The largest university in the state, with nearly 29,000 students (including about 4,600 graduate students), “CU” dominates the city. Its student population, cultural and sports events, and intellectual atmosphere have helped shape Boulder into the city it is today. The school boasts 17 alumni astronauts who have flown in space and four Nobel laureates on the faculty.

Old Main, on the Norlin Quadrangle, was the first building erected after the university was established in 1876; at that time, it housed the entire school. Later, pink-sandstone Italian Renaissance–style buildings came to dominate the campus. Visitors may want to take in the university’s Heritage Center, on the third floor of Old Main; the Museum of Natural History, a natural-history museum in the Henderson Building on Broadway; the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre, behind the Henderson Building, site of the annual Colorado Shakespeare Festival; Fiske Planetarium, between Kittredge Loop Drive and Regent Drive on the south side of campus; and the Norlin Library, on the Norlin Quadrangle, the largest research library in the state, with extensive holdings of American and English literature. Other attractions include the CU Art Museum, University Memorial Center (the student center), and the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory in the College of Engineering. Prospective students and their parents can arrange campus tours by contacting the admissions office (tel. 303/492-6301).

The Sommers-Bausch Observatory (tel. 303/492-6732 during the day, or 303/492-2020 at night; offers tours and Friday-evening open houses.