Read This:100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

I’ve got a book you absolutely MUST read! 

There’s so much to explore in this world that, too often, we’re overwhelmed. Luckily for us, there are guidebooks written by experts that can clearly help us decide where to visit next.

Such is the case with a new book by renowned travel writer Sandra Bornstein, our History Comes Alive Through Travel Editor. 

 Read This: 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die

Bornstein’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Boulder Before You Die, is a GEM! Whether you’re a Boulder regular or haven’t been yet, this book truly offers you 100 things that entice you to visit, make you hungry, pique your interest, and start making travel plans. From the great outdoors to places to eat, culture to sports, and so much more, this book is filled with great ideas and local knowledge. I've not been yet, but Bornstein definitely put it on my list!

Highly, highly recommended. 

We were lucky enough to chat with Bornstein about her book, inspiration, joys and challenges of writing it, and more. Here’s what she had to say…

Sandy hiking in Eldorado Canyon State Park just south of Boulder. From Read This: 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die
Sandy hiking in Eldorado Canyon State Park just south of Boulder

Please tell us about your new book, 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die...
My book, 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die, is part of a series of books published by Reedy Press. These books have five categories—Food & Drink, Music & Entertainment, Sports & Recreation, Culture & History, and Shopping & Fashion. Since each community has a wide range of strengths and weaknesses, the number of items in each category is dependent on the destination. To accommodate Boulder’s main attributes, I shined the spotlight on restaurants and outdoor adventures, while also making sure the city’s other gems were not forgotten. 

Since the potential readership includes students, their parents, visitors of all ages, and locals, I had to include a cross section of places. While some vignettes will appeal to single people others are more family orientated. To help parse out the best options for specific situations, I included suggested itineraries for the following categories—Only in Boulder, Outside Boulder, Downtown Area, Family Fun, History Comes Alive, Entice the Palate with Ethnic Cuisine, Expand Your Horizons, At Your Leisure, Romantic Encounters, and Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with the Buffaloes.

For extended stays and for locals, I included a dozen places outside Boulder that can be explored during a day trip or longer. With an abundance of things to do in the surrounding area, it was a challenge to narrow down my selection. A limited amount of space, along with the mandated word count, prevented me from including everything that deserved a shout out. 

What inspired you to write this book?
Boulder has always been a special place for me. I met my husband, Ira, when I was a college freshman at the University of Colorado. After becoming engaged, I had two choices. I could accept a long-distance relationship and remain in Boulder, while he attended law school in Chicago, or we could marry and relocate to Chicago. 

Tears rolled down my cheek when we drove east. Ira promised that we would return one day.  Decades later, Ira kept his promise. We moved our primary residence to Colorado. Even though we have lived just outside Boulder, in Boulder and Jefferson Counties, for more than two decades, we have spent a considerable amount of time over the years enjoying the city and university events. Three out of our four sons are CU graduates. 

Even though we have traveled extensively, I can think of only a handful of places in the world that I’d want to showcase in a guidebook. For a city of a little more than 100,000 residents, Boulder has so much to offer. If you have yet to visit Boulder, I encourage you to add it to your future travel list.

Sandy and Ira hiking on a Chautauqua Trail. From Read This: 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die
Sandy and Ira hiking on a Chautauqua Trail

This book is jam-packed with goodness; I'm sure it was hard to choose only 100. What were the joys and challenges of researching and writing this book?
I signed the contract to write the book in June 2020. I was excited to learn more about the popular, as well as the less frequented, places in the city. With many guidelines to follow, I knew up front that it would be challenging to select which entities would make the cut. I also had to determine how many places would fit into each category. Luckily, I was able to put multiple entries on a page, so the total number is far more than 100. 

While I assumed that the pandemic would make it difficult to travel to another state or overseas, I did not anticipate how COVID restrictions would cripple the local businesses and tourist venues. Lockdowns, minimal operations, outright closures, and the fear of contracting COVID were significant obstacles. 

Instead of having first-hand visits, I was forced to write emails, make phone calls, and do research online. As well-established, popular entities started to close both temporarily and permanently, I realized that it was inevitable that some of the places that I intended to include in the book might not survive the pandemic. I had to be patient. I waited many months before I could ascertain the overall effect on Boulder, especially since it was a college town. The places mentioned in the book are different, in many respects, from my preliminary list. 

Within less than two months of signing the contract, Ira was diagnosed with glioblastoma, terminal brain cancer. I was unable to focus on the book while Ira was recovering from brain surgery and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Fortunately, this period coincided with significant COVID restrictions. A few months before my next book deadline, Ira insisted that I focus my energies on completing the remaining segments of the book and proofreading the completed text.

Whenever COVID outbreaks waned and I felt comfortable leaving my home, I made onsite visits. If people did not respond to my attempts to connect, I did not linger. Cooperation was key. I couldn’t include entities that would not respond to my queries.

Writing the book tested my abilities to be concise. With a strict word count for each vignette, I had to choose my words carefully. But at the same time, I needed to make sure that I included as many places as possible since I knew that there were far more than 100 places worth mentioning. Simultaneously, I had to single out unique places that represented Boulder’s evolving culture.

Having experienced the self-publishing process, I was thrilled to have a publisher. I didn’t have to forge my own path. Instead, I was guided by a team of professionals who had taken this journey many times before with a multitude of other authors.

Sandy Bornstein hiking on a foothills trail in Boulder. From Read This: 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die
Sandy Bornstein hiking on a foothills trail in Boulder

What might people be surprised to learn about Boulder?
Cities with a little more than 100,000 people usually have a limited number of popular attractions. Boulder has a plethora of inside and outside venues, along with a noteworthy culinary scene. While many adventure seekers come to the area to take advantage of the city’s foothill location, less active visitors will be impressed with the variety of small museums that enrich both young and old. A significant number of entities have been a part of the Boulder scene for decades.

Is weather a factor for people choosing when to visit?
Boulder is a year-round destination. However, some of the places mentioned in the book are only operating during certain seasons. To address this issue, an index is included at the end of the book to highlight the popular things to do in the winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Overall, Boulder has a mild climate with an abundance of sunshine and little humidity. With few days of extreme temperature, Boulder’s weather is agreeable to most. However, people coming from places at sea level should be prepared. Boulder is considered a high desert where high altitude sickness is a possibility. 

What's up next for you?
For the time being, I will be promoting the book by writing stories about Boulder and appearing at presentations, local events, and book signings. I’m hoping that my efforts will bring more attention to the book and what Boulder has to offer.

After the initial marketing period is behind me, I will consider undertaking the challenge of publishing another travel book. I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing about Boulder, Colorado. The next topic has yet to be determined.

I am also interested in sharing what I have learned since Ira’s glioblastoma diagnosis. Far too often, patients and care partners simply give up after they hear the words, “terminal brain cancer.” I realize that in many instances the patient is saddled with an abundance of medical issues that are not likely to improve. However, in an unknown number of people, it is possible to regain one’s prior quality of life and/or live far longer than the dire prognosis. Even though many are unable to travel after the diagnosis, Ira and I have been fortunate to travel extensively. Oh yes, the importance of exploring the world would be part of a book about glioblastoma.

Sandy and Ira Bornstein on the deck at the Boulder Museum. From Read This: 100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die
Sandy and Ira Bornstein on the deck at the Boulder Museum

How can people find your work?
I currently have two websites: and The first website was designed as a hub for my published books. Since my first book, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life: A Memoir, showcases my expat teaching experience in Bangalore, India, many of my initial posts were geared toward educators and for people who want to travel outside their comfort zone. I also started writing stories addressing midlife challenges. 

After Ira was diagnosed in 2020 with glioblastoma, terminal brain cancer, I added a For Glio page. This page offers useful tips for families facing terminal diseases and simultaneously encourages people to embrace life rather than cancer. Another page—100 Things Boulder—was recently inserted to promote my second book. I will be sharing information about my events and Boulder updates in this space.

When my travel writing gained more traction, I launched The Traveling Bornsteins. Travelers, destination representatives/public relations companies/tour operators, and publishers use the site for different reasons. On the portfolio page, I place PDF versions of my published stories. While PDF versions can be cumbersome, I learned a long time ago that links can easily become corrupted, and that websites can abruptly cease operations. 

Since my travel stories have appeared in dozens of print and online media outlets in the United States and elsewhere, I want to make sure that my writing will remain available for as long as The Traveling Bornsteins remains online. Travelers use this site to find useful information and helpful tips. People responsible for approving media trips can review my published work in one convenient location while publishers and editors who are looking for new writers can assess my writing and research skills. Additional pages include information about my books as well as information on how to work with the Traveling Bornsteins. Some of our amazing digital images are also showcased.

I encourage anyone who loves outdoor adventures, cruises, family travel, romantic getaways, exploring restaurants, health/wellness retreats, and historic sites to visit the Portfolio Page on The Traveling Bornsteins website and to visit for updates on the book and tips on how to keep moving forward with glioblastoma.