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    Fall on Campus at University of Colorado

    CU Parents’ Guide to Boulder

    Welcome to Boulder, CU parents and guardians! Maybe you’re dropping off your freshman (gulp…you got this!), visiting for Family Weekend or for CU graduation. You'll likely be looking for things to do near the University of Colorado while you’re here, and we've got your guide to Boulder’s chill vibe, amazing food, great shopping and even better views. 

    It’s a long-running joke that Boulder is “25 square miles surrounded by reality.” Curious about how it got to be such a unique place? Read our Boulder Myths and Truths page, or check out this guide to all the Things Boulder Is Known For.

    Pearl Street in Spring

    Where to Stay

    Nearly all hotels in Boulder are only a few minutes from campus, as Boulder's geography is quite compact. Those that are the closest are found here:

    Hotels Near CU

    Things for CU Families to Do

    See the Famous Flatirons

    Those slanting ochre sandstone formations you see all over CU’s marketing materials are Boulder’s pride and joy. An up-close look at the Flatirons for yourself is a must. Head to Chautauqua Trailhead, where you can take some pictures and go for a hike on an extensive trail network if you like. (On summer weekends, you can ride the free Park-to-Park Shuttle from the CU Regent Lot or downtown to avoid parking hassles.)

    Women Hiking Flatirons with Dog

    Stroll Pearl Street

    If the Flatirons are Boulder’s pride and joy, Pearl Street is its heart and soul. With four, brick-paved blocks closed to traffic, this open-air promenade has the energy of a European plaza, lined with dining and shopping, great for people-watching and catching street performances.

    Pearl St

    Go for a Hike or Nature Walk

    Put your feet to a trail for some nature therapy and adventure. Two gentle but spectacularly scenic trails are available at Wonderland Lake or Bobolink Trailhead. If you would like more of a workout, head to Realization Point (be prepared for a short but steep and winding drive up Flagstaff Road) and try Range View or Boy Scout trails. 

    Couple walking among yellow Flowers on a Boulder trail

    Museum of Boulder

    If your student’s going to be here for a few years, wouldn’t it be nice to know more about the city they’ll call home? The Museum of Boulder tells Boulder’s story with the most fascinating multimedia exhibits. The museum has spacious galleries that are now open and observing additional safety guidelines.

    Inside the Museum of Boulder with displays

    Taste Tea at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

    How a hand-carved, hand-painted and hand-assembled Persian teahouse ended up in Boulder is quite the story (read it here). You can visit Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse and enjoy a cup of tea — one of dozens of varieties they serve, sourced with care from across the globe. A nice, big, shady patio beside Central Park makes this a great place to dine outside.

    Women walking out on the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse Patio

    Public Art Walking Tour

    This easy, scenic walking tour will take you on a leisurely stroll down Pearl Street, along Boulder Creek, and back to Pearl in a pleasant loop that should take about an hour, depending on how long you stop to admire the artwork. Boulder’s collection of murals is also constantly expanding, no surprise in America's fifth most vibrant arts community.

    Pearl Street sculpture of a woman on a swing

    Go for a Scenic Drive

    A nice mountain drive will give you the broader lay of the land and give you time to chat as a family. We’ve compiled several easy scenic drives here. Our recommendation would be to do the Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park Scenic Drive. Scenic view of the mountain range along the Trail Ridge Road

    Try an Electric Bike Tour

    If you’ve never tried an e-bike, you’re in for a treat. You'll feel like a superhero zooming up hills with the greatest of ease. Pedego's Best of Boulder E-Bike Tour takes you through historic downtown, along the Boulder Creek Path and up to the foot of the Flatirons.   

    Group riding e-bikes on Boulder streets

    Where to Eat

    Need a great place to treat your student while you’re in town, or a nice place to dine while they are occupied? Try one of these. 

    • Café Aion Right next to campus, this is exceptionally good Mediterranean fare in a chic, peaceful space.
    • Corrida The view here is unsurpassed, and so is the Spanish-influenced cuisine.
    • The Kitchen Boulder’s original farm-to-table phenom.
    • River and Woods A pretty courtyard and complexly re-fashioned family favorites.
    • Blackbelly A favorite spot in town for meat-focused dishes by a “Top Chef” champion.
    • The Sink Robert Redford was once a janitor here. Every inch of the walls are covered in customer artwork, and you’re welcome to add your own.
    • Mateo Great downtown location with a flower-bordered patio and delicious French Provencal food.
    • Organic Sandwich Great for a quick, to-go bite downtown, but exceptionally delicious.
    • Salt Simply delicious, locally sourced New American fare with a flower-lined patio. 
    • The Boulder Cork A reliable favorite with clubby-feeling, private spaces to chat with your student.

    Man and woman cheers on outdoor patio in Downtown Boulder

    Where to Shop

    White summer dress hanging up by a rack of clothes at Island Farm

    Where to Get Supplies

    Need a hot plate, a broom or some extra hand sanitizer for your student’s dorm room or apartment? Here’s where to go.

    • Target (Pearl St. and 28th St.) is the go-to big-box store for move-in supplies. 
    • Bed Bath & Beyond (28th and Canyon) is another staple stop for bedding or decor.
    • HomeGoods is close to campus (28th and Arapahoe) and has discount kitchenware, office decor, bedding and decor. 
    • Trader Joe’s (28th and Walnut) is a favorite grocery store (their cookie butter is proven to help students study better ;) and is very near both Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Or the closest grocery store to campus is Safeway (Arapahoe Ave. and 28th St.).
    • Twenty Ninth Street shopping mall is great for the Apple Store, Nordstrom Rack and plenty of other clothing and home goods shops. 
    • University Cycles will take good care of you if you need to pick up a bike for your student.

    Lay of the Land

    Boulder is compact and easy to get around, and downtown Boulder is especially walkable. The area next to the University of Colorado is called “The Hill”; you’ll find quick-bite eateries, coffee shops, yoga studios and more here, catering to Boulder Neighborhood Mapstudents. The city is surrounded by 45,000 acres of open space, with forest and foothills always minutes from your hotel door. More Neighborhood Info

    More Info on Top Attractions

    Get the inside scoop on our Boulder's attractions.

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