Perhaps one of the unique and enjoyable little college towns is Boulder, home to the University of Colorado, and numerous athletes in training. I have had the good fortune to visit and stay many times in the past, primarily for business, but also for apres ski and to play tennis. It ranks up there with many of the cutest little college towns, and perhaps the most charming in the western United States. A bonus is the famous Pearl Street Mall, a magnet for students, shoppers, runners, cyclists, people watchers, and street performers.
Outside Magazine rated Boulder the number one sports town in America. I would rank it almost as high as Queenstown, New Zealand. With the Rocky Mountains as a backyard, Boulder offers hiking, cycling, and climbing, along with skiing and boarding during the winter. Add the Boulder nightlife, and the reasons for never leaving Boulder after graduation come to light.
Boulder has over 300 miles of hiking and cycling trails and 45,000 acres of open space. Add in hot air balloons, rafting or kayaking through the center of town, fly fishing, and golf. Sounds like paradise to me!
Founded in 1858 by gold seekers, the Chautauqua came along in 1898. True to the nature of their founders and the spirit of the region, Boulder is often called, “The People’s Republic of Boulder.” The University of Colorado was founded in 1877, and likewise continued the spirit of free thinking with the nickname, “Athens of the West.” Recently, the Naropa Institute, founded by Tibetan Buddhists, opened in 1974, adding an even more progressive educational element to the Boulder scene.
Boulder is also known for its cultural creativity as well. It was voted one of the Top 25 Small Cities for Art, but American Style magazine. Several national laboratories and high-tech companies have also moved into the area to tap the atmosphere of entrenuership, free-thinking, and innovation. Boulder is rather proud of their collective IQ!
But for me, Boulder’s initial attraction was the college town party atmosphere, and plethora of energetic coeds ready to dance the night away. Places like the West End Tavern, Walnut Brewery, Bitter Bar, and Salt seem to come alive around 10 or 11pm. The place I remember from the 70s was Bananas, back then a rather hip and exotically decorated body bar or meat market.
A must stay for Boulder is the famous and iconic Hotel Boulderado, founded in 1909. With a magnificent lobby, and 160 guest rooms, the Boulderado is in the heart of the downtown action. During business meetings there, it was so tempting to sneak out and just people watch on the Mall on a sunny afternoon. Of course, cocktail time on the Boulderado veranda was unmatched for viewing the activity below. Among its many famous guests were Robert Frost (my favorite poet), Helen Keller, Billy Sunday, Enos Mills, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ethel Barrymore.
With a population around 100,00 people, Boulder and the University were prime attractions for the hippies of the 1960s. The Southern Arapahoe tribe wintered at the base of the Rocky Mountains near Boulder. Gold, silver, and coal mining brought the first wave of immigrants and settlers.
Today, Boulder’s population is younger than the national average with a median of 29 years, versus 35 years for the country. Per capita income is around $32,000 (household income is $50,000) making Boulder is one of the most affluent cities in Colorado. Some more reasons to like Boulder:
The 10 Happiest Cities – # 1 – Moneywatch.bnet.com
Top Brainiest Cities – #1 – Portfolio.com
Ten Best Cities for the Next Decade – 4th – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine
Top 25 Destinations in the US – #19 – TripAdvisor.com
Top 100 Places to Live – #9 -RelocateAmerica.com
Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index – #1 – USA Today
Healthiest Town in the US – #2 -Men’s Health
Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid – #1 – Backpacker Magazine
Top 25 Arts Destinations for a small city – #8 – AmericanStyle magazine
America’s Top 25 Towns to Live Well – #1 – Forbes.com
Top Ten Best Midsize Metropolitan Areas – #2 – Bizjounrals.com
Most Bicycle Friendly Cities in the World – #4 – Virgin Vacations website
Most Educated City in America – #1 – Forbes magazine
Top 10 Healthiest Cities to Live and Retire – #6 – AARP magazine
Best Green Places to Live in America – #5 – Country Home magazine
Top 10 Farmer’s Market – #6 – Eating Well magazine
Top Triathlon Town – #1 – Inside Triathlon magazine
Top 10 Cities for Artists – #8 – Business Week
Lesser-Known LGBT Family-Friendly Cities – #1 – Wearegoodkin.com
America’s Foodiest Town – #1 – Bon Appetit magazine
I rest my case. You must visit next time you come out here to ski, hike, bike, or chill.
My plane ride from Oak-town to Denver was short and sweet, as I was upgraded, and sat next to an Anthony look-alike. I drove to Boulder before checking into my hotel and strolled the 16th Street Mall. My hotel is way too hip for me. The Jet Hotel’s entire lobby is a bar with blaring DJ music, and a line of wanna-babes, and dudes standing in line to get in. Yours truly just walks up to Marty, the head honcho. He shakes my hand and lets me in. Eat your hearts out, you little hot hard bodies!!!