The Mayor Goes Shopping on Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado
Shopping along Pearl Street is a longtime Colorado tradition, even for people outside of the state. Case in point, when my mother visits from Oregon, she always requests that we spend an afternoon shopping on Pearl Street.
I shopped Pearl Street Mall last Wednesday with my friend Karen on what was probably the last 80-degree day of the year. If you aren’t familiar with Pearl Street, it’s a stretch of road in Boulder, Colorado, bordered by lots of locally owned shops, restaurants and bars. And no matter the day of the week, it’s always a hub of activity.
We parked at the garage on Walnut Street below the St Julien Hotel & Spa. The hotel, which is glorious by the way, smells amazing thanks to their spa, and because of its proximity to the St. Julien, the underground garage is the best smelling parking garage in the world. This city should use this in any future parking garage marketing campaigns.
Our first stop on Pearl Street was Alpine Modern, a gift store and coffee shop that sells everything from adorable handmade wooden birds to gorgeous watches. I love the crisp, modern and slightly Nordic feel of the shop.
We then popped into Piece, Love & Chocolate because … chocolate! My favorite gift idea was the box of Colorado spirits truffles. The collection includes 15 handcrafted truffles infused with Colorado’s finest beers, wines and spirits. This gift box is in my letter to Santa this year.
We had lunch reservations at Riff’s Urban Fare, just a hop and a skip down Pearl from the chocolate shop. After we were seated on the patio, we were given the daily menu and the server informed us that it “included fresh items the chef picked from his garden that morning.”
We started with glasses of wine, a Moniker Chardonnay for me and an Italian Pinot Grigio for Karen. Riff’s has a lovely wine list and a nice selection of local craft beer as well.
Our appetizer, a honey-roasted pear served with prosciutto, greens, crumbles chevre and black pepper honey was delightful. The honey makes this dish. I went with our server’s recommendation for my lunch entree, the grilled chicken sandwich from Wednesday’s “daily” menu. Karen had a delicious and picture-perfect dish; a crab-stuffed avocado that was almost too pretty to eat.
In a town where restaurants work extra hard to impress, Riff’s did not disappoint and indeed exceeded our expectations.
Happy and full, we set out on a shopping mission to hit some more of Pearl Street’s locally owned shops. The warm fall day made it perfect for walking this colorful Boulder promenade, which features the occasional busker belting out opera or juggling fire.
We browsed the famous Boulder Book Store which was founded in 1973, making it older than me. It’s larger than I realized and it’s easy to miss a floor, so go in with the intention to explore its many nooks and crannies.
Next up was Peppercorn, a kitchen store in which I had to refrain from buying all the things. Another longtime Pearl Street tradition, Peppercorn is owned by Doris Houghland, who opened it as a cooking school and small gourmet kitchen store in 1977.
As some of you know, I love spicy food, and the Peppercorn’s bottled sauces section almost brought me to my knees – it’s beyond amazing. Whether you’re looking to gift someone a set of cookware or simply need stocking stuffers, Peppercorn is the place to go.
From Boulder’s oldest kitchen store, we walked the short distance to what is one of Colorado’s oldest, family owned shoe stores, Pedestrian Shops. In business for nearly half a century, this store specializes in selling the world’s most comfortable brands of shoes. Their headquarters are on Pearl with their second shop at the Village Shopping Center.
By this point, we were ready for a drink, so we stopped in at the new cafe at Full Cycle, a bike shop that’s been in Boulder since 1989. The bright and airy new tap room and espresso bar is a great place to grab a local craft beer and an empanada or panini sandwich.
Our last stop was the most interesting of the day. Art Source International is in its 38th year of business and has been under the same ownership for that entire time. Filled with antique maps as well as prints, globes, posters and wall art, there’s a lot to take in at Art Source International. It’s not often that one runs across a map store in Colorado, so this shop was a real treat.
As a travel writer, you might expect that I like maps, but my husband is the real aficionado and thanks to him, the walls of our home are covered in them. I can’t wait to take him back to Art Source International.
Whether you go to shop, dine or people watch, Boulder’s Pearl Street is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Read the first post in my three-part shopping series: The Mayor Goes Shopping in the Choice City, Fort Collins, Colorado
This post is sponsored by First National Bank.