With summer fading away into fall, I started thinking of all the crazy back-to-back trips and red-eyes we accomplished this season, but there was one that definitely stood out and would make a perfect Fall Break (since we can’t wait to go back) – Boulder, Colorado. We were totally blown away by how fun, beautiful, and unique Boulder was.
This trip all started in January when Mike announced his 30th birthday present would be seeing back-to-back Dead & Company shows in Boulder, CO. From January to July, we planned this trip to make it the best ever. Partly because it was his birthday but also because we knew we’d need to plan in advance to have a relatively cheap Boulder experience in the middle of summer during one of the busiest weekends (the shows bring in more than 50,000 fans, making transportation and lodging pricy).
We wanted to save as much as we could on the travel portion of the trip, so we took the latest flight out of Phoenix.
We got in at about 1:00 am to Denver after a full day of work. Boulder is about 45 minutes from Denver, so we booked a SuperShuttle in advance to guarantee that we had a ride that late at night.
Good thing we did – wait times for Uber & Lyft were about 1 hour and cost more than the SuperShuttle. Cost: $100 each way. We offset the cost of the transportation by booking Mike’s flights with points, and my flight was about $75 each way.
Where we stayed in Boulder was key. We wanted a place that was close enough that we didn’t have to rent a car, so we needed to be within walking distance to the venue (CU’s Folsom Field), grocery stores, bars, and we were visiting my brother, so close to him as well. BUT, we didn’t want to break the bank.
Since we knew that there was going to be a huge amount of people coming in for the concert, we booked our AirBnb right away! People were posting in groups that their hotel prices were more than $500/night. We snagged a private AirBnb for $120/night within a mile of everything we needed. As we stumbled in the first night at 3:00 am, we didn’t get to see much. But, waking up to see that this location was right along walking trails with a great patio was the best treat you could get after a red-eye!
What to do in Boulder:
Before we left for Boulder, I reached out to a couple locals to see where the hot spots of town are. Unanimously… Pearl Street. So, our first stop was breakfast along Pearl St. They gave us some specific recommendations, but the first day we just walked to Pearl St. from our AirBnb and let our noses lead the way.
Foolish Craig’s roped us in with their diner-style food and claim of having the best Bloody Marys in town. And I will say, they were pretty good!
A couple of bloody marys in and with full stomachs, we decided we should probably get some of the necessities before the day got away from us. We Ubered* back to our house (cost $6) to drop off our leftovers and started the walk along the nature trails to Sprouts.
TIP: bring water bottles with you if you plan on walking places. You never know how long it’ll take you when you’re in high elevation and going straight uphill.
At Sprouts, we got some fruit, protein snacks, and grab-n-go style food to take with us when we were out walking. Liquor and beer aren’t sold in the grocery stores, so we went next door to the liquor store for some local beer. We ended up Ubering back since we had quite a lot to carry. Cost of groceries: $25. Cost of beer: $20. We always shop for local beer at a grocery store instead of eating out for everything. This cuts our costs by at least 1/2…. probably even more.
After we got home, we set up our own beer tasting station while we relaxed on the patio. It was so peaceful and the perfect thing to do before we headed into the masses that were there for the concert. After filling up on beer, snacks, and our leftovers, we headed towards CU.
We Ubered 1/2 way to the concert since a lot of it was blocked off and walked the rest of the way (cost $5). Once in the venue, we already had a nice buzz from our beer tasting, so we filled up our hydration packs with water for free!
TIP: a lot of large events allow single-pouch Camelbak-style backpacks. This saves you time constantly buying water and keeps you alive if you’re out in the heat for long periods of time. We saved about $100 by buying this non-Camelbak brand:
After the concerts each night, there were after parties along Pearl St. going until the bars closed down. We usually just walked everywhere after the concert due to crazy surge pricing and the chaos of tens of thousands of people trying to leave the venue.
The next day, we visited my younger brother who had just moved to Boulder. We Ubered to his place ($8) and walked along University Hill, stopping at parks along the way to our breakfast spot.
We decided to take him to the most highly recommended brunch spot by our friends, River and Woods. You really need to make a reservation if you want to eat here, especially for brunch on the weekends. River and Woods in Boulder serves everything from Cap’n Crunch to community-sourced menu options with very generous bottomless mimosas ($15/person). You get even more bang for your buck with the mimosas since you’re at high elevation…
Again with full stomachs and a little buzz, we headed back to University Hill to experience the new-age mode of transportation, electric longboarding. Boulder is very hilly, so this is the fastest way to go uphill if you’re just walking around. They are kind of scary with speeds at about 25 mph…
This time on the way to the concert, we took some trails to get a peak of Boulder Creek along the way. There are so many places to explore within Boulder!
Although we didn’t have the time this trip, we highly recommend doing a thirteener or fourteener (a hike that reaches above 13,000 or 14,000 feet in elevation). The views are AMAZING. Here’s a picture of my brother on a hike he did the week before we arrived:
Our top travel tips for Boulder, Colorado are:
- Walk everywhere that you can… you’ll find so many great hidden spots
- Skip renting a car if you’re staying in the city. Our Uber drivers were extremely nice and told us so many great local tips that we wouldn’t have known otherwise.
- Don’t over-plan – leave yourself plenty of time for exploring. You will definitely want to!
Do you have any more Boulder tips? We’d love to hear your Colorado experiences! Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for even more travel tips and discounts. We’re here to help, so if you ever have questions, feel free to email us at hi@RichLivingLessSpending.com.
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*Note: I refer to ridesharing throughout this article as Ubering, but I always check Uber, Lyft, and zTrip to make sure we get the BEST prices. One ridesharing app can be 2x as much as the other depending on surge pricing.