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Boulder: Happiest Place in the U.S.

National Geographic and the "Today" show recently recognized Boulder as "The Happiest City in the U.S." Forbes recently noted Boulder tops the list of an etiquette expert's friendliest cities in the nation. Boulder has earned a spot on Gallup’s “Highest Well Being Communities” list for several years running. And even back in 2011, CBS News wrote, "If happiness is a state of mind, then Boulder is its capital." 

So what makes Boulderites such a happy bunch? It’s likely a combination of factors: a surfeit of sunny days, a laid-back lifestyle, natural beauty that’s always within view, ultra-fresh dining and natural foods scenes, the influence of the University of Colorado Boulder, a highly active culture, and enough craft beer to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Here's how you can taste the blissful Boulder life on your visit:

Hike Happy

Getting outside will get your blood pumping and your heart beating along with your steps. Do as the locals do and hike in any kind of weather for a natural high.

Three to try:

  • Easy: Red Rocks Trail — Overlook the happiest city from a perch among fascinating, otherworldly rock formations. 
  • Moderate: Amphitheater Trail — Pass a natural amphitheater where you’ll likely see rock climbers.
  • Difficult: Royal Arch —This is the most popular trail on Boulder’s public lands. After a thigh-burning climb, you’ll see why. Please note: Through early September 2024, the Royal Arch Trail will be closed 24 hours a day, Monday-Thursday. The trail will remain open Friday-Sunday.

Man and Woman Hiking Chautauqua Flatirons in Boulder

Bike Happy

The wind in your hair, the passing scenery, the trails, friendly fellow bikers... there's no question that biking in Boulder is a feel-good proposition. In fact, Boulder is completely obsessed with biking.

Three to Try:

  • Cruiser: Wonderland Lake — On the north side of town, this scenic, lake-side path is a delight.
  • Mountain Biking: Canyon Loop at Betasso Preserve — Meadows, cliffs, mountain views — this 3.3-mile loop has it all.
  • Playtime: Valmont Bike Park – Constructed specifically as a cyclo-cross park — but with something for every kind and size of rider. There's even a toddler track.

Valmont Bike Park Riders

Eat Happy

It's not secret the key to lasting health and happiness is to nourish your body (and soul) with good food. Boulder's talented chefs work hard to ensure you won't compromise flavor along the way. 

Three to Try:

  • Low-Key: Basta (2023 recipient of a Micheline Bib Gourmand, which means good quality at a good value) will blow your blissed-out mind with its delicious pizza pies and much more. 
  • Super Boulder-y: Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant is next-level farm-to-table, making delicious, plant-based dishes you can feel good about.
  • Haute Cuisine: Frasca Food & Wine is the pinnacle of fine dining in Boulder. Just put yourself in the hands of Frasca's world-renowned sommelier and chef.

Woman Smiling with Meal

Sip Happy

A few libations among friends (in moderation) seem to keep locals happy — whether it's to enjoy our bursting-at-the-seams brewing scene, two welcoming wineries or a laid-back bar just to your liking.

Three to Try:

  • Avery Brewing's White Rascal is the perfect excuse to visit this facility in the Gunbarrel neighborhood for tours and taproom tastings.
  • A libations hot spot on Lee Hill Road is your chance to tour one of Colorado's own wineries — plus one brewery — all in one building. Sample Colorado wines at BookCliff Vineyards and beer from Upslope.
  • Bitter Bar’s Kiss the Sky — with gin, lavender and lemon — is sure to turn any frown upside down.

Avery Brewing Tap Room

Wander Happy

Ditch the car and stroll Boulder's neighborhoods, an ultra-walkable downtown and districts with tons to explore.

Three to try:

  • Pearl Street — To really soak up the Boulder lifestyle, head down to Pearl Street, a brick-paved pedestrian mall in historic downtown, for a European-like stroll among locals. Duck into stores like Into the Wind kite shop or the colorful, local clothing shop Fresh Produce.
  • The Hill — Mingle among carefree college kids in this district adjacent to the University of Colorado Boulder.
  • Boulder Farmers Market — it’s nearly impossible not to smile among buckets of blooms, piles of freshly baked bread and stacks of fresh veggies.

Into the Wind Boulder - Little Boy

Celebrate Happy

Boulderites know how to throw a party, and several can't-miss festivals and events happen each year

Three to try:

  • Boulder International Film Festival (March) — Four days of fabulous parties, celebrity sightings, culinary events and film screenings.
  • Boulder Taco Fest (August) — Tacos, craft beer, tequila, lucha libre wrestling and live music come together for a summery good time.
  • Colorado Shakespeare Festival (June-August) — Live performances on the CU campus make for an experience you’ll never forget.