From its dry desert river canyons to its snow-capped peaks, there’s a lot to love about Colorado. But if you’re looking for a place to start, bypass its capital (sorry, Denver) and head straight to Boulder. There’s a reason the town tucked into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is considered the happiest city in America. In fact, there’s quite a few, but you still have to know where to go to get the most out of it (including s’mores because, duh).
Just 30 miles from the Mile High City—so about a 45-minute car ride—the Boulder lifestyle is all about the outdoors. Want some extra fuel for your hike? Boulder is a nutritious food epicenter; so many health-forward brands call it home. Stock up on Justin’s nut butter squeeze packs, Purely Elizabeth granola, and Wilde jerky.
Consider this your ultimate healthy guide to living your best life in Boulder—even just for a long weekend.
Keep reading for a city guide of Boulder’s healthiest places to sleep, eat, and play.
Situated on Walnut Street, prime real estate in downtown Boulder, this is the first new hotel to be built in the area in a century. Stay here and you’ll be within walking distance of over 200 shops and 80 restaurants. Plus, it’s got ‘Gram-worthy views of the Rockie Mountains and a 10,000-square-foot spa that uses clean beauty brand Naturopathica in its treatments.
Besides being named after one of our favorite Disney characters, the Briar Rose serves an organic breakfast every morning and makes its beds with organic cotton sheets. It’s also close to hiking trails, like the one that takes you to the Continental Divide, a ridgeline that runs from the top to bottom of North America and separates the waterways that empty into the Pacific from those that pour into the Atlantic.
Get your caffeine fix at Wonder by ordering a latte Bulletproof-style made with their in-house cinnamon-infused almond milk. To eat, choose between gluten-free avocado toast topped with grass-fed ghee, sprouts, and radishes or almond butter with banana, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey. More of a smoothie person? There’s plenty of those on the menu, too.
This spot has hearty a.m. platters such as biscuits and mushroom gravy, mushroom avocado tartar, and a selection of vegan pastries. It’s the perfect pit stop to fuel up before hitting the trails for a morning hike.
For lunch, sit down and relax at Fresh Thymes with a big kale salad or falafel burger. There’s also kombucha and water kefir because, Boulder.
Another option is this Ayurvedic restaurant with gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, organic food that’s just a 10-minute walk from the shops. While you nosh on spiralized zucchini pesto, pad Thai, or a big bowl of greens, you’ll likely see some tarot card reading going on at a neighboring table. These are the vibes you came to Boulder for, right?
By dinnertime, you’ll likely have worked up an appetite after hitting the trails or dropping into one of the town’s boutique fitness classes. Head to Blooming Beets Kitchen; it’s entirely gluten-free and serves up amazing dishes such as wild-caught salmon with zucchini, dairy-free fettuccine, and “superfood tacos,” made with cassava-coconut shells, fried cauliflower rice, avocado, grilled chicken, and greens.
If you feel more like going big before going home, Oak at Fourteenth is one of Boulder’s more elevated eateries. The bibb lettuce and grapefruit salad is a seasonal fave app while the pan-roasted Alaskan halibut with eggplant and bok choy delivers in the main course department.
Just make sure to save room for dessert. Our rec? Roadhouse Boulder for s’more fondue. (What’s a trip to Boulder without the campfire fave?) Pro tip: Bring your own Justin’s white chocolate peanut butter cups to add a decadent, hometown twist.
Okay, let’s do this: Flatirons Vista Trailhead is a six-mile round trip hike that offers sweeping views of the mountains. Be sure to stay hydrated, which is important anyway, but will especially help with the altitude, which affects everyone differently.
Boulder has no shortage of yoga studios, but The Little Yoga Studio is a drop-in class, eliminating the stress of signing up in the morning and then trying to work your entire day around getting there on time. And it’s only $10.
Downtown Shopping District
Starting out at Wonder puts you smack dab in the middle of Boulder’s best boutiques and shops. A few stand-outs: Elison Rd. (with racks full of bohemian dresses), Bliss Boulder (has everything from dainty jewelry to home decor souvenirs), and Nod & Rose (where you’re sure to find something cute to wear to go out in tonight.)
Let the relaxation continue at the Dushanbe Tea House, AKA the most stunning landmark in the city. (Besides, you know, all the natural splendor.) The teahouse was a gift to the city, commissioned in 1987 by the mayor of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and took three years to make. It’s also right next to the local farmers’ market, which is an incubator of sorts for food entrepreneurs. (It’s where Justin Gold of Justin’s got his start.)
Later, hang out with the cool kids at No Name Bar, a speakeasy downtown. Look for the big wooden door next to a pizza shop and you’ll enter the land of cheap local beer and specialty crafted cocktails.
If you’re looking to book a vacation that’s a little longer than two days, here are nine wellness retreats for under $1,000. And these are the top summer destinations, according to Tripadvisor.
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