown Pearl Street, is centrally located with easy access to local attractions ($195, thebradleyboulder.com