In this article, we will cover the best winter activities in Boulder, Colorado. Outdoors, indoors, cultural events, and places to stay and relax while it is cold outside.
Boulder is well known for its outdoorsy folk, and the plentiful outdoor activities Boulderites love, from the professional athlete to the weekend warrior. Boulder has been voted Healthiest and Happiest city multiple times, and with the beauty of its landscape coupled with gorgeous weather, it’s easy to see why.
You might think that all the fun of Boulder’s beautiful outdoors would shut down in the winter – after all, Colorado is Colorado, and especially when you’re that close to the mountains, that means snow.
Of course, snow is often coupled with sunshine in Boulder, and the outdoor activities in Boulder don’t slow down at all in the winter – actually, Boulder’s winter tourism and its active residents alike mean that Boulder’s winter activities are going strong through all the cold months.
Here are some of the best things to do in Boulder in the winter:
Winter Action and Adventure
Crisp cold weather and fluffy snow don’t stop Boulderites from playing outside – far from it! Boulder loves its snowbound winter activities, and the fun of Boulder’s winter outdoor fun brings in people from all over to enjoy.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Why schlep through traffic or risk I-70s capricious ways, when one of the best ski areas in the Rockies is right on Boulder’s doorstep? Eldora is closer, cheaper, and just as stellar a ski/snowboard experience as anything in Vail or Aspen. Boulder’s own ski resort, Eldora is a must-visit for anyone looking to get their ski-bunny on during a Boulder winter.
Boulder’s myriad hiking trails are a beautiful experience, even when covered in snow. And they’re all a lovely way to stay active in the winter, whether you’re looking for an easy stroll up Chautauqua’s network of trails, or a bigger challenge, maybe with snowshoes to help, on any of the gorgeous hikes up Betasso Canyon, or anything in between. Boulder and Boulder County keep their hiking areas well maintained during the winter months, so you don’t need to slow down your walking habits at all. A personal favorite of mine is the NCAR trail, ending in the super-cool meteorology museum and visitor center.
Boulder’s mountain bike culture is a robust one, and the onset of winter does nothing to quell the two-wheeled activities going on all the time here. Fat Tire is even the name of one of our most famous beers, that’s how popular biking is in every season. You’ll need those fat tires to navigate snowy bike paths, too – Full Cycle and University Bikes are Boulder’s favorite centers for bike rentals or purchases, and they host local ride groups, too. Biking is the best way to get around in Boulder for all your winter activities – many Boulderites choose bikes over cars any day, even in winter! Better yet, get your bikes and gear from Full Cycle, and then come back to enjoy a good cup of coffee or winter brewski in its award-winning bar, The Tune Up!
Sledding might not be the most intense winter activity available but who doesn’t enjoy sliding down a hill at high speeds? Feel like a kid again and go grab your sleds, toboggans, disks and tubes and hit the hills! Some great local spots include Chautauqua Park, Harlow Platts Park, and Scott Carpenter Park. If you want to head up to Breckenridge, they have an alpine slide that will blow the whole family’s mind.
Relaxing Activities in Cold Weather
Athletic activities are not your style? You don’t have to hike up the Flatirons to live the good life in Boulder in the winter. Hiking, biking, and skiing aren’t the only ways to enjoy Boulder’s beautiful winter wonderland surroundings – there’s a lot to do right here in the city when the snow begins to fall.
Idaho Springs isn’t Boulder, but it’s only about an hour’s drive away, and it’s got one of the best hot springs spas around. Mineral pools, hot springs pools, healthy mud treatments, and outdoor jacuzzis at the Indian Hot Springs spa are all fantastic ways to warm up and soothe your winter complexion. Eldorado Springs, too, is famous for its water’s healing properties, and it’s closer to Boulder. Hopefully, they’ll open up again soon – they’ve been closed for pandemic and renovation reasons.
You don’t need to go any farther than historical downtown Boulder to be treated like royalty in a luxury hotel. Class it up with the New Year’s Eve fete at St. Julien, or any day you can enjoy live jazz, book a room, and enjoy their famous spa amenities. They’ve got a Winter Wellness package, too, which includes wine, soaking tubs, and luxury accommodations.
Or if you are in the mood for legendary and historical, The Hotel Boulderado is a national treasure, a historical landmark, and one of the prettiest buildings in Boulder. You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the best of what Boulderado has to offer, either – the lobby is a beautiful place to hang out with an expertly crafted beverage from Spruce Farm & Fish or the Corner Bar, and it’s always decorated impressively for the holidays. And, speaking of decorations:
Pearl Street Mall is Alight
All along Boulder’s famous Pearl Street Mall, the holiday lights abound. From November through the new year, one of the coolest Boulder winter activities is to take a stroll down the mall and admire the displays. You can even make it a walking tour, with a Snow Much Fun map to guide you. While you’re at it, put in your two cents’ worth at the downtown Holiday Window Display contest, or enjoy the Lights of December Parade. And of course, all these pretty lights are always looked over by the big holiday star on the mountainside.
→ Check out our Pearl Street Mall Shopping Guide.
Best Boulder Winter Activity: Drink Beer
February is one of Boulder’s wintriest months, and during the whole span of the month, Boulderites celebrate the craft beer that makes them famous. Begun by Award-winning Boulder brewery Mountain Sun, the celebration known as Stout Month now spans across the breweries over all of Boulder and beyond. Now that the Mountain Sun pubs are opening back up, February once again is the best time of year to enjoy the best of the dark wintry beers of the whole region.
Stout Month isn’t the only month to enjoy Boulder’s excellent beer selections, by any means, though: the Winter Craft Beer Festival is a celebration of all the best beers in Colorado, and it’s all about sharing the best of Colorado’s finest brews, with food, music, and celebrations to boot.
High Culture at High Altitude
For such a small town, Boulder sure knows how to pack a punch in the arts and culture game, and wintertime is the best season to see everything that Boulder’s artistic side has to offer. From science and fine art museums to contemporary arts, theatre, and some of the best dance companies around, let alone the level of live music going on all the time, it’s no wonder Boulder is right up there on the culture map with bigger cities like Denver.
Of course, CU Boulder has two stellar museums, which any visitor to Boulder must-see: the Art Museum at CU is top-notch, hosting some of the most incredible exhibits around, from the world-famous to the current student, and from all periods in art history. It’s a great way to spend a wintry afternoon. CU’s Museum of Natural History, too, is an essential place to go for brain food, and they’ve got a virtual version of their museum, too!
As far as art museums go, Boulder’s got the best: between the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (or BMoCA, as the locals call it) has got the top cutting edge of modern artistic adventures happening all year round, and are open to all for free on Saturdays. The Museum of Boulder, too, is a high-level showcase of especially local works, and often adorns their galleries with indigenous artists’ work from right in Boulder’s back yard.
Theatre & Dance
It wouldn’t be the winter holidays without going to see The Nutcracker Ballet, right? Boulder Ballet is well known for it and other stellar productions throughout the year. World-famous aerial dance company Frequent Flyers has an alternative to the Nutcracker that they often put up in the winter, too, as well as numerous concerts performed by their student and professional companies alike. You can even take classes from them and learn how to fly yourself!
Live theatre is alive and well in Boulder, with wondrous winter activity in the contemporary and classic theatrical traditions. Local Theatre Company has been raking in the awards for its excellence, mainly in producing cutting-edge new theatre works that make you laugh, cry, and think. Butterfly Effect, too, is making its mark on the theatre world, with writers’ groups, stellar new plays, and even a program that brings kids and seniors together to tell their stories. And if your taste in theatre and dance runs to the slightly saucy, vaudeville, and variety troupe Blue Dime Cabaret is coming back to The Tune Up, with their burlesque, drag, comedy, and other crazy acts – talk about a hot way to warm up in the winter in Boulder!
You can’t throw a cannabis bud in Boulder without hitting a venue that boasts great live music. And it doesn’t matter what kind: jam bands? Bluegrass? Jazz? You can find it all in Boulder. Even opera – Boulder’s got its very own opera company called Boulder Opera, which produces classics and contemporary works all winter (and year) long. The Laughing Goat, Tune Up, Caffè Sole, the St. Julien Hotel, …the list of excellent places to come in out of the wintry cold, enjoy a beverage, and listen to local musical talent in Boulder is nearly endless.
And of course, you can’t talk Boulder music without mentioning eTown. A uniquely Boulder experience, eTown is a nationally known radio show which you get to watch being taped live if you’re in Boulder at their historic eTown Hall.
So Much to do in Boulder’s Winter
No matter what your favorite winter activities are, Boulder is the place to be for any and all of them. Winter sports, arts and culture, tip-top entertainment, food and drink, shopping, and just simply enjoying the beautiful surroundings, Boulder’s got what you need to make your winter wonderland special.