Boulder is well loved by so many, and we should love Boulder because it makes us happy! So happy, in fact, that in 2017 it was named the happiest city in the United States by National Geographic. The study found that Boulder is happy and healthy because of its breathtaking scenery, pleasant climate, charming downtown, and enough outdoor activities to keep even the most active person busy. It topped the charts as the #1 Best Place to Live in the U.S. for 2020-21, ranked by U.S. News & World Report for its wellness opportunities, outdoor recreation, and fun events. Kids love Boulder, too, with its amazing parks, fun summer activities, and epic sledding hills. As far as education goes, Boulder public schools are part of Colorado’s most sought-after district, Boulder Valley School District. Boulder’s public schools are highly rated not only by parents but by teachers, paying teachers the highest salaries in the state. Of course, Boulder is a fun place to entertain out-of-town guests. For all the best places to take visitors, check out our guide. If you are moving to Boulder and want to learn more about the area, click here for our guide of Boulder and the surrounding communities. Here are seven (of the many, many) reasons to love living in Boulder!
#1 The Great Outdoors
The number one reason to love Boulder is its incredible location nestled beneath the breathtaking flatirons, surrounded by mountains and green space. Hikers adore Chautauqua’s meandering trails, NCAR’s scenic pathways, and challenging treks up Mount Sanitas and South Boulder Peak. Boulder is packed with dedicated bikeways (over 300 miles!) in the city and throughout open space, making the city a hub for cycling enthusiasts. More adventurous options for outdoor fun include nordic skiing, rock climbing, hang gliding, and paragliding. With 110 miles of walking and hiking trails on over 35,000 acres of protected land, the possibilities for outdoor recreation are endless. Many of these activities can be enjoyed throughout Boulder’s seasons, as gorgeous summer days are kissed with fresh mountain breezes and dreamy winterscapes glitter in the sunshine. Discover all the local trails, get real-time information on trail closures, and even allows you to filter your search to find trails that fit your needs (paved trails, dog-friendly trails, etc) with the Boulder Area Trails App.
#2 There’s Always Something to Do
In addition to the outdoor adventures to be had in Boulder, there are a ton of exciting events happening all year round. Boulder is home to the Boulder International Film Festival, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and of course, the BolderBOULDER. For a relaxed day of summer fun, go tubing down Boulder Creek. In the fall, check out the Street Wise Boulder Mural Festival, where you can witness amazing artists creating public art. On the First Friday of every month, NoBo Art District offers a free self-guided art tour, live music, and art demos. During the warm season, check out the Boulder County Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Downtown Boulder, where you can find fresh veggies and flowers, delicious food, kids’ activities, and more.
#3 It’s Super Kid-Friendly
There are a ton of indoor and outdoor activities in Boulder that your kids will love! In the summer, Boulder kids have a ton of opportunities to play in the water, at the splash pad on Pearl Street, the beach at the Boulder Res, and the new swimming pool at Scott Carpenter Park! In the winter, try sledding down one of Boulder’s many epic sledding hills. Another reason kids love living in Boulder? Kids and adults alike have a blast with old-school amusements like go-karting and mini golf at Gateway Park Fun Center. The Museum of Boulder‘s Google Garage features hands-on fun and learning. At NCAR, kids can discover the magic of science and weather.
#4 Boulder Loves Dogs
It’s pretty great to be a dog in Boulder. Boulder offers four dog parks around town, there is sure to be one near you! East Boulder Dog Park, Foothills Dog Park & Valmont Dog Park all have separate areas for small and large breed dogs to meet up, play and have a fantastic time! There is also a fourth park, Howard Heuston Dog Park, that is available to dogs with voice and sight control tags. At the East Boulder Dog Park, there is a small pond where dogs are permitted to take a dip. Check out dog and human favorite, CU South, featuring acres and acres of beautiful meandering trails as well as ponds for pups to cool off. West Lake at Twin Lakes in Gunbarrel is a local favorite, a nice spot for both a hike and a swim. During the off-season, Boulder Reservoir allows dogs to swim at the South Shore. In addition, there is nearby Coot Lake, which always allows dogs. Many breweries in and around Boulder are dog-friendly! Avery Brewing is known for its dog-friendly patio seating, great service (wait staff will bring your dog a bowl of water!), as well as world-class craft brews. Looking for a dog pal? Check out our list of places to adopt a dog in Boulder!
#5 Live Music is Life
If you love live music, you will love living in Boulder. Boulder has a handful of music venues around town, as well as lots of opportunities to see local musicians perform at nearby breweries and restaurants. During the summer, music lovers flock to the Chautauqua Summer Concert Series, to see musicians play in a stunning setting. On Wednesdays throughout the summer, check out Bands on the Bricks on Pearl Street (lineup here). In addition to these summertime venues, Boulder Theater and the Fox Theatre host local and national musicians all year long.
#6 The Amazing Food
Boulder is a dream not only for the outdoor geeks but for foodies this town is home to some of the most drool-worthy food on the planet. Start your day at local favorite breakfast spot, The Walnut Cafe, for a Boulder scramble, a cup of coffee, and the cafe’s famous blueberry cornbread. Head downtown to try the Mountain Sun‘s fresh comfort foods like the Colorado bison burger or the speakeasy steak sandwich and wash it down with a freshly brewed Mountain Sun ale. Take a break in the gorgeous Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, sip some tea, and relax in the rose garden. To satisfy your sweet tooth, stop by Piece, Love, and Chocolate for decadent truffles and mouth-watering chocolate-dipped peanut butter cookies. If you are in need of an amazing taco, check out Tierra y Fuego in NoBo (your kids will love the quesadillas)!
#7 The… Unexpected
Boulder is known and loved for its weirdness, and is a mecca for all things alternative and holistic. Boulder’s tendency to be a little off-beat and different draws us in and allows us to feel comfortable in our own individuality. The Pearl Street Mall street performers will wow you with jaw-dropping displays – I’ve seen everything from contortionists to fire eaters to a guy who (very impressively) plays piano dangling upside down. Open your mind by listening to a poetry reading at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore on The Hill. If you are looking for something different to do on a Saturday, you might enjoy some forest bathing, get a psychic reading or try goat yoga! Boulder peeps like to take part in out-of-the-ordinary events like Tube to Work Day (loosen your tie and hop in a tube down Boulder Creek!), the Mall Crawl (a free, unofficial Halloween party on Pearl Street that includes an epic Thriller flash mob) and the Polar Plunge (jump in the icy Boulder Reservoir in winter for a good cause!). Nakedness is another part of Boulder’s wacky vibe with the Naked Pumpkin Run on Halloween night (run naked down Pearl Street with a pumpkin on your head), the World Naked Bike Ride (a nude bike ride protest against fossil fuels in mid-June) and local participation in World Naked Gardening Day (I feel like I should mention that participating in these activities could result in arrest). If you are looking for something slightly less mischievous but a ton of fun, check out Banjo Billy‘s tour bus, a traveling hillbilly shack that gives you an entertaining look at Boulder’s history. Stay weird, Boulder!