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    Pearl Street

    6 Secrets About Boulder

    “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” ― Martin Buber
    1. Boulder has a bat cave.

    And it’s guarded by a big, bad, iron bat gate. You can go right up to it and peer inside. It’s at the end of the Mallory Cave trail, which leaves from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) parking lot. The rock cave is gated to protect a rare species of bat from coming into contact with white-nosed fungus, which is deadly to bats. The hike is on the steeper side, so prepare for a workout, but the views make it worth it. To the bat cave!

    Mallory Cave Boulder

    2. Love notes are hidden in plain sight.

    One of the sweetest places in town is Piece, Love & Chocolate, a local chocolatier that is packed wall-to-wall with handmade truffles, cakes, candies and sipping chocolate. Pick out a few melty bites and grab a seat at the shop's only booth. Now look at the brick wall right next to you and you’ll see tiny, folded-up notes tucked into crevices. Scribble a wish, thought or love note of your own and add to it. Another local chocolate-maker, Chocolove, prints a love poem on the wrapper of every chocolate bar it produces, too. You'll find Chocolove at just about any grocery store in town.

    Piece Love and Chocolate

    3. We have a mystery artist.

    Keep an eye out for inquisitive cats peering out alleyways, old phone booths and electrical boxes. These friendly felines are the creation of the enigmatic street artist who signs his works, “SMiLE.” His paintings also include iconic figures such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Kurt Cobain, Van Gogh and the Dalai Lama. We’re estimating there are a couple of dozen around town. Here’s a hint: if you’re getting a latte at Boxcar Coffee, you’re getting hotter.

    SMILE Cat

    4. Boulder has its own Red Rocks.

    About a five-minute walk from downtown Boulder is the Settler’s Park Trailhead (so named because it was the location of Boulder’s first non-Native American settlement). Here, the relatively gentle, short Red Rocks Trail winds up into otherworldly, ochre-colored sandstone outcroppings that mimic those of its much more famous cousin: the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. While there’s no live music in Boulder’s Red Rocks (unless you bring your own instrument!), the views are superb and it’s an excellent spot to drape yourself over a sun-warmed boulder or enjoy a picnic.

    Red Rocks Trail Boulder

    Photo by Mihnea Stanciu/Flickr Creative Commons

    5. Treasure chests are hidden on Pearl Street.

    Classic Facets is a longtime favorite on Pearl Street, with gleaming cases of high-end vintage jewelry — much of it rare and priced accordingly. However, if you ask politely, they’ll let you paw through a stash of drawers in the back of the shop that are plainly labeled “blue bracelets,” “green earrings,” “pink necklaces,” and so on. They contain piles of gems for a steal.

    6. An old plumbing supply store is the coolest hangout in Boulder.

    Wildly popular with locals but still relatively undiscovered by visitors (thanks to its slightly off-the-beaten-path location), the Rayback Collective is Boulder’s first food truck park. The reclaimed Rayback Plumbing building provides year-round indoor seating in a funky, industrial-feeling space. Outdoor seating is always available, too, as are gourmet bites from a roundup of favorite food trucks and 30 or so beers, cider and wines from the bar.

    Rayback Collective