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A Car-Free Weekend in Boulder

You might be wondering, "Do I need a car to get around Boulder?" The answer is definitely not. One of the best perks of visiting Boulder is its compact, walkable geographical area and ease of getting around.

Leave your car at the hotel or skip it entirely: arriving from Denver International Airport on RTD Bus Route AB puts you just two blocks from Pearl Street Mall. Then set out to explore Boulder's vibrant downtown as well as other neighborhoods and sites easily accessed by walking, bike or public transit.

Car-Free Trip Tip

BCycle has 300 pedal-assist e-bikes at 50 stations all across Boulder. Rent a bike right then and there, or download the BCycle App to view all stations near you. You can purchase a day, month, annual or pay-per-trip pass. Bring your own helmet!

Day 1

Drop Your Bags and Get Refreshed

There are multiple hotels and inns in the heart of downtown for all types of travelers and budgets. Check in, take a moment to refresh (don't forget to hydrate — you're at altitude!) and head out on the town to grab a quick bite or drink from one of the many restaurants, cafes and bars within just blocks of your hotel.

Walk to Nature

One of the best ways to shake off lingering travel stiffness or jet lag is to get out in nature, move your body and breathe in some fresh air. For car-free visitors, we recommend checking out trails that start at The Peoples' Crossing, which rests at the base of the mountains on the west end of Pearl Street. Wander up a short distance on Red Rocks Trail to play around the otherworldly, ochre-colored sandstone, hidden in plain sight just minutes from downtown.

Photo by Gwen Gray

Red Rocks Trail

Tree-Hugger Tip

Bring food and water for longer hikes. The slightly higher altitude means you may get dehydrated more easily. And don't forget to bring water for your dogs!

Meander and Enjoy Public Art

On your way back to civilization, follow Pearl Street and keep an eye out for a few of the over 100 murals that dot buildings and alleyways. Let your curiosity run wild! Pop into shops or grab small bites as you wander and reflect on the artwork.

Mural by Gabriel Sanchez at 2032 14th Street

Dash 'n Dine

After popping by your hotel for a shower (or even a nap), you will not have to go far for almost any kind of food, from sidewalk cafes to acclaimed fine dining establishments. After all, Pearl Street was named one of the “10 Best Foodie Streets in America” by Food & Wine magazine. Check out our round-up of downtown restaurants, including those on Pearl Street itself and a few blocks in each direction that are just moments away from the main corridor and with charm galore.

Photo by Justin Bilancieri

Strolling on Pearl Street

Locals Know

Pearl Street was called the “Rodeo Drive of outdoor apparel” by 5280 Magazine. It’s true; there’s an outdoor gear shop every few doors!

Catch a Live Performance

Live music, comedy, author and artist talks, open mic nights — you'll find it all just minutes from your hotel. As you stroll around town, especially during warmer months, you'll hear melodic sounds wafting from bars and breweries, or even on corners from Boulder's talented street performers. If you're looking for ticketed events, you can always find something exciting happening at downtown's historic Boulder Theater.

Photo by Gwen Gray

Boulder Theater

Car-Free Trip Tip

To easily zip between spots, hop on a Lime e-scooter, available city-wide. Use the Lime app to find available e-scooters in designated zones on or near sidewalks across the city. Note: E-scooters are geofenced and will shut down in "no-go" zones, such as on Pearl Street Mall, trails and cemeteries. For more information, read the City of Boulder's FAQ page on e-scooters.

Day 2 

Crawl Out of Bed and Into a Coffee Shop

Boulderites love their morning brew, evidenced by the nearly 50 indie coffee shops in this town (you read that right). You practically can't go even a block in any direction of downtown without finding one. Many places have their own food or treats, but since they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you might want to hit up a brunch spot after. Some of our favorites downtown are Snooze, Lucile's and Foolish Craig's. If you happen to be staying at St Julien Hotel & Spa, Jill's has a gorgeous weekend brunch spread.

Boxcar Coffee

Rent E-Bikes and Explore

If you’ve never tried an e-bike, you’re in for a treat. It's a super fun way to venture outside of downtown while zooming up Boulder's hills with the greatest of ease. In our e-biking guide, find where to rent an e-bike or book a tour to take you through the historic downtown and up to the foot of the Flatirons.

Photo by Gwen Gray

E-bike tour of Boulder

Hop on the HOP

Boulder's HOP buses run in a big loop around Boulder — the purple line runs counterclockwise, and the orange line runs clockwise. With multiple stops on Pearl Street, it's easy to pick up to explore sites outside of downtown. Do some open-air shopping (with sweeping views) at Twenty Ninth Street Mall or explore the University of Colorado's idyllic campus. Additionally, if you happen to be in town during the summer months, take advantage of the free Park-to-Park shuttle, which runs from downtown to Chautauqua Park every weekend.

Budget Tip

Stop in the Chautauqua Auditorium to watch free, open rehearsals with the Colorado Music Festival June-August.

Have a Picnic

The gold standard in picnic fare is Dedalus Wine Shop & Market, a gourmet deli with sandwiches and cheese plates that are beyond delish, located on East Pearl. Alternatively, grab some takeout and head to one of the quaint parks within minutes of Pearl Street. Lovers Lane is a romantic little sanctuary. There's also Barker Park, a sweet little city park with a playground. Fitzpatrick Park is a pocket park just five blocks north of Pearl.

Dedalus Wine Shop & Market goodies

Get a Massage

After all that car-free adventuring around Boulder, your body deserves some TLC. Boulder has been called “the most relaxed city in America” by Inc., based on the fact that the city has 122% of the national average of wellness-focused small businesses. Downtown you'll find a variety of options, from luxurious day spas like The Dragontree and The Spa at St Julien to individual practitioners and sports recovery therapists.