Shops, Schnapps, and Snowboards: The Best Boulder Christmas Activities

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…or at least it ought to be (the snow has been eerily absent this year).  I for one will be spending this Christmas in Oregon with my family for the first time in the 4+ years that I’ve lived here.  Unfortunately, my past 3 holiday seasons have been spent in Boulder, and I’ll be the first to admit, they can get a little bit lonely.  Somehow seeing your family’s holiday photos on facebook is not nearly as great as helping them set up a tree.  But my own few years of Boulder winter experience  have helped ease the frustrating prices of plane tickets and unwavering work schedules.

So without further ado, here are my own personal recommendations for how to enjoy your holiday season.  I’ve added links to my recommendations, if you’d like to check them out for yourself.  Also, I do not get anything for recommending these places/activities; they really are my favorites!

The first thing I’d recommend is to embrace the cold.  It does get pretty chilly here, especially for those of you from warmer climates, and it’s bound to snow sooner or later.  Luckily, the snow is about as much fun as it is cold, so if you’re feeling a little adventurous, it’s almost worth the discomfort.  The first, and most expensive, way to enjoy the snow is by heading up to Eldora.  You won’t have to drive if you have a few dollars (or a Naropa bus pass), because the ‘N’ bus heads straight up the canyon to the ski area and back multiple times per day.  You will encounter delightful slopes up there for multiple skill levels.  If you’re hungry and looking to round out the day, stop by the funky little town of Nederland on your way back down the mountain.  Try out the Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery, which has delicious BBQ and excellent craft beers…they’ve even got a vegetarian option or two.

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A second snowy-day activity is to strap on some skates.  Boulder has a seasonal ice-skating rink at the One Boulder Plaza which, while somewhat small, is a great use of a few dollars.  If you bring a canned food item to donate to the Boulder Community Food Share, they’ll discount the cost.  The rink rents out skates and will hold your bags/purses for you, plus you can skate as long as you’d like.

If you’re hoping for something fun that doesn’t cost money, consider the many walking trails that Boulder offers.  I can personally attest to the beauty of the Boulder Creek Path, which runs along the often-frozen Boulder Creek.  Make sure to bring a camera, as photos of this winter wonderland will be a perfect way to make your friends back home jealous.  The best part is that the major trails (Boulder Creek included) are plowed early in the morning (at the same time as the roads!) so the walking is easy.  Just slide into some cold-weather-wear, throw some holiday songs on your mp3 player, and head out to breathe in the chill.

If you don’t mind the cold, and have presents to buy, the Pearl St. Mall is a great place for shopping.  It is home to many small, locally owned businesses that rely on much of their annual revenue from Christmas shoppers.  They range from the Boulder Book Store, Boulder’s largest independently owned new/used bookstore, to the Boulder Army Store, a great stop for winter and outdoor gear.  Plus, there are all kinds of holiday-themed events going on there, such as St. Nick on the Bricks and The Christmas Revels celebration at the Boulder Theater.

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If you end up doing some Sunday shopping, head over to Conor O’Neill’s Traditional Irish Pub afterwards to enjoy their weekly Celtic music jam.  A variety of performers show up every week, producing the best possible music to pull you out of your winter blues.  I particularly recommend trying to snag one of the small booths, as these are quiet enough to have a conversation with a friend, but are still close enough to enjoy the music…just get there early, because they fill up fast.  Conor’s offers some delicious dinner options, and is one of the few Boulder locations that has hard cider on tap.  So set yourself up with a good stout, or one of their delicious Hot Apple Pie drinks, and you’ll soon be warm and cheery.

And of course, my final favorite: sleep.  Whether it’s after a long day of snow-related activities, or a warm drink with friends, the ability to catch up on some much-needed rest should not be underestimated.  Curl up in bed, on your couch, or by the fireplace (if you have one), and rest easy knowing that finals are over, next semester isn’t here yet, and you have nothing to do in the morning.

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Finally, if you’re bored and lonely, I personally will be here for a couple of weeks and would love to spend time with you all in a stress-free context.  So if you’re interested, shoot me an e-mail.  I would love to see you.

So what about you?  Do you have a favorite winter activity?  Feel free to share!

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