Sculpture on the University of Colorado Campus. Photo by Ann Duncan

Boulder on a Budget: Explore Boulder on $25 a Day


By Callie Pederson

Boulder sometimes gets a bad reputation for being expensive. This can keep some tourists from visiting here. 

Sure, you might have to spend a bit on where you stay, especially if you want to be close to the foothills, but there is plenty to do in town that won’t break the bank and will guarantee that you still have a great time in our weird, little town.

Here are three different ways to take a weekend vacation in beautiful Boulder on only $25 a day. Pick your favorite or mix and match based on what sparks your interest.

Itinerary 1

1. Go Sightseeing – Free

Take a drive up Flagstaff Mountain to see some of the best views. There are multiple pull-offs as you’re driving up the mountain that will allow you to see the whole city down below. You can also park up at the Lost Gulch overlook to catch a glimpse of the Indian Peaks Range. These views are unique to Boulder and one of the main reasons why so many people love to live here.

2. Order a Pizza – $7.75

Cosmos Pizza is the perfect place to get a cheap and filling meal here in Boulder. The lunch special includes two slices of pizza and a drink for only $7.75. Don’t forget the spicy ranch, a local favorite. Cosmos is also a great place to grab a late night bite.

3. Take a Campus Tour Free

Take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful college campus. You’ll see gorgeous brick buildings, lakes, trees and more, all while getting great views of the Flatirons. There’s no question why so many students want to attend this gorgeous university. Go Buffs.

4. See a Show at Fiske Planetarium  $10-$15

The Fiske Planetarium on the University of Colorado campus is definitely something to cross off your list while in Boulder. Here you can catch a glimpse at the stars, watch a movie or enjoy a late night laser show. Make sure to check the schedule beforehand so you can plan accordingly.

Total for the day: $20-$25

Outside of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo by Callie Pederson

Itinerary 2

1. Enjoy the Street Performers — Free plus tips

Taking a walk down Pearl Street provides free entertainment. The street performers on Pearl Street have many different talents, from juggling fire to contortionism to balloon-making and more. You’re sure to see some local musicians playing down there as well. The Pearl Street Mall is also a great place to people-watch and window shop.

2. Rent a Bike — $8

Boulder loves being active. A great way to see the city is to peddle around . Boulder B-Cycle is a local non-profit bike sharing program in Boulder. For just $8 a day you can take advantage of their Day Tripper rental, which is a bike sharing program that allows for an unlimited number of 30 minute trips between their 41 stations around town.

3. Hit Happy Hour — $15

Boulder has some great happy hours around town where you can enjoy both food and drinks. If you hit any of these places you should be able to walk away under $15. Check out the Wild Standard for $2 oysters and cheap small plates or Blackbelly for $3 bites and $4 beers. Nick-N-Willy’s Pizza offers $3 small pizzas every day from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

4. Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art — $1

If you enjoy art, you’re in luck. The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is a great place to spend an afternoon viewing local art and getting to know the city a little better. The museum changes up its exhibitions regularly so you’re sure to see something new and unique each time you visit.

Total for the day: $20-$25

Scott Carpenter Park.
Scott Carpenter Park. Photo by Callie Pederson

Itinerary 3

1. Take a Hike — Free

There’s no shortage of hiking trails here. Whether you’re in North Boulder, close to the Flatirons or out east, you can be sure to find a great trail to spend the day on. If you’re looking for something traditionally Boulder, hike one of the many popular trails in Chautauqua Park, like the Royal Arch Trail or Enchanted Mesa.

2. Have a Picnic — Lunch cost, about $15

Stop by one of our local grocery stores and pack a lunch. Grab a blanket or some towels and set up near the creek for a relaxing afternoon enjoying the water. The Eben G. Fine Park and Scott Carpenter Park are both good options. You can also bring a Frisbee or football, or do as the locals do and set up a slack line.

3. Catch a Comedy Show — $5

The Bohemian Biergarten has a hilarious ongoing comedy show. Shows are on Sundays at 7 and 9:15 p.m. with a $5 cover. You also have the option to get a beer or some traditional German food like sausages and pretzels. A great way to end your trip is with a good beer and lots of laughs.

Total for the day: $20-$25

Boulder doesn’t have to be expensive. There is plenty to do around town that’s budget-friendly, and a lot of it is even free. Make sure to always check the Boulder event calendar for local festivals and events.

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