Many cities of all sizes list parks among the amenities that make them more livable – and rightly so. Access to green space makes urban living more pleasant and healthier. Few cities can top Boulder’s 70 square miles of open space and 60 urban parks – especially when that open space is filled with the nation’s most impressive mountains and the signature Boulder foothills, the Flatirons.
Boulder has just under 100,000 residents and sits 30 miles from Denver. It’s easy to think about Boulder as a great place to hike and ski, but businesses thrive here, too. Boulder is home to one of the foremost technology incubators, Tech Stars, which helps entrepreneurs get a leg up.
Residents have a variety of options for a lifelong education, from great elementary and secondary schools to the central campus of University of Colorado – which led to its ranking as a Livability Top 10 College Town. There's even adult education at Chautauqua. Chautauquas were a popular movement around the turn of the 20th century and City Manager Jane Brautigam says Boulder's is one of the few remaining. It provides cultural and educational programs for more than a million visitors a year.
Of course, Boulder has activities that aren’t centered on the outdoors. Pearl Street Mall and the downtown area have plenty to offer including memorable beers brewed in such pubs as the Mountain Sun.
“We consider ourselves the Napa Valley for craft brewing,” Brautigam says.
It’s not surprising that Boulder’s residents value time spent outdoors. The latest example of this is the 40-acre Valmont Bike Park, which opened in 2011 and will host the Cyclocross championships in 2014. The park's ramps and trails offer something for bikers of all skill levels and attract cyclists from all over the globe.