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    A typical evening on Pearl Street in historic downtown

    12 Unexpected Arts Encounters in Boulder

    As in any great art town, chance encounters are woven into the fabric of Boulder, which was recently lauded as having the eighth most vibrant arts community in the country. Around every corner is something creative to spark your imagination. Here are a dozen ways you'll find art as you go about experiencing Boulder.

    1. Street Performers on Pearl

    Boulder’s pedestrian Pearl Street Mall has been called a “living stage.” Catch live street performances by bluegrass bands, piano players, jugglers, contortionists and the famous Zip Code Man. And just outside the Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery’s door, you might catch an artist working on a project right in front of you. 

    Crowd surrounding Pearl Street Performer

    2. Open Rehearsals at Colorado Music Festival 

    Stop in the Chautauqua Auditorium to watch free, open rehearsals with the Colorado Music Festival June-Aug.

    3. Boulder Laptop Orchestra

    Now for something completely different...attend a performance of the Boulder Laptop Orchestra (BLOrk) on the CU campus. 

    4. Plein Art Painters at Work

    Be on the lookout for painters or painting classes sitting with easels, painting plein air next to Boulder Creek, in the Chautauqua Meadow or downtown. 

    Painter painting the Flatirons Boulder

    5. Art on Restaurant Walls

    Look for curated collections in unexpected spots such as bagel shops (Moe’s Bagels), coffee shops (Laughing Goat, Alpine Modern, OZO Coffee) and restaurants. The Sink is a landmark restaurant whose interior is covered in graffiti, from ceiling to floor. Spot President Obama’s and Robert Redford’s signatures — and lots of caricatures. 

    6. Creativity You Can Taste

    Artistry, innovation and experimentation are prized in the kitchens of Boulder’s restaurants. There's the lobster ramen at Chimera, curry-filled tacos at Roxie's TacosOsaka's unique burger (a twist on the Japanese okonomiyaki pancake) and so many more creative dishes to discover. You’ll find the same kind of spirit in our breweries, distilleries, cideries and wineries, too. Out of Bounds Stout or Wildflower Pale Ale, anyone?

    Patrons sitting at the bar of Avery Brewing

    7. NCAR's Architecture

    The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) buildings were designed by architect I.M. Pei, who also designed the pyramids at the Louvre. NCAR welcomes visitors and is also the location of a trailhead for several hikes heading into the foothills. 

    NCAR Exterior

    8. Thursday Night Cruiser Ride

    There’s a costume party every Thursday night during the Thursday Night Bicycle Cruiser Ride. Join in the fun or just admire the costumes, decked-out bicycles and general revelry. You might also notice all of the creatively made bike racks around downtown, too. 

    9. Naropa University

    Poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Boulder’s Naropa University. Writers can check out the school's summer writing program.

    Front of Naropa University

    Photo: David Shankbone (Flickr Creative Commons)

    10. Live Music Around Town

    Stumble upon a live music performance at one of the many coffee shops in Boulder, or head to the Rayback Collective food truck park for live tunes most Saturdays. 

    Outdoor patio with patrons at Rayback

    11. Pearl Street Murals

    Don’t miss the intriguing murals at Pearl and 21st Streets — and right down 21st St. is the ultra-creative Madelife shop and arts incubator. 

    12. Wonder Wonder

    You might not expect an immersive art installation to be part of your shopping experience. But at Twenty Ninth Street, it's possible. Stop into Wonder Wonder and you'll find more than a dozen rooms full of inspiration — from digital projections and illusions to playful "sets" and mind-bending displays. You'll want to take a million pictures for your Instagram feed!

    Top photo: Pedro Szekely/Flickr Creative Commons