Getting there: United, US Airways and Southwest offer nonstop flights to Denver, a more than three-hour flight from Pittsburgh, and less than three hours back.
• Chautauqua Park, a National Historical Landmark. 900 Baseline Road, Boulder, CO 80302; 1-303-442-3282; www.chautauqua.com.
This National Historic Landmark is right next to the Flatiron Mountains, serving as the launch point for multiple trails. There are 99 cottages (of which 39 are privately owned) and two lodges on the grounds. From June to August, 58 cottages are available for nightly rental and from September to May, 35 cottages are available for nightly rental, in addition to several for long-term lease. Cottages range in size from efficiencies to one-, two- or three-bedroom units. Prices range from $125 per night plus tax for the lowest priced efficiency, to a high of $293 per night for the most expensive 3-bedroom cottage. (Prices vary per season and day.)
Chautauqua also has a dining hall that offers meals all day year-round. 1-303-440-3776.
• Hotel Boulderado, 2115 13th St., Boulder, CO 80302; 1-800-433-4344; www.boulderado.com. Historic hotel downtown that opened in 1909. 160 rooms and suites, plus two restaurants.
• Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, 1770 13th St., Boulder, CO 80302; 1-303-442-4993; Boulderteahouse.com.
This exquisite building constructed by 40 artisans was a gift from Boulder's sister city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. When Dushanbe Mayor Maksud Ikramov visited Boulder in 1987, he announced his intention to present this teahouse. It took artisans from all over the country three years to create the house, using traditions that dated back 2,000 years. All walls, ceilings, columns, tables and stools are hand-crafted (no power tools were used) and hand-painted. After it was built, it was dissembled, crated and sent to Boulder where it was rebuilt.
The teahouse offers lunch and dinner but is particularly known for its afternoon tea from 3 to 5 p.m. Cost is $19.95 per person and reservations are required 24 hours in advance so everything is freshly made.
• The Kitchen, 1039 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302, 1-303-544-5973. Opened in 2004 by three friends who had a commitment to sustainable farm to table offerings. Soon to follow was The Kitchen [Upstairs], a community bar, and The Kitchen [Next Door], a community pub. It also has a Denver spot. Each of these locations donates a percentage of its sales to help plant learning gardens in the local community.
The Kitchen is also one of America's most eco-friendly restaurants, using sustainable purveyors, recycled furniture, cotton hand towels, wind-powered light and biodegradable everything.
Like many of the Pearl Street restaurants, the place recommends reservations but keeps 50 percent of its tables open for walk-ins. Although the restaurant was booked early on a Wednesday for reservations that night, we were able get an open table right away when we arrived at 7:30 p.m. A fun item on the menu: "nibbles" such as the $7 pig ears.
Things to do ...
Take a day to rent bikes and tour the 300-mile network of bike trails. You'll rarely if ever have to ride on a road or cross an intersection.
Boulder offers a bike share program similar to what you'll find in Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York and Paris. Boulder B-cycle, boulder.bcycle.com, has 22 stations and 150 bikes, but it's expanding to 32 stations and 200 bikes.
Two rental options:
University Bicycles: 839 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302; 1-800-451-3950.
Same-day town bike, $18; basic road bike, $30; mountain bikes/performance bikes, up to $85.
Full Cycle-Downtown: 1795 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302. 1-303-440-1002.
Comfort and kids bikes, $20 up to four hours. Helmet included. Mountain, $35.
Boulder County Farmers' Market
Find great people watching and veggies, fruit, honey, granola, wine, flowers, tea and other fresh foods and gifts at this market on 13th Street between Arapahoe and Canyon, next to Central Park in downtown Boulder. Held 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays (May to October) and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays (April to November); www.boulderfarmers.org.
Hike the Flatirons
Best launch point is near the entrance of Chautauqua Park, 900 Baseline Road, Boulder, CO 80302. There is a large parking lot along with ranger station with maps and bathrooms. Trails are well marked and rated easy, moderate or difficult (difficult means difficult).
National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305. 1-303-497-1000. spark.ucar.edu/visit. Free admission.
This is a federally funded research and development center that provides research and education in the atmospheric and related sciences. The National Science Foundation is NCAR's primary sponsor, with significant additional support from other U.S. government agencies, other national governments and the private sector.
Open seven days a week; weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., guided tour at noon each day, self-guided tours available; weekends and holidays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., only cell-phone audio tours and self-guided tours available.
Free tours are offered of this tea company founded here in 1969. 4600 Sleepytime Drive, Boulder, CO 80301; 1-303-530-5300; www.celestialseasonings.com. Tours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
Closer to the Rockies
Stanley Hotel in Estes Park: 333 Wonderview Ave. Estes Park, CO 80517; 1-800-976-1377; www.stanleyhotel.com.
This Colonial-style 140-room historic hotel perched above Estes Park inspired novelist Stephen King to write "The Shining." Although exterior shots of the 1980 movie directed by Stanley Kubrick were actually filmed at Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Ore., Mr. King reportedly was unhappy with Kubrick's depiction. The 1997 TV mini-series, also based on the book, was filmed at the Stanley. Still, The Stanley, opened in 1909, is worth the visit and boasts a number of its own real ghost stories, which are recounted in pricey tours of the place. Stop for lunch and explore. $5 parking fee. Or spend the night -- if you dare.
Rocky Mountain National Park: www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm.
Fall River Visitor Center, open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is on U.S. Route 34, five miles west of Estes Park.
The park is open 24 hours year-round. Visitors can enter or exit at any time. Entrance fee for vehicles is $20; cyclists, motorcycles, mopeds and pedestrians, $10 (both valid for seven consecutive days).
Because all of the park is above 7,500 feet, acclimate yourself to the higher altitude before undertaking strenuous activities. Even driving at high elevation can affect sensitive individuals. Altitude sickness symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat and insomnia. If symptoms persist, depart for lower elevation.travel