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Lying at the foot of the jutting sandstone peaks called the “Flatirons”, Boulder started life as a pioneer settlement serving gold mines in the nearby Rocky Mountain passes, but when Colorado attained statehood, the town was given the choice of serving as the location for a State Prison or a State University. The wise fathers of Boulder made the right pick. Boulder today is home to the “Golden Buffaloes” of Colorado University, and a vibrant, progressive island of cosmopolitan lifestyle set in the rolling prairie dog plains. Well known as a center of outdoor life, Boulder was Voted #1 Sports City in the U.S. by Outdoor Magazine for its miles and miles of biking and hiking trails, fishing, hunting, rock climbing, kayaking, and a whole range of activities in the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. Boulder is also home to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the Atomic Clock, and the “Mork and Mindy” TV house.

Boulder is a young place, with an average median age of 29. The streets are lined with trees and Boulder Creek runs through the center of town like a natural spine. City ordinances maintain building heights below 3 floors, not much taller than the trees. The Pearl Street Mall is the heart of the downtown district filled with baby strollers and roller bladers on a summer afternoon, and bar hoppers on warm summer nights cruising among the many bars and clubs along the mall. Live soul and rock music, local micro brew beer and pool tables can be found at The Marquee Club, and an excellent wine list and good cool Jazz can be had at the upscale Trio’s Bistro. Boulder boasts a variety of excellent restaurants in all styles and price ranges and the atmosphere in general is casual. In the summer, shorts, sandals and a “CU” T-shirt seem to be as common as a uniform. Breakfast at Chautaqua Park Dining Hall allows the aroma of a finely seasoned three egg omelet to meld with the fresh pine mountain breeze. For those with a taste for the finer things, the Flagstaff House Restaurant perched with a magnificent view on the side of the mountain over-looking the city offers world class “Cordon Bleu” cooking (and prices to match).

In the center of town is one of Boulder’s distinct features, the Dashanbe Teahouse. A gift from “twin city” Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the teahouse is in an odd way, highly symbolic of Boulder’s progressive crossroads status. A beautiful edifice of hand-carved wood columns and flower colored tiles, The Dashanbe Teahouse is on record as the largest gift ever given to the United States from a country in then communist, Soviet Union. The pieces shipped from Tajikistan sat in crates for eight years before the city could decide what to do with it. Finally it was constructed by Tajik artisans in the center of downtown Boulder and is now an elegant restaurant of exotic beauty serving a menu of tasty international dishes.

What to do? In summer, from June through July, Boulder is home to the second oldest Shakespeare Festival in America, presented in the outdoor amphitheater on the Colorado University campus. And every year international concert musicians come to play at the Chautaqua Center in the shadow of the Flatirons for the Boulder Music Fesitival.

For Fly Fishing expeditions to the Rocky Mountain National Park or just an afternoon on Boulder Creek in the center of town contact the Kinsley Outfitters. Rock climbers can find equipment and guides for the variety of climbing areas within a half hour of boulder. The Boulder Rock Club also provides an indoor rock wall for getting those thigh muscles acclimated.

Bikes for riding the many trails around town can be found at The Bikesmith and other locations. For those in a less energetic mood, or to sooth those over-exercised muscles, a relaxing massage can be had at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy (but reserve well ahead) and for the curious, tour and taste the teas at the Celestial Seasonings world headquarters. Or for something more exotic (and alcoholic) check out the Redstone Meadery, where proprietor David Myers is brewing the libation of the ancients. Mead is made from fermenting honey and water with various flavorings and is the refreshment which sated the thirst of Baccus in the long forgotten days before wine, beer and the Martini.

Where to stay? Boulder offers a variety of lodging. Best Western has two properties in Boulder. The Hotel Boulderado provides a bit of history and a reputed ghost or two, just off the central Pearl Street Mall downtown. Millennium Harvest House and Quality Inn and Suites hotels are situated along Boulder Creek with easy access to the bike path to Eben Fine park and beyond, and there are a variety of Bed and Breakfasts like Briar Rose Bed and Breakfast across the street from the compact campus of Naropa University, an accredited college offering a degree in Eastern philosophy studies in case you’ve packed your Chakras.

Boulder is about a 40 minute drive from Denver International Airport and boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year and fairly mild winters. Boulder is at a high altitude so pack sunscreen and drink plenty of water. © Bargain Travel West

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