Pearl Street, located in the heart of downtown Boulder, is the bustling center of town. It provides tourists and locals alike a place to walk, eat and shop in the shadows of the Flatirons. With a four-block stretch of Pearl Street designated as a pedestrian walking mall, opportunities abound for street musicians, play structures and art sculptures to share the very public space. You are never lacking for interesting things going on in downtown.
- History: Boulder began as a supply town for gold miners in the mountains. Now the heart of the city, Pearl Street is believed to have been named for the wife of one of Boulder’s original founders. By 1917, with the automobile taking over, Pearl Street between 11th and 17th streets became the first street in Boulder to be paved. Later, in the mid-30’s, the city’s first streetlight was installed at Pearl and Broadway. The idea for the Pearl Street Mall came about in the mid-70’s as a way of attracting tourists to town and saving a sagging downtown. The Pearl Street Mall is now one of the most successful pedestrian malls in the country, spawning imitators and bringing lots of money into the local economy.
- Housing: There’s so much happening on the Pearl Street Mall that it’s easy to forget that people actually do live in this neighborhood. Downtown Boulder is one of the oldest residential areas in town, providing many historic homes with Victorian details and delightful charm. Although none of the homes have much of a yard, the big trees and welcoming front patios make up for it. Most homes start at a half-million dollars but there are also condos and apartments to be found in the neighborhood as well. There are many new, modern condos that have been built above retail locations all along Pearl and Walnut Streets.
- Restaurants & Shopping: Downtown is the mother ship of all dining and shopping experiences in Boulder. So many restaurants to choose from, ranging from the most fancy (I’m looking at you Frasca & Brassiere Ten Ten) to hippie pub to everything in between, that it’s easy to see why Boulder is always named to the foodiest towns list. The Boulder Theater and music on Pearl Street offer loads of entertainment. And we haven’t even begun with the shopping. Oh, the shopping. There is no shortage of wonderful ways to spend your money and time in downtown Boulder.
- Family & Fitness: One Boulder Plaza, located at the busy intersection of Pearl and Walnut in downtown, includes a health club that features fancy machines, a smoothie bar and the chance to be on display to anyone walking through the One Boulder Plaza building. Outside, you’ll find an area suitable for al fresco dining in the nicer weather that then turns into an outdoor ice rink in the winter. The most fun family activity in downtown Boulder is the Farmer’s Market. Boulder has one of the best. With delicious food, art and music, it really is the place that everyone wants to be on a beautiful Saturday morning in the summer.
- Schools: Whittier International Elementary, Casey Middle, Boulder High
- Quirks: It’s pay parking almost everywhere downtown and there are many permit-only spots in the surrounding neighborhoods. Be sure to read signs carefully and know where you’re parking. The last thing anyone wants to take with them after visiting downtown is a parking ticket. The really fun thing about Pearl Street is that you never know what you’re going to see. Depending on the time of year, you might catch a parade of munchkins, a fitness expo, a pep rally or a bunch of naked runners. Totally awesome.
- Major street boundaries: The one or two block radius both north and south of Pearl Street proper
Downtown Boulder is a vibrant and exciting place to live. You are ,quite literally, in the middle of everything going on in town. The downside? You are, quite literally, in the middle of everything going on in town. Dive in and make yourself comfortable.
Top Photo Credit: Let Ideas Compete via Flickr.