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The Best Places to Adventure, Refuel, and Recover In Boulder, Colorado

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Photo: Teryn Wilkes / Getty Images

It's nearly impossible to have a lazy vacation in Boulder, CO. If you're not trail running, hiking, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking—you get the picture—chances are you're shopping in a store that sells the gear or eavesdropping on a dinner conversation recounting the epic adventures of the crew next to you.

The best part about a city that's evolved in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, just 45 minutes outside of Denver, is that the locals relax just as hard as they play. Boulder is a foodie's paradise, which makes sense given that active people are hungry people.

Since there are almost too many trails to hit, too many delicious meals to be had, and too many indulgent ways to relax, we've broken down the best ways to work up a sweat by day, refuel at night, and recover on your rest day during a trip to Boulder. (Related: The Best Places to Book a Healthy Getaway This Year)

Where to Adventure in Boulder

With an elevation of at least 5,300 feet everywhere nearby, even one-mile hikes and runs will set your lungs on fire. Get your heart racing in town with burners up Mount Sanitas, First and Second Flatirons, or Green Mountain. Escape the crowds by hitting nearby Eldorado Canyon State Park, which is filled with trails of every length and difficulty (great if you're having trouble acclimating to the altitude). Within an hour's drive, you won't be disappointed by anything in Rocky Mountain National Park or Nederland (especially Isabelle Glacier or Diamond Lake). Lastly, make an ass-kicking day of it with the long trek up Bear Peak or to Mills Lake. (Brush up on your survival skills before hitting the hiking trails.)

Test Specialized's newest mountain, road, and e-bikes with daily rentals out of their new Boulder Experience Center. Mountain bikers can practice technical skills on the trails and jumps at the Valmont Bike Park in town and, when ready, get comfortable on the easy-ish singletrack at Betasso Preserve, working their way up to the 7.8-mile loop at Walker Ranch that features two monster climbs guaranteed to burn some calories. If road is more your style, try Lance Armstrong's old (grueling) training ride on the road from Lefthand Canyon to Ward, CO.

Hone your kayak paddling skills at the 20-slalom-gate course on Boulder Creek or sign up for a whitewater rafting adventure at one of Boulder's countless guiding companies.

Climb the iconic Flatirons, which boast routes for every skill level and climbing type, or head to the legendary walls at Eldorado Canyon State Park for some serious crags. More of an aspiring rock climber? Learn how with pros at Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides or the American Alpine Institute.

Where to Refuel in Boulder

In the morning, pick up a light breakfast at vegan eatery Thrive or grab a juice at the cute minimalist café, Wonder. Skip the countless (granted, delicious) coffee shops surrounding your hotel and head straight to the big gun: cult favorite Boxcar Coffee Roasters.

Grab a sandwich to take on your hike or ride at the deli counter in the back of Lolita's Market, or on your way out of town at the delicious local chain, Snarf's Sandwiches.

After adventuring, grab a gold-standard burger and beer at the famous Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery in downtown Boulder, or switch that combo up a bit with an ah-mazing veggie burger at West Flanders Brewery (it's loaded with red beans, butternut squash, quinoa, and toasted coconut!). Other great options: Next Door, which has great upscale bar food, and Sanitas Brewery, just outside downtown, which has a taco truck alongside local brews.

For a nicer night out, you won't be disappointed with the health-conscious fare at Zeal; the seasonal American menu at Arcana; or delicious wine- and carb-loading to be found at the Italian Frasca Food & Wine.

Where to Recover in Boulder

Treat yourself—and your hard-working muscles—in true Colorado fashion: with a CBD massage at the Spa at St. Julien. The Ultimate Colorado Bliss Experience starts with a full-body exfoliation to open your pores for optimal absorption of the rest of the treatment: a CBD-infused body butter wrap and a full body massage with CBD-infused massage oil. Don't worry, you won't get high since CBD is non-psychoactive. What you will get? Soft skin and pain relief since both massage and CBD oils are known to help relieve muscle tension, reduce inflammation, and ease pain. (More on that: A Definitive List of the Proven Health Benefits of CBD Oil)

Treat your feet with a "farm to toes" pedicure at J Lounge, a salon that only uses all-natural polishes and products, and even offers a post–foot bath reflexology session for stress relief.

Hit some active recovery with a low-key trail walk around the beautiful Wonderland Lake and Four Mile Creek in North Boulder, or downtown along the Boulder Creek trail. On a beautiful day, rent tubes and hit the lazy river of Boulder Creek.

And if you even remotely enjoy yoga, you'll go crazy in this town: There's Goat Yoga at Mountain Flower Goat Dairy, Brewhouse Yoga at Sanitas Brewing, SUP Yoga with Rocky Mountain Paddleboard, Aerial Yoga at Yoga Hive, even yoga at the farmers' market on Wednesdays. You can also hit basic poses at The Little Yoga Studio, which offers drop-in classes for just $10, or sweat it out with hot yoga at CorePower.

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