I need a vacation soon! Like, seriously!
Lately, the work has been busy. Which is great, but we all need a break sometimes, don’t we? Personally, I could really use a few days where I don’t have to constantly check my phone, can have a full day outside and maybe even try something new. If possible, all that without spending too much money.
Turns out, that’s exactly what eco traveling is about. Eco or sustainable traveling is a more responsible way of traveling, which is respectful to the planet and the local communities. It can mean a lot of things, but normally includes the following:
- Using alternative forms of transport (and avoiding flying by plane)
- Spending more time in nature rather than a big city, and
- Minimizing the waste while traveling
These are the reasons why local traveling, as a form of eco traveling, is getting more and more popular. Plus, it’s usually cheaper, which I certainly wouldn’t mind.
With all that in mind, I might just book myself a long weekend in Boulder, Colorado.
Yes, you read it right. Let me tell you why!
The happy city
Just about 25 miles northwest of Denver, located between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, lies the home of the happiest and healthiest people in the US. Boulder is regularly listed among the healthiest places by the media. Forbes put the city on the top of its American towns to live well. And according to Self magazine, this is the fittest city in the nation.
It’s not hard to see why this city frequently ranks high in health, well-being, quality of life, and similar. The home of the main campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder is known for its laid back and outdoor culture, love for the local food, and endless green areas. The city is surrounded by thousands of acres of open space, nature, and parks, the majority of which are open to the public. It also has amazing hiking and rock climbing routes for all levels. Moreover, it’s a very eco-conscious city, with strong wildlife and environment protection policies. In 2006, Boulder became the first city in the US to impose a carbon tax, meaning that the local government charges extra to those who pollute. Seems fair to me!
That all makes Boulder an ideal place for a weekend retreat. There are, of course, many things you can do and try in the city and its surroundings. But we prepared some of the best, if you’re looking for a healthy, eco-friendly, and fun visit that will not break the bank.
Something for everybody
When in Boulder, forget about your car. Instead, this city is the best explored by public transport, bike, or foot. Hop is a public bus service that runs between the city’s most popular spots, so you can rely on it. Public transport will also allow you to explore numerous hiking routes and spots. For example, on the weekends, you can take a free hiker shuttle to reach the best spots without stress, including the famous Chautauqua. You can even visit Eldora Ski Resort (an hour ride by bus), which offers beginner, as well as expert skiing routes.
If you prefer cycling, Boulder offers equally fantastic possibilities. It’s definitely a cyclist city: according to the city’s official website, Boulder has an average of 4 bikes for every 1 person. To start with, there’s B Cycle: a bike-sharing service you can use to get around. You can also book a bike guide. Beyond Boulder, Bike Adventures organizes different social and private tours guaranteed to be fun.
Finally, you can stroll through Pearl Street, the most famous street lined with restaurants and shops. The majority of this street is closed for cars. Or you can walk through Boulder Creek Path and enjoy the green in the city. If luckily, you might be there in time for Tube to Work Day, an annual tradition where people dressed in their best business clothes splash through the Creek.
Whichever way of transport you chose, we suggest also exploring the beautiful and historical University of Colorado Campus. No, it is not for students only! There are plenty of things to do. From visiting the CU Heritage Center, Fiske Planetarium, or CU Art Museum to taking some pretty photos in one of the many picturesque spots on the campus, there’s enough to spend a whole day there.
And if you want a completely unique experience, we have an idea for you too. Take the Banjo Billy's Bus Tour and learn about the city’s legends and hear ghost stories while riding on a vintage school bus. How cool is that?
Shop and support the local businesses
Most of us travel for new experiences, but we also like to take something to remind us of the place we visited. I surely do! So, while there, instead of shopping for conventional souvenirs, there are ways to buy something more meaningful and, as an extra benefit, support the local businesses.
Despite the fact that Boulder is a medium-sized city, with a population of just a bit over 100 000, the city has an amazing thrifting scene. Whenever I have the time, I always hit the thrift shops when in a new city, because I know I will find something I cannot find at home. If you like thrifting, try checking out these:
- Greenwood : fashion from a wide range of well-known brands, furniture, home décor, art, and more.
- Rags: for pre-loved luxury
- Vintage Gold: a goldmine for vintage clothes and accessories
And if thrifting is not your thing (or even if it is!), there are many shops and social enterprises that offer different or unique items. Many of them are directly benefiting the community by giving back. Some of the shops worth checking out are:
- Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery: a cooperative that showcases art, jewelry, ceramics, and more, primarily from Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region artists
- Boulder Book Store: city’s largest independent bookstore
- Momentum: Fairtrade gifts, stationery, accessories, and baby items
- Refill Revolution: zero waste bath and body goodness
- Ramble on Pearl: high-quality clothes from a business that serves adults with developmental disabilities
- Cedar & Hyde: thoughtful clothes and home accessories
- Neptune Mountaineering: high-quality rock climbing, camping, and skiing gear
- Art Parts Creative Reuse Center: completely different from what you might expect, this non-profit offers a range of art and supplies at an incredible price point
Have a drink
If you are staying in Boulder and know that you’ll be having some drinks on-the-go, you should check out Vessel: a reusable cup service. Basically, you register and pick up your free, stainless steel, and insulated cup with the first drink you purchase. When done using it, you return the cup to one of the kiosks or cafés around the town. This way, when visiting the city, you don’t even have to think about bringing your own reusable cup! And you can be sure that you won’t be creating any extra waste!
For example, you can use your Vessel in Beleza Coffee Bar, if you are looking for premium coffee, including the one coming from the local Colorado roaster. This is not the only place with amazing coffee. OZO Coffee gained a reputation for its top-quality beans and is a preferred place for many, including chefs. As you walk around the city, you may come across Carabiner Coffee: a mobile café on wheels.
More of a tea person? Well, Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is a must-see place. This is a stunning teahouse that will for sure end up on your Instagram. It was completely built by hand in Tajikistan and sent to Boulder, where it was then rebuilt as a symbol of friendship and cultural exploration. Both exterior and interior are well worth visiting.
And, at the end of the day, why not treat yourself to a nice drink? If you like beer, West End Tavern is a place for you. It has a great rooftop with a view of the mountains and an impressive choice of Colorado microbreweries. On the other hand, Avery Brewing offers exclusive beers that you can drink right from the source. Prefer cocktails instead of beer? Visit Salt Bistro, and try to mix your own cocktail, using their guide-menu to pick and combine different ingredients.
Enjoy the fresh local food
If you are in the city on a Saturday, hit the local Farmer’s Market for the freshest local produce. But no worries, many restaurants in the city source their food also locally and organically. Just like Denver, this is a foodie paradise. Here are some options:
- Seeds: changes menu depending on what’s available locally to show the best of local food and drinks (they also accept Vessel reusable cup)
- Thrive: Organic, raw, vegan and gluten-free, smoothies, salads, and even locally brewed kombucha
- Fresh Thymes Eatery: wholesome, farm-to-fork food that is gluten and peanut-free, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options
- Shine Restaurant & Potion Bar: a place for a full and long meal, with helpful staff that will advise you based on your food preferences and restrictions
Convinced yet? Let us know where you want to travel next!