Join the yoga-loving, coffee connoisseur crowd in sunny Boulder and you might not even make it to the natural wonders beyond. This Colorado college city buzzes with live music, food markets and cultural events in an incredible setting at the foot of the USA's Rocky Mountains. Rent a kayak to explore Boulder Reservoir, try rock climbing in Eldorado Canyon State Park or take in panoramic views at Continental Divide Overlook, all a short drive from the city.
Many hostels in Boulder have free breakfast and guest kitchens, leaving you with more cash to spend in the delis and breweries downtown. Look out for a Boulder hostel with free Wi-Fi and a social area where you can spend time with your dorm mates in a hot tub or by an outdoor pool. You can choose between dorms and private rooms or check out Boulder hostels with individual cabins if you're travelling in a group.
The heart of downtown Boulder is Pearl Street Mall, a pedestrianised boulevard of independent boutiques and cafés. There's a twice-weekly farmers' market with live music on 13th Street, and brand-name shopping on stylish 29th Street. The city is divided by Boulder Creek Path, a walking and cycling route and green space along the river. East Boulder has been compared to New York's Brooklyn, with craft breweries, record shops and spontaneous art events. Head to Chautauqua Park at the foot of the Flatirons hills for picnics and hiking close to the city.
Boulder is packed with cultural hotspots. Downtown, you'll find the Art Deco Boulder Theatre, a music venue and home of Boulder International Film Festival. A 30-minute drive south will take you to the open-air concert space at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, carved out of the Rocky Mountains. When you're ready to hit the great outdoors, head to Mount Sanitas. The views from the summit are epic and there are trails for novice and expert hikers. For dining American style, try Rayback Collective food truck park, with its beer garden and live music.
To get here, fly to Denver International Airport and take the 1-hour shuttle bus to Boulder. There are also buses that connect Denver Union Station with Downtown Boulder Station (45 minutes), a short walk from Pearl Street Mall. Getting around the city by bike is easy thanks to the extensive cycle path network: sign up online for the citywide Boulder B-Cycles rental programme. In summer there's a free shuttle service from Pearl Street to Chautauqua Park on the south edge of the city (20 minutes).