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Boulder, Colorado

By Julie E. Vick

Perhaps best known as a hippy stronghold or the city made famous by the murder of a 6-year-old beauty pageant veteran, Boulder, Colorado probably isn’t the first stop on most North American tours. But scandal and peace-lovers aside, the city has a wealth of attractions. With over 300 days of sunshine a year the weather is almost always welcoming. Outdoor enthusiasts can spend an afternoon hiking in the summer months and enjoy a short jaunt to one of the local ski resorts in the winter. Travelers who prefer to leave their backpack in the room can easily take in several sights around town with a public transportation system more convenient than other American cities the same size. Known for its beautiful views and people, a visit to the city isn’t likely to disappoint.

The scenery will likely make a strong first impression. Fierce about their love of a healthy way of life, Boulderites have open space laws in place that limit the amount of building that can be done in the area. The result is a picturesque city perched against the flatirons -- jagged mountains in the front range that mark the starting point of the Rocky Mountains. The visit can literally take your breath away as the city sits at 5,430 feet and visitors may feel the effects of the thin air.   

If the scenery gets old you can always turn your attention to the people, and good spots for watching include the University of Colorado and its adjacent shopping district that locals simply refer to as “The Hill.” Tired travelers can also grab a bite to eat at the University’s Alferd Packer Grill, named after a 19th century guide who turned cannibal on an ill-fated journey across the snowy Colorado Mountains.

If Alferd’s grill isn’t appealing head to the Pearl Street pedestrian mall for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants offering affordable meals. The dress code is casual so wearing a backpacker’s slightly wrinkled wardrobe won’t turn any heads in town.  But be weary of lighting up, Boulder doesn’t allow smoking in restaurants and bars unless a specifically designated room has been built.  In addition to food, visitors to the mall can find entertainment in the form of strolling musicians or the more unusual “Zip Code Man” whose talent is a feat of memory – give him any postal code in the United States and he’ll name the city. 

After a long day you can unwind at one of the many pubs and bars that line Pearl Street or the University Hill district. At The Sink, located on the University Hill, you can have a beer at the bar where Robert Redford worked as a janitor in his younger years. 

Whether it’s hiking in the hills or relaxing at an outdoor café, Boulder has something to offer all sorts of travelers. It’s a nice stop somewhere between the busy streets of New York and the desert sprawl of Disneyland.

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