If you love animals, you’re going to love Boulder County. Whether you’re planning a dog-cation or want to immerse yourself in wildlife, here are 15 of our favorite things to do in Boulder for animal-lovers:
1. Hit the Bar
Romero’s K9 Club and Tap House in Lafayette is a full-on doggie bar. Dogs are welcome to relax next to their owners here. Sip a local brew or beer or kombucha while your dog snacks on spent grain dog treats. Just outside of the bar is a full dog park where dogs can frolic with each other. Need another beer? Just head to the open-style window and the bartender will give you a refill.
Be sure to register your dogs before heading over to the clubhouse.
2. Take Pictures of Wildlife
Boulder is a great place to look for and photograph wildlife. In fact, Boulder County is home to some of the state’s most diverse wildlife: at least 64 mammals, more than 100 birds, more than 200 butterfly species, plus reptiles, amphibians and insects, according to the Boulder County Wildlife Project. (You can get involved with this project to help document local wildlife and protect open space.)
Not sure where to start for photography? Check out the Boulder Nature Photography Meetup Group and ask for tips. You may also want to get involved with Critter Snap, a citizen science project that contains hundreds of photos from wildlife cameras.
For some remote fun, view Boulder County’s trail cams and see what wildlife you can spot without having to leave your desk.
iNaturalist is another online database that animal-lovers may enjoy exploring.
3. Visit the Dog Park
Boulder has four different dog parks. The East Boulder Dog Park, 5660 Sioux Drive, has a separate area for large dogs and small dogs, plus water access at a small lake (which is open). The Foothills Dog Park, 800 Cherry Ave., also has separate areas for dog sizes, and it totals 2 acres.
The Howard Heuston Off-Leash Dog Area is a little different and has different rules. This is for dogs who have been cleared under voice and sight control. Learn more on the Howard Heuston webpage. Then there’s the Valmont Dog Park, near 5300 Valmont, which is located at Valmont City Park.
4. Attend a Boulder Humane Society Event
The Humane Society of Boulder Valley regularly holds fun events that raise money to help local animals The biggest annual event is called Puttin’ On the Leash. This springtime gala will be April 18, 2020, at the CU Events Center. Another popular fundraiser in the fall is the Doggie Dash, a fun run/walk at the Boulder Reservoir. The event in 2019 raised $125,000.
Check the humane society’s Facebook events calendar for the full list of pet-centric activities for a good cause.
5. Go Shopping
The humane society runs its own thrift store, the Humane Society of Boulder Valley Community Resource Center & Thrift Shop, to raise money to help local animals. It also happens to be one of our favorite local shops. You can find some real gems here, and knowing you’re shopping for a good cause helps ease any money guilt. The thrift store recently reopened, so even if you’ve browsed before, head back and give it a second shot. The new space features a book and jewel retail shop.
If you want to go shopping with your pup and get him some treats for being The Best Good Boy Ever, head to PC’s Pantry, a dog store, bakery and deli where your fur-baby can pick out handmade treats.
While dogs aren’t supposed to be on the pedestrian stretch of the Pearl Street Mall (much to many dog-lovers’ surprise), Farfel’s Farm in downtown welcomes them. Find one-of-a-kind leashes, collars, harnesses, toys, natural foods and more. Plus, it rescues dogs from high-kill shelters. Farfel’s Farm claims it’s Boulder’s only dog and cat boutique and rescue.
6. Visit a Dog Psychic
Technically JoLee Wingerson is an “animal communicator.” She has been doctor-doolittling pets since 2002 and says she can communicate with any pet you have, including but certainly not limited to dogs, cats, horses, turtles and ducks. Wingerson is located on Conestoga Court near the restaurant Blackbelly but will happily hold video and phone sessions for you and your pet.
Spirit Whispering is Wingerson’s company and while she specializes in pet communication, she provides spiritual guidance for people as well. She says she can help strengthen the relationship between you and your pet, resolve your pet’s emotional issues and support you and your pet during their passing. Wingerson says she looks at the soul of your pet to help you understand them more.
7. Take a Hike
Boulder County has many dog-friendly hiking trails. Learn where and how you can go hiking off-leash and more here: Your Dog Can Hike Off-Leash on Boulder’s Trails. Here’s How.
8. Help Wildlife
Volunteer to help injured, sick or orphaned wildlife at the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Longmont. The center relies on the help of volunteers to care for thousands of birds and animals in need. Hand-feed baby wildlife, prepare food and clean cages. Kids can help, too.
Greenwood also has its own thrift store, where you can shop to raise money for the center, and it holds special events every year.
9. Grab a Bite to Eat
Boulder County has some pet-friendly restaurants and breweries. Well, at least pet-friendly patios. Here’s the full scoop on where to go out to eat with your doggo.
10. Stay in a Pet-Friendly Hotel
If you’re traveling with your dog or just want to plan a staycation, Boulder has plenty of pet-friendly hotels. There’s even one with a special doggie room service option. Read all about it here.
11. Go Swimming
The Canine and Conditioning Rehabilitation Group in Broomfield is a fun destination spot for pups of all ages, shapes and sizes. For the fit, healthy dog, they have an open pool. If your dog is a social butterfly, they have open swim times every day. They even have reserved times for shy canines. Your dog will love leaping into the water after toys, swim races with other pups and learning how to swim by CRCG’s instructors.
For the geriatric pet, they provide canine physical therapy, rehabilitation, chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture. The facility is fit with underwater treadmills and a weightless pool to fit your pet’s specific needs.
If your dog is more of an outdoor swimmer, Union Reservoir in Longmont has a great dog beach.
You can even take your pup on a SUP (stand-up paddleboard) on Boulder Reservoir.
12. Do a Photo Shoot
Memorialize your pet’s cuteness in a photo shoot. Boulder is home to multiple pet photographers, such as Allison Mae Photography. Since pets are her specialty, she knows how to tame the wild ones and encourage camera shy. She offers “stylish and modern photography for awesome people and their pets” and has been doing it for more than eight years, full time.
13. Go on a Field Trip for Birds
Love birds? The Boulder County Audubon Society organizes various field trips where people get together to look for and learn about local birds. There’s First Sunday bird watching in Lafayette and special events, like a “Forest Birds” walk. In 2018, the Forest Birds walkers saw more than 150 forest-dwelling birds on a 3-mile hike through the fall colors.
Learn about more opportunities on the Boulder County Audubon Society’s Facebook.
14. Visit the Farm
Boulder County has many farms that open their doors to visitors, who can pet, feed, ride or hang out with the farm animals. For example, the Ya-Ya Farm and Orchard has draft horses, turkeys, peacocks, chickens, donkeys and horses. The Sunflower Farm has goats, sheep, llamas, chicken, a donkey, peacocks and even a tortoise. You can even do goat yoga with baby goats.
Another great place to see farm animals is at the annual Boulder County Fair.
15. Ride Horses.
The Flatirons Equestrian Center in Lafayette offers all things horse: riding lessons, day camps, longer camps, clinics, horsemanship lessons, field trips, horse boarding, schooling shoes and special events, like birthday parties.
For another type of horseback riding, the Rocky Mountain Riding Therapy is a nonprofit therapeutic program that offers horse-assisted activities and therapies for kids and adults with emotional, physical and cognitive disabilities, or behavioral/sensory issues.
Along the same lines, Medicine Horse in Louisville offers a wide range of programs, such as a horse-riding group for teenagers struggling with self-esteem, emotional regulation or substance abuse.