Boulder: Best-Ever City

by Dom Nozzi

I have lived in and visited quite a few cities in my life. Some cities excel in having charming, romantic streets that I absolutely love (most all of them are in Europe, and almost none of these streets are found in the US). Other cities have unparalleled restaurants. Or transit. Or easy access to jaw-dropping outdoor experiences. Some cities are highly educated and have wonderful schools. Others have an incredible tree canopy. Or a spectacular diversity of great live music. Or great weather. But overall, no city I’ve ever lived in or visited has come close to achieving the vast number of categories of excellence as the city of Boulder, Colorado. The following list shows that in an enormous amount of categories important in determining the quality of a city, Boulder is highly ranked in an astonishing number of them. This list does well in helping to explain why I am so happy and feel so fortunate to be living in this remarkable city.

Boulder’s Recent Superlatives and Rankings

  • Boulder ranked #1 for most fitness-friendly city in the US (SmartAsset, April 2015)
  • Boulder ranked #1 for smartest city in the US (MarketWatch, Jan. 2, 2015)
  • Boulder ranked #1 for best quality of life for a mid-sized city (, August 2014)
  • Boulder ranked #1 for best college town in U.S. (Best College Town Review, August 14, 2014)
  • Boulder ranked #1 for thinnest city in U.S. (Outside Magazine, Apr 7, 2014)
  • Boulder ranked #1 for tech startups (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Aug 14, 2013)
  • Boulder ranked the top college town by (August 2, 2013)
  • Boulder was ranked #1 on Richard Florida’s list of most creative cities (which is a combination of technology, talent and tolerance)(Florida, 2012, The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited)
  • Boulder was named the most creative city (The Daily Beast, June 27, 2012)
  • Boulder was named the third-fittest city in the western U.S., according to a list of the nine fittest cities in the West released today by Sunset magazine (June 5, 2012)
  • City with Lowest Percentage of Obese People: Boulder ranked the thinnest (Gallup-Healthways poll, March ’12 and April ’13)
  • Healthiest city: Boulder ranked 3rd (The Atlantic Cities, Jan. ’12)
  • Most Artistic City: Richard Florida ranked Boulder #8 on December 4, 2011
  • “Clean/Green” job creation, exports, job concentration, wages: Boulder County ranked 1st (Brookings Institution’s Metro Policy Program, July ’11)
  •  Most well-read city in the US: Boulder ranked 5th (, May 2011)
  • Most artistic city in the US: Boulder ranked 8th (Richard Florida, December 2011)
  • Boulder’s university (Colorado University) ranked top party school in nation (Playboy, April ‘11)
  • Top 10 Winter Towns (National Geographic Traveler, Jan. ‘11)
  • Top 25 Destinations in the US (TripAdvisor, January 2010)
  • Eleven Most Bike Friendly Cities in the World: Boulder ranked 4th (Virgin Vacations, Jan. ’10)
  • Happiest and Healthiest City: Boulder ranked 1st in both categories (Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Feb. ‘10)
  • America’s Best Bike Cities: Boulder ranked 3rd (Bicycling magazine, May ’10)
  • America’s Best College Towns (, June ’10)
  •  Top 25 Small Cities for Art: Boulder ranked 9th  (AmericanStyle magazine, June ‘10)
  • 10 Best Cities for the Next Decade (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July ‘10)
  • (America’s Top Adventure Towns (, Sept. ’10)
  • America’s Foodiest Town (Bon Appetit, October, ‘10)
  • Best College Football Towns (Associated Press, Oct. ’10)
  • America’s “Brainiest” City (, Dec. ’10)
  • Top 10 Bargain Ice-Skating Rinks (Ice Rink at One Boulder Plaza) (TripAdvisor, Feb. ’09)
  • Top Chef (Hosea Rosenberg): Boulder (Bravo’s Top Chef: New York, Feb. ‘09)
  • The West’s 20 Best Small Towns (Sunset Magazine, Mar. ’09)
  • Top Ten Best Midsize Metropolitan Areas (, Mar. ’09)
  • America’s Top 25 Towns to Live Well: Boulder ranked 1st (, May ’09)
  • Top 10 Travel Destinations (Celestial Seasonings Free Tour) (USA Weekend, May ’09)
  • Best Places to Live – The 30 Coolest Neighborhoods (Men’s Journal, June ’09)
  • Best Cities for Gen Ys: Boulder ranked 1st (, June ‘09)
  • Ten Top Wine Destinations (Food & Wine, July ’09)
  • 25 Coolest Film Festivals (Boulder International Film Festival) (MovieMaker magazine, Summer ’09)
  • Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid: Boulder ranked 1st (Backpacker, Aug. ‘09)
  • The Most Eco-Enlightened U.S. Colleges: Boulder ranked 1st (Sierra magazine, Aug. ‘09)
  • America’s Best Running Cities: Boulder ranked 4th (Runner’s World, December 2009)
  • America’s Smartest City (Forbes magazine, Feb. ‘08)
  • Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Restaurants – The Kitchen: Ranked 6th (Bon Appetit, Feb. ‘08)
  • The West’s Greenest Restaurant – The Kitchen (Sunset, Mar. ’08)
  • Top 10 World’s “Greener Cities” (Urban Land Green magazine, Spring ’08)
  • Top 25 Best Green Places to Live: Boulder ranked 5th (Country Home magazine, April ’08)
  • Top Pick for Food & Wine Vacations – Organic/Veggie (Orbitz, April ’08)
  • Top 100 Destinations in the World (TripAdvisor, April ’08)
  • Top 10 Cities for Masters Runners: Boulder ranked 3rd (Masters Athlete Magazine, May ’08)
  • The 10 Brainiest Places to Retire (US News and World Report, May ’08)
  • Top 13 Convention and Visitors Bureaus in the West (Successful Meetings Magazine, Aug.’08)
  • Healthiest Cities to Live and Retire: Boulder ranked 6th (AARP The Magazine, Sept. ‘08)
  • America’s 10 Best Healthy Places To Retire (US News and World Report, Sept.‘08)
  • Ten Great Football Stadiums (USA Today, Oct. ’08)
  • Top 10 Mini Wine Escapes (Sunset, Nov. ’08)
  • Top 10 Cities for Artists: Boulder ranked 8th (BusinessWeek, Feb. ’07)
  • Top Triathlon Town (Inside Triathlon magazine, April ‘07)
  • Best Cities for Empty-nesters: Boulder ranked 5th (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, June ’07)
  • Top 10 Hottest New Restaurants (Bon Appetit, June ‘07)
  • Top 10 Rooftop Bars: Boulder ranked 3rd (Sunset, July ‘07)
  • Top 10 Farmers’ Markets: Boulder ranked 6th (EatingWell, Aug. ’07)
  • Best Places to Retire (US News and World, Aug. ‘07)
  • Top Small-City College Destination: Boulder ranked 1st (Denver Business Journal, Oct. 07)
  • Top 10 Best New Restaurants (5280 magazine, Dec. ’07)
  • Place You Dream of Living (Backpacker, Feb. ‘06)
  • Top 10 Greenest Cities (, April ‘06)
  • 20 Dream Towns: Boulder ranked 1st (Outside magazine, Aug. ‘06)
  • Best City for Green Meetings: Boulder ranked 9th (Meetings and Conventions, Aug. ‘06)
  • Top 20 Greenest Spots in the Country: (Vegetarian Times, July/Aug ‘06)
  • Top 10 Favorite Outdoor Dining Spots: (Bon Appetit, July ’06)
  • Great Biking Cities (Washington Post, October ’06)
  • Heart-Healthiest City: Boulder ranked 4th (Men’s Journal, August ’06)
  • Top 12 Best Veg-Friendly Places to Live (VegNews, August ’06)
  • Top Places to Retire (Where to Retire Magazine, July/Aug. ’06)
  • Best City For Singles: Boulder ranked 1st (Forbes Magazine, July ’06)
  • Brainiest Small City: Boulder ranked 3rd (, June ’06)
  • Best Place to Retire in Style: Boulder ranked 1st (Fortune Magazine, June ’06)
  • Best Cities for Relocating Families: Boulder ranked 4th for mid-sized metro areas (Worldwide ERC and Primary Relocation, May ’06)
  • Best places to live: Boulder ranked 3rd (Men’s Journal, April ’06)
  • Most Vegetarian-Friendly Cities in the U.S.: Boulder ranked 7th (, April ’06)
  • Best City for Teleworking: Boulder ranked 1st from small metro area list (Sperling’s BestPlaces research firm, March ’06)
  • America’s Top 100 Places to Live: Boulder ranked 3rd (, March ’06)
  • America’s Best Vegetarian-Friendly Small Cities: Boulder ranked 7th (, March ’06)
  • Top 10 Places to Retire (Bottom Line Retirement, January ’06)
  • Best Place to Live: Boulder ranked 1st (Successful Meetings, ’05)
  • 100 Best Art Towns in America: Boulder ranked 6th (by John Villani)
  • Colorado’s Best Workplaces for Commuters (United States EPA, April, ’05)
  • Top 25 Art Cities: Boulder ranked 18th (American Style Magazine, June ’05)
  • Top 20 greenest spots in the country (Vegetarian Times, July/August ’05)
  • Top 10 cities for masters athletes: Boulder ranked 7th (GeezerJock Magazine, September ’05)
  • 50 fabulous gay-friendly places to live (book by Gregory A. Kompes, November ’05)
  • Top 20 Boom Towns: Boulder ranked 1st (Business 2.0, March ’04)
  • Top 10 cities for Animal Wellness in North America (Animal Wellness Magazine, March, ’04)
  • Five Impressive Cities; Making a Difference in the Environment (Delicious Living magazine, April ’04)
  • Nation’s reigning bike friendly community (The League of American Bicyclists, June ’04)
  • Best place in the country for singles (Denver-Boulder) (, June ’04)
  • Best place to move (Boulder/Longmont) (Worldwide ERC and Primacy Relocation, Sept. ’04)


I urge you to email me ( or leave a comment if you have a suggested addition or subtraction from this list. Or if you have any other thoughts about this list.


Each list in this blog contains my own personal opinions based on my personal experiences. I acknowledge that there may be a need to add or subtract from these lists (or to create a new subject list), and I welcome such suggestions. The lists are not ordered from higher to lower quality. Each list is a work in progress.

50 Years Memoir CoverMy memoir can be purchased here:

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My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:

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About Dom Nozzi

Urban designer, Complete Streets instructor, smart growth specialist, town planner, walkable & bikeable streets & trails specialist, writer, editor, speaker, world adventurer, skier, kayaker, SCUBA diver, bicyclist, hiker, dancer, book reader, urbanist. Make my own beer, wine, pasta, bread. Live by the motto that it is the things we do NOT do that we later regret. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.
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