Boulder A to Z


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 entire world. NIST makes for an interesting tour.

Bag fee — You may have heard that Boulder is pretty serious about addressing environmental issues — take disposable bags, for instance. In 2013, the City voted to charge 10 cents per bag at grocery stores. The store keeps four cents of the fee and the remaining six cents goes to the City of Boulder to address the impacts of disposable bags in our community.

Binge drinking — This is 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. It’s a bad idea. You might die, which is real buzzkill.

Bioneers — An international gathering of folks who want to get together and develop practical solutions for restoring the planet — but there are local chapters, like the Front Range Bioneers, who will gather for their annual conference on February 3-4, 2017.

Boulder International Film Festival — Boulder is home to the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF), which takes place every March. Venues all over town turn into screening rooms and the stars show up to discuss their creative work. You will want to attend, trust us.

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art — Visit the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) for a dose of something out of the ordinary. The museum is located just down the street from campus at 1750 13th St.

Cannabis — see “Pot”

CU Independent — The online student-run newspaper. To all our fellow newshounds out there, here’s your chance to cut your journalistic chops.

Conference on World Affairs — The Conference on World Affairs (CWA) 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, CWA is comprised of smart famous people discussing creative and important topics with whoever shows up and there is no charge. It’s the best thing 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 Arts Center — The Dairy Arts Center (2590 Walnut St.) has just about everything you need for your inner art lover — galleries, theater, dance and comedy. If you find yourself in need of film, not to be confused with a Hollywood movie made from a comic book or a 1970s cartoon series, then head to The Dairy’s Boedecker Theater. The Boedecker boasts art movies, international fare and classic films for when you want something deeper than “Fast and Furious 8.”

Drop/Add — Dates you need to know lest you find yourself missing something crucial, or inversely, in way over your head.

Dushanbe Tea House — The tea house was a gift from one of Boulder’s sister cities, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and it is truly an architectural wonder as well as a great place to drink tea or eat a fine meal.   

Dushanbe Tea HouseDope — see “Herb”

Eldora Mountain Resort — So you wake up, look out your window, and see that 2 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 — they’d hold the Olympics there if it were in the Northeast — it’s a great place to test your skills after a winter storm.

Emergency Warning Sirens — One day, out of nowhere, a voice will cry out to the city, “This is a warning system test,” followed by a sound that will make it clear the zombie apocalypse is neigh. This is Boulder’s Emergency Warning Siren, there to give us all a heads up when things like floods or wildfires threaten our beautiful valley.

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.

Farmers Market
Sue France

Flatirons — You know, those cool-looking rock slabs on the mountain behind you. Despite it being everyone’s favorite mistake, this isn’t actually advisable territory for hiking after consuming alcoholic beverages or psychedelic drugs. Keep yourself safely on your couch at that point. Don’t embarrass yourself by having to be rescued off of one of these things if you start walking up the rock without the proper gear or training.

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. CU holds their annual festival in spring, and Boulder hosts theirs at the end of summer at various locations around town. And by various locations, we mean performances could go down in the back of a taxi or in a large cardboard box.

Ganja — see “Dope”

Gender and Sexuality Center — Formerly the GLBTQ Resource Center, the Gender and Sexuality Center accepts all letters of the alphabet and those inbetween or unlabled. They’ll provide resources with everything from GLBT studies to counseling services to social activities. Stop by their office at the Center for Community.

Grades — Worth a little stress, but not an ulcer. Find a balance.

Grass — see “Weed”

Greek Life — Lots of houses on the Hill have funny letters over their front doors. Therein lies some of the campus’ Greek life. Fraternities and sororities have their benefits (Hey, these folks can all be your friends!) and their drawbacks (Oh, they’re friends you have to pay to meet).

A-Z greek life jd 2
Joel Dyer

Heritage Center — Upstairs in Old Main, one of the oldest buildings on campus, the CU museum houses memorabilia of the institution’s history, which includes moon rocks, championship trophies, even Glenn Miller’s trombone.

Herb — see “Grass”

The Hill — A place where you can find a number of establishments at which to eat, drink and be merry (or get a tan or a Brazilian wax).

History Museum — As in, Boulder History Museum, conveniently located on the Hill. This museum showcases Boulder-centric history and history of particular interest to the average Boulderite (Think: exhibitions dedicated to the history of beer, and to the evolution of active wear).

Heil & Hall — These two former ranches are now home to great hiking and mountain biking trails just north of town.

Involvement Week — Don’t know what you want to do with the next four years of your life? Check out this weeklong gathering of student groups, clubs and organizations. It’s like a buffet of things to do other than stare at that chemistry textbook. You might need that.

International Film Series — College is a time for educating yourself on the ways of the world, and film can be a great way to say “Hello” to a corner of the planet you don’t yet know. This film series showcases classics on celluloid, cutting-edge contemporary films, eye-opening documentaries and talks from professors and filmmakers.

Individual attention — Don’t get lost in the sea of students at CU. Use your professor’s office hours for conversations and questions about the material you’re covering both as a way to boost your grades and get some quality feedback.  CU also has a number of academic, professional and mental health resources when you’re feeling lost in the sea of students.

Internships — What you learn in class is a great foundation for everything else you’ll do in life, but the door to everything else begins with some work experience, the likes of which you’ll only get by, well, working somewhere. Sign up for some real-world experience with an internship and take your field of choice out for a test drive before it’s the only thing you’re qualified to do.

IRONMAN — Yes, people in Boulder really do pay to sign up to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run 26.2 miles. Boulder has its own installation of this brutal race. Enjoy.

Jam Bands — How do you know you’re listening to a jam band? Well, if it seems like you’re still listening to the same song you were 20 minutes ago … You’ve probably found one. Check out NedFest for your fill.

Jewish Festival — This one-day event features entertainment, art, ethnic food and community organizations. Check out for the next event on the Boulder County Courthouse Lawn and Pearl Street Mall.

KBCO — The former local radio station where bands in skinny jeans play live in-studio so you can later buy Live From Studio C compilations every December. It’s now based in Denver.

KGNU — Local. Independent. Baller. Like us.  When the pledge drive comes around, be sure to give them some of your parent’s money.

Green Room
Susan France

Kind — see “Mary Jane”

Kinetic Sculpture Race — Kind of like that time in high school you duct-taped a couch to a skateboard and raced it against a recliner on a shopping cart, except, you know, legit. Every year, mad scientists build human-powered sculptures capable of traveling on land and sea and then race them at Union Reservoir in Longmont. Wear a helmet.

KUVO — The radio station you claim to listen to when trying to appear more sophisticated than the average KBCO-listening knuckle-dragger, or when you have researched a little too much “kind.” Why? Cause it’s all jazz, baby.

L-towns — Boulder’s neighbors, Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette and Lyons. They’re EVERYWHERE, and they’ve each got their own personalities to explore. (Note: Very different from eTown.)

Left Right TIM — Need to learn to think on your feet to explain why you missed yet another deadline on your thesis? CU’s improv comedy group may be just the inspiration you need. Every Friday of the school year, Left Right TIM can be found performing in Room 270 of the Hale Science Building on campus.

Mary Jane — see “Reefer”

Microbrews — Beers that are served without ping-pong balls floating in them. Boulder’s got plenty to offer when you need a break from Keystone Light.

MIP — Remember when you were younger and didn’t place in a sporting event, but still got a ribbon labeled “Participant?” MIPs (minor in possession) are like that, except the event is getting hammered, and the ribbon will cost you a big fine and an afternoon listening to old people drone on about the dangers of [insert whatever you were caught drinking or smoking here], and you may end up with a criminal record instead of ice cream from your parents.

Mountains — Large mounds of dirt on which you can drink or smoke to decrease the likelihood of getting a MIP. Also, a majestically scenic backdrop to our lovely community that will provide you a multitude of outdoor recreation activities.

Naropa — The “that school of yours,” in the phrase “Is that what they teach you in that school of yours?” See “Best Schools for Underwater Basket Weaving” or “Horse Psychology.”

National Centers — While you may have come to CU Boulder for the cheap weed and hula-hooping, a lot of your professors came for the plethora of major research laboratories located in Boulder. The National Center for Atmospheric Reseach (NCAR), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are all here. Boulder is also home to some of the premiere research in hacky-sacking, but it isn’t an official national center.

Ned — The thing you’re allowed to call nearby Nederland once you’ve been formerly introduced to the mountain community by visiting one of its music festivals or Colorado’s weirdest city-event, Frozen Dead Guy Days. Until then, you have to call it Mr. Nederland.

OMSP (Open Space Management and Mountain Parks) — The government agency tasked with managing Boulder’s trails and open spaces, primarily by ticketing you for littering or walking your dog off-leash. So don’t do those things. The OMSP website has loads of helpful maps of places not to walk your dog off-leash.

Old Main — The first building constructed on CU campus in 1876 that housed the university president, a library, classrooms and the start of a science lab.

John Elway tosses footballs to the crowd during the Chairman's United Service Organizations Holiday Tour here Dec. 14.
John Elway tosses footballs to the crowd during the Chairman’s United Service Organizations Holiday Tour here Dec. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Marc Barnes)

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

Out Boulder — The advocacy and guidance group for the local LGBTQ community that also stages events like queer youth cabaret. Drop-in services and a resource library available at The Pridehouse at 2132 14th St., in downtown Boulder from 9 a.m.-1p.m. on Tuesday through Friday.

Pearl Street Mall — Downtown Boulder’s celebrated shopping district, replete with locally owned businesses, as well as some corporate outlets. It also has great restaurants, live music and street performances that just might make you say, “I don’t think that child should be standing so close to that.” When you turn 21, you’ll surely get acquainted with the Pearl Street bar scene — and don’t forget to kiss the buffalo at The Pub, or you’ll have seven years of bad luck.

Planetarium — The Fiske Planetarium recently underwent a huge upgrade, including new lenses and projectors that make the dome an “immersive theater” that fills a full 360 degree view with videos of travel, astronomy, music and lasers. It’s where Galileo and Led Zeppelin meet back on the other side.

Planet Bluegrass Ranch — 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 found anywhere in the country. While most of the action happens in the summer months, the concert series at the Wildflower Pavilion indoor facility extends the season to spring and fall.

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 attending a Quaker Meeting for Worship — a fundamental tenet of the religion being that a “church” is the people and not the building. People still gather at the local meetinghouse for worship, where they offer education classes on Quakerism and all the Oat Squares you can eat.

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 baseball stadium in the heart of Denver, and the Rockpile is the cheapest way to enjoy it. Sure, the players might look like ants from the nosebleeds, but everyone in Colorado knows the Rockpile has the best atmosphere anywhere in the stadium.

Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center — The RMPJC was created by individuals who peacefully protested the Rocky Flats nuclear bomb plant (now a wildlife preserve found just east of Highway 93 south of Boulder). The center continues to organize members and network organizations to address environmental and social justice issues.

RTD — The company operating the buses that will take you around town if you can’t afford a car or can’t afford legs to pedal your bike. Also, the buses are free with your student ID, so start studying those schedules.

Safe Sex — Hopefully your mom or dad has already sat you down in that room in your house that has nice furniture but no one ever sits in unless there’s company over and talked to you about s-e-x. If not, here’s some basics. Get condoms and use them wisely. Be smart about the whos, whens and wheres of doin’ it, and get tested (the Wardenburg Health Center can provide these services and they’re completely covered in your student insurance plan). It’s the smart thing to do.

Practice safe sex, kids.
Practice safe sex, kids. Wikimedia Commons

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 schools colors. Not black and gold like you will be seeing everywhere. Silver and gold.

Slacklining — Along with ultimate Frisbee, there’s no better way to let the world know you’re 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 Buddhist 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.

Tubing — Buy a tube from the gas station, or rent from any number of vendors in town, and haul it up to Eben G. Fine Park and hop into Boulder Creek. Perfect for a lazy summer day, and an excellent alternative to attending the first day of classes — we’re just kidding. Go to class.

Tuition — Think it’s high now? Tuition is increasing roughly 7 percent a year. If that’s not motivation to graduate in three years, we don’t know what is.

Trustafarian — Dude, you just gotta, like, reject all of that capitalism crap, you know, man? Let me Snapchat this, just got the new iPhone. Yep, just got a new snowboard. Yeah, I’ve seen The Cheese like 30 times, man.  Anyway, it’s all bullshit, you know? That’s a trustafarian.

UMC — University Memorial Center, where you can buy and sell your books, grab some grub, study, bowl and find dozens of clubs and organizations to get involved with at CU.

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

Unitarian Church — In Boulder, everyone has a social issue or four they are deeply passionate about. Find other folks to be passionate and active with at the Unitarian Universalist Church, a congregation focused on social justice. The church is located across Foothills Parkway from CU’s Research Park.

Valmont Bike Park — If you like your cycling to be off-road, this is 40 acres of pure awesome just for you. Valmont’s singletrack trail, dirt jumps and more are open dawn ‘til dusk for free.

Velodrome — A testament to Boulder County’s undying love of cycling, the velodrome is a 250-meter work of art designed to accommodate the world’s fastest cyclists and beginners alike. The Velodrome finally opened in 2015 after years of setbacks.

Visual Arts Center — CU’s Visual Arts Center opened in 2010 and houses painting, sculpting, digital arts and more. It’s also home the CU Art Museum. Pop in when you want a shot of art on your way to class.

Voting — Something you should be doing every chance you’re given. Elections are just around the corner, so get registered to vote and keep an eye out for BW’s Voter Guide on Oct. 6 to help you navigate candidates and their take on issues that matter to you.

Wardenburg Health Center — These people will help keep you healthy, wealthy and wise. But mainly just healthy.

Weed — see “Cannabis”

Wesley Fellowship — This progressive congregation will feed your soul in a number of ways. Take advantage of a free yoga class on Monday nights, or take part in their Peanut Butter N’ Luvin’ program and serve many of Boulder’s “visible” homeless population.

Will Vill — Also known as “Chill Vill” or “Trill Vill,” Williams Village was the site of the now infamous “falling bears” picture. Bears aren’t common, so don’t freak out. Will Vill has tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, a soccer field and it’s own Rec Center.

X-Games — Returning to Aspen January 26–29, 2017. For four days, the world’s best athletes in skiing, snowboarding and snowmobile get extreme to the max.

Xeriscaping — You might think landscaping with rocks and bushes is unattractive, but it’s a form of gardening that accommodates Boulder’s low rainfall. 

Yellow Deli — Sitting at the corner of Ninth and Pearl, a religious group known as the Twelve Tribes runs this 24-hour joint. You’ll hear all kinds of crazy stories about the Yellow Deli, but it’s a great alternative to Denny’s or IHOP when you need a quiet place to study and a cup of joe at 2 in the morning.

Yoga — Around here, it’s a way of life. Get those stretchy pants on, dear reader, and assume downward dog.   

CorePower Yoga
Sue France

Zero waste — Something CU takes pretty seriously. “Ralphie’s Green Stampede” is an initiative to create a zero waste football stadium. The University was the first major collegiate or professional sports program in the U.S. to undertake such a measure. Dorms and businesses around Boulder offer recycling and composting, so read the signs about what you can and can’t throw in each bin.

Ziplining — Go down a mountain really fast even in the summertime. A lot of places around Colorado are getting in on the ziplining craze. Check out courses in Vail, Salida, Glenwood Springs, Buena Vista and Leadville. And don’t forget to clip in.

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