A Local’s Guide to a Perfect 36 Hours in Boulder

You want to do it right when you have just 36 hours in Boulder. We’re sharing the same Boulder itinerary we give to out-of-town guests to make sure they experience the very best of the city we call home.

This itinerary is built with all the things the locals love about Boulder, including many unique Colorado experiences and sights. We focus on things that you can only experience in Boulder. Follow the suggestions exactly or use them to guide your own perfect Boulder itinerary,

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Pearl Street in Boulder is a top spot to visit when spending 36 hours in Boulder
Pearl Street Mall is an essential stop on any Boulder itinerary.

About Your Weekend in Boulder

Finding Where to Stay In Boulder

Boulder has a few great local lodging options, including historical spots like the Hotel Boulderado or the cottages at The Colorado Chautauqua National Landmark. We also like the centrally located Basecamp Boulder. National chains (including Hilton and Marriott) are centrally located and within walking distance of many of our recommendations.

We often add a camping trip to our weekend getaways. While there are no campgrounds within the city, there are plenty of camping options near Boulder.

Getting Around During Your 36 Hours in Boulder

Boulder is very walkable – and bike-friendly. Take on Boulder by foot, or get around town with a bike rental from B-Cycle or a local bike shop like Beyond Boulder Adventures. Some of our highly recommended sights will require a car. Still, almost any Boulder itinerary will have plenty to do without needing a car.

What to Bring on Your Boulder Getaway

Good walking shoes are a must. I get all around town with my Altra Lone Tree Trail Running shoes (find men’s Altra Lone Tree here). I love these because they work well for both walking around town and hiking trails, so suitcases don’t fill up with a different pair of shoes for every activity.

The sun shines brightly in Boulder almost every day – including winter. Pack up plenty of sunscreen and a brimmed hat for all your time spent outdoors.

Related Reading: Colorful Colorado: 9 Things to Do in Cañon City

All that sun mixed with our higher elevation means staying well hydrated too. We travel almost everywhere with Nalgene bottles, keeping a gallon or two of water wherever we’re visiting to refill the bottles as needed.

Boulder Itinerary, Day 1: Hikes, Views, and Brews

Start Your 36 Hours in Boulder With a Big Breakfast

As any good outdoor adventure should begin, we suggest starting with a big breakfast. We have a couple of favorite local spots, including The Buff, Tangerine, and The Parkway. Anything that comes smothered in green chili is usually a local favorite.

eating at The Buff, a fantastic brunch spot for a Boulder itinerary
The Buff is a family-owned favorite brunch spot in Boulder.

Hit the Trails

No trip to Boulder is complete without a hike. Boulder’s Open Space & Mountain Parks maintains over 150 miles of hiking trails. There is something for every skill level and intensity. The hiking trails at The Colorado Chautauqua National Landmark (or just “Chautauqua”) are the most popular. These trails sit at the base of the bucket list-worthy Boulder flatirons, but that means they are crowded. We still recommend one of these hikes because you can also wander around historic Chautauqua while you’re there.

Our Chautauqua Trail Picks

Most Quintessential Boulder Hiking Trail: First and Second Flatirons

Best for Young Kids: The Enchanted Mesa Trail is our pick for younger kids for having the most shade and changing scenery.

A Trail That Older Kids Will Love: Woods Quarry for climbing the sandstone rocks at the top that hikers have also used to build “furniture.”

Boulder hiking trails is a quintessential activity on any Boulder itinerary
The hiking trails at Chautauqua Park have plenty of perfect flatiron views

Alternative Outdoor Adventures in Boulder

If the hikes at Chautauqua don’t fit into your Boulder itinerary, try the Boulder Creek Path. The wide, paved path runs along Boulder Creek, of course, and it is an excellent spot for tubing, fishing, and wading. You can pick up the pathway right at the Boulder Farmers Market.

Take in the Most Spectacular Views

After an afternoon at Chautauqua, head towards the mountains for our favorite stop on a Boulder itinerary for out-of-town guests. Baseline Rd turns into Flagstaff Mountain Rd. About 4 miles up the winding mountain road, you’ll reach the Lost Gulch Overlook on Flagstaff Mountain. The views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness are incredible, and it’s the perfect backdrop for photos.

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Sampling Boulder’s Best Brews

After your day of adventure, head over to Rayback Collective, where you can try one of Boulder’s local beers and get a snack from one of the food trucks on site, or stop by Sanitas Brewing, one of our favorite breweries, located east of downtown and right off Pearl Street. McDevitt Taco Supply has a permanent spot at Sanitas Brewing, serving some of the best tacos and nachos in town. The outdoor spaces make both spots dog- and kid-friendly.

Dinner and Another Brewery

We always make sure any breweries we visit are family-friendly. Local breweries with full menus always fit the bill. Southern Sun in south Boulder has excellent burgers (try the sweet-salty-spicy Date Night burger!) and pizza.

Boulder Itinerary, Day 2: Arts, Food, and Shopping

Coffee and Pastries for Breakfast

We love to eat our way through town on any day. Start day 2 with a small breakfast at Spruce Confections on West Pearl Street. They have the most delicious breakfast burritos and pastries, plus fantastic coffee and house-made chai.

A Taste of Boulder Area Produce

If it’s Saturday, wander over to the Boulder Farmers Market after breakfast. The market, which has landed on some best farmer’s markets lists over the years, has gorgeous local produce, honey, baked goods, and other items. If it’s late summer, Palisade peaches from the western slope are a must!

Related Reading: Evergreen Colorado: Big Adventure in a Small Town

If you’ve landed here around snack time, try something from one of the local food vendors onsite at the market.

Local Arts

The farmers market just happens to be right next to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA). It’s well worth a short stop at the museum, especially with admission rates of just $2 per person (under 12 is free).

the boulder museum of contemporary arts is a must see when you have only 36 hours in boulder co
The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is located right in the center of the Boulder Farmers Market.

Snack Time on Pearl Street

When it’s time for another snack and a taste of Boulder, head back to Pearl Street for scratch-made steamy buns at Zoe Ma Ma. Guy Fieri stopped by here a few years ago, and you can see the video of mom making the steamy buns from that episode here.

Find Local Works of Art

If you haven’t already noticed the murals around town, you will soon find how many there are, hidden in plain sight. Take a self-guided walking tour to see many works of art by local artists. This map has a list of murals you can find around town.

Head Back to Pearl Street for Dinner and Shopping

One of our favorite off-Pearl Street restaurants is the Bohemian Biergarten, best described as a rustic, Czech-style spot serving traditional dishes. We love the Schnitzel (also offered as a sandwich) and Austrian Spaetzle. Alternatively, hit up Post Brewing right next door for their famous fried chicken.

a beer at the Bohemian Biergarten when spending 36 hours in Boulder Colorado
The Bohemian Biergarten is one of our favorite places to eat and a must-stop during your 36 hours in Boulder.

After dinner, stroll along Pearl Street Mall for some shopping. There are many local shops where you can find clothing, gifts, art, and more. On the west end of Pearl St, make sure to stop at Gelato Boy or Piece, Love, & Chocolate. Both are can’t-miss spots on your Boulder itinerary for sweet treats.

If you have just 36 hours in Boulder or just some ideas of what to do when you’re passing through on a Colorado road trip, this is the itinerary that will give you the perfect Boulder experience. From hikes and breweries to restaurants and shopping, our city is filled with unparalleled adventures and has something for everyone. These are some of our favorite local spots – the best that Boulder offers. We hope you get to check them out!

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