Photo of students hitting a large beach ball around the buff pool.

Summer is here and the mountains are calling, but there’s so much more to do in Colorado, even in your own backyard. Here’s our list of the quintessential, must-do summer adventures in Boulder County and a few beyond.

1. ​Tube the Boulder Creek

Tubing the Boulder Creek through town is a rite of passage for all who call Boulder and the surrounding area home. With a little preparation, proper equipment and a plan for where to put in and get out, a summer float through Boulder can be a perfect way to spend a few hours. The Outdoor Pursuits office at The Rec features an equipment rental center and rents tubes, helmets and life jackets for daily or multi-day use, and they’re open every day in the summer when you’re ready to float. For more information on how to enter and exit the creek, check out this beginner’s guide.

2. Celebrate the 4th at Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast

Staying put for the 4th of July this year? Celebrate at Folsom Field with live music, activities and a fire-proof night sky drone show in place of traditional fireworks. 

3. Eat hyperlocal

Outdoor, seasonal farm dinners grew dramatically in popularity during the pandemic, but these farm–to-table dining experiences are here to stay! Diners eat beside the gardens that produced their meal and are usually visited by not only the featured chef that evening but also the farm’s resident animals. Check out the line up of farm dinners from some of our favorite chefs and locales including Whistling Boar, Black Cat Farm and the Lyons Farmette.

Can’t make it to the farm? There are many restaurants in Boulder just a short walk from campus that can satisfy the need for clean, farm-to-table food cravings. Consider checking out Wild Pastures Burger Co., Naked Lunch Colorado, Next Door Kitchen and Bar or one of the many restaurants owned by Three Leaf Farm.

You can also shop locally at farmer’s markets in Boulder, Louisville, Longmont, Lafayette and Lyons! Offering so much more than local harvests, you can enjoy a meal, have your knives sharpened, listen to music and enjoy the bounty of produce grown in Colorado. For a complete list of markets in your area, check out this online resource.

4. Pool hop through Boulder County

Some of the best public pools exist right here in Boulder County and can be enjoyed without breaking the bank. Start off with a dip right on CU Boulder’s campus in the Buff Pool because where else can you swim in a pool the shape of a buffalo? Access to the pool is free to all Buff OneCard holders on Welcome Wednesdays, June 7 through Aug. 2. 

Once you’ve had your fill of the “Ralphie” pool, walk or ride over to Scott Carpenter Pool just off campus. This recently renovated pool is named after one of Boulder's most famous astronauts and features a lazy river, multiple slides, a splash pool and lap swimming.

Ready for the next dip? Dry off and head over the Boulder Elks Pool where the springboard and high dive await you, the snack bar has the best treats from your childhood and the manager is always open to requests as he finetunes the pool’s Spotify playlist.

Once you’ve gotten your fill of cannonballs and unintended belly flops, catch the Eldo Shuttle to Eldorado Swimming Pool. This 100+ year old attraction is a swimming experience unlike any other! Pack your hiking shoes, fishing poles or mountain bike too because the pool is located just outside Eldorado Canyon State Park.

5. Attend the Colorado Shakespeare Festival

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is known for being ‘theater under the stars’ and is held annually on CU Boulder’s campus from June through August. There’s really no better way to see The Bard’s work than this. The 2023 lineup features five different plays and tickets can be purchased online.

6. Check out The Rec

Have you been considering trying the equipment and facilities, a fitness class or an instructional program at The Rec but hesitated to do so? This summer might be the best time to try it out. The Rec truly has something for everyone with state-of-the-art equipment, multiple pools and courts, a climbing gym, and a full line up of daily fitness classes and 4-8 week instructional programs. Access to the Rec’s facilities and general exercise equipment is free on Wednesdays from June 7 through Aug. 2 for all Buff OneCard holders if you’d like to check it out at no cost.

7. See a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater

Red Rocks Amphitheater is known as one of the best outdoor music venues in the world and is located just 40 minutes from Boulder. The venue attracts some of the best musical acts and comedians to its stage for unforgettable performances in an unforgettable setting. Be sure to get there early to enjoy the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, explore the grounds and take in the views.

If a Red Rocks concert is beyond your budget this summer, venues throughout Boulder County offer free and low-cost concerts to fill almost every night of the week. Check out some of our favorites including Chautauqua’s summer concert series, Lyon’s Planet Bluegrass, Pearl Street’s Bands on the Bricks, Longmont’s summer concert series and Louisville’s Street Faire.

8. Ready for a road trip? Visit a National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is the closest option to Boulder. Rocky Mountain National Park's 415 square miles (265,807 acres) encompass a spectacular range of mountain environments and cross the Continental Divide. Be sure to plan ahead though, timed entry reservations are required between May 26 and Oct. 22.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is located just four hours south of Boulder makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to another planet. Pack your goggles, rent a board from one of the many shops right outside the park and enjoy a day sledding down the tallest sand dunes in North America. In May and June you can splash (and sometimes float) in the Medano Creek which travels right through the park and creates a unique beach experience unlike any you’ve seen before. Visit the park’s website for the latest information on conditions in the park before you go.

If you're up for a longer drive, there are two additional parks located towards the southwest corner of the state. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, located about five hours away near Montrose, is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Colorado. This park exposes visitors to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rocks and roughest spires in North America. Mesa Verde National Park, located about seven hours from Boulder, is a World Heritage Site and International Dark Sky Park. The park honors the rich heritage and culture of the ancestral Pueblo people who formerly lived there and protects the historic cliff dwellings they built.