Colorado is just one of the great states in the American South-West. With beautiful landscapes, historic buildings, and exciting activities, it’s bound to be fun for almost anyone. Two major tourist destinations are Colorado Springs and Boulder, which are only about 97 miles apart, so what makes them so different?
Colorado Springs is better for a family because it is cheaper and has a more natural atmosphere. Boulder is better for younger people because it’s a college town with more nightlife activities. Both have similar weather, food, and landscapes.
|Cost Range for 1 Week||$729 per person||$1,267 per person|
|Transportation||Uber, Lyft, Regional Transportation District (public transportation), rental car, taxi||Uber, Lyft, Green Ride Boulder (Shuttle Service) Regional Transportation District, rental car, taxi|
|Notable Attractions||Glen Eyrie Castle, Olympic, Training Center, US Air Force academy||The Royal Arch, Museum of Boulder, Pearl Street Mall|
|Weather||Temperate climate with warm summers and relatively dry winters. Located in Central Colorado and defined as Alpine Desert||Temperate climate with warm summers and relatively dry winters. Located in Northern Colorado and defined as High Desert|
|Food and Drink||Various types of American, Mexican, Seafood, and Asian cuisine. Known for craft beer, lamb, and bison||Various types of American, Mexican, Seafood, and Asian cuisine. Known for craft beer, lamb, bison|
|Activities for Kids||Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Williams Fire Museum, Ghost Town Museum||National Center for Atmospheric Research, Gateway Park Fun Center|
|Nature Attractions||Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Seven Bridges, Seven Falls, Cheyenne Mountain State Park||Flatirons, Chautauqua Park, Eldorado Canyon, Flagstaff mountain|
The rest of the article below compares these two Colorado cities while also showcasing the various places and activities they offer. Read on.
Cost of Stay
One of the most important factors in planning a trip is the price. Despite Bouler being just over an hour and a half away from Colorado Springs, it is much more expensive. According to this travel cost website, Colorado Springs will cost you about $729/week, while Boulder averages $1,267 per week. That’s more than a $500 difference. And that’s if you’re traveling alone!
These estimates are broken down into the cost of food, transportation, and hotels. You might spend more or less in either city depending on your personal interest, and of course, traveling with multiple people will heighten the price.
Considering that you can easily visit both cities within a day, you can get a cheaper hotel in Colorado Springs, which can be as low as $54 a night, and drive over to Boulder and enjoy them both. However, the Hotel Boulderado is a historic Boulder Hotel that many people have enjoyed since 1909.
Some man-made attractions in Colorado Springs are the United States Olympic Training Center. It was built in 1978 and is the reason why Colorado Springs is often called The Olympic City.
About 10 miles north is the Glen Eyrie castle, built by William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs—a dream house for him and his wife. It has 17 guest rooms for people who choose to buy one of their various overnight packages.
Boulder has its own share of tourist destinations, including the Pearl Street Mall, spanning four blocks with many stores, restaurants, and bars. Boulder is a college town, so there’s plenty of bars and food joints that are cheaper and probably less healthy than a traditional restaurant, which is perfect for a group of young adults who enjoy the nightlife.
Activities for Kids
Many places mentioned above are family-friendly, but some places are more geared towards children. In Boulder, they have the National Center for Atmospheric Research Visitor Center, a science museum with exhibits for the climate, even hosting an educational hike behind their lab.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs has plenty of animals and activities for kids to be busy all day. You can feed birds, goats, elephants, and giraffes! There’s also the Williams Fire Museum, showcasing the history of fire-fighting in Colorado Springs.
Assuming you live too far to drive your own vehicle to Colorado, rental cars are a popular way to get around during a vacation. In Colorado Springs, the average cost is $143 a day, while Boulder costs about $219 a day.
If you don’t drive or don’t want to pay for a rental, there are a few different ways to get around. There are taxis and ride services like Uber and Lyft, which pre-calculate the cost before you ride, unlike taxis, which usually charge per mile/meter.
There’s also public transportation like buses and trains. The Regional Transportation District in Colorado has plenty of routes and rail lines with regional day passes for $10.50. Additionally, there’s GreenRide Boulder, a shuttle bus service that prides itself on being eco-friendly.
All of Colorado has beautiful mountains, canyons, and rivers, but Colorado Springs is home to stunning natural sites, including the Garden of The Gods, a public park and national landmark. You can go rock climbing, bike riding, or just stroll around and admire the rock formations.
There’s Pikes Peak, a major Summit in the south front of the Rocky Mountains. Some other honorable mentions are Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Seven Falls, and Red Rock Canyon. Here’s a list made by TripAdvisor featuring the places listed above and some other great sights.
Boulder features the Flatirons, a popular hiking destination, and Eldorado Canyon, which is also known for rock climbing, biking, and hiking. There’s plenty of other places to see, so here’s another list of some other great places.
If you’d like a formal tour, Adventure Out West provides unique guides like Jeep tours, zipline tours, and even hot air balloon rides throughout Colorado.
Both cities are pretty similar in climate. Both cities take pride in having sunshine almost all year. While they are technically both deserts, they usually don’t go above 90℉ (32.2°C) in the summer. August has the rainiest days of the year. They can have pretty harsh, dry winters with occasional snowfall, so spring/summer is the most popular time to visit.
If you like snow or skiing, Boulder might be a better place to visit. There aren’t any ski resorts in Boulder or Colorado Springs, but Boulder is farther north and much closer to where there are great ski resorts such as Breckenridge.
Both cities have a virtually identical food scene. Neither city differs from anything else popular in the South-West, like Mexican, Asian, seafood, and traditional American staples like burger joints, diners, and cafes. Whether it’s a chain or family-owned, the food might be the most familiar thing during your trip, depending on where you come from. With that being said, Colorado state is known for its bison, lamb, and beer.
To sum things up, both cities are worth visiting and can be visited on the same trip. Both have ideal weather most of the year, with winters great for ski trips or for people who enjoy colder temperatures. The food is virtually the same in both cities, with Coloradan staples like lamb, bison, and beer.
With all these similarities taken into account, Colorado Springs is better if you’re on a budget and like a rustic feel. With many natural sights and a more family-friendly atmosphere, you should choose Colorado Springs if you are traveling with your family or just want a more relaxed vacation.
Boulder is better if you enjoy the compact city atmosphere with nightlife activities. It also has plenty of beautiful landscapes. If you like a more modern, even progressive atmosphere, Boulder’s the place to be.