The following things to do in Boulder County are all free; but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t open your wallet. You may find yourself buying art at an Art Walk, roasted almonds from a street vendor, or replacing an inflatable tube during your bike or creek adventure. Yet these options can be an inexpensive way to visit – or staycation in – Boulder County.
- Davidson Mesa – want a cost-free, low-key way to watch the sun set? Davidson Mesa provides spectacular views from the inner Boulder Valley to the peaks of the Continental Divide. You can drive directly to the Boulder Overlook parking lot from the westbound lanes of Highway 36 between the exits of McCaslin Boulevard and Table Mesa Drive (also approachable via bike on the Highway 36 Bikeway). From here you have the option to stay in your car or sit on a mountain-facing bench. Do use the backdrop for a photo. If you want to stretch your legs a bit, park in either of the mesa’s two eastern lots off McCaslin at Washington Avenue. Walk west on flat, wide, interconnecting gravel trails, loop to the east around Harper Lake, or bring your pooch to the fenced-in dog park at the northwest corner of the intersection. All views are incredible.
- People Watch on Pearl Street – “Celebrate Diversity” is a common Boulder bumper sticker; “Keep Boulder Weird” is less common, but still apropos. Boulder’s Pearl Street walking mall is one of Colorado’s best places to people watch. From young adults to families to buskers, Pearl Street is a melting pot of backgrounds and cultures. Here you’ll see people who visually represent the conservative to bold, meek to boisterous. Benches along the mall allow you to sit and marvel at the parade of people on any given day.
- Use your inflatable to tube Boulder Creek (summer) or sled (winter). Boulder celebrated the 10th annual “Tube to Work Day” in 2017, with participants clad in professional clothes floating the creek to work. Likewise, when snow falls you’ll find the same inflatable tubes put to work at sledding hills at Scott Carpenter Park, the Louisville Rec Center, or any hill that has enough angle to get a great glide.
- Free concerts at CU – The CU College of Music offers free events on the CU campus. Including student and faculty recitals, student performances, classes and talks, plus the Artists Series featuring well-known troupes such as the Martha Graham Dance Company, exceptional performance arts are accessible to all.
- Sit outside Chautauqua during a concert – While you’ll get the best acoustic experience attending a concert inside the historic Chautauqua Auditorium, the frequently sold out concerts have a second option; sitting outside the building for free. Over 100 years old, Chautauqua’s building is hardly sound-tight. The auditorium is surrounded by grass and sidewalks that offer seating (bring a blanket or lawn chairs) and enough permeating sound to make a memorable evening.
- Bike Valmont Park – With over 40 acres geared toward all levels of cyclists, Valmont Bike Park is one of the most impressive purpose-built parks in the country. On any day you’ll see toddlers riding the Tot Track to pros barreling down the gravity-fed slopestyle course. If you love bikes, you need to check out this city park.
- Downtown Louisville Street Faire – During summer Friday nights, Downtown Louisville becomes a gathering place for residents to celebrate under open skies. Concerts, street vendors, artists, and restaurants serve the people’s need to shake off the week and jump into the weekend. And, it’s all free. Due to its popularity, I suggest riding bikes or taking a shuttle to the venue.
- Holiday Parades – On the other spectrum of the calendar, winter brings its fair share of entertainment in local downtowns. Boulder’s downtown is encircled by the Lights of December Parade. Louisville has a Parade of Lights, while Longmont supplies festivities throughout a weekend during its Holiday Parade of Lights. All are terrific ways to get into the spirit of the holidays and winter’s cozy feelings.
- First Friday Art Walks/Open Studios – Many cities across the nation now participate in First Friday Art Walks, and Boulder County towns are no exception. You can appreciate fine art at no cost, unless you want to pick up a unique piece for your home! Check out the North Boulder (NOBO) Arts District, or its sister walk through the Louisville Arts District. The Niwot Cultural Arts Association & Osmosis Art Gallery host that village’s First Friday year-round. During two weekends each year, the Open Studios event allows the entire city of Boulder (and surrounding areas) to become a grand art tour. This is an exceptional showcase for all genres and mediums.
- Movies in Central Park – The same government that built a city-owned world-class bike park brings free cult classic movies to downtown – thank you, Boulder! Movies like E.T. and Ghostbusters are shown in Central Park periodically during the summer and fall. Check out the city website for show dates and times; BYOCAP (bring your own chair and popcorn).
With all these wonderful and varied free entertainment options, you can save your pennies for a down payment on a new home or remodel your existing place. It’s apparent why people want to live in Boulder County; there’s so much fun to be had year-round! If you want to settle or relocate in Boulder or East Boulder County, contact me so that these adventures will be in your backyard.