Outdoor activities, culture show Colorado is not just about partying
By Chris Oliver
Advertiser Travel Writer
That's according to the Princeton Review's 2004 "Best 351 Colleges" survey published last month. The home of the Buffaloes gets an A for those extracurricular activities.
But whether viewing the journal's data as science or science fiction, the town's distractions to studying are impossible to miss. Tucked into the Front Range, an area named for the easternmost ramparts of the Rockies, Boulder's swift access to mountains, lakes, cycling trails and winter ski and snowboard runs make it a playground year-round.
Boulder's outdoor classroom gets CU students' full attention.
Best known as a college town (43 Hawai'i high school grads became freshmen there this year), Boulder offers much more. Sophisticated, artsy, home to high-tech companies as well as countless outdoor activities, the area also is a crossroads of sorts. It's where the Old West meets Celestial Seasonings, where buffalo grazing land now accommodates world-class weather research, where the famous McGuckin Hardware store rates as one of Boulder's top five attractions and where during summer months you can take a seat at one of the nearby top rodeos in the country or at the Outdoor Shakespeare Festival (the third biggest in the nation).
"Ask me, outdoors is where the party is," said Jeff Mitchell, who brings his family to Boulder from New York each summer to "breathe mountain air, get back to nature and listen to great music at the ... Colorado Music Festival."
The Mitchells were on the Boulder Creek Trail, a 15-mile bicycle and running path through Boulder and beyond to the foothills. City officials estimate around 100,000 bicycles are in town, 15,000 on the university campus.
Mitchell adjusted his 5-year-old daughter's bike helmet and shouted over his shoulder as they sped off.
"Where else can you find this much to do out of doors, for all ages, in such a fantastic setting?" he said.
Boulder is named, no surprise, for the huge boulders of the Flatiron mountains. In 1858, Chief Niwot and the southern Arapahoe graciously welcomed prospectors to the area. The miners struck gold and by the 1870s Boulder had grown into a center for mining and farming. In 1877, the university was founded and took over as economic mainstay when mining collapsed at the beginning of the 20th century.
By turn the university attracted intellectuals, activists and eccentrics.
Chris Oliver The Honolulu Advertiser
Chief Niwot of the southern Arapahoe welcomed gold prospectors and settlers to the Boulder area in 1858.
Chris Oliver The Honolulu Advertiser
And so came developers. Yet despite the intense growth and high-tech activity during the past three decades, the outdoors is what defines the town: Few are the places where office workers can, and do, go rappelling on the Flatirons during their lunch break or choose among hundreds of cycle trails on their day off.
"The defining spirit of Boulder is the outdoors," said Bruce Liebert, a Manoa resident who's spent many summers with his family at Nederland, a canyon area south of Boulder and enjoys the town's "counterculture" reputation. "But what causes Boulder to be what it is, is CU. A culturally-rich, laid-back lifestyle awaits (those who go there)."
It isn't just students who are frisky: As campus life notched into gear last month, a black bear and her three cubs stopped traffic in a nearby neighborhood as they wandered into back yards foraging for food.
Colorado Division of Wildlife information officer Cameron Lewis said such sightings were not uncommon. "At this time of the year Black bears will spend around 20 hours a day eating to prepare for winter hibernation," she said. The bears share the edge of town with residents and many such sightings will even go unreported. They're small moments of wonder for us."
The baby bears, spotted enough times to be named Elliot, Ian and Andre, for third-grade triplets at the local elementary school, used one resident's garden pond to cool off while they ate bushels of crab apples from her tree.
Seems Boulder's an exceptional place to party ... and not just for students.
Reach Chris Oliver at 535-2411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fun things to do in Boulder
www.ubikes.com. From $20 per day.
Pearl Street Mall, Pearl St. 11th to 15th streets: The heartbeat of Boulder, four blocks of tree-lined pedestrian walkways lined with shops, boutiques, restaurants, galleries and year-round street performers that range from chainsaw jugglers to a fire-eating duo. There are play areas for kids (on boulders, of course) and the Boulder Court House with an impressive bronze bust of Chief Niwot of the southern Arapahoe.
Boulder Dushanbe Tea House, 1770 13th St. (303) 442-4993, www.boulderteahouse.com: "A gift to the people of Boulder to make their souls happy." In 1990, 200 crates packed with hand-carved, hand-painted pieces of the structure and furnishings of a traditional Tajik teahouse arrived in Boulder from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Boulder's sister city. Four Tajik artisans assembled the teahouse for its opening in 1998. The teahouse takes you into other worlds, literally, with lunch and dinner menus spanning the globe and more than 80 kinds of tea, with names such as Moroccan Mint Melody or Sunshine Dragon. Tea is 3-5 p.m. Inside is a magnificent fountain depicting seven young women cast in bronze, based on the 12th-century poem "The Seven Beauties" by Nizami Ganjavi. The teahouse has a rose garden and next door is the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Hours are 8 a.m.- 9 p.m., except Monday.
(If you prefer a different type of tea, Celestial Seasonings, known for its herbal teas, has 45-minute tours and tastings at 4600 Sleepytime Drive, in northeast Boulder. (303) 581-1202, www.celestialseasonings.com).
Galleries: Pearl Street and surrounding blocks from Ninth to 15th streets have a wealth of small galleries stocked by local and known artisans who find inspiration in ceramics, painting, photography, wood, metal, glass, fiber and jewelry. Boulder's annual summer ArtFair is held in July.
Hotel Boulderado, 2115 13th St. at Spruce (800) 433-4344, www.boulderado.com: For a taste of the west, visit this lovely old hotel named for Boulder and Colorado that opened on New Year's Day 1909, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restored to its turn-of-the-century grandeur, the hotel retains the original (and working) Otis elevator that impressed Boulderites almost a century ago. The elegance of the lobby's stained-glass ceiling and cantilevered cherry staircase, as well as the plush furnishings and paintings, are reminders of another era.
National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, (303) 497-1174, www.ncar.ucar.edu: With weather predictions considered by many experts essential for our survival, research here focuses on greenhouse gases, wind factors and ozone depletion to better understand long-term effects of global climate. Perched above Boulder on Table Mesa Drive, the pink sandstone building (where Woody Allen's "Sleeper" was shot) has fun hands-on activities for kids, including an awesome tornado simulator in the lobby. Satellites, weather balloons, robots and supercomputers are on display. More sobering are the wall posters outlining what future conditions may be ... hot air included. One-hour guided tours, Mondays and Wednesdays at noon.
And don't miss ...
McGuckin Hardware, 2525 Arapahoe Ave. (303) 443-1822, www.mcguckin.com: The Grand Central Station of hardware stores, McGuckin's says it has the world's largest hardware selection with more than 200,000 items in stock. "If Mcguckin ain't got it, it's not worth havin." Every whatchamacallit you'll ever need is at this mecca for home improvement buffs, a vacation destination on its own.
|Boulder fast facts
Time zone: Mountain Daylight Saving
Locals are Boulderites
Named for the rocks of the Flatirons
Local residents have long been active in preserving open space, beginning with chautauqua retreats in the late 19th century. The city adopted a no-growth policy in the 1960s, buying up a green belt around the community to block encroaching sprawl.
Ranked No. 4 among small cities in the ePodunk College Town Index of 2002
Money magazine's Best Places to Live 2000: small city runner-up
Received national attention for 1997 murder of JonBenet Ramsey
Known as a mountain sports and new age mecca
Elk are sometimes spotted breakfasting on suburban garden hedges
Boulder is home to the National Center for Atmospheric Research
If you go ...
Boulder is 30 miles northwest of Denver. A round-trip fall fare from Honolulu to Denver costs $700. The SuperShuttle Boulder and Boulder Express bus services operate hourly. By car, the journey takes less than an hour.
Where to stay: Accommodations to suit all budgets are the hallmark of this college town. Centrally located and historic Hotel Boulderado starts at $185 per night per room for a standard room; (800) 433-4344, www.boulderado.com. Days Inn Boulder is considered one of the best value lodgings in town. Rates begin at $64 (includes breakfast); (800) 329-7466, www.daysinn.com. Super8 Motel rates begin at $58 (with continental breakfast); (866) 270-2847. Boulder International Hostel has shared facilities: $17 for a dorm bed; $35-$45 for a private room; (303) 442-0522, www.boulderhostel.com.
Where to eat: Where not to! So much choice. In the center of Boulder on Pearl Street Mall, the Cheesecake Factory, Illegal Pete's (Mexican) and Antica Roma (Italian) are good, moderately priced and lively restaurants. Wild Oats Marketplace sells natural and organic foods, breads and has breakfast, lunch and dinner self-service menus, 870 South Colorado Ave. (303) 691-0101, www.wildoats.com.
Information: Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 444-0447, www.bouldercoloradousa.com.