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 quintessential Boulder experience:
Check in- St. Julien Hotel & Spa
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.
Their 10,000 square foot spa features a variety of signature skin rejuvenation treatments including an oxygen facial to combat altitude fatigue, massages and hair care. An inviting 60 foot, indoor lap pool stays heated year round and can be enjoyed even on snowy days.
Each of the rooms and suites have all the amenities you would expect in a luxury property: large bathrooms with slate tiled floors, Direct TV, high-speed internet, and custom pillow-top mattresses.
Dinner at SALT
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.
Overnight at St. Julien Hotel & Spa
Breakfast- Lucile’s Creole Café
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.
Check out of St. Julien Hotel & Spa
Chautauqua National Historic Landmark
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.
Farmers’ Market/ Dushanbe Teahouse
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.
Afternoon Tea at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa
You will need an advance reservation for this but it is one experience you will definitely want to put on your schedule. The 2-4 pm 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 white-tablecloth 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 ($21.95).
Check-in Hotel Boulderado
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.
The large orange-red sandstone hotel edifice stands majestically on the corner of 13th and Spruce and is hard to miss with its four corner towers. Walking into the lobby is no less impressive. The beautiful and warm-toned lead glass ceiling was patterned after the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and was painstakingly restored to resemble the original design after it was damaged by snow in 1959. Other features of the lobby include a mosaic tile floor, plush furnishings and a cantilevered cherrywood staircase that spans multiple floors.
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.
Dinner at Spruce Farm & Fish
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!
Overnight at the Hotel Boulderado
You will need your car to drive a couple of miles to Tangerine, located in a small strip mall. Serving Mediterranean-inspired fare as well as American favorites, the place gets a little crowded (good sign) on weekends. They have fresh juice, chicken and waffles and French press coffee.
Pearl Street Mall
Back in the 1940s, it was said that Pearl Street was a good place to buy a pair of socks. Today, much has changed with nearly 1000 businesses, most of which are locally owned. The pedestrian friendly mall is the place to go to watch buskers (street performers), enjoy local coffee or shop in one of many quirky boutiques.
One of these shops, located in the newer west end of Pearl, is Piece, Love and Chocolate. This little gem has a steady stream of loyal customers even on a cold, snowy day. Stop by for artisan flavored truffles or try one of their many hot sipping chocolates like salted caramel.
Lunch at Dushanbe Teahouse
Located in the same area as the farmers’ market, this large, colorful building along 13th Street was a gift from several cities in Tajikistan, whose artisans created the hand-painted ceilings, wooden carved panels and a beautiful fountain of seven copper hammered sculptures called The Seven Beauties.
The teahouse has a full lunch menu with many items sourced from their own dedicated organic farm. Enjoy the ambiance while sampling their large selection of teas.
Celestial Seasonings/ Leanin Tree Museum of Western Art
For your afternoon activities, you will be heading to two popular attractions located nearby. Celestial Seasonings, on appropriately named Sleepytime Drive, is the #4 attraction on Tripadvisor. They have tea samplings and free tours, including their Peppermint Room, guaranteed to clear up any sinus problems you might have. Afterwards, take home some tea from their vast gift shop selection.
Located a little bit out of town, the Leanin Tree Museum of Western Art houses a large selection of Western art, including 250 paintings and 100 bronze sculptures by various artists. Although the free plant tour is not offered on Sundays, the museum and gift shop are open from 10-5 pm.
Dinner- Flagstaff House
For your final pièce de résistance meal, have an advance reservation for the Flagstaff House. This Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant sits on a hill at a 6,000 foot elevation and offers breathtaking views of the city, especially at twilight.
Owned and operated by the Monette family, the Flagstaff House is renowned for its 15,000 bottle wine cellar and excellent French-American cuisine with an Asian flair.
Attention to detail and creating a luxury guest experience is the norm here. Ingredients are carefully obtained from local suppliers as well as their own organic garden, and their fish is flown in fresh daily.
Start with a cocktail in their bar by a welcoming fireplace then move to the dining room where you will enjoy personal attention and first class service. There are many first course options such as their roasted pumpkin ravioli and Japanese Wagyū beef sausage. For your entrée, their Colorado rack of lamb is a favorite as is their Tender Belly Berkshire pork tenderloin. If you still have room, try the pumpkin soufflé (seasonal).
Overnight at the Hotel Boulderado
Breakfast at Spruce Farm & Fish
The breakfast here is just as good as dinner, and if you like bagels but can never find a good one out West, give their bagel plate a try. They use Moe’s bagels, a local institution, and these bagels are as close to the East Coast variety as you are likely to find. Add the fresh salmon, cream cheese and onion jam, and this one is a real winner.
Checkout of the Hotel Boulderado
A local paper once called Boulder the little town nestled between the mountains and reality. There’s probably some truth in that, but what you are likely to find is a city that is unlike anything back home. With its offbeat personality, extravagant accommodations and restaurants, your weekend here will be a truly memorable one.
Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau
St. Julien Hotel & Spa
Lucile’s Creole Café
Piece, Love, Chocolate
Leanin Tree of Western Art