Although it holds a reputation as a hub for the ultra-liberal and rich hippies, Boulder is much more than yoga studios and vegan restaurants. On this walk, you'll see some of the expected locales—a marijuana dispensary, a Buddhist meditation center, and the farmer's market—but there are some lesser-known gems to be discovered as well. Sip some oolong in the ornately decorated tea house, dip your toes in the creek (if it's not flooded), and marvel at the gardens surrounding the Historic Highland Building. By the end of the tour, you'll probably want to stay in town forever. Welcome to the People's Republic of Boulder!
Image credit: "Pearl St. Mall." CC image courtesy of F. Delventhal on Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/6Q6SJP
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, Boulder Public Library, Highland City Club
Start at the bus stop on the northwest corner of 9th St. & Walnut St. (hint: the mountains are to the west!). On this corner, you'll also see the Nomad Bead Shop and a black bench. Across the street is a white building. To get here, you can drive or take the HOP bus line. Street parking is available, though most of it's paid. But who knows, perhaps today will be your lucky free parking day.
Places to stop along the way:
Zoe Ma Ma for authentic Chinese food (none of this orange chicken nonsense)--just north of Pearl St. on 10th St.
Posters and free newspapers announcing upcoming events—just east of 11th St. on Pearl St.
“Colorful Characters” display introducing you to Colorado's historical figures, but doing a much worse job of explaining it than I will—west of Broadway on Pearl St.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for not-necessarily-chocolate-candy and a visit with the signature gigantic teddy bear—just east of 13th St. on Pearl St.
Info stand and bathrooms—on the corner of 13th St. & Pearl St.
International Peace Garden for a pretty place to sit by the peace pole—on the south side of the Boulder Creek path between Broadway and the library
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art—on the other side of the Boulder Creek Path from the Dushanbe Teahouse on 13th St.
Best time of day:
Midday, when Boulder's quirkiest characters can be seen hanging out in the parks or the town's even quirkier locations. Most stores are open after 10 am, and many close after 5 or 6 pm, so it's best to plan the tour around lunchtime.
Bring layered clothing, water and good walking shoes for the tour. While most of the homeless population in Boulder won't bother you, be aware that many of these areas are their preferred hangout spots. Also be aware of possible flash flooding near Boulder Creek.