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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains lies the city of Boulder, Colorado–home of the University of Colorado Buffaloes. With all the fun activities that the Centennial State has to offer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you first arrive! Whether you’re feeling outdoorsy or desperately need a shopping spree, here are some of my recommendations for the best spots in Boulder to…

Get Your Nails Done

  • Stiletto Nails, Inc.

Do you feel absolutely naked without your acrylics and some flashy nail art?  Give Stiletto Nails, Inc. a call! This salon is staffed with some of Boulder’s most talented nail techs who can provide you with claws as glamorous as you desire.  With reasonable prices and excellent service, this nail salon is a hard one to top!

Stiletto Nails, Inc. is located at 3056 28th Street in Boulder and is open every day except Mondays (hours vary)!

  • Orange Poppy Spa

Are you someone who loves to get pampered, but your sensitive nails can’t handle acrylics? Orange Poppy Spa is the place for you! While this spa also offers facials, waxing, and other beauty services, their Dazzle Dry manicures and pedicures are the highlight for me! These Dazzle Dry nail services give you the strength of a gel manicure, but without the harsh chemicals and UV lighting. I personally recommend giving Orange Poppy Spa a try–not only do my nails look amazing, but they stay healthy and strong after each manicure!

Orange Poppy Spa is located at 1290 Alpine Avenue in Boulder and is open daily (hours vary)!


  • Boulder Reservoir

Are you eager to find an outdoor activity you enjoy, but hiking, rock climbing, and snowboarding just aren’t your thing? You could always give paddleboarding a try! Somewhat similar to surfing, paddleboarding involves either kneeling or standing on a buoyant board and using a paddle to propel yourself forward. It’s a water sport that’s become so popular amongst CU Boulder students, that they even offer a paddleboard yoga class at the Rec Center now. One of the best spots to paddleboard in town is Boulder Reservoir and you can easily rent one from Rocky Mountain Paddleboard, eliminating the hassle of buying one yourself and obtaining a permit for it. NOTE: There is a small park entry fee, so be sure to plan ahead!

Boulder Reservoir is located at 5275 Reservoir Road in Boulder and is open daily (hours vary)!

  • Lake Estes

If paddleboarding on a lake in the mountains surrounded by Colorado’s wildlife sounds like an absolute dream to you, I’d highly recommend taking a day trip to Estes Park for your water sport needs.  Only an hour from Boulder and home to Rocky Mountain National Park and the famous Stanley Hotel, Estes Park is a popular destination among tourists and locals alike. Lake Estes is immediately visible upon your arrival and offers everything from kayak to paddleboard rentals for reasonable prices. The surrounding views are absolutely breathtaking and give you the perfect taste of what Colorado really has to offer!  NOTE: There is a small one-day use permit and vehicle parking fee and rentals can go quickly, so be sure to make any reservations well in advance!

Lake Estes is located at 1770 Big Thompson Avenue in Estes Park and is currently open Friday through Sunday from 8AM-8PM (hours vary depending on season)!

Enjoy a Picnic

  • Chautauqua Park

With gorgeous views of the iconic Flatirons, it’s obvious why Chautauqua Park is one of the most popular destinations for CU Boulder students to hike or picnic with friends. Here, there are countless grassy areas and shady trees where you can spread out a blanket and enjoy a delicious lunch in the fresh Rocky Mountain air and, if you time it right and choose a spot on the lawn outside Chautauqua Auditorium, sometimes you’ll even hear live music in the background!

Chautauqua Park is located at 900 Baseline Road in Boulder and is open daily from 5AM-11PM.

  • Lost Gulch Overlook

Does the idea of a picnic catch your attention, but you’re looking for a more elevated experience?  Lost Gulch Overlook is the place for you!  Especially popular at sunrise and sunset, this lookout point is located amongst the foothills with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. There is a short, simple route on Lost Gulch Trailhead that takes you directly to the lookout point, making this an easily accessible spot for anyone who visits. 

Lost Gulch Overlook is located at 4300 Flagstaff Road in Boulder and is open daily (24/7).


  • Pearl Street Mall

Nestled in the heart of Boulder and only a short distance from campus, the iconic Pearl Street Mall is a pedestrian mall spanning four blocks and filled with over 200 stores and restaurants. Not only is it the perfect spot to go shopping with friends after class, but it’s a wonderful destination to bring your parents on Family Weekend, too!  Along with countless local shops, Pearl Street Mall also hosts many national retailers including Billabong, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Lush Cosmetics, and Earthbound Trading Co.

Pearl Street Mall is located at 1303 Pearl Street in Boulder and is open daily (individual business hours vary).

  • Twenty-Ninth Street Mall

Also a short distance from campus, Twenty-Ninth Street Mall is an open-air shopping center home to over 75 businesses, the majority of which are popular stores and restaurants you know and love.  Sephora, Anthropologie, Lululemon, Nordstrom Rack, Apple, and Nike are only a handful of the shops you’ll pass by when walking through the plaza.  After shopping, you can also stop by Century Theaters for a quick movie or Crumbl for a 4-pack of gourmet cookies!

Twenty-Ninth Street Mall is located at 1710 29th Street in Boulder and is open daily (individual business hours vary).

Grab a Coffee

  • The Laughing Goat

Are you on your way to do homework at Norlin Library but desperately need a caffeine fix?  The Laughing Goat can help with that!  With a menu that consists of hot chocolate, apple cider, tea, and some of the tastiest espresso beverages on campus, this coffee shop is a necessary stop before any study session.  They also have a location on Pearl Street Mall, which frequently hosts live music, poetry slams, and art shows.

The Laughing Goat (Norlin Library) is located at 1720 Pleasant Street in Boulder and is open Monday through Friday from 8AM-3PM!

The Laughing Goat (Pearl Street) is located at 1709 Pearl Street in Boulder and is open daily (hours vary)!

  • OZO Coffee

When it comes to coffee roasters, Boulder-based OZO Coffee is a favorite amongst the locals!  They have a wide selection of delicious espresso drinks, teas, and other tasty beverages and pastries–even a CBD kombucha!  With two locations on Pearl Street Mall, it’s easy to see why OZO Coffee shops are some of the most frequented and popular in town!

OZO Coffee (West Pearl) is located at 1015 Pearl Street in Boulder and is open daily (hours vary)!

OZO Coffee (East Pearl) is located at 1521 Pearl Street in Boulder and is open daily (hours vary)!

Buy Books

  • Boulder Book Store

If you’re someone who loves getting nothing more than cozying up with a good book, I’d highly recommend visiting Boulder Book Store on your next trip to Pearl Street. This three-level bookstore has an impressive inventory of over 100,000 titles and frequently hosts community events such as readings and book signings. Speaking from experience, it is incredibly easy to get lost amongst the bookshelves and spend hours in this shop, so be careful and plan ahead!

Boulder Book Store is located at 1107 Pearl Street in Boulder and is open daily (hours vary)!  

  • Lighthouse Bookstore

October is right around the corner: are you feeling a little witchy? If so, Lighthouse Bookstore should be at the top of your to-do list! Also located on Pearl Street, this metaphysical bookstore has shelves overflowing with crystals, tarot decks, and books on everything from astrology to yoga. Whether you’re a “baby witch” or a more seasoned practitioner, this shop is stocked with just about everything you could possibly need!

Lighthouse Bookstore is located at 1201 Pearl Street in Boulder and is open daily (hours vary)!

Red Rocks
Morgan Keegan

See A Concert

  • Red Rocks Amphitheater

I can’t help but only list one concert venue under this category, as Red Rocks Amphitheater should be at the top of every CU Boulder student’s bucket list.  Don’t get me wrong, there are concert venues in Boulder such as Fox Theater and Boulder Theater that I’d recommend checking out, but absolutely nothing can top a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater. This venue is an open-air amphitheater that overlooks the city of Denver and wows attendees with its electrifying energy and spectacular views.  With recent performances by artists such as ODESZA, The Chainsmokers, Flume, Rezz, and Subtronics, this popular concert venue is a definite must!

Red Rocks Amphitheater is located at 18300 West Alameda Parkway in Morrison and is open daily (concert times vary)!

No matter what your hobbies or interests are, you’ll feel right at home with everything that Boulder, Colorado has to offer!

Kristee Mikulski is a writer and member of the social media team at the Her Campus CU Boulder chapter. In her articles, she will frequently write about her own personal experiences, but also covers topics such as mental health, entertainment, celebrity profiles, and local life. Other than her involvement with Her Campus, Kristee works as a student ambassador for McGraw-Hill Education (MHE), a campus ambassador for Bubble Skincare, and as a freelance photographer and social media manager. She also has over fifteen years of professional work experience in various fields ranging from veterinary medicine to the cannabis industry. She is currently a junior at CU Boulder, majoring in Strategic Communications with a focus in Advertising Strategy and minoring in Media Production. When she’s not writing for Her Campus or working on homework, Kristee enjoys binge-watching her favorite TV shows, testing out new baking recipes, and spending quality time with her husband (Andy) and two dogs (Ollie and Marley). She also has a passion for various forms of creative self-expression including dance, poetry, music, and art. On campus, you’re most likely to spot her studying in Norlin Library or one of the many college coffee shops.