Boulder A to Z


A guide to getting to know your new town


Albums on the Hill — Yes, Virginia, there is still such a thing as a record store. And this is a Boulder classic.

Alferd Packer Restaurant & Grill — Wondering if your university has a sense of humor? Well stroll on over to the University Memorial Center and order up a juicy roast beef sandwich at the Alferd Packer Restaurant & Grill and you’ll have your answer. As far as we know, this is the only eating establishment in the country named for a cannibal. The short version goes like this. Packer and a few other hardy souls headed west in wagons. It snowed. They got stuck in the mountains. Everybody died. Packer managed to put on a few pounds. How’s that sandwich?

Atomic clock — What time is it? If you really want to be accurate, check out the atomic clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at 325 Broadway. Boulder actually sets the time for the world. NIST makes for an interesting tour.


Bag fee — Paper or plastic? Either will get you $.10 each tacked on to your grocery bill. Get a canvas bag and use it.

Binge drinking — This is often defined as having more than four (women) or five (men) drinks in one sitting, or about two hours, bringing the blood alcohol level above .08. While you may be eager to sow your wild oats and engage in this practice regularly in college, recall the tale of Gordie Bailey, a CU fraternity pledge whose alcohol-induced death shook the university to its core in September 2004.

Boulder International Film Festival — Boulder is home to the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF), which takes place every February. Venues all over town are turned into screening rooms and the stars show up to discuss their creative work. Very cool.

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art — Visit the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) for a dose of art that will make you think. The museum is located at 1750 13th St.


Cannabis — see “Dope”

Conference on World Affairs — The Conference on World Affairs, held in April each year, is a highlight for the entire Boulder community. It’s a global conversation wherein everyone, including you, can participate. Students can volunteer or just sit in on the sessions like everyone else. In a nutshell, the conference is comprised of smart famous people discussing creative and important topics with whoever shows up and there is no charge. Don’t miss it in April.

Cruiser rides — On most Thursday evenings, a bunch of hipsters jump on their bikes and ride around downtown Boulder hollering “Happy Thursday!” There’s a different theme each week (see If you ride a fixie, have a neck-beard (or aspire to one) and like indie rock, you’ll be in good company.


Dairy Center for the Arts — If you find yourself in need of an art fix and the thought of seeing another Will Ferrell movie makes you queasy, don’t despair. Wander on over to the Dairy Center for the Arts (2590 Walnut St.). You’ll find several galleries as well as the Boedecker Theater, which tends to show great films worthy of your investment of time.

Dushanbe Tea House — For more stimulation, think caffeine. The tea house was a gift from one of Boulder’s sister cities and is an architectural wonder and a great place to drink tea or eat a fine meal.

Dope — see “Reefer”


Eldora Mountain Resort — So you wake up, look out your window, and see that two feet of fresh powder has fallen overnight. What do you do? Find somebody with all wheel drive and head 21 miles straight up Boulder Canyon until you arrive at Eldora Mountain Resort. While not big by Colorado standards, it’s a great place to test yourself after a winter storm.

Elway, John — See “Our Lord and Savior”

Emergency rooms — It’s good to know that Boulder has not one but two different emergency rooms, one at Boulder Community Hospital, 1100 Balsam Ave., and the other at Boulder Community Foothills Hospital, 4747 Arapahoe Ave.


Farmers’ Market — This is that place where you go when you want to eat healthy, when your body begins to rebel against all of the Twinkies, beer and ramen you have poured down your gullet. Open Saturdays April to November, and Wednesdays May to October.

Flatirons — You know, those cool-looking rock slabs on the mountain behind you. Despite it being everyone’s favorite mistake, these aren’t actually advisable territory for hiking after consuming alcoholic beverages or psychedelic drugs. Keep yourself safely on your couch at that point.

Fixies — This is a fun term for the fixed-gear bike favored by many in the cruiser set. (See “Cruiser Rides.”) You know how, on most bikes, you have multiple gears and you can stop pedaling and coast? On a fixie, not so much. And that allows you to do fun things like ride backwards, since the rear wheel turns in whatever direction the pedals do.

Fringe Festival — This off-beat event has something for everyone: live theatre, dance, circus art, media art, cinema, visual art, spoken word, puppetry, workshops and storytelling. It will be held Sept. 18-29 at various locations around downtown Boulder. And by various locations, we mean performances could go down in the back of a taxi or in a large cardboard box.


George, Rick — The new definition of one of the following words: Savior, scapegoat, bust, overrated, overpaid. Only time will tell which moniker gets hung on CU’s new athletic director. Lets hope it’s that first one.

GLBTQIA — Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, Intersex and Allied. The acronym may be getting longer each year, but you should get involved in one of the most significant civil rights struggles of our time by checking out the GLBTQ Resource Center on campus.

Greek life — If today’s Greek life on campus is a reflection of the culture for which it’s named, then it’s likely Pythagoras came up with his theorem while trying to calculate the shortest way home from a toga party.

Green — We assume you chose to come to school in Boulder because you already knew it is a place where environmentalism is at the forefront of nearly every decision. If not, we suggest you don’t get caught not recycling. We take that stuff seriously around these parts.


Heil & Hall — If you like exploring the outdoors, by mountain bike or by foot, these are two of the best parcels of the open space that Boulder County has become famous for. Check them out.

Heritage Center — At the top of Old Main, this serves as a museum of CU history, featuring stuff like moon rocks, Nobel prizes, athletic championship trophies, alumnus Glenn Miller’s trombone and the like.

The Hill — See map on page 19.

History Museum — As in, Boulder History Museum. If you think history is boring you don’t understand where you’re now living. Take, for example the current exhibit. It’s titled BEER! Boulder’s History on Tap. Gotta love history.


Involvement Week — Running Sept. 3-7, the week starts with fairs daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the UMC fountain area (not in the fountain itself), featuring volunteer opportunities, student groups, Greek organizations and study abroad.

International Film Series — Established in 1941, this is Boulder’s first art-house film scene. But you don’t have to wear a trenchcoat and smoke clove cigarettes to check out celluloid that you won’t see at the local multiplex.


Java — If you are going to live in Boulder and be a successful student, you must choose your coffee well. This town has an amazingly diverse coffee scene, so try them all before deciding which one will be your caffeine connection and hangout for the next few years.

Jell-O shots — The favorite drink of people who tend to spend an inordinate amount of their life reflecting on what could have been if only they hadn’t discovered Jell-O shots.

Jerks — If you aren’t sure who they are there is a good chance you are one.


KBCO — Our formerly local (they moved to south Denver) radio station that, even though it’s corporately owned, does a pretty damn good job of playing a blend of hipster pop/rock/ alternative, not to mention the fact that it releases a kickin’ live Studio C compilation disc every December.

KGNU — Our personal favorite, because it’s local and independent like us at Boulder Weekly, providing listener-supported community radio that you should donate some of your parents’ money to.

Kind — see “Joint”

Kinetic Sculpture Race — People get together and build a zany human-powered craft/sculpture that can travel on both land and water. Then they race these wacky vehicles at Union Reservoir in Longmont every summer. Go figure.

KUVO — You’re not a true college student until you have Kind of Blue on vinyl. Tune into 89.3 to listen to an awesome jazz-focused, Denver-based independent radio station.


L-towns — A few months in Boulder will leave you wondering where all the real people live. The answer is simple — the towns beginning with “L” that surround Boulder. Don’t be like your Boulder-bound classmates and venture out to Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville and Lyons.

Left Right Tim — CU’s own improv comedy group. Their act is occasionally booked in Club 156, the venue in the University Memorial Center. Best way to catch up with them is on Facebook.

Local — You can’t be in Boulder without encountering this buzzword. Local food, buy local, bank local — Boulderites prefer to spend where they live, keeping all those dollars in the community.


Marijuana — see “Weed”

Medical marijuana — “Medical” is not synonymous with “legal.” As Colorado awaits final rules for recreational marijuana, medical pot is still for people with medical issues.

Microbrews — Once you come of age, you’ll likely mature to more refined perspectives and that will include drinking beer you’ll enjoy too much to suffer it sharing a cup with a ping pong ball. Or a filthy table. And for that matter, you’ll drink it from a glass.

MIP — Minor in Possession tickets are given to those busted with alcohol and who are not of the age to have earned it. How Boulder County handles them varies based on the number of MIP tickets. They all involve fees, and even the first ticket requires paying for and attending an class on alcohol awareness. They’ll also involve a call from the CU Office of Student Conduct.

Mountains — Green, Bear, Audubon, Sanitas, Longs: Not just random words, but actually the names of some of the mountains and peaks surrounding Boulder. You could grow a beard or learn to play the washtub in a bluegrass band, but you don’t really have true mountain cred until you’ve summited a few of these suckers.


Naropa — Where the real hippies go to school.

National centers — Boulder is home to some terribly fancy equipment and some terribly smart people who know how to make use of it to research matters of critical importance. The acronyms blur, but briefly, they are NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric Research studies the atmosphere and related systems), NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which does weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring, among other things) and NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a physical sciences laboratory supporting technology development).

Ned — Nederland, visited usually for Nedfest, an annual three-day music fest the last weekend in August that highlights bluegrass, jam band and jazz music, in addition to art and beer, or for Frozen Dead Guy Days to race coffins, parade hearses and, yes, visit the frozen dead guy.


OSMP — Open Space and Mountain Parks is the branch of the city that manages the trails and open space in the area, including running the Voice & Sight tag program for dogs off leash. Their website includes descriptions of area trails and details about trailheads.

Old Main — Built in 1876, Old Main was the first building on campus and was home to the university president and his family, a library, classrooms and the start of a museum and science labs.

Our Lord and Savior — See “Elway, John.”

Out Boulder — Boulder’s nearly 20-year-old LGBTQ community organization offers services such as ambassadors for newly out youth and guidance for same sex couples with children, as well as programming, including a queer youth cabaret. The Pridehouse, at 2132 14th St. in downtown Boulder, is open for drop-ins 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and offers WiFi, printers, an LGBT library and quiet corners to study.


Pearl Street Mall — Downtown Boulder’s celebrated shopping and dining district, replete with locally owned businesses as well as some corporate big-wigs. Everything you’ll ever want to drool over, then somewhere to eat lunch afterward. See map on page 25.

Planetarium — The Fiske Planetarium has been closed for a remodel since December 2012 for a long-awaited update to the material from its initial construction … in 1975. It’s reopening fall 2013 with upgrades to the lenses and projectors to make the dome an “immersive theater” that fills a full 360 degree view with videos on astronomy, travel and art. Probably going to be pretty stunning, but we understand if you’re not cool enough to be seen at a planetarium.

Planet Bluegrass — This outdoor music venue in Lyons really does feel like a different planet when it fills up for its eco-friendly music festivals showcasing the best in bluegrass and folk music to be found anywhere around the country. While most of the action happens in the summer months, the concert series at the Wildflower Pavilion indoor facility at Planet Bluegrass is extending the season into the spring and fall.

Polar Bear Plunge — Hundreds of people jump into the frigid waters of the Boulder Reservoir on Jan. 1 each year for the annual Polar Bear Plunge. It’s all in the name of raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Pot — see “Kind”


Quaker Friends House — The Boulder Friends Meetinghouse started in the 1950s with an ad in the paper for a home gathering of people interested in a Quaker Meeting for Worship — a fundamental tenet of that religion being that a “church” is the people and not the building. People still gather at the local meetinghouse for worship — and offer adult education classes on Quakerism 101 if you’re interested to get more familiar.

Queer Initiative — A politically active student group highlighting issues facing the GLBTQIA community. If fighting for gay rights is a priority for you, look for the group’s events around campus.

Quiet — What you’ll go to Norlin Library to seek, and sometimes fail to find.


Ralphie — Just the baddest mascot in the country. CU has a real buffalo running around Folsom Field during home football games, manned by a dozen of your peers, called Ralphie Runners.

Reefer — see “Ganja”

Rockpile — Coors Field is a beautiful stadium, and the Rockpile is the cheapest way ($4) to get there for a game. Sure, the players might look like ants from the nosebleeds, but everyone in Colorado knows the Rockpile has the best atmosphere of anywhere in the stadium.

Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center — The RMPJC was created by individuals who had been involved in the peaceful protests against the Rocky Flats nuclear bomb plant (now a wildlife preserve found just east of Highway 93 south of Boulder). The center continues to organize with members and network organizations to address environmental and social justice issues. Rockin’ Betty’s Community Thrift Store benefits the center.

RTD — This company operates the buses that will take you around town if you can’t afford a car. Also, the buses are free with your student ID, so start studying those schedules.


Safe sex — Ah, yeah, well, you see, when two people really like each other… Someone has probably broached this subject with you by now, so just to revisit the basics. Get condoms and use them wisely — that’s the only form of birth control that can protect against STIs and HIV. Be smart about who and when and where and get tested (the Wardenburg Health Center can provide these services and they’re covered in your student insurance plan). It’s the adult thing to do and you are, after all, an adult now.

Silver and gold — No, we’re not talking about the faculty newspaper that was sliced out of the budget by vengeful administrators. These are your new school’s colors. Not black and gold. Silver and gold.

Slacklining — Along with ultimate Frisbee, there’s no better way to telegraph to your parents and younger friends, “I’m in college!”

Shambhala Meditation Center — This downtown center offers classes, instruction and open sessions throughout the week, as well as rural retreats. The center was established by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhism teacher who escaped Tibet at age 20 after it was overtaken by the Chinese government by traveling on foot and by horse over the Himalayas into India.

Spliff — see “Grass”


Tubing — Buy a tube from the gas station on Arapahoe and Broadway and haul it up to Eben G. Fine Park and hop in Boulder Creek. Perfect for a lazy summer day.

Tuition — Think it’s high now? In four years you’ll be look back fondly on $5,171 a semester — oh, and you’re only getting that if you’re already a Colorado resident. Tuition is increasing nearly 7 percent a year. At that rate, it’ll be $6,750 your senior year.

Trustafarian — Dude, you just gotta, like, reject all of that capitalism bullshit, man. Let me Snapchat this, just got the new iPhone. Yep, just got a new snowboard. Yeah, I’ve been to like 30 Phish shows. Anyway it’s all bullshit, y’know?


UMC — The buzzing central hub on campus, where you’ll do everything from eat to study to hone your nine-ball game to attend concerts.

Undecided — Be this major for a while, but not for too long.

Unitarian Church — Boulder’s activist community is pretty darn active. And you can find many at the Unitarian Universalist Church, a congregation focused on social justice. It’s across Foothills Parkway from CU’s Research Park.


Valmont Bike Park — For your off-road pedaling needs, Boulder’s 40-acre bike park is your ticket. Valmont Bike Park’s singletrack trail, dirt jumps and more are open from dawn ’til dusk for free.

Velodrome — The massive, undulating ring of the Boulder Valley Velodrome in Erie is a symbol of the area’s love of cycling — and, for the past month, a symbol of perseverance. While it was under construction, the outdoor speed-cycling track was hit with a storm Aug. 4, and rebuilding is still in progress.

Visual Arts Center — CU’s Visual Arts Center opened in 2010 and serves painting, sculpting, digital arts students and more. It also houses the CU Art Museum.

Voting — Elections are coming, but if we have to tell you that, why don’t you just skip to W now? Hit up to update your address and make sure you’re ready to cast a ballot in November.


Weed — see “Cannabis”

Wesley Fellowship — This progressive Christian ministry might hold the record for busiest in Boulder, with multiple events most days. Free yoga should get you in the door.

Will Vill — That’s Williams Village, nerds. Boulder’s most, well, visible buildings have their share of stories, including the famous photo of the falling bear. Don’t worry. CU has plenty of not-ugly housing, too.


X-Games — Every winter, the multi-millionaires give way to the dudes and bros in Aspen, four hours down I-70, for the Winter X-Games. X-Games 18 will be back in January, despite the death of snowmobiler Caleb Moore in the 2013 competition.

Xeriscaping — Those rock-filled lawns filled with flowery bushes rather than the usual Kentucky bluegrass? They’re not a sign of laziness, they’re a gardening method that accommodates Boulder’s low rainfall.

Xs on your hands from the bar — Yes, the instructor in your Monday morning class will notice, and she will judge the heck out of you. For hanging at bars when you’re under 21, and for evidently not owning soap.


Yoga — You don’t know about yoga? You don’t have intricate rankings of studios, teachers and class types? You don’t have a pose for every emotional state? You really must be new to Boulder.


Zero waste — Be warned. If it’s your first time sorting a meal’s remnants into recycling, composting and trash, you’ll be shocked at how little you really have to throw away. Shocked.

Ziplining — Getting to the top of mountains and then going down quickly is fun all year round. Thus, ziplining, which is gaining traction even at Colorado’s ski resorts — Vail just opened new zipline course this summer, joining courses across the Arkansas Valley in Salida, Buena Vista and Leadville.

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