BY MARGUERITE BEHRINGER
Ah, Boulder, Colorado. As you ride the bus up from Denver (yes, you should take the bus because that is the Boulder way), you’re greeted by an array of colorful mountains, colorful people, and a mix of big businesses and quirky stores. Picking up a newspaper or walking down Pearl Street gives you a glimpse into some of the weirdness that fills Boulder. You may be confused or overwhelmed by these quirks—Is this ‘normal’ here? Should I participate? Is there something I should ‘know’ coming to Boulder? The answers to all these questions is YES!
Want to know a few of the many Boulder quirks? Read on…
1. CONSTANT LIVE MUSIC
That isn’t to say, of course, that other college towns or cities don’t have live music… But do they guarantee live music every night? Boulder proudly boasts of three larger venues— the Boulder House, the Fox, and the Boulder Theater—all of which draw well-known acts every weekend. On a smaller scale… Perhaps the best example of Boulder’s proud music heritage is the Laughing Goat cafe on Pearl street, where free live music greets caffeine addicts at 8pm every night. Mondays at the Laughing Goat are dedicated to poetry, however, which is a different kind of music to your ears.
2. EASY GEOGRAPHY
The mountains here serve as everyone’s compass, and terms like “Right” or “Left” are frequently replaced with the more informative “West, East South, or North.” It’s rather fitting that our beautiful Front Range perfectly extends South to North, so why not utilize it?
3. HIKING ACCESS EVERYWHERE
If you’re walking around iconic Pearl Street, you can easily talk West (the street numbers get smaller, if you still haven’t figured out the geography thing yet) and find yourself in Settler’s Park, whereupon you can access a miniature version of the Red Rocks amphitheater. If you’re a little more South (perhaps oggling at the college housing opportunities), you can hop onto Viewpoint Trail right off of the Westmost point of University Avenue. This trail will lead you all the way up to Flagstaff, where you can get a panorama view and access trails to the top of the mighty Flatirons themselves. You can access Flagstaff and a variety of other trails from the Chautauqua Park location on Baseline Road, which is especially easy to find. Check out this article if you want to learn more about Boulder hikes: Three Best Hikes in Boulder.
4. PEARL STREET PERFORMERS
One of my favorite things to do post-hike is to walk down the Viewpoint trail and then walk North until I hit Pearl street, where I can grab ice cream and watch the freakshows that inhabit the Pearl Street Mall. Frequenters include a man who juggles and swallows fire, an anonymous person in a huge dog costume, a man playing drums in traditional masks, and a myriad of solo and duo acoustic performers. On weekends especially, this street is alive with song, dance and spectacle.
5. YOU CAN RECYCLE ANYTHING
You may have noticed that our trash cans are not solitary. Bins for paper and plastic/glass recycling stand proud next to compost bins, which all overshadow the less-used “Landfill” bin. Recyling and composting is an important value to Boulder people, and if you want to avoid getting lectured, you should value it too. What if you have chemicals or electronics you no longer want? No problem! Eco-Cycle will accept “hard to recycle” materials, which means that they will accept just about anything that can be reused. Think twice before you throw away!
6. THE BOULDER CRUISERS
If you are out on a Thursday and witness a troupe of 200 bikers screaming “Happy Thursday!” to you, do not be alarmed! Otherwise known as the “Booze Cruise” by college kids, the Boulder Cruisers is a weekly bike tour of Boulder that encourages its participants to dress up to strange themes. Not only does this event honor Boulder’s obsession with biking, but it celebrates the quirkiness that is Boulder. Look out for the trailer that carries a boombox and discoball, swaggy tricycles, and characters of all shapes and sizes.
7. BOULDER SUPERIORITY
Except for the abundance of Californians who can’t wait to return home, most people in Boulder are impressed with the city and impressed with themselves for finding such a utopia. Boulder, after all, has been rated the most educated city in America, the happiest city in America, fittest city in America, AND the best college town in America. Most Boulderites hold strong opinions that they’d love to talk to you about, whether it is on the importance of recycling or on the importance of accepting Jesus into your heart. After visiting or living here for a while, you might frown upon businesses that don’t offer compostable products, and you might lecture your friends on the carbon footprint remediation that biking can offer.Your old friends may just roll their eyes and accept that yes, you’re right… it’s all just easier in Boulder!
8. TUBE TO WORK DAY
If you decide to get a job while visiting Boulder (and you might want to consider it, since everything is expensive here), you might consider another form of sustainable transportation: Tubing down the Boulder Creek. Last year 200 people tubed to work. Even if you don’t work, maybe you should consider pretending just for one day.
You read it right. Nakedness. Not only is being topless in Boulder legal, but people like to go the full way whenever they find an excuse. Climbing on a nice day? Climb the third Flatiron naked. Feeling spooky? Take part in the Naked Pumpkin Run every Halloween. Are you a student or friends with a student? Do the Nearly Naked Mile clothing drive. Like climbing? Come to an Alpine Club party. Any other excuses? Just get naked.
If you didn’t infer it already, Boulder is a happy place. Maybe it’s the variety and abundance of trees in this city, or maybe it’s the breathtaking view of the Flatirons that makes you feel fresh. The people who are attracted to Boulder, too, have their own beauty. They are passionate(ly weird), physically and mentally active, and usually happy to stop and let you pet their dog while you chat. Everyone has got something interesting to share, you just have to be willing to engage. So go on, get happy and get to Boulder!