Growing up in the Vail Valley instilled a love for the mountains that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Four years ago when I was deciding on where I wanted to get my education, I chose to attend CU for its beautiful campus, the city of Boulder and proximity to my favorite ski mountains.
For the past four years, I have called Boulder my home. I’ve learned where to go for hikes on the weekend that aren’t swarming with people, my favorite places to get the best deals on drinks and how to live in an amazing, yet expensive city, on a college student budget.
Under some misconception, the extent to which I know Boulder is not just “The Hill.” Although this has been a great and exciting place to live throughout my college career, it’s not all that Boulder has to offer for students.
Where to go outside and play:
During the week, Boulder’s trails are less crowded than on the weekends, so this leaves a ton of options for me to choose from. I love hiking the Chautauqua trails and climbing the flatirons as much as the next CU student and Mt. Sanitas is one of my favorites to do for a good workout because it’s all straight uphill. However on the weekends, I try to avoid the crowds on these popular trails by going to hikes out of NCAR and picking a trail to do from there such as the Bear Canyon trail. Also, if I put in the extra effort, I like to drive to the trailhead of Diamond Lake outside of Nederland for a fun five mile alpine hike.
Boulder Creek is the epitome of where to go outside and play during the summer. Whether it’s tubing, fishing or jumping in to cool off, I don’t miss a day playing at the creek. Boulder Reservoir is another favorite place of mine to attempt my SUP skills and enjoy the Boulder sunshine.
My favorite places to get a good drink:
T|ACO happy hour: there is nothing to complain about a $2 taco and a cheap margarita and T|ACO has both of those. Sitting out on the patio during the hot summer nights makes for a fun evening out and I don’t have to sacrifice half a paycheck.
Half Fast Subs on the Hill: On my walk home from class on a Thursday afternoon, Half Fast is always a pit stop. With pitchers of “strong island ice tea” and ginormous sandwiches, Half Fast begins the first night of my weekend the right way.
Rio Grande on Thursday nights: It’s no surprise that the bars on Pearl Street have specific nights that cater to CU students, but in my opinion, the Rio has the best bang for your buck. On Thursdays, the Rio has $5 margs starting around 9:30 pm.
Best places to get a late night snack:
Whether it’s a late night studying or a late night out, Boulder has plenty of options to satisfy late night cravings.
Cosmo’s Pizza: Not only is the pizza reasonably priced, the slices at Cosmo’s are literally the size of my face and the spicy ranch they have is the key to making it such desirable place for a midnight snack, or better said: a second dinner.
Bova’s Market and Grill: Basically right next door to Cosmo’s is Bova’s Market and Grill which I have personally never been in during daylight hours because once it gets dark, the cravings for the “Brandon” sandwich come out. The “Brandon” is a delectable and hearty meal consisting of chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, cheese and french fries on Texas toast with a splash of sriracha sauce. There’s nothing else quite like it. Bova’s also offers gyros, burgers and other deli items that I have heard are also quite good but, I mean, go big or go home.
Favorite place to take advantage of my student discount:
Yes, there are many places that offer a student discount but the one place I find myself using religiously is the $5 student movie night at Century Theater on 29th Street. I love going to the movies, and when I’m not forking over a small fortune for the big screen and some popcorn, I can go see a lot of great movies.
If I was traveling to Boulder on a budget, here’s where I would stay:
The Boulder Adventure Lodge offers access to adventure literally right outside their doorstep. Only five miles outside of Boulder, the Adventure Lodge is close to town, but also close to Eldora ski resort, hikes, fishing, biking and pretty much everything else that any adventurer could ever dream of. The lodge has affordable hotel options, and there’s even been talk about establishing a hostel, which in my opinion, is the best idea I’ve ever heard of.
Obviously, there are so many great places in Boulder that cater to students that I didn’t mention here, however, these are the places and things that I like to do that I have incorporated into my routine (besides eating the “Brandon” every night for obvious reasons) as a student at CU that don’t break the bank. Living in this city for four years does not make me a longtime local, and I am always excited to come across new restaurants, hikes, bars, etc. while still enjoying the classic places that made me fall in love with CU and Boulder in the first place.