After hearing my friend Madison talk nonstop about her home state of Colorado all year, I knew that I had to go. So one day, while we were studying for finals, I bought a ticket to visit her over the summer. It was a total whim, but we were both so excited. A month later, I landed in Denver International Airport ready for some adventures. And boy, did we have some of those. Especially in one day in Boulder.
On my second full day in the Rocky Mountain State we hopped in the car and drove away from Denver towards the city of Boulder. Our first stop? Hiking, of course!
Hiking Eldorado Canyon
We started to get a bad feeling in the pit of our stomachs as we pulled up to the gates of Eldorado Canyon State Park to see a line of cars. As we came to the front of the line, we heard a ranger on the other end of a walkie-talkie say “sure, you can let one more car in”. I’m not entirely convinced that there wasn’t some sort of black magic going on. But somehow or another, we were the last car that was let into the park. Not that I’m complaining, of course.
After we found (literally) the last parking spot in the entire park, we sunscreened up and started off on our trail of choice: The Rattlesnake Gulch Trail. It quickly became apparent why the trail had earned that name. Not only was the trail super winding, but we also saw a ranger herding a rattlesnake off the trail. Not nerve-racking at all, seriously.
Thankfully, that was our last and only rattlesnake sighting of the day, and the rest of our hike was pretty uneventful. Well, as pretty uneventful as views like these can get…
Oh, and at the top? You could see the continental divide. Casual.
That's right kids, I'm a hiker 🚶♀️ I even have a photo with mountains in the background to prove it ⛰️ (Sidenote: how many times have I used the mountain emoji in an instagram post? Probably too many.)⠀ ⠀ Anyways, I mentioned earlier that I had loads of hiking photos from Colorado to post, so here's yet another one! This one is from my very first Colorado hiking excursion: The Rattlesnake Gulch train at Eldorado Canyon State Park. No wonder why it's called that: the trail goes back and forth so many times there's no other way to describe it.⠀ ⠀ Oh, and we also saw a rattlesnake. That might have something to do with it. 🐍⠀ ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #passionpassport ⠀ #mytinyatlas #dametraveler #letsgosomewhere #roamtheplanet #visitcolorado #colorado #boulder #visitboulder #coloradolive #coloradotography #coloradogram #coloradocameraclub #coloradolove #colorfulcolorado #hiking #womenwhohike #womenwhowander #GLTlove #wearetravelgirls #ftb #femaletravelbloggers #coloradical #viewcolorado #coloradoinstagram #coloradolife #CNtraveler #beautifuldestinations #awesupply #meettheworld
Lunch at Pizzeria Locale
After working up a serious appetite hiking and avoiding rattlesnakes at Eldorado Canyon, we headed in to downtown Boulder to find some lunch. While Madison tried not to kill us with her driving, I researched places to eat. Eventually, I settled on the seriously delicious looking Pizzeria Locale.
We rolled up to the slightly fancy restaurant in our hiking clothes and immediately ordered appetizers to tide us over till our pizza got to the table. Did I mention we were starving?
And seriously? The food here was to die for. I’m still dreaming about it.
While we were finishing up our pizza, we started researching things to do to while away the time. That was when Madison came across the website for Celestial Seasonings. We realized that we had approximately fifteen minutes before their last factory tour of the day set off. According to Google Maps, It was a fifteen minute drive. Being the tea lovers that we are (why do you think two Americans ended up at university in Scotland?), we quickly paid our bill, ran to our car, and floored it in order to make the tour on time (I swear we didn’t speed though).
Surviving the Mint Room at Celestial Seasonings
We made it just in time for the 4pm Celestial Seasonings Factory Tour, and sat down in the small movie theatre a little out a breath (don’t ask me why, we drove there). We couldn’t help but laugh a little bit at the slightly outdated, early 2000s introductory video. But hey, things could only get better from there, right? And get better they certainly did.
Our guide, Gentry was seriously hilarious (she liked puns, so how couldn’t she be). We also learned a load of cool things about the history of herbal “tea” (herbal tea isn’t actually tea, but an infusion. Celestial Seasonings just decided to call it tea thanks to a serious increase in sales that comes with a more familiar name) and the Celestial Seasonings company. All while rocking some seriously fashionable hair nets (sorry, no selfies to prove how much we pulled them off). As the only factory in the world where Celestial Seasonings tea is produced, it was without a doubt a one of a kind experience.
Unfortunately, we were there on a weekend, so we couldn’t see any of the machines in action. But we were still able to walk inside of the room where they store all of the mint for their teas. It cleared our sinuses right up and seriously smelled so good. In fact, the whole dang factory smelled straight up amazing.
When the tour was over, we went back to the visitors center to sample every kind of tea they had out. They were all delicious. It was so tempting to just head to the gift store and buy every single one of them. In the end, I settled on a postcard to add to my collection. After all, I already had a few boxes of Celestial Seasonings back home.
Scrumptious Sweet Cow
Even though it was nearing 5:30 by the time we were done at Celestial Seasonings, we weren’t anywhere close to done with our day. On our way back into downtown Boulder, we stopped off at an unassuming little strip of stores for some Sweet Cow Ice Cream. And naturally, I was blown away by how delicious it was. This little gem of a Colorado ice cream chain was the perfect example of why you should travel with a local whenever you have the chance.
I went for one scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough and one scoop of heath bar crunch in one of their homemade waffle cones. Serious yum factor, you guys. Also, my dinner.
Being Sneaky on Pearl Street
After a long detour out of town and back again, we finally found ourselves on Boulder’s main drag: Pearl Street. Our first mission of the night? Finding somewhere to change out of our (probably stinky) hiking clothes and into something more suitable for a theatre performance. In the end, we snuck into the dressing rooms of a small boutique while no one was looking, changed, and walked right back out again. Mission accomplished.
Once that was done, it was finally time to explore downtown Boulder. We walked along gorgeous looking Pearl Street for some time, enjoying the sounds of the various buskers as we went. We also managed to find a fantastic and hilarious street performer and even stumbled upon the Boulder International Dance Festival! Madison was determined to get me to join in, but I somehow managed to avoid that. Which was probably best for everyone involved.
Every way we turned there was something fantastic and interesting going on. I couldn’t help but feel like we were seeing a real slice of local life on a weekend night. Everyone was out and about and enjoying the town and I had so much fun. It was beautiful, and totally embodied the kind of place that I want to live one day. Boulder, I’ll say this much: you’re a beauty.
Taming the Shrew at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Since Madison and I originally bonded over our shared interest in theatre (she produced the play that I directed at uni second semester), it would have been serious oversight not to indulge in a play or two while I was visiting. My visit also happened to coincide with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. So we eagerly bought tickets for The Taming of the Shrew on the night that we were in Boulder. And honestly? I was so completely blown away by this production.
I’ll be the first to say that the Taming of the Shrew has a right shit ending (spoiler alert: the shrew is tamed and feminists are disgusted). But this production was so beautiful that I couldn’t help but fall in love. Set in Postwar Little Italy, New York, Kate is given a new identity as a WASP (Woman Airforce Service Pilot). It just works so perfectly. The beautiful set and amazing acting, combined with Petruchio’s ridiculous assess chaps during his wedding made the show an absolute joy to watch. I can only imagine that the rest of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s productions are just as good.
And that’s the story of how I fell in love with Boulder. I seriously can’t wait to go back.
If you only have one day in Boulder, I definitely suggest following the itinerary that we did. Just maybe jostle it around a little bit so it makes more sense. Since you know about the Celestial Seasonings Factory Tour, for example, you won’t have to race there after lunch. But you can still do that if you want. It’s totally your choice.