Best Places to Live

Boulder, CO

Population: 103,919
Photo: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado

You have to wonder how college students in Boulder, CO, find the motivation to get themselves to class. With so many other things to do, from rock climbing, skiing and hiking to sampling microbrews and checking out the latest museum exhibits, it has to be hard to hit the books.

But Boulder is a city of innovative thinkers, environmentalists and researchers who work as hard as they play. Home to the University of Colorado and a collection of national laboratories, residents place a high value on the city's diverse perspectives. Breathtaking natural beauty, a sense of cultural freedom and a highly educated population combine to deliver a wildly creative atmosphere where both students and residents flourish.

Through CU-Boulder's Volunteer Resource Center, approximately 1,200 students help the city and neighboring communities each year. The VRC collaborates with more than 250 community organizations in the Denver/Boulder area. Outreach efforts extend into course work for many students. A group of environmental design students recently collaborated with the city of Boulder to design and build an outdoor classroom and arboretum in a local park. Leeds School of Business students help low-income families prepare tax filings and teach a semester-long course in finance to middle school students.

Highly active lifestyles are the norm in Boulder, where residents take advantage of the region's recreational activities, mountain environment and an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. Vintage clothing shops, independent book stores, brew pubs and restaurants line the streets in downtown Boulder. Street performers provide entertainment along Pearl Street, the city's main pedestrian drag. Located on Pearl Street, one of Boulder's top rated bars, Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, offers a large selection of beers and a Grateful Dead vibe. Many restaurants in Boulder use locally produced ingredients, serve artisanal breads and handcrafted drinks. With so many styles of food to choose from, picking a restaurant can be a challenge. Luckily, local favorite The Mediterranean Restaurant (or The Med for short) offers a menu that includes Italian, Spanish, French and Greek cuisine.

Population: 100,230

Student population: 30,000

Don't Miss: A show at Boulder Theater, which opened in 1906 as Curran Opera House and has been transformed into a movie house and concert hall

Compare our previous College Towns lists:

Top 10 College Towns 2012

Top 10 College Towns 2011

Top 10 College Towns 2010