3 Days in Boulder, Colorado: Itinerary for Weekend Trip to Boulder

3 Days in Boulder: The Perfect Weekend Itinerary

With countless hiking trails, multiple world-class ski resorts, and vast natural parks, it’s no wonder why Boulder is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Travelers flock here in the winter to ski and snowboard on the slopes of nearby Eldora Mountain, while in the summer months, hikers, bikers, and rock climbers head straight to the surrounding parks. With so many things to do, it’s well worth spending at least a few days exploring everything this hippie hamlet has to offer!  

Even if nature isn’t your thing, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in this vibrant town. The pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall is by far the most popular place in Boulder for visitors and locals alike. The area stretches for four blocks and is lined with tons of boutique shops, innovative restaurants, and impressive art galleries. 

3 Days in Boulder Itinerary: Chautauqua Park and the Flatirons

As a college town, Boulder’s nightlife scene is buzzing with all sorts of swanky bars, casual pubs, and live music venues. Plus, it’s no secret that locals take their food and drinks very seriously so expect to find a wide variety of bustling farm-to-table eateries, organic coffee shops, and popular microbreweries. If you really want to experience the local culture, time your visit with one of the many annual festivals such as the Boulder Creek Festival which takes place every Memorial Day weekend every year. And the corresponding Creekside Beer Fest is held on May 28th and 29th.

With so many outdoor activities, excellent restaurants, and unique attractions in Boulder, it can be difficult to decide where to even begin. While you could easily spend a week or more in this hip Colorado town, 3 days in Boulder is enough time to hit the highlights. If you’re planning a weekend in Boulder, read on for our ultimate itinerary – it will make planning your trip a breeze!

If you’re still deciding where to stay then make sure to check out our article on the best boutique hotels in Boulder!

How to Spend a Weekend in Boulder, Colorado

Getting Around Boulder

3 Days in Boulder Itinerary: Public Transportation

Boulder is located 30 miles north of Denver and roughly an hour from Denver International Airport (Airport Code: DEN).

If you don’t want to rent a car during your trip, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) will shuttle you between the Denver airport and Boulder. The bus system also has stops all around Boulder and its surrounding areas so getting around without a car is super easy. 

At the airport, you can hop on the SkyRide bus. The journey takes about an hour and costs $10.50. The bus will drop you off at the Downtown Boulder Station, just two blocks from Pearl Street Mall.  

Luckily, Boulder is a relatively small town and it’s easy to walk to most of the city’s main attractions – such as Pearl Street and CU Boulder. Residents are known for being outdoorsy-types so cycling is a very popular way of getting around town. You’ll find countless biking paths and trails all around the city. 

There are plenty of places to rent bikes around town. Colorado Multisport features a wide variety of bikes including mountain bikes and electric bikes. Located on Pearl Street, University Bicycles offers bike rentals for just $25 a day. Or you can download the app and pick up a bike at one of the many Boulder BCycle stations, which are available 24/7 and charge by the hour.

If you’re looking to explore areas outside of Boulder, download the RTD transit app and check to see if they run routes to your desired destination.

For example, the NB runs from the Downtown Boulder Station to Eldora Mountain Ski Resort, and the free Park to Park shuttle will take you to Chautauqua Park.

For other nearby destinations, you can just hail an Uber or Lyft to get wherever you want to go.

Boulder Weekend Itinerary – Day 1

3 Days in Boulder Colorado (Weekend Itinerary): Pearl Street

With its quirky street performers, boutique shops, and trendy restaurants, Pearl Street Mall encapsulates the unique culture of this blissfully laid-back town. No weekend trip to Boulder is complete without exploring this pedestrian-friendly mall and its scenic surroundings.

Luckily, most of the best hotels in Boulder are clustered around this 4-block area, which means you’ll likely be able to walk or bike to all of the attractions on and around Pearl Street! 

Lucile’s Creole Cafe

Start your day off with breakfast at one of the most iconic restaurants in town. Housed in a historic Victorian home, one block from Pearl Street, Lucile’s Creole Cafe has been an institution in Boulder since it opened its doors in 1980. It is very popular so you may have to wait in line… but it’s well worth it!   

Start with a cup of New Orleans-style chicory coffee and an order of beignets. The simple menu features unique breakfast dishes such as the Creole Omelet with spicy sausage and creole sauce and the Shrimp and Cheesy Grits with andouille sausage. There are also vegetarian options like the Eggs Benedict with spinach, tomato, avocado, and grits. 

Pearl Street

3 Days in Boulder Itinerary: Pearl Street

After breakfast, walk it off by strolling along Pearl Street. If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll love all of the talented buskers who put on seriously impressive music and magic shows. In the summer months, kids can also frolic in the pop-up water features and clamber on the art installations.

From June to September Pearl Street also hosts Bands on the Brick, which features a free weekly concert and a pop-up beer garden with local brews!

You won’t be able to resist popping into at least a few of the area’s many unique shops. You can shop till you drop at the dozens of chic boutiques, hip second-hand stores, and athletic-oriented clothing shops. 

Boulder, Colorado 3-Day Itinerary (Weekend Guide): Boulder Theater

Outdoor enthusiasts will love Neptune Mountaineering, whereas bibliophiles can spend hours perusing the shelves at the Boulder Book Store, and art lovers will definitely want to pick something up at Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery.

There’s a reason Bon Appétit called Boulder “The Foodiest Town in America” – Pearl Street and its surrounding area is home to 120 different restaurants!

The city is known for its farm-to-table eateries, vegan-friendly cafes, and local microbreweries. If you feel like sipping a refreshing beverage or snacking on light bites for lunch, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

Boulder Creek Path

3 Days in Boulder, Colorado (Weekend Itinerary): University of Colorado

You can easily spend an entire day shopping, dining, and drinking your way around Pearl Street but if you want to see a different side of the city walk over to the Boulder Creek Path, which is just a few blocks away.

Stretching from Boulder Canyon to the outskirts of the city, this 5.5-mile trail is popular among joggers and bikers but it’s also a prime spot for a leisurely stroll. There are plenty of scenic areas to stop along the way, so you don’t have to complete the full route if you don’t want to.

You’ll pass by a variety of cultural landmarks, historic sites, and picturesque parks along the way. If you don’t feel like walking the entire trail you can stop for a dip in the creek at Scott Carpenter Park, take a detour and marvel at the incredible architecture at the University of Colorado, go kayaking at Eben G. Fine Park, or have a creekside picnic in Central Park.

If you’re lucky you might even catch some live music, a pop-up fair, or a festival in Central Park during the summer months!

SALT The Bistro

Weekend in Boulder (3 Days) Itinerary: SALT The Bistro
Image courtesy of SALT

After a long day exploring Boulder’s historic downtown area, freshen up at your hotel before heading out for the night. We recommend making a reservation at SALT The Bistro -one of the best farm-to-table eateries in the area! Conveniently located right on Pearl Street, this trendy restaurant serves up organic fare sourced entirely from a handful of local farms and ranches. 

From the Meat & Cheese Board to the Organic Powerbowl and the Pork Chop Tenderloin, everything is fresh, healthy, and seriously good. Plus, they have an impressive list of local craft brews so you can also get a taste of Boulder’s famous beer scene.

If you want a nightcap, the speakeasy-style License No. 1 mixes up classic cocktails and is just blocks away in the historic Hotel Boulderado

Boulder Weekend Itinerary: Day 2

Weekend in Boulder: The Flatirons

Boulder boasts 155 miles of hiking trails, so it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular destination among outdoor enthusiasts. If you only have one day to dedicate to hiking, you should definitely include a visit to the historic Chautauqua Park in your Boulder itinerary. This 40-acre park is home to some of the most popular hiking trails in Boulder and there’s something to suit all levels. 

Boulder Farmers Market

3 Days in Boulder, Colorado (Weekend Itinerary): Farmer's Market

If you’re in Boulder on a Wednesday or Saturday from April to November, get an early start to your day with a visit to the famous Boulder Farmers Market (8am-2pm). Get a caffeine rush with a cold brew coffee from the Silver Canyon Coffee cart, enjoy the artisan shows, listen to live music, and peruse the 150 vendor stalls offering local fruits, veggies, and home-baked goods. You’ll definitely want to pick up some delicious treats and picnic supplies for your upcoming hike.

Or, if you’re visiting Boulder in the winter, head over to Cured on Pearl Street and purchase their pre-packaged gourmet “Colorado Backcountry Picnic,” which comes with local cheeses, artisan salami, trail mix, coffee, and more.

Chautauqua Park

Weekend in Boulder (3 Days) Itinerary: Chautauqua Park and the Flatirons

Dating back to 1898, Chautauqua Park is just 1.5 miles from the heart of Boulder. You can either drive there on your own, take the local bus, or hop on the free Park to Park Shuttle (available from May to September), which has multiple stops in Boulder. Parking can be a challenge, especially in the summer months, so public transport is your best bet. 

Once you’re at the park, you can fill up on breakfast at the historic Chautauqua Dining Hall and take in the views from the wraparound porch. It might not sound like much but this beautiful and historic bistro is well worth a visit even if you’re not going for a hike. 

After you’re all fueled up, walk over to the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage to grab a free trail map and check the current trail conditions. Chautauqua Park boasts excellent hiking options in the winter and summer but it’s especially important to be informed about trail closures and conditions in the winter months. If you’re visiting in the winter will be rewarded with fewer crowds and magical vistas of snowcapped mountains and the snow-covered town of Boulder!

If you want an easy hike along the base of the Flatirons, the Chautauqua Trail is a scenic 3.6-mile loop. During the 2-hour hike, you’ll pass by historic structures, expansive meadows, and ponderosa forests.

If you would prefer a hike with a little more elevation gain, you can choose from a few different moderate to strenuous trails along the Flatirons Loop, allowing you to summit three different Flatirons!

Boulder, Colorado 3-Day Itinerary (Weekend Guide): Chautauqua Park and the Flatirons

And if you’re up to the challenge, you can opt for the 3.5-mile (round-trip) Royal Arch Trail, which takes roughly 2-3 hours. This heart-pumping trail will take you through scenic meadows, the beautiful Bluebell Canyon, and up some seriously steep rocky inclines (it’s a good idea to bring poles). When you reach the Royal Arch, take a breather, snack on your picnic lunch, and take in the stunning views of Boulder below.

Once you’re done sweating it out in the park you can stop by the Chautauqua Dining Hall for a craft beer or a refreshing beverage before heading back into town.

If you’re here during the summer months, head over to the Chautauqua Auditorium and catch a show during their summer concert series. And if you’re visiting from December to May check out the festive sculptures at Art in the Park at Chautauqua.

University Hill

Boulder, Colorado Weekend Guide (3-Day Itinerary): The Sink
Image courtesy of The Sink

After an active day surrounded by nature, make your way to the historic University Hill neighborhood (known locally as “The Hill”) near the CU campus for a well-earned dinner at The Sink.

Dating back to 1923, not only is this funky hole-in-the-wall the oldest restaurant in Boulder, but they serve up some of the best burgers and pizzas in town. You know a place is good when the likes of Barack Obama, Madeleine Albright, and Anthony Bourdain have eaten there!

Boulder, Colorado 3-Day Itineray: The Sink
Image courtesy of The Sink

Go big with the massive choose-your-own-toppings The Sink Burger or The Sink “Ugly Crust” Pizza. Aptly named P.O.T.U.S., you can even order the same pizza Obama did! 

After an epic day of hiking and a filling meal, you’ll probably be ready to crash out at your hotel. If you’re still not tuckered out, check out some live music and sip cocktails at the nearby speakeasy-esque No Name Bar… if you can find it!

Boulder Weekend Itinerary: Day 3

Dushanbe Teahouse

Boulder, Colorado Weekend Guide (3-Day Itinerary): Dushanbe Teahouse
Image courtesy of Dushanbe Teahouse

After a lazy morning, brunch is the perfect way to start the final day of your 3-day trip to Boulder. Although the city is brimming with excellent places to get your brunch on, no Boulder itinerary is complete without visiting the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.

Nestled right on a picturesque brook, Dushanbe Teahouse is not only one of the best restaurants in Boulder but it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions. The teahouse was built by hand – without the use of any power tools – in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and gifted to their sister city of Boulder.

Boulder, Colorado 3-Day Itinerary (Weekend Guide): Dushanbe Teahouse
Image courtesy of Dushanbe Teahouse

You can choose from over 100 types of tea, traditional American breakfast fare, and a range of dishes inspired by countries around Asia. While you dine, you can marvel at the colorful hand-painted ceiling, the intricately hand-carved pillars, and the traditional Tajikistan furniture. This place is truly a work of art!

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

3 Day Boulder Itinerary: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
Image courtesy of Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 2014. Photo by Richard Peterson

After a leisurely brunch, pay a visit to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA), which is right across the creek from the teahouse. Admission is free for kids under 12 and free for everyone on Saturdays! 

This intimate museum was founded by a group of local artists in 1972 and is now considered one of the best art museums in the state. BMoCA features rotating exhibits of contemporary art from both local and international artists. For the best experience, sign up for a guided tour and learn all about the artwork from the museum’s curator!  

If you want to continue exploring Boulder’s impressive art scene head over to the Museum of Boulder, which is just a few blocks away just off of Pearl Street. The museum boasts a variety of traditional and multimedia exhibits as well as a handful of interactive installations that focus on community-based issues and achievements. You will learn all about the past, present, and future of the city with the Boulder Experience multimedia exhibition! 

Next, check out more local artwork at one of the many galleries clustered around Pearl Street including 15th Street Gallery, the Dairy Arts Center, and SmithKlein Gallery. If you see something you like, you might even choose to take home a souvenir from your trip!

Flagstaff House

Since this is your last night in Boulder, splurge on a special dinner at Flagstaff House before catching a live show at the iconic Fox Theatre. Be sure to make your restaurant reservation well in advance because this gem is very popular. 

Built as a summer cabin in 1929, Flagstaff House is perched on a mountain just a few minutes from the heart of town. At 6,000 feet up, the views of Boulder and the surrounding mountains are breathtaking. This sophisticated family-run restaurant serves up excellent New American fare with a French flair.

You can choose from premium steaks and fresh seafood dishes. Or you can opt for a handful of 3-course meals or the Chef’s Tasting menu with wine pairings. Pick out a bottle of fine wine from the meticulously curated wine list and enjoy an unforgettable dinner with a view!

After dinner, make the short drive to The Hill and groove to some live music at the Fox Theatre. Boulder is well-known for its music scene so seeing a show here is a must if you’re a music fan. There’s a reason Rolling Stone once voted it one of the best venues in the US! 

Although the building dates back to 1926, the current Fox Theatre opened its doors in 1992. Since then all sorts of famous musicians have graced its stage including Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, Bonnie Raitt, Skrillex, George Clinton, and so many more. It’s well worth checking out who’s going to be performing during your 3-day trip to Boulder.

End your night with a visit to local favorite Mountain Sun Brewery for one last late-night Boulder beer. Their selection of craft brews is constantly changing but expect a long list of English-style I.P.A.s, coffee-infused Java porters, and hoppy amber ales. It’s the perfect way to cap off your weekend trip to Boulder!

More Places to Eat and Drink in Boulder

3 Day Boulder Itinerary: Pizzeria Locale
Image courtesy of Pizzeria Locale. Photo by Casey Giltner

Dine with the locals at Pizzeria Locale:
If you’re looking for excellent Italian food without the ultra-high price tag, Pizzeria Locale is the perfect pick. Inspired by the pizzerias of Naples, Italy, this local favorite dishes out authentic Italian pizzas for around $9-19. This casual yet sophisticated eatery also boasts an excellent menu of regional Italian wines and amaro-based cocktails.

Indulge in brews and barbeque at West End Tavern:
Located on Pearl Street Mall, this casual bar and restaurant serves up house-smoked barbecue and hefty portions of surf and turf dishes. The rooftop deck is the perfect place to soak up the sun, take in sweeping views of the Flatirons, and hang out with family and friends. If you’re in the mood for a tipple they have a rotating selection of 20 local craft brews and creative bourbon-based cocktails. 

Mix things up with authentic Chinese street food:
Located near Pearl Street, Zoe Ma Ma is the place to go if you’ve got a craving for authentic Chinese food. Chef Edwin Zoe opened this casual eatery up for his mom so she could bring her Taiwanese roots (and dim sum) to the streets of Boulder. This no-frills restaurant serves up vegan, vegetarian, and meaty potstickers, bao (steamed buns), homemade organic noodle dishes, and specials like roast duck and wonton soup.

What to do if you have more than 3 days in Boulder

3 Day sin Boulder, Colorado - Weekend Itinerary: Red Rock Amphitheater

See a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater:
Surrounded by beautiful ochre sandstone formations, Red Rocks Amphitheater is arguably one of the most unique open-air stadiums in the world. It’s well worth the 40-minute drive to see a show here. Red Rocks has long hosted world-class acts – Dave Matthews Band, U2, Neil Young, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix have all played here!

Explore Eldorado Canyon State Park:
Located just nine miles from downtown Boulder, this incredible state park is a must for anyone who loves being outdoors. The 885-acre park boasts some excellent rock climbing routes, beautiful hiking and biking trails, and peaceful fishing spots. In the winter months, this is a popular place to do some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Walk, bike, or jog along the Boulder Ale Trail:
During your boozy 14.7-mile journey, you’ll have the chance to stop off and sample local craft beer at 12 microbreweries located between Boulder and neighboring Longmont. Between breweries, you’ll pass through beautiful plains, spot red-winged blackbirds and horned owls, and see old cattle farms!

Go skiing or snowboarding on Eldora Mountain:
Eldora is located a mere 21 miles from Boulder and offers world-class skiing and snowboarding. Eldora boasts 680 acres of skiable terrain and offers runs suitable for beginners, experts, and everything in between. You can choose from 65 runs – including a whopping 3-mile run – and eight terrain parks.  

Rent a tube and float down Boulder Creek:
Tubing in Boulder Creek is one of the most popular summertime activities in town. If you’re feeling adventurous, head over to Whitewater Tube Co. where you can rent tubes and book a shuttle to take you back to your car at the end of your journey. Start at Eben G. Fine Park and tumble along the rapids to the east side of 30th Street.

We hope your enjoy your weekend trip to Boulder, Colorado! Should we add something else to our 3-day Boulder Itinerary? Let us know in the comments.

Planning a trip to Colorado? Check out our favorite travel guides and resources!


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