Surrounded by 45,000 acres of open space with the grandeur of the Flatirons rock formation as a backdrop, Boulder, Colorado has come a long way since its early days as a bustling mining town. Today, the city is known for its hip, healthy vibe as well as upscale and historic hotels, trendsetting retail shops and boutiques as well as an abundance of casual and fine dining restaurants. In fact, Boulder is not your typical hometown, making it the perfect luxury weekend getaway destination.
Starting with your arrival on a Friday afternoon, here is a suggested three-day itinerary that provides the quintessentially delicious Boulder experience:
The St. Julien Hotel & Spa is an AAA Four-Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, it is within walking distance of more than 200 shops and 80 restaurants.
The interior is decorated in modern Art Deco with clean lines, warm woods and cozy furniture. During the evenings, you can relax with a cocktail near the fireplace while you enjoy live music.
Located on the west end of Pearl Street, SALT is a very popular restaurant in what was formerly the iconic Tom’s Tavern building. Chef Bradford Heap creates organic, locally-sourced, non-GMO cuisine that has a loyal following. Try the vegetable tasting with Tuscan beans (one of the chef’s passions), spaghetti squash Provençal, and cabbage shiitake mushroom wrap. For dessert, the dark chocolate caramel SALT tart with cocoa nib ice cream is a huge favorite.
Located in a yellow Victorian house a short walk from the St. Julien, this family run restaurant has been satisfying hungry residents for more than 32 years. You will feel like you are in New Orleans breakfasting on the café’s homemade beignets and chicory coffee blend.
Hop in your car for a short drive to the Chautauqua National Historic Landmark for some hiking or sightseeing. The discovery of gold in Boulder Canyon brought an influx of miners to the area in 1859. This was followed by another population surge after railroads connected Boulder to larger cities in 1873. In order to preserve open spaces, forward thinking city founders purchased Chautauqua Park at the base of the Flatirons, supposedly given its name by pioneer women who thought the rock faces looked like the flat part of an iron.
The Chautauqua was a cultural movement popular in the late 19th century that brought together people with a common love of nature, music and the arts. The early settlers stayed in tents in these areas, and the Chautauqua in Boulder is the only one west of the Mississippi that has been in continuous operation since its founding. Teddy Roosevelt called it "the most American thing in America."
Saturday is for farmers’ markets, so after you head back to town, stroll through the various booths near Central Park in the downtown area. Here, you can shop for fresh fruit and vegetables, other foodstuffs and locally made products.
You will need an advance reservation for this but it is one experience you will definitely want to put on your schedule. The 2 to 4 p.m. afternoon tea here is held in the lobby and is accompanied by the music of Grammy-award-winning pianist Ralph Sharon.
You will be treated to an elegant affair with impeccable service in a warm, fire-lit setting. Choose from a variety of teas as well as scones, tea sandwiches, petits fours, and other seasonal items.
The Hotel Boulderado opened its doors on New Year’s Day in 1909 and has had quite a colorful history Wanting to promote growth in the area, members of Boulder’s City Council sold stock subscriptions for $100 per share to raise funds for construction of a first class hotel. Local residents came up with the name by combining Boulder and Colorado so that no one would ever forget where they stayed.
Each of the 160 Victorian-style guest rooms are spacious and feature premium bedding and linens and a full range of amenities such as wireless Internet, iPod docking stations, high definition TV’s, and coffee makers. Although you will pay more than the 1909 opening day prices ($1.00-$2.50 per night), the Hotel Boulderado offers a luxury experience at affordable rates.
Before dinner, take time to explore some of the more interesting features and displays throughout the hotel. This is one of the few places left in America where you can ride in an antique, manually operated and staffed cage-style elevator.
Downstairs, you will find a bar called License No.1. Designed after a 1920s speakeasy, the large, inviting space is illuminated with low level lighting and has intimate seating areas and a variety of cocktails.
Located on the Boulderado property, this restaurant’s mission is fresh and locally sourced. Many of the items come from nearby farms and ranches, including a sustainable oyster farm.
Start with a small plate such as the smoked trout dip with house made potato chips and sweet onion jam. For your entrée, try their signature crispy red snapper with roasted red potatoes, fennel orange slaw, almonds, and romesco. They will even filet it right at your table — as long as you don’t mind drawing a crowd!