If you want to shop, eat and hang like a local, head to the village.
Boulder has its own little village, right in the heart of town. While the mega shopping malls and Pearl Street Mall get all the hype, what many visitors may not realize is how much is happening in this lesser-known pocket of town.
The Village Shopping Center, at 2525 Arapahoe Ave. in central Boulder, is hardly a hidden gem, especially with multiple big name hotels recently popping up nearby. The Residence Inn by Marriott is across from Sprouts and the already existing Boulder Marriott. Across Canyon, there’s also the new, sophisticated Embassy Suites by Hilton Boulder (with a rooftop pool) and the Hilton Garden Inn Boulder.
But this mini district — historically thought of as a regular ol’ strip mall cluster — has really come into its own over the past few years. It’s now official: The Village is a destination.
The Village is made of mostly locally owned businesses (more than 90 percent), from hardware to hairstylists to fashion and furniture. It’s so Boulder, in that these businesses are collaborative and friendly (like you can go workout at CrossFit Sanitas and while there, order paleo to-go lunches from Zolo), yet they’re all fiercely independent.
Here are 13 ways that you can experience Boulder’s Village Shopping Center. If you thought you knew it before, check again.
1. Community Events
The Village regularly holds community events, such as a block party on the summer solstice, complete with tent sales, food, special deals and other activities.
2. The Store of All Stores
When visiting a new city, you might not feel compelled to seek out a hardware store for your souvenir shopping needs. Except in Boulder. McGuckin Hardware is everything because it has everything. It’s one of the city’s favorite destinations, for fun finds and top-notch customer service.
One Tripadvisor reviewer calls it “America’s most intriguing hardware store” and “one of Boulder’s special places” that “redefines hardware altogether.” We agree. You can find everything imaginable in this 60,000-square-foot store stocked with more than 200,000 goods in 18 departments.
It has a warming family story, too. It was founded by a rugged fisherman in 1955 named Llewellyn Commodore “Bill” McGuckin. It was then bought by a man with his father-in-law (also named Bill). Today, it has about 250 employees and is a Boulder institution.
Local tip: Follow McGuckin’s special Make Your Own page on Facebook for inspirational crafts and DIY ideas, as well as community events, like craft classes for kids.
3. International Cuisine
The Village has a great selection of international food: empanadas from Rincon Argentino, Montreal bagels, French pastries, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, as well as some of Boulder’s best fast casual food, with YellowBelly (yes, healthy fried chicken is a thing), LarkBurger and Tokyo Joe’s.
Other ways to fill up here: Le Peep Boulder and Great Harvest Bread.
And in true Boulder fashion, there are also lots of healthy options, such as Vitality Bowls and food at the totally gluten-free restaurant, Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place (run by triplet sisters).
4. Notable New Restaurants
In addition, several new restaurants have recently opened and received notable acclaim. Vero Boulder, run by Italian chef Andrea Frizzi, sells innovative gourmet pizzas, small plates (you must try the house-made burrata) and simple bites, which the Denver Eater lauded for “quality ingredients.” The design here is “bright and clean,” the Eater notes, before highlighting the wood-fired mussels in white wine and garlic.
Don’t miss Vero’s specials, including discounted wine on Wednesdays and a half dozen wings and a Margherita pizza for just $14 on Mondays.
Then there’s Le French Café, which received high marks from the Daily Camera’s food critic. He called the crepes perfect, the food “marvelously authentic,” the service cheerful and the prices reasonable.
Finally, Woodgrain Bagels (a Canadian-inspired café) was mentioned in 5280 Magazine. The food here is fast and quick, but if you haven’t had Canadian-style bagels and poutine, add this to your Boulder bucket list.
5. Healthy Businesses
The Village is home to acupuncture (the Golden Wind Needle-Free Acupuncture), a chiropractor (the Joint), Epic Mountain Gear, Barris Laser and Skin Care, the Little Yoga Studio and Colorado Multisport.
The Little Yoga Studio offers high-quality yoga at some of the most affordable prices in town ($10 drop-ins, every class). Plus, it’s locally owned and green. It bills itself as “high-quality yoga without the B.S.” No need to register, sign up online or make things complicated. Drop in, get zen, breathe and feel better.
Colorado Multisport is Boulder’s triathlon headquarters, with cycling and triathlon bikes and gear, plus expert advice by fellow triathletes.
Look for partnerships between Village businesses, like the lunchtime spa special at Barris. Get a mini massage, facial, peel or another service, plus a healthy lunch from Shine, in one single package.
6. Diverse Stores
You can find a little bit of everything here: high-end women’s clothing, kitchen and bath design, dry cleaning, Pedestrian Shops, the Grand Rabbits Toy Shoppe, Memories to Digital, Aspen Eyewear (which sells great name-brand sunglasses), Forma Furniture, Kumon Math & Reading, Mattress Firm, the KB Studio and more. The Brass Bed Fine Linens & Furnishings sells decor to brighten up your home.
There’s a dog wash. A barber shop. Charles Schwab. A shipping store.
7. Stunning Landscaping
The Village is beautifully landscaped. Strolling through, you’ll want to take out your camera. The Village has more than 34 hanging baskets, 30 planters, gardens and flower beds that are home to about 500 flats of plants and flowers planted every May.
8. High Fashion
JJWells is a highlight at the Village. This is one of our favorite women’s clothing stores in Boulder, and not only because the clothes here are gorgeous (picked from hundreds of lines, from famous designers to up-and-coming names, all high-quality). JJWells also offers private, in-store wardrobe consultations; so the fashion pros here can tell you the best ways to create new outfits that flatter your appearance and bring out your unique style. This store even offers alterations for a minimal charge. Staff measures and pins it right there on the spot and then sends the clothes to a tailor. You get it back in just a few days.
Look for trunk shows at JJWells to stay on the leading edge of fashion. It’s no surprise that JJWells has been voted the best women’s clothing store in the Daily Camera for years.
Other clothing stores at the Village include the Colorado Swim Shop, which sells swimwear and water accessories.
Pedestrian Shops, while known for carrying the “world’s most comfortable brands of shoes,” has some fashionable options, too. Yes, you can be comfy and sexy at the same time. Brands sold here include authentic Birks (yes!), plus Keen, Dansko, Sperry, Teva and more.
9. Travel-Specific Needs
If you’re visiting Boulder or planning a vaycay, The Village is an ideal destination because it’s home to travel-store Changes in Latitude. This store sells travel books, maps, adapters, clocks, luggage, neck pillows and everything you need for your next (or current) trip.
10. Meeting Spaces
You can add alcohol to those healthy potions from Shine and enjoy them on the patio, or drink them booze-free. Zolo Southwestern Grill has killer drinks, including the Zolorita, a spin on a marg with el charro reposado, orange liqueur, lime juice, sour and a splash of OJ. Zolo also offers tasty sangria.
Rincon Argentino also has wine and beer, as well as yerba mates and espresso drinks. Try the Terere’-iced mate with OJ, mint and agave for a fun and refreshing non-alcoholic beverage.
12. Family Shops
13. Grocery Shopping
Amid it all, there’s a full grocery store. Sprouts is an anchor at the Village.