The best way to get to know a new city: Ask the locals.
And there are plenty of locals in Boulder who make a job out of being an expert in their hometown, knowing what’s hot and then bringing visitors there.
Boulder has a ton of outdoor guided adventures for athletes and nature enthusiasts. It also has a long list of less-active (but equally as exciting) guided tours — spanning topics of history, ghosts, beer, food, farms and more. See Boulder from above in a hot air balloon, by foot, by bus or through the lens of beer goggles.
Here are 25 of our favorite non-athletic, Boulder tours and adventures you can sign up for. They are listed in no particular order or ranking.
1. Walking Tours
Boulder Walking Tours offers guided tours of Boulder, including one called Chautauqua: Living History. Chautauqua is a National Historic Landmark, and this tour takes you through the grounds, teaches you about the history and shares historic stories and photos.
2. A Funky Bus Tour
Here’s an only-in-Boulder way to explore Boulder’s history: on the funky Banjo Billy bus, which is a tour bus that looks like a hillbilly shack on wheels. Banjo Billy has a variety of different themed tours, including a 90-minute history tour. Passengers get to vote on which points of interest they want to learn about, which makes it an interactive experience that’s different every time. The Boulder history tour features murders, scandals and funky characters.
Banjo Bill also runs ghost tours Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons in October. So many of Boulder’s historic buildings have unusual stories. And this quirky tour bus will take you to the best of them. The Boulder tour visits the Hotel Boulderado, the Montgomery house and Boulder Creek.
3. Chautauqua Park Tours
Chautauqua Park offers free walking tours with an archivist. These typically run late May through late August. In total, the tour is about a mile long and lasts about an hour. Sign up at least a day in advance.
4. Self-Guided Tour: Ghosts of Boulder
Take yourself on a tour of Boulder’s ghostly locations by following along with the book “Ghosts of Boulder” by Ann Alexander Leggett and Jordan Alexander Leggett. The book, part of the “Haunted America” series, walks readers through Boulder’s “hair-raising lore.” Wonder which popular restaurant used to be a mortuary? Find out here, and then visit it for yourself to see if you can sense the creepy crawlies.
Another fun local scary book is “Haunted Boulder 2: Ghostly Tales From Boulder and Beyond,” by Roz Brown and Ann Alexander Leggett. Learn more about Boulder’s supposedly haunted spots online at Haunted Boulder.
5. Self-Guided Tour: Chautauqua
Take a self-guided, interpretive audio tour of Chautauqua with your cell phone. Visit the map and locate the nine different stops and four informational panels throughout the park. Then just call 303-952-1600 and select a tour stop number. It’ll play the corresponding narrative. Simple as that.
6. Mining Tour
Explore Boulder County’s mining history with this virtual tour, or sign up for a free tour of the region’s mining heritage, where you’ll visit old mining sites.
The Nederland Mining Museum and Assay Office Museum are two must-see spots for people curious about the Colorado mining spree. You can set up a free tour of the office museum for groups of 12 or more mid-April through mid-October. The Nederland museum offers a free, short talk, “Hard Rock Mining, Hard Work” at 2 p.m. during open hours, and the second Friday of the month at 7 p.m., you can attend special “Evening at the Museum” events with guest speakers.
7. Ghost Tours
The Society of Kindred Spirits, or SPOOKS for short, a federally exempt, 501(c)(3) paranormal nonprofit, offers historically based ghost tours of Longmont and the surrounding areas. Get info on these “Back Alley Tours” and other haunted events at SPOOKS’ Facebook page.
8. History and Adventure Tour
With Bolder Adventure Travel, join a local history guide for guided trips around Boulder and the surrounding area. Go hiking or biking and learn about history along the way. Check the website for details.
Options include the Chautauqua/Open Space Tour, a hike through Chautauqua and the area, where you will learn about history, from Chief Niwot to cattle drives. There’s also a hike and mountain bike tour of Marshall Mesa. Marshall is a small, historic coal-mining town just outside of Boulder. During this tour, you’ll learn about the town, visit old mining spots and caves, check out old rail lines and see geologic formations.
Another option through Bolder Adventure Travel is to set up a private driving tour. The guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you on a scenic drive to see historical sites, trails, parks, mining remnants and more.
Beer and Food
9. Brewery Tours
Many individual breweries offer free guided tours that include free beer samples. Here’s a look at some of our favorite local brewery tours.
For a self-guided tour through Longmont’s breweries, hop on the Brewhop Trolly, which circles between Longmont’s breweries throughout the weekend. Hop on and off wherever your taste buds desire.x
10. Bike Tours
Many of Boulder County’s farms can be accessed via scenic bike routes. Boulder Bike Tours offers weekly guided bike tours to local farms. You’ll learn about organic farming and more, and have a “harvest-fresh” meal to refuel you for the ride back. Look for brunch rides (complete with a four-course brunch), sunset tours (including a wood-fired pizza) and more.
11. Farm Tours
Many farms offer tours. For example, Cure Organic Farm (six miles east of Boulder) offers group tours with a focus on whatever interests you. Cure grows more than 100 types of certified organic produce on 15 acres, has several honey bee hives, pigs, ducks and hens.
Cure’s Farm Tours, offered spring through fall, last one to two hours.
12. Tea Tour
Boulder is home to the famous Celestial Seasonings plant, where you can see the tea being made. Take a 45-minute tour and learn all about tea; the highlight is the mint room. The various mints are so strong they will make your eyes water and immediately clear our your sinuses. This tour was named one of the nation’s best food factory tours in USA Today’s readers’ choice competition. After the tour, enjoy free tea samples in the tasting room.
13. Wine Tours
Boulder County boasts its own winemaker. You can tour BookCliff Vineyards (including a virtual tour of the vineyard, which is not in BoCo) and learn all about how wine is made. For something special, sign up for a wine, chocolate and cheese tasting event.
14. Foodie and Farmers Market Tours
Local Table Tours is Colorado’s longest-running food tour operator. It offers (you guessed it) food-related tours, including a fun Farmers Market Tour during the popular Wednesday and Saturday markets. A guide will walk you through the market, point out highlights, “the best stands” and teach you about the market on this “guided shopping excursion.” It’s offered May through October for $35 per person.
Local Table Tours has been running its regular food tours for nine years now. As they put it, “We eat, drink, walk and repeat through the heart of downtown Boulder, visiting a handful of local restaurants for a nice cross-section of the local food scene.” You’ll try chef’s choice food paired with bartender’s choice beverages, showcasing the unique eateries that make Boulder such a fun foodie destination city. These are offered Saturday afternoons at 2 p.m. for $79 per person.
Table Tours’ newest offering in Boulder is called Brews, Booze, and Bites, held Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. for $55 per person. These guided tours take guests to local establishments to explore and taste Colorado-made beer, mead and craft cocktails. The two-hour tour includes light bites to pair with each drink and a meet-and-greet with the brewer or beverage manager at each location.
15. Farm Trail Tour
Another fun way to check out local farms is via the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Boulder County Farm Trail. See the brochure to identify which farms offer tours, workshops, farm stands and more. The trail is the scenic drive that will take you past multiple farms. The drive takes an hour to two and a half, depending on how much you stop.
16. Dairy Tour
Goats, goats, goats. You can tour the Mountain Flower Dairy 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays from May 5 to June 30, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month from July to October. It’s free to visit, although donations are accepted.
During your goat visit, you may be able to pet them, walk one on a leash, feed them, watch them being milked, taste their milk, take a tour, go on a nature walk and more.
17. Microbrew Tours
Beer-lovers, this tour’s for you. Boulder Brew Tours offers several different kinds of beer-centric tours, including a Boulder Microbrew Tour. Explore local breweries while walking or driving. You can also set up a custom tour if you want to pick specific breweries to visit.
The walking tour is a two-hour guided tour down Pearl Street and to several smaller microbreweries. You’ll try beer and learn all about making it.
18. A Brew Bike Cruise
Of course, this area has tours that fuse biking and beer. Fort Collins-based Beer and Bike Tours offers a Boulder Brew Cruise, where a guide will take you to some favorite hidden spots, along a bike path and stop at three breweries. Rides are tailored to fit each group’s needs and interests.
19. Hiking and Beer Tour
Aspire Tours’ Trails and Ales tour is a popular way to fuse beer with hiking. Go on a moderate hike (for about two hours), look for wildlife, learn about nature and the area and wrap up with a beer.
20. Bikes and Much More
Beyond Boulder Adventures offers mellow, scenic bike tours to Boulder’s hidden gems, including distilleries, breweries and wineries. Tours are offered year-round on cruisers, electric bikes and fat bikes (in winter). Check out the Views and Vines Ride for a taste of Boulder’s history, foothills and locally made wine. On the Taste of the Rockies Ride, you can immerse yourself in stunning streamside cliffs, pedaling (or not) on electric-assist bikes to a nearby mountain lodge, where guests are rewarded with local brews and a dip in a creekside pool or hot tub.
21. Electric Cruiser Bike Tour
If you can’t or don’t want to pedal all on your own, hop on a fat-tire, electric-assist cruiser bike. Boulder Tour Company runs electric bike tours to many of Boulder’s top attractions, except on this tour, no sweat is required. The bike helps you handle the hills. These three-hour tours are appropriate for all levels.
22. Segway Tours
Not feeling like riding a bike? Tour Boulder on a segway. Colorado Segway Tours offers guided tours of Boulder. The eight-mile, two-hour tours include historic and scenic sites, like the Mork and Mindy House, Chautauqua Park and the Pearl Street Mall.
23. Science Tours
When you think of a tour, you might not think to head to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but turns out, this is one of the coolest tours in town. NOAA offers free tours every Tuesday at noon. Learn about climate change, hurricanes and other weather-related activities in fun, interactive ways.
24. Weather Tours
For even more weather- and science-related adventures, head to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, whose Mesa Library has lots of exhibits and free tours several days a week. Here you can steer hurricanes and touch clouds, and wrap up the trip with an outdoor tour on the nearby trails. The Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail is North America’s first weather-centered nature trail.
25. Hot Air Balloon Tours
Tour Boulder from above in a hot air balloon. Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon Flights departs from Boulder. Take in bird’s-eye views of the mountains and the city of Boulder.