Sometimes I think Boulder, CO gets a bad wrap….people think it’s full of liberals, trustafarians, and hard ass rules like “no sofas allowed on your front porch.” All of these things are true, but if you venture to this cool, funky college town without having a good time – we need to talk.
Pearl Street (Pearl) is one of the main shopping and dining areas in this city of ~100,000. I am unsure of how many (if any) of the ~30,000 college students at Colorado University (CU) are included in the population count. As a side note – It kills me when I see freshman students in a Sushi restaurant. Good lord, all I could afford in college was a $2.00 burger and fries combo at the Dixie Chicken and if I was lucky, a sliver of beef jerky.
If you find yourself in Boulder on a weekend, and I highly recommend you do, spend a luxurious night at the St Julien, a modern hotel with great views of the famous Flatirons if you get the right room. Not to mention, it is located just a steps away from Pearl.
After you rise and shine, head to the West end of Pearl for breakfast at Spruce Confections where they serve up some tasty mouth watering scratch-made muffins, scones, croissants, danishes, etc. There is a little open courtyard next to the main storefront where they occasionally have live Jazz music in the summer to help kick start the day. Bring your pooch if little Fifi or Daisy has separation anxiety.
Plan on spending the rest of your day slowly meandering up and down Pearl where you will find a plethora of shops and restaurants. Shops typically open at 10:00 am on Saturday and 11:00 on Sunday so plan accordingly.
I have SO many favorites it is hard to narrow them down but I managed to list a few. Note, these are all locally owned shops, but certainly there are chains such as Chipotle, Starbucks, Cheesecake Factory, etc.
Knit Wit – If you are looking for one of a kind pieces, this is the place to go. Keep in mind, the owners do really well so they have the option of closing on Sundays. This small, quaint store is slightly off the beaten path on Broadway.
Outdoor Divas – Those obsessed with outdoor gear and clothing will greatly appreciate this little gem. You will find modern mountain chick options that will have you feeling cute and charming whilst traipsing about the outdoors.
Holiday & Company – Looking for affordable, chic clothing? Look no further than H&C. I don’t always find something to buy here, but when I do, I am happy as a clam as the quality is good and the price is right.
University Cycles – This bicycle shop has 100’s of bikes for sale from cruisers to high-end road bikes. If you are looking to rent bikes, shop for a new jersey or buy the perfect sumo wrestler bell, this is the place to go. (I personally go in to drool all over the cruisers.)
Peppercorn – If you are a self described gourmand, Peppercorn will have your head spinning. This store has everything you need to whip up a special meal and then serve it up on a gorgeous platter.
Boulder Bookstore – Avid readers will find a wide selection of books, many of which are used. It’s cozy atmosphere and book organization makes it WAY more interesting than Barnes and Noble.
Art & Soul – Art enthusiasts and jewelry aficionados will love this store full of high-end art and bright, shiny objects to pine over. If you are familiar with Anne Sportun and Me & Ro, you understand my obsession.
Pasta Jays – YUM. This great little home-town Italian joint, has open air seating and serves up some pretty good pasta and pizza. If you dig garlic, I would suggest the House Salad – the dressing is to die for – make sure your partner orders one as well, else there will be no kissing for about 24 hours.
Frasca – This is a MUST try if you are celebrating a special occasion or have $100 bills flowing freely as it is quite expensive. Frasca is an award winning Italian restaurant on the East end of Pearl. The food here is some of the best in Colorado and the reservation list shows. It can be difficult to get in, so call way in advance or plan on an early dinner.
The Rio Grande (the Rio) – Admittedly, Colorado is not known for it’s Mexican food, but the Rio delivers some pretty good Tex-Mex. My favorite things about the Rio are the margaritas and the roof top patio. They have water misters to keep you cool on a hot summer day and the views of the Flatirons are fabulous. I always feel as though I am on vacation when I am hangin’ at the Rio.
Best Place to grab a cuppa Joe:
The Cup Espresso Cafe (The Cup) – This cool little East end coffee shop prides itself on serving Fair Trade, Organic coffee, homemade pastries and coffee cakes and other snacks like salads and sandwiches. It makes for a nice break before you head back West to the St. Julien.
In case what I described above does not resonate with you, never fear. An excellent website that provides more information on other stuff you may find interesting is Boulder Downtown. I always love my days spent on Pearl in Boulder, CO and I hope you do as well.