Freeway-Free in Colorado: Treasure-Hunting in Boulder
Once you are in Boulder, you could simply enjoy the atmosphere of the bustling University of Colorado campus, or spend your time hiking and rock-climbing in the FlatIrons above town. But if your interests are less academic and less strenuous, your explorations may lead you to a number of Hidden Treasures.
Easiest to find and most likely to absorb a full afternoon: The Pearl Street Mall. Boulder was among the first small towns to recognize that its brick-clad downtown was a potential magnet for walkers and shoppers. Instead of succumbing to the lure of Federal redevelopment dollars, and trading in the red-brick buildings for stucco blocks and a parking garage as did many similar towns, the town fathers opted for blocking off several blocks of the old downtown area, labeling it a Historic District, and converting it into a park for browsers and strollers.
One of the don’t -miss shops is the Boulder Book Store, a multi-leveled maze of marvelous tomes both new and used, that looks like it was conceived by the same interior decorator as put together Ollivander’s Wand Shop in the Harry Potter novels. It is almost impossible to enter this store and leave again without finding at least one volume you have always wanted to read, have been trying to find forever, or for some other reason cannot leave without.
Another don’t’-miss is Peppercorn, a housewares shop which as far as I can tell really does have everything. If you have always wanted corn-cob holders in the shape of cows, or have been looking for a mango splitter, this is the place. Happily, the staff knows their stock and can lead you directly to the item you ask for; otherwise, you might wander forever among the fascinating cooking tools and cutlery. Sticking with the Harry Potter metaphors, this shop is like the Room of Requirement, stuffed with everything anyone might have ever wished for.
But the Mall is more than just shopping. Almost every block boasts a fountain, sculptures, benches for sitting, and performance spaces. On the day I last visited I caught a performance by a group of youngsters performing on xylophone. A sunny day, an ice cream cone in hand… who could ask for more?