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Last-Minute Winter Fling? Spring Break on the Brain? America’s Happiest City Has You Covered

We won’t keep you in suspense. It’s Boulder, Colorado — our hometown! But we’re not asking you to take our word for it. The #1 Happiest City in America ranking comes from a sweeping nationwide survey by National Geographic explorer and best-selling author, Dan Buettner, and a team of Gallup social scientists. Gallup’s senior social scientist and research director, Dan Witters, reports that the people of Boulder “live better lives than residents of any other city for which we have results [190 U.S. metropolitan areas].” Sure, we felt that way before the report anyway, but it’s pretty cool to have it scientifically verified.

Why So Happy?

The findings, released in November 2017, are based on wide-ranging, measurable expressions of happiness that together produce the life-defining senses of pleasure, pride, and purpose. The detailed research and probing interviews that went into finding America’s happiest city revealed that a sense of community, access to nature, sustainable urban development combined with preservation policies, and their clean mountain air form the special brew that makes Boulderites overwhelmingly feel “active and productive every day,” landing their city at the top of the enviable list.

In the happiest places, Buetnner uniformly found that locals smile and laugh more often, socialize several hours a day, have access to green spaces, and feel that they are making purposeful progress toward achieving life goals. They also feel secure, take regular vacations, and have enough money to cover basic needs. Throughout his extensive travels, Buettner has also found that these qualities of place that make for happy locals almost without exception translate to happy visitors.

Cue Your Next Vacation!

We won’t even try to compete with our fantastic tourism folks to help you plan a trip to our beloved hometown — much less within the tiny confines of a blog post — so we’ll refer you to the Boulder Colorado USA Visitors Bureau website for everything you need to know to have a grand time here in any season. We can’t resist chipping in, though, with a few of our winter and spring favorites.

Our Winter Picks

Wintercraft Beer Festival: There’s only so much Netflixin’ & Chillin’ anyone should do for an extended period of time, right? The Wintercraft Beer Festival began, among other things, as a way to get Boulderites outside and having fun during winter if snowsports every day or ever isn’t quite their thing. Over 4 dozen breweries take part and they bring some special creations that don’t make a showing in the summer festival. You can get in for as little as $5 to soak in the music and fun, but for $45 you get the music, the fun, and unlimited — yes unlimited! — tastings plus a souvenir glass. For $70, you get that plus early admission, plus exclusive access to rare, small-batch brews. The 2018 festival will be held on March 3 from 1:00-5:00pm at the Twenty Ninth Street shopping center.

Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour: An old school bus converted into a hillbilly shack on wheels wherein you sit on a saddle, an old couch, or a recliner while a thoroughly entertaining (and needless to say “colorful”) guide regales you with Boulder’s folklore, ghost stories, scandals, and little-known history factoids. They had us at hillbilly shack on wheels. You’ll have a blast from start to finish and in the process learn cool stuff that even born-and-bred locals often don’t know. Bonus — it’ll make for lively conversation over dinner and drinks later with the uninitiated! The 90-minute tours take place year-round, departing from the Hotel Boulderado, but we like the chance to get outside in winter without having to freeze for our fun. Tickets range from $17 – $24 and kids under 5 ride free with a paying adult.

Disco Skiing: Sure, Colorado has a lot of world-famous ski areas. But it also has a few little-known ski spots called the Colorado Gems that are favored by people who prefer a low-key, affordable place to have a great time with friends and family without a whole lot of hot-dogging, posing, and cut-throat competition going on. One of them, Eldora Mountain Resort, is just 20 miles west of the Boulder city center and its annual Retro Day Ski Event at the end of March is the perfect showcase of the Gem scene — camaraderie, laughter, and not taking yourself too seriously. Gear up in your best 70s or 80s duds and accessories and hit the slopes with no loftier goal than to join in the hilarious spectacle. Eldora’s 2018 Retro Day will take place on March 31 from 9:00am-4:00pm. Adults ski passes cost $89; Junior & Senior ski passes cost $49. Or you can just go hang out and giggle at the goofiness for free.

Our Spring Picks

Pearl Street: Boulder is a city of walkers and cyclists, and this pedestrian strip is its heart and soul. The postcard-worthy, brick-paved, historic gathering place is lined with bistros, coffee shops, galleries, boutiques, and brew houses. It’s the perfect place to relax, experience the spirit of the city, and do some excellent people-watching. In fact, those Boulder Tourism experts we referred you to say, “If you do only one thing in Boulder…this should probably be it.”

Nature Hike: It’s hard to narrow down a favorite, but it’s also hard to argue with the enchantment of a couple of hours on a picture-perfect spring day spent exploring the iconic Chautauqua and Bluebell Trails, the shade-dappled Amphitheater Trail, or the Woods Quarry Trail with its delightful sandstone slab “reclining chairs.” Visit the Ranger’s Cottage on Kinnikinic Road next to Chautauqua Park off Baseline Road for maps.

Boulder Creek Festival: Boulder County’s favorite event since its founding in 1987, this 3-day party on the banks of Boulder Creek appeals to just about everyone, thanks to a rich diversity of offerings. There are 9 event areas with over 500 vendors showcasing everything from community arts & crafts, to healthy living gurus, to innovative technology, and so much more. Three performance stages feature a cornucopia of music and dance.  And, of course, there are carnival rides and lots of yummy food and beverages. Admission is free for the May 26-28, 2018 event that takes place in downtown Boulder along the Boulder Creek corridor, stretching from 9th St. to 14th St. (east to west) between Canyon Blvd. & Arapahoe Ave. (north and south).

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Well, we must say — if we didn’t already live here, we’d definitely be heading this way soon. If  you’re moving here, we highly recommend checking out this  site to peruse some cool Boulder homes for sale. Got any Boulder Good Times pics? We’d love you to share on our Facebook page!

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