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Plan a Nostalgic Holiday Getaway to Boulder

“Winter…is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.” —John Boswell

Wise revelers know that the true joy of the holidays is spending time with loved ones and rediscovering simple pleasures. Nothing brings what’s important into focus like reviving old-fashioned, low-frills winter traditions. Here’s our guide to celebrating the holidays with a touch of nostalgia in Boulder. 

See Holiday Light Displays

Have fond memories of hopping in the car to drive around at night, looking for the most dazzling holiday light displays? In Boulder, there's no car required. And we'll point you right to the best displays: Downtown glitters all season with dozens of creative light displays all along Pearl Street, and nearby, around the Boulder Public Library and Central Park, the city’s Snow Much Fun light displays shimmer with 275,000 lights in a walkable winter wonderland.

Photo by Downtown Boulder

Downtown Boulder lights up for the holidays

Make Snow Angels

Remember the first time you found yourself face up, bundled in winter gear, blinking through snowflakes, flailing your arms about to make a snow angel? Relive the joy at North Boulder Park, which is very close to downtown and has acres of flat snowfields in winter, perfect for such an escapade.

Trash the Trash

In winter months, organic matter is slow to break down, so it’s especially important to discard all waste in a bin, including shells, peels, crusts and cores. This goes double for dog waste.

Do a Puzzle Together

Pick up a bespoke wooden puzzle from Liberty Puzzles or a creative cardboard creation from Art Source International and head to the nearest coffee shop for some meditative puzzling fun. Or have your whole crew take on a life-size puzzle at Boulder Escape Rooms!

Liberty Puzzles are made in Boulder and have a shop on Pearl Street

Go to a Holiday Market

There’s no doubt handmade gifts have always been, and are still, among the most cherished. Boulder has one of the highest concentrations of artists in the country, and around the holidays, artisan markets abound, from the stylish Firefly Handmade market to the annual Studio Arts pottery sale. View our holiday artisan market guide.

Photo by Shaleen DeStephano

Firefly Handmade Holiday Market

Sled for the Pure Joy of It

Zipping down a hill with the wind in your hair can put anybody in a good mood. But have you sledded with a view? Boulder has some perfect sledding hills for snowy days — many of them with mountain vistas. You'll be glad you got outside, away from screens and working up a sweat. Check out our list of where to sled.

Sledding at Scott Carpenter Park

View Holiday Window Displays

The tradition of shopkeepers dressing up their windows for the holidays goes back hundreds of years! These days, in Boulder, you’ll be delighted by the creativity at Bliss, Peppercorn and Two Sole Sisters, along with other storefronts all along Pearl Street and at Twenty Ninth Street shopping center.

The Peppercorn

Pick Up Some Hand-Knit Mittens

Treat yourself to a cozy pair of hand-knit woolen mitts at Lunieva or Fair Trade Winds, both fair trade vendors, or pick up some wool to knit your own at the Lula Faye Fiber or Art Parts Creative Reuse Center, a craft salvage store.

Fair Trade Winds sells fair trade woolen goods and gifts

Sip a Mug of Hot Cocoa

The housemade hot chocolate (and accompanying shortbreads) at Süti & Co. make for a perfect winter treat in the most charming Victorian-era cottage in downtown Boulder. Boulder is a town of chocolate lovers, so you’ll find more spots all over town with craft sipping chocolates and mochas.

Süti & Co.

Take a Carriage Ride

What’s more nostalgic than “dashing through the snow” pulled by a team of horses? During Winterfest at the Colorado Chautauqua, you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the Chautauqua Green, which has spectacular, snow-dusted views of the Flatirons. Winterfest also offers a chance to visit Santa’s Cottage, munch on holiday cookies, and participate in festive crafts and activities.

Photo by Sara Mathews

A horse and carriage ride at Chautauqua's Winterfest

Make S’Mores

Who says you need a campfire for s’mores? At River and Woods, which serves upscale Colorado comfort food in a century-old miner’s cabin, you can order tableside s’mores to roast (or char, for the less skilled among us) and assemble right at your table. 

Celebrate with High Tea

The clink of teacups, frilly tiers of finger sandwiches and cakes, holiday music playing in the background…afternoon tea is a timeless tradition worth sharing. There are several places to enjoy high tea in Boulder.

Photo by Gwen Gray

Alice and Rose, an Alice in Wonderland-themed cafe

See “The Nutcracker”

Clara’s dreamland journey to the Land of Sweets is danced each year by the Boulder Ballet, accompanied by the Boulder Philharmonic at the historic and stunning Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado campus. It's the perfect event to start or continue a family holiday tradition.

Photo by Credit: Eli Akerstein

The Boulder Ballet

Tell Fireside Stories

A toasty fire warms everyone’s spirits. Opt for beverages in the St Julien Hotel & Spa’s T-Zero Lounge beside the chic fireplace, gather around a firepit and share tacos and tales on My Neighbor Felix’s patio, or have a fireside brunch at the historic 1898 Chautauqua Dining Hall.

A band plays beside the fireplace at St Julien Hotel and Spa

Make Your Own Holiday Cards

Revive the longtime holiday tradition of making cards for loved ones, and stop by Two Hands Paperie for all the supplies you’ll need. They have the most exquisite papers, ribbons, envelopes, stickers and supplies to embellish your cards with style. 

Two Hands Paperie

Stay in the Woods

Sleep with a winter wonderland right out your frosty window. Surrounded-by-nature lodging is available at A Lodge Boulder, the cottages at Chautauqua or Foot of the Mountain Motel. Learn more.

Foot of the Mountain Motel