We wanted to put the spotlight on smaller college towns in America where the quality of life is high. These smaller spots on the map tend to offer big city advantages thanks to the cultural and cosmopolitan influx created by universities (such as theater, concerts, & public lectures) minus big city inconveniences (like high property prices, traffic, & pollution).
While our size may be relatively small at only 107,000 people, Boulder, Colorado still makes its mark on the world. Boulder is in a valley just below the Flatirons, a part of the Rocky Mountains. Something to love about Boulder is its environment; from eight parks and over 30 official trails to 300 days of sunshine per year and friendly people, this is a happy, healthy college town.
This town and the surrounding areas offer so many outdoor options! With over 150 miles of official trails (and untold not-so-official ones), there is always something to do, so there’s no excuse to sit on the couch. Some of the most popular are the Flatirons Vista Trailhead, the South Mesa Trailhead, and the Mt. Sanitas Trailhead. Some prefer a faster pace. For them, bike trails and tours have sprouted everywhere as well. There’s even a company named Beer & Bike Tours. Their Boulder tour travels from brewery to brewery (they have a family option too). The winter brings brilliant downhill and cross-country skiing, skating, and even snowshoeing! In the spring, there are festivals like the Taste of Pearl or Boulder Arts Week, farmer’s markets, and tours of the wildflowers in bloom. The summer sizzles with even more festivals and events, such as our very own Ironman, craft beer celebrations, outdoor concerts, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Boulder International Fringe Festival, and tubing down Boulder Creek! And in the fall, the air turns crisp and leaves change hue. If you’re a leaf peeper, you can walk, pedal, or drive through trails to see the best views. There are also festivals in autumn, such as the Downtown Boulder Fall Fest and Jaipur Literature Festival, to name a few, and Halloween and farm-related activities for the kids too.
Downtown Boulder has its own personality. Locals are proud of the historic Pearl Street Mall. No, it isn’t a giant monstrosity, full of chain stores. The original buildings were erected in the 19th century with the onset of the Colorado gold rush, and it forms the heart of this town. After many incarnations, the Pearl Street area was renovated, starting in the late 1970s. Today, 85% of the stores in this area are locally owned, a fact that makes us proud.
At the end of the day, the beauty of nature and the kind folks that live here draw people to this intellectual home of the University of Colorado, National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Related: A Love Letter to Rochester, Minnesota
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