Famously optimistic and outdoorsy, Boulder also offers a bit of a reputation for being an expensive place to live in and visit. Rugged mountain views, easily accessible trails, a thriving food scene, and an outdoors lifestyle have made the city a beautiful spot for high-paying industries for example aerospace, cleantech, and software to base their operations and entice young talent.
With the modification within the demographic of residents, living costs has increased together, and budget travelers will also have the pinch. However, don't let this put you off visiting Boulder if you are with limited funds. This is a college town, the place to find the University of Colorado Boulder and its 35,000 students, many of whom take presctiption tight budgets themselves.
There are lots of methods to save money but still go through the city just like a local. From great food to affordable accommodations, free activities and much more, here are our tips for visiting Boulder on a tight budget.
- Hotel or Airbnb room for 2: $70-150
- Public transport day pass: $6
- Sit-down coffee: $3-4
- Cafe sandwich: $9
- All-day bikeshare rental: $10
- Restaurant dinner for two: $40 (plus drinks)
- Local craft beer: $7
- Ticket to museum or gallery: $5
Visit during in spring or fall for lower accommodation prices
Winters in Boulder see a generous amount of snowfall – perfect for ski buffs looking to hit the nearby slopes – while warm and dry summers attract hikers, bikers, runners, and climbers towards the city's trails. Both seasons are great times to visit Boulder, but accommodation and flight prices peak.
One the best way to save money on your trip would be to visit Boulder during the calmer spring or fall. The elements is less predictable, with clear, sunshine included with sporadic thunderstorms, snow showers and winds, but when you're willing to venture out, you'll likely have the ability to snag a deal on a flight along with a place to stay.
Watch out for giant university events at weekends, however. Check out the University of Colorado calendar before booking your trip – if it's a big weekend for sports, Homecoming weekend in November or Family Weekend in October, prices have a tendency to rise. On the flip side, sometimes the University offers affordable and interesting art exhibits or talks by academics to coincide with one of these events.
Seek out cheap room rates or stay in the Boulder hills
There a multitude of incredible things to do in Boulder that you're unlikely to be spending too much time in your accommodation, as well as the times that you simply do, there are a few great, affordable, and comfy choices for a location to hang your hat.
Check out Homewood Suites Boulder and Basecamp Boulder for lower-than-average room rates without compromising on standards or amenities. And make certain to browse Airbnb for cheap, unique stays in cottages, houses and cabins outside Boulder – a terrific way to experience the mountains just like a local.
Explore Boulder by pedal power
One the best way to get at know Boulder would be to traverse the city by bike. With more than 300 miles of bikeways as well as an extensive, well-connected network of multi-use paths, it's increasingly simple to obtain around town without having to rent an automobile or buy a transit pass.
Renting a bike at one of the specialist cycle shops around can be expensive, for only a day, but help is at hand. B-Cycle is really a local non-profit bike share scheme, will all-day rentals for just $10. Simply download the app and purchase each day Pass to get an unlimited quantity of 30-minute trips around every day and night.
Ride the bus around Boulder
Another fantastic way to get around Boulder on a budget would be to make use of the city's stellar public transportation system. The RTD bus system is reliable, convenient, and cost-effective, and Boulder's HOP bus routes you can get to just about all of the town's most popular attractions, including edge-of-city locations such as Chautauqua Park, also is served by a free shuttle bus from downtown at weekends.
A one-way ride on RTD services costs just $2.80, but day passes permit unlimited rides for a whole day $6 ($10.50 including airport routes) – broadly the same price as you round-trip journey.
Take in Boulder views with a picnic within the park
Boulder's multi-use paths provide use of beautiful, expansive parks with epic views of the mountains. Visit a nearby supermarket for many cheap picnic fare, construct a blanket in the grass, and enjoy lunch while listening to the lullaby of trickling Boulder Creek. Favorite local picnic spots include Scott Carpenter Park (with its outdoor pool), Eben G Fine Park and Martin Park. Bring a ball, a yard game, a frisbee or a good book and make a day's it.
Take a hike and revel in Boulder's mountain scenery for free
Arguably the very best free move to make in Boulder is to have a hike on a single from the city's incredible trails. Pretty much every trail out and about can get you an amazing view of the Flatirons and surrounding mountains, and the foliage along the trails is stunning in each and every season – especially when covered inside a layer of snow in winter.
If you are looking for something easy and traditionally Boulder, check out one of the popular trails from Chautauqua Park to locations for example Royal Arch, Mallory Cave or Enchanted Mesa. Free shuttle buses run here from town in the Memorial Day weekend (May) towards the Labor Day weekend (September).
If you're looking for less crowded hikes, check out trails in Eldorado Canyon State Park like the paths to Doudy Draw or even the Continental Divide Overlook. Eldorado is also a nationally famous climbing and bouldering area.
Seek out inexpensive eateries
When it comes to eating well having to break the financial institution, there are many places to select from in Boulder. Just northeast of Boulder in Longmont, Jefe's Tacos and Tequila offers $1 taco Tuesdays, where one can fill a plate with delicious tacos just for a few bucks.
Downtown, Village Coffee Shop has a full grilled cheese sandwich meal just for $3.95, and both Illegal Pete's Mexican restaurant and Zoe Ma Ma Chinese restaurant have budget menus where everything is under $10. There are many other places to locate a cheap, filling meal in town – simply do some menu browsing ahead of time, and then try to get into a few of these places earlier within the day to avoid wait times.
Hit up Boulder's bars during happy hour
Boulder is famous for its thriving food and drink scene, and downtown happy hours deliver lots of bargains. Head over to one of Boulder's restaurants or bars in early evening following a day's playing in high altitude to secure discount prices on dinner and drinks.
Mountain Sub Pub & Brewery has a happy hour that includes $5 pizzas and $3.50 flagship beers, while T/ACO offers $2.50 street tacos, $3.50 draft beers and $4.50 house margaritas, and Japango offers $2 off special sushi rolls and $4 to $8 off bar menu items. Check out this listing of all the downtown happy hours for additional options!
Sample the season's bounty at Boulder's farmer's market
The Boulder County Farmer's Market runs every 'life was imple' and Wednesday afternoon from April through November, and it is an excellent pocket-friendly outing for locals and visitors alike. Following 13th St, between Canyon Blvd and Arapahoe Ave, the market comes complete with local produce and it's an excellent place to meet the farmers who grew it.
Be sure to try out products from up-and-coming natural food brands – a business for which Boulder is really a national hub. Load up on free samples and sit back around the block nearby to unwind and people-watch along the creek for a tasty, entertaining morning or afternoon activity that will not cost you a penny.
Check out Boulder's free museums and galleries
Boulder includes a rich and diverse arts and culture scene, and it's quite budget-friendly. A number of the museums around are free, including the University of Colorado-run CU Art Museum and CU Museum of Natural History.
Looking beyond the university museums, the Boulder Museum of recent Art has an admission fee of just $2. And also the Dairy Arts Center – a well known local venue for performances, events, gallery exhibitions, and film screenings – is open every day and there is merely a $5 requested donation to visit their galleries.
Attend a free event or festival
The City of Boulder wears several free public events each year that provide a sampling platter of local food, drinks, arts, crafts and culture. Probably the most popular events in your area may be the Boulder Creek Festival, that takes place every year at the beginning of the summer.
Come for free live music and performances, a crafts and artisans marketplace, family activities along with a selection of local food trucks – ready along the Boulder Creek, which you can wade into or tube down as part of the festivities. Not visiting town during the summer? Discover more popular, free public events around the city's official events calendar.