Here in the People’s Republic of Boulder — “25 miles surrounded by reality” — we have a bit of a reputation for being…unique. And frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. If you, too, like to let your freak flag fly, here’s how to get in on some decidedly unconventional fun.
Despite how it sounds, this activity has nothing to do with an actual bath of the tub-and-suds sort. The concept of forest bathing comes from a Japanese tradition called shinrin yoku. It’s a chance to simply unplug and metaphorically “bathe” yourself in the splendor and sensory delights of nature. Boulder’s forest bathing is run by the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks and all sorts of nature events happen regularly.
Tube to Work Day is a cherished annual tradition that sees Boulderites don their best business attire and splash into Boulder Creek to tube right through downtown. The event starts at Eben G. Fine Park, but you can catch the view of the hilarious action (e.g. spectators dangling breakfast from atop bridges for tubers to grab) anywhere along the creek near downtown. It happens in mid-July, and you’re welcome to join in (but register first).
Over the years, folks have embraced Boulder’s creative, outdoor-loving spirit by scaling the Flatirons mountains in full scuba gear, on hobby horses, by moonlight, on roller skates and in birthday suits. Remember, safety first — but if the spirit moves you to, say, hike the Flatirons while in your skivvies…well, have at it.
Pick up some Shine Potions, a selection of house-made herbal tonics. Each flavor is made with specific intentions and exposed to particular soundwaves and gemstones to absorb those "energies." Try Fairy Bubbles, which has been tuned to the sounds of laughing babies and wind in the trees and to the energy of rose quartz, for example. (Yeah, we can’t believe we just wrote that sentence either — but it really is tasty!)
The Dairy Arts Center’s charming Boedecker Cinema is the setting for the Friday Night Weird series, a weekly cult classic film screening that shows everything from zombie apocalypse flicks to B-list cult favorites — everything from “Little Shop of Horrors” to “Showgirls.” Yep, it’s a weird and unpredictable lineup, just as it should be.
Sure, your grandmother might have an old Mac in the garage — but does it still work? All of the vintage devices — 35 laptops, 73 desktop computers, 22 handheld devices and 10 game consoles — at Boulder’s Media Archaeology Lab on the University of Colorado campus are functioning. And you can take a walk right down memory lane by playing old games on them. The hours of the lab are a little funky, so check the website, but this a must-stop for anyone nostalgic for their Atari 2600, Apple IIe, Smith-Corona Typewriter or Etch A Sketch Animator.
Flip through the encyclopedic menu at Tonic Herban Lounge, Boulder’s oxygen bar, and you’ll come across a page of 16 different aromas of oxygen you can breathe for a 10- to 40-minute session. Among them is Clarity (a mix of basil, cardamom, and peppermint) or Valor (a combo of spruce, rosewood and frankincense). You just sit back and breathe — great for those who need to chill out or are feeling a little worn down at Boulder’s 5,430-foot altitude. There are also pages and pages of inventive cocktails, tonics, brews, elixirs, water kefirs, kombuchas and desserts.
Like beer? Like history? So does Travis Rupp, beer archeologist at Avery Brewing Company. Yes, we said beer archeologist. Rupp is responsible for researching how ancient civilizations created and consumed beer and then recreating that recipe for Avery to put on tap. From an ancient Egyptian ale dating back to 3,600 BC to a Peruvian brew from 1,000 AD, Avery has created eight ancient beers, which they showcase through an “Ales of Antiquity dinner” which pairs their newest historical beer with food they believe the people of that time were eating.
Boulder’s local celebrities Jeff and Paige have made a career of singing about things like giardia, aphids, tectonic plates and cleaning up dog poop — and they have built a rabid fan following doing so. So what if the average fan age is around 6? This children’s music duo makes biology, nature and respect for the outdoors the coolest topics around by turning them into catchy, highly dance-able tunes. You and your brood can see them at Meadow Music on Mondays in the summertime or at venues like Rayback Collective throughout the year.
In the forested hillside west of Boulder is the StarHouse, a mountain temple surrounded by 200 acres of nature. Here, Boulder's most Boulder-y folks gather for spiritual and ceremonial practices, including celestial celebrations. For a truly hippy-trippy experience, attend a Sun Ceremony (on the solstice or equinox) or a Moon Ceremony (on the full or new moon), both of which encourage “quiet time to listen with our hearts and time to share.” These events are typically are by $10 donation. Check their calendar for details.
The Essence Studio, an unassuming perfumery on North Broadway, may just be the best-smelling place in Boulder. This tucked-away gem is actually a highly sought-out destination by those in the know. It's run by award-winning perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, who is considered a "synesthete" and sees colors in response to scents. To experience her scent design as an art form (and take a whiff of original fragrances like "Avocado Toast" and "Become the Shaman" and "Little Smile"), stop by Tuesday–Friday 11am-5 pm and Saturday, noon–4 pm.
Say you had a helluva day and are jonesing for some serious comfort food but it needs to be vegan. Or say you're super hungry and your non-vegan friend wants to go somewhere where there are choices for him, too. Bumbling Bee Vegan Junk Food Bar is the place, with entirely plant-based burgers, smothered hot dogs, chili "cheese" fries, nachos, poutine and so much more gut-busting goodness. Trust us, you won't miss the meat. Don't forget an ooey-gooey shake on the side.
It's as amazing as its sounds. Led by musician and eTown radio host extraordinaire Nick Forester, this is a feel-good way to start your week and feel a sense of community through singalongs, poetry readings and uplifting bluegrass music. In 2021, Hippy Bluegrass Church will take place outside at the Boulder Bandshell in Central Park.