Tourist in Your Own City: A Hike and Happy Hour at Chautauqua


By Tyra Sutak

If you live in Boulder, you know all of the touristy hotspots in town, and chances are, you’ve stopped frequenting them as often over the years. It’s not that you don’t love them, you do. And they give the city its personality and flair. It’s just that you don’t love battling the crowds. Especially since you’re a local now.

But don’t give up. Your favorite iconic Boulder landmarks are still there, and it’s time to rediscover them.


Take Chautauqua Park for example. More than a half-a-million people visit this National Historic Landmark each year, and I bet you did as well when you first set foot in Boulder. Did you know that there are ten beautiful trails waiting to be discovered at this popular tourist attraction? Most out-of-towners opt to tackle the Chautauqua Trail (0.6 mi.) that begins at the trailhead and boasts some of the most beautiful views the Flatirons and Instagram-worthy photo opps in the park.

But when is the last time you felt the accomplishment of summiting one of the Flatirons? And did you know that one of the trails leads to an abandoned quarry? I had no idea, but the Woods Quarry Trail (.03 mi, connects to the Mesa Trail) is there, and it’s calling our names.

After trekking up and down trails throughout the park, you’re going to build up an appetite. It doesn’t matter if you’re an early riser and looking for brunch after your workout, or if a late afternoon to early evening hike it your thing—stop yourself from jumping back in your car and driving off. The Chautauqua Dining Hall is a stone’s throw from the trailhead, and is a stellar place to stop off, sweaty socks and crazy hair and all, for some sustenance and good views. Serving up meals since 1898, the dining hall has gone under some great renovations over the past few years at the hands of the folks behind AjiLeaf Vegetarian Restaurant, and other Three Leaf Concepts ventures. Right now, the menu is filled with fall-inspired drinks and dishes, like the belly-warming Rocky Mountain Mule—which will set you back a mere $5 during happy hour (3-6 p.m.). The Crunchy Kale Salad is my favorite, but sometimes you need to restock those calories you just burned off while hiking with a big plate of biscuits and gravy or a Hall Burger with bacon jam and a fried egg, and the works. If it’s nice, grab a seat on the porch and take in the history of the diners that have sat before. Initials and names carved in the wood railings and columns still shine through recent coats of white paint everywhere you look.

Rediscover this Boulder landmark while the colors of fall still blanket it. When you see how beautiful it looks right now, you’ll be sad you stayed away so long.