All year round, we find ways to get outside in Boulder. In the dead of winter we will sometimes have a 60 or 70 degree (Fahrenheit) day where people will head out for a jog, hike, or bike ride. During the snowy days, getting outside for some sort of winter sport is a must. Even after skiing, snowboarding, or any other winter activity, you might find people sitting outside at the bar having a beer in their snow pants. Needless to say, Boulderites do not like to be stuck inside.
We are fortunate to have an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, but when the occasional heavy Boulder rainy day hits it’s not very easy to find things to do, especially if your trip plans included numerous outdoor activities. Last year when my family came to visit it rained for two weeks straight… in total we got 7.82 inches of rain in May 2015. Aside from the devastating flood that hit Boulder in September 2013, that’s the most rain we’ve gotten in a single month since 1995.
So if you can’t help but visit Boulder during our rainiest months of April and May, here are 12 things to do in town on a Boulder rainy day.
Ride along on Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour
Although this list is in no particular order, I did include this one first for a reason. Before you tune out at the mention of “bus tour,” hear me out. Banjo Billy Bus Tours runs history, brewery, and ghost tours in Boulder and Denver as you ride around town inside a bus equipped with disco balls, saddles, couches, and carpeting for the quirkiest bus ride you’ll ever experience.
I haven’t done the latter two tours, but the history tour will make learning fun even for the kids. Their guides are chock-full of interesting stories and facts about the city and its past, sharing some things even the locals never knew! I recommend making a reservation as the tours can book up quickly. If you are visiting, this is a great tour to take during the beginning of your trip as you get a nice overview of the city right off the bat.
Tour the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory
If you’re not already a tea lover, you might be by the time you leave the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory. They offer a free 45-minute guided tour that takes you through their tea factory where you will learn all about the history of how they began, the difference between different types of teas, how their tea is manufactured, and much more. No reservations are required unless you have a large group.
Just keep eating
There are SO many incredible restaurants in Boulder that you could just keep eating your way through all the rain. My top two suggestions are Sforno for the best Italian food in town and The Mediterranean for well… Mediterranean! They also both have killer happy hour deals. For the best sushi in Boulder, don’t miss Sushi Zanmai. They have great lunch specials!
Take a tour at Boulder Beer Company
If you want to score some free beer and a tour through Colorado’s first craft brewery, Boulder Beer Company is the place to be. Established in 1979 by two University of Colorado professors, they now offer free brewery tours Monday through Friday at 2pm and Saturdays and 2pm and 4pm. Get there early to put your name on the list, and maybe grab a bite to eat while you wait.
Warm up with hot tea at Boulder’s Dushanbe Teahouse
Nestled alongside Boulder Creek and Central Park, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse has a refreshing atmosphere and a history filled with many years of manual labor and travel. The teahouse was entirely built by hand in Dushanbe, Tajikistan – without the use of any power tools – as a gift to Boulder, their sister city. Each of the pieces were then shipped halfway around the world to Boulder where the building was reassembled into the stunning Dushanbe Teahouse that stands today.
Go outside anyway
When my family came to visit we were determined to do something outside. We broke out the umbrellas and rain jackets and didn’t hesitate to get out to Wonderland Lake when the rain eased up one day. It’s about a mile around the lake and mainly flat so we only had to worry about avoiding the big puddles and not slipping down an incline.
We didn’t make it all the way around the loop as the rain picked back up again, but if you are as determined as we were for some outdoor activities you can always start walking and turn back around like we did.
Step back in time at the Boulder History Museum
Over the past sixty years, Boulder area families have donated over 45,000 objects of historical significance to the Boulder History Museum. While its focus is now on history, the museum will be moving to a larger location in 2017 that will allow them to also highlight current events in Boulder and will be renamed the Museum of Boulder.
Be entertained at the Boulder Theater
There’s always something fun going on at the Boulder Theater, so check out what events are happening during your visit and if there are tickets left. The theater has been around since 1906 and is right in downtown Boulder, so it’s the perfect venue for a night of entertainment.
Find the best craft beer
There is craft beer everywhere you turn in Boulder, so what better rainy day activity is there than searching for your favorite? Starting downtown, West Flanders will satisfy your craving for perfectly crafted Belgian beers. Another one of my favorites is Sanitas, the perfect place to grab a handcrafted beer and chill on the outdoor patio (at least the covered portion of it), and maybe even get in a game of bags or bocce ball. Avery and Fate are also worth checking out, just to give you a few to start with!
Grab an umbrella and stroll down Pearl Street Mall
Rain or shine, you can’t leave Boulder without a visit to Pearl Street Mall. This four block pedestrian mall was opened in 1976 and was modeled after European walking plazas. It is lined with hundreds of shops and restaurants that are mostly locally owned, a handful of bookstores, excellent people watching, and various street performers. Not just a place for shopping and dining – there is plenty of entertainment as well.
Hang out at Vapor Distillery
Yes, Boulder has its very own distillery! Don’t be thrown off by the warehouse look of Vapor Distillery. Tucked away inside, a casual bar awaits you inside where you can try out their latest hand-crafted drink recipes. There are scheduled tours of the distillery throughout the week, and they conclude with a tasting of each of their spirits. My favorite is the Pumpkin King, and I always keep a bottle of it at home!
See a movie at Century Boulder Theater
If all else fails, Boulder has its own movie theater so you can catch the latest flick while avoiding the rain. Century Boulder Theater is located in the outdoor 28th Street Mall, so you can browse through the shops before or after the movie if you’re looking to do some shopping or kill time.
If you happen upon a rare Boulder rainy day, don’t let it get you down. There are still plenty of activities that will keep you dry, and if all else fails, brave the rain and get outside anyway!