Boulder’s got everything to fill your shopping bags: high-end designers, bargains, chains, one-of-a-kind local goodies. And while you’ll find shops scattered across the city, many cluster together in convenient shopping districts, where you can hit up a variety with only one parking stop.
Boulder has multiple full-scale malls, strip malls, collectives, markets and shopping districts.
Here’s a breakdown of where to shop in Boulder.
Pearl Street Mall
Pearl Street is not only the heart of Boulder as a city, but it’s also the main artery of shopping in town. This quirky walking mall is one of the most popular tourist destinations and it was even named one of the country’s best open-air pedestrian malls by the Wall Street Journal.
The downtown mall area is home to more than 400 businesses, from jewelry stores to bookstores to some of the more fashionable shops in town. The 40-year-old Pearl Street is a healthy combination of local and chain shops (although increasingly more the latter, due to the hefty price tag to set up shop here). Still, downtown is mostly independent stores.
This is window-shopping at its finest. In the summer, the mall is lined with quirky and talented street buskers. In the springtime, the mall comes to life with the most colorful and elaborate display of tulips you can imagine. In the winter, it rests under a canopy of holiday lights.
Popular chain stores include Athleta, Free People, Prana and Patagonia. Locally run faves include the Boulder Book Store, Classic Facets, Violette, Art Mart Gifts and Peppercorn.
The pedestrian stretch of the mall is only four blocks long (from 11th to 15th streets), but the shopping here extends much farther: from about 8th Street to the west to about 22nd Street to the east, with a few scattered shops even beyond that perimeter.
The east and west sides of Pearl are distinctly different.
The west end of Pearl has a few chains (like Urban Outfitters), but it’s proudly local. It feels quaint (despite a flashy new development near 10th Street) and winds close to the base of the foothills.
John Atencio is a high-end, Colorado-based jeweler located in the new development on west Pearl. Or for one-of-a-kind antique jewelry, Classic Facets is second to none. West Pearl also boasts the likes of Shoe Fly (for fashionable — you guessed it — shoes), Two Hands Paperie and Piece, Love & Chocolate (because chocolate makes a great gift, too).
East Pearl is longer and feels bigger-city than west, with wider-open streets farther from the mountains. It’s definitely worth the walk, especially for the independent shops like Angie Star Jewelry, Common Era and Violette (the best place in Boulder to get dresses).
Boulder Arts & Crafts
The Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery, 1421 Pearl St., is a shopping collection within a district. This shop on the mall carries goods from hundreds of artists from across the state and beyond, boasting 20,000-plus mostly one-of-a-kind products from paintings to jewelry to glass to pottery to furniture. At more than 45 years old, this gallery is one of the oldest artist co-ops in the nation. Everything here is handcrafted.
Pearl Street is a part of downtown, but don’t limit your shopping just to the street itself. Venture a bit north and south to find some incredible shopping on the fringes of downtown. Just a few of the notable offerings include the high-end Max Clothing Store, 1177 Walnut St.; the Ritz, 959 Walnut St., one of Boulder’s best costume shops; and Chantique Antiques and Chandeliers, 2020 11th St.
Boulder Farmers Market
This is another collection of local goodies, far beyond just produce. It pops up twice a week, a short distance from the Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder.
The farmers market is a popular line of more than 150 vendors selling locally made jewelry, pottery, wine, honey, cheese, plants, decor, artisan foods and more. The market has been named one of the best farmers markets in the country by multiple outlets.
The market has been a Boulder staple since the ‘80s. It runs spring through about Thanksgiving on Saturdays and Wednesday nights.
University Hill, aka “The Hill,” is south of downtown near the University of Colorado campus. Needless to say, it’s popular among the younger crowd, but visitors of all ages can enjoy the independent, unique shops here. The selection includes Albums on the Hill (a record store) the Root of the Hill (a clothing store that also sells glassware, skate stuff, art supplies and more) and The Fitter, owned by twin sisters since 1973. The Fitter sells clothes, hats, smoking paraphernalia, glass and other goodies like that.
Twenty Ninth Street Mall
The Twenty Ninth Street Mall in central Boulder features more chains and big names than anywhere else in town. Here, you’ll find Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom Rack, Lululemon, Macy’s, Anthropologie, Apple, Sephora, H&M and more.
The mall actually has several different sections separated by roads, so make sure you visit them all. The mall refers to itself as an “open-air lifestyle center.” Within walking distance is a Target and Trader Joe’s. The mall also boasts tons of great places to eat as well as a movie theater and a fitness center with a pool nearby.
Across the busy 28th Street, you can find other strip malls with more shops.
Head to south Boulder’s Table Mesa mall on South Broadway for more shopping options: in particular, outdoor shops like Neptune Mountaineering, Boulder Cycle Sport and Play It Again Sports. Score home goods at the Tuesday Morning chain.
This is the place to shop in south Boulder, with more than 50 different businesses as well as a grocery store. Table Mesa also has great coffee (Cafe Sole) and beer (Southern Sun Brewery). The shopping center was built in the ‘60s but has undergone some renovations over the years.
North Boulder has its own district, too. This one is all about art, so head here if you want something unique. The NoBo Art District organizes First Friday Artwalks, where you can visit artist studios and shop right at the source of creation. The district is a group of more than 200 local artists and creative businesses along Broadway on the most northern edge of town.
A few creative highlights here include The Amazing Garage Sale, where you can find the coolest retro furniture and home goods, and DSH Perfumes/The Essence Studio, where you can get custom perfume crafted specifically for your body and style.
Flatiron Crossing Mall
This massive mall is actually in Broomfield, but it’s a close enough drive from Boulder that it’s worth mentioning. This is more of a traditional indoor mall with just about every big chain you can imagine (about 200 stores, in fact), but it’s connected with an outdoor walking mall, as well as a great movie theater. Stores include The Container Store, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Old Navy, Forever 21 and Nordstrom.
Village Shopping Center
The Village is a collection of more than 40 locally owned shops centrally located between Arapahoe and Canyon and 28th and Folsom streets. This is an outdoor strip mall, but it’s nicely appointed and home to some of Boulder’s most beloved staples, such as McGuckins Hardware (seriously, it has everything), Grandrabbits Toy Shoppe, Colorado Multisport and Pedestrian Shops (which also has a Pearl Street presence). Also make sure you visit women’s clothng store JJ Wells and Epic Mountain Gear, to name a few of the highlights here.
Alcove on Araphoe/Arapahoe Village
Alcove on Arapahoe (also known as Arapahoe Village), 2798 Arapahoe Ave., is a smaller shopping center in central Boulder. The anchor here is Safeway, but shoppers also love to get home goods at Homegoods, Pier 1 Imports and JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts. This is also where to find a Petco in Boulder.
Crossroads Commons, 2905 Pearl St., is a busy shopping area at the end of Pearl Street. The heart here is the ever-packed Whole Foods, but the Barnes & Noble and Bicycle Village are also big draws. Crossroads Commons is also a great place to get a massage, mani/pedi, haircut, fake tan, tooth cleaning and bikini wax — maybe not all in one sitting, although you could do them all without having to get in the car.