Boulder County’s Best Summer Attractions

Put These on Your Boulder County Bucket List

By Valerie Gleaton

Ahhh, summer in Boulder County. Generally sunny and warm, true “scorchers” are rare, and even when they occur, there’s usually an afternoon thunderstorm to break the heat. You can sleep late and still pack in a full day of adventure, or get up with the sun for an early-morning hike and then nap until it’s time to eat dinner—al fresco, preferably. Best of all, you don’t have to venture far afield to find plenty of ways to while away the time, from iconic attractions and events to some hidden gems. Just remember: the days are long, but fall will be here in a flash, so get outside and fill your summer with all Boulder County has to offer.

(photo by Shutterstock)

Hike, Bike & Climb

Suggesting you go for a hike in Colorado is a little like telling a tourist to check out the Eiffel Tower while they’re in Paris—it’s so obvious that it almost doesn’t bear mentioning. But that would be a mistake, because hiking really is the ultimate summer activity and one of the easiest and cheapest ways to explore Boulder County. The key to a great summer hike is to get out early to avoid the aforementioned afternoon thunderstorms. Because no matter how beautiful the view from the summit, it’s not where you want to be when lightning strikes.

Mount Sanitas (photo by Abigail Gryzik)

A few to try? Any local will tell you that Mount Sanitas offers one of the best views of Boulder (look for the the distinctive red tile roofs of the CU campus to the south), but for a change of pace you can also visit Davidson Mesa in Louisville or Fourth of July in Nederland. If mountain biking is more your thing, try Betasso Preserve in Boulder, Superior Bike Park in Superior, or Rabbit Mountain Open Space between Longmont and Lyons. Climbers will find their groove at Eldorado Canyon State Park in Eldorado Springs or on Boulder’s iconic Flatirons. You can reach the latter via Chautauqua Park, one of Boulder’s most beloved trailheads and former home to the Chautauqua Mesa Ski Area in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

(photo by

Swim, Sunbathe & SUP

There’s something surreal about swimming and sunning while gazing up at mountains still capped with snow. And it’s an experience you can enjoy at lots of local swimming holes. Swim out to the floating docks and soak up the sun at Boulder Reservoir. Take a stand-up paddleboarding lesson or fish for walleye at Union Reservoir in Longmont. Go for a spin around Waneka Lake in Lafayette in a paddleboat shaped like a giant pink flamingo. Or simply splash around in the historic Eldorado Pool in Eldorado Springs, which is fed by a natural artesian spring and then heated to a constant 80 degrees.

(photo by

Tube & Kayak

If you prefer more of a whitewater adventure, it’s time to hit one of Boulder County’s numerous rivers or creeks for tubing or kayaking. Two favorites are the St. Vrain River, which you can access in Lyons or Longmont, and Boulder Creek, which also offers a whitewater playpark with a half-mile slalom course for kayakers. Rent kayaks and tubes at Whitewater Tubing & Recreation in Boulder; see for detailed info about put-in and take-out points and current flow rates.

Don’t Miss: Tube to Work Day — July 11
Brave Boulderites have been celebrating Tube to Work Day for more than a decade by donning their best business attire and then hopping into tubes to float their way to work on Boulder Creek. Even if you’re not ready to jump in, it’s worth showing up to listen to the live music, watch the chaos, and root for your favorite tuber in the best-dressed competition. Learn more at

Beats & Bards Under the Stars

Yes, you can rock out at indoor concerts all year long, but summer is a great time to get your music fix outside. No visit to Boulder is complete without spending a few hours strolling and shopping on the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall, which also plays host to the free Bands on the Bricks concert series every Wednesday evening from June to August. Or kick off your weekend with live music at Historic Downtown Louisville’s Street Faire on eight Friday nights throughout the summer. There’s a reason Louisville is included on so many “best places to live” lists, and this community-minded fest is one of them. (Insider tip: Be sure to snag a cone at Sweet Cow Ice Cream while you’re there.) Bluegrass fans will want to grab tickets to RockyGrass, an internationally recognized bluegrass festival in Lyons (July 27–29, 2018). Finish out the season at NedFest (Aug. 24–26), a three-day outdoor music and arts festival in Nederland, which celebrates its 20th year in 2018.

Theater buffs will be impressed to learn that Boulder is home to the second-oldest Shakespeare festival in the country. This year you can enjoy the Bard under the stars as Colorado Shakespeare Festival presents Love’s Labour’s Lost (June 8–Aug. 12), Richard III (June 22–Aug. 11), and Edward III (Aug. 5) at the Mary Rippon
Outdoor Theatre.

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