Best of Boulder 2018 — Entertainment & Culture

Red Rocks Amphitheatre at Sunset

Music Venue


18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 720-865-2494

Silver: Boulder Theater

Bronze: Chautauqua Auditorium

By now, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is synonymous with Colorado. Folks come out to visit and beg their friends and family to take them to a show at the iconic venue. Fortunately, you could throw a dart at their calendar and likely land on a world-class act to see. Modest Mouse, Haim, Ryan Adams, Yo-Yo Ma, Steve Martin, The Avett Brothers, Jackson Browne and more all visit Red Rocks in 2018. Simply put, the natural acoustics at Red Rocks attracts the world’s best and we’re pretty lucky to have it in our backyard.   

Classical Music


2590 Walnut St., 303-449-1343

Silver: Boulder Symphony

Bronze: Colorado Music Festival and Center for Musical Arts

This season, Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra turns 60 years old and only seems to be growing stronger. For the last five years, our readers have voted the group as the best purveyor of classical music in town. Under the current leadership of Music Director Michael Butterman — who has been recognized for his creative artistry, innovative programming and rapport with the audience and community — the Orchestra has explored a variety of musical styles, composers and visiting artists. Here’s to another 60 years.

BOULDER BALLET dancers during the annual ‘stepping out’ performance

Live Dance Group


2590 Walnut St., Suite 10, 303-443-0028

Silver: Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance

Bronze: Samba Colorado

Considering Boulder Ballet’s primary teaching philosophy, we imagine each crop of ballet students leaves at least a little bit kinder than when they entered. By focusing on “acceptance without judgment and embracing the potential that every student is born with,” students learn from a cadre of professional company dancers, but they also glean valuable life lessons that transcend the dance floor. Our readers understand the value in this, and whether you’re watching the professional company glide around the stage or learning for yourself at a one-time workshop, weeklong camp or a full season of program development, you’ll be sure to walk, or dance, away better for your experience.

Local Celebrity


Somewhere on Pearl Street

Silver: Jessica Biel

Bronze: Hazel Miller

David Rosdeitcher is the ZIP Code Man. He is Boulder’s best-known street performer and as our readers attest, the area’s best known local celebrity. If you’ve never caught his show on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, you’re not paying attention. We’re talking about ZIP Code Man here, folks. He is the Pearl Street Mall. And he has a very special talent. The guy stands in the middle of a giant crowd and lets anyone from anywhere shout out a ZIP code, which he then runs through his amazing mental computer before telling reciting the town and often the very neighborhood that ZIP code is from. He even throws in descriptions of the places from time to time. We admit it’s an unusual, maybe even bizarre gift, but it’s what has made ZIP Code Man a big fish in a little pond.   

Open Mic


1709 Pearl St.

2907 55th St.

Silver: Oskar Blues Breweries (various locations)

Bronze: The Attic Bar and Bistro

Write-in: The Dickens Opera House

The flagship Laughing Goat Coffeehouse location on Pearl Street is home to our readers’ favorite open mic nights. Maybe that’s because after you hear an up-and-coming jazz trio or a traveling folk duo you can wander through the heart of downtown Boulder. Or maybe it’s because you can enjoy a finely crafted adult libation — be it coffee or something a little stiffer — while you take in the tunes. Maybe it’s the diversity of acts, or the lively environment. We think it’s all these elements that draw our readers to the Goat, not only to listen, but to perform as well.

Use of Theater to Create Change


2590 Walnut St., Suite 1, Boulder, 303-351-2382

The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company is a national award-winning company, staging regional and world premieres from some of today’s hottest playwrights. But what really makes this company awesome is its mission: to present “profound theatrical stories that inspire our audiences and enrich our community.” BETC believes storytelling only reaches its true potential when it’s enacted in the service of empathy, when it provides a way for people to explore others’ circumstances and face different perspectives. Stories about faith, honor, love, aging, jealousy… these are the stories that BETC brings to theater-goers. If you haven’t seen a BETC show yet, now’s the time.



Various locations around Boulder County

Silver: Chase Bank

Bronze: Wells Fargo

Write-in: Flatirons Bank

Rewind 65 years, back to the steps of Macky Auditorium in 1953. With 12 members and less than $100 in assets, the U of C Federal Credit Union was born to serve faculty and staff at CU Boulder. Eventually the membership grew to encompass Boulder and beyond, and a 2006 rebrand brought the name Elevations Credit Union. In their half-century of operation, the bank has served more than 100,000 members and opened numerous, easy-to-access branches across the Front Range.

The St JuliEn Hotel & Spa hosts live jazz performances. Courtesy of Boulder Ballet

Live Jazz Venue


900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696

Silver: Nissi’s

Bronze: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

Ready for your dose of soothing jazz medicine? Then its time to cozy up by St Julien Hotel & Spa’s fireplace, with a specialty drink in hand, and let Boulder County’s best jazzy tunes wash over as you. With a rotating fleet of musicians, our readers know you can’t go wrong with a night at the St Julien. Order small plates, have a cocktail, do both, or simply drop by for the music and let the jazz carry you away.

Music Festival


Town Park, Telluride, 800-624-2422

Silver: RockyGrass Festival

Bronze: Colorado Music Festival

Write-in: Sonic Bloom, the Unified Field

Let’s just say this upfront: If you can get your hands on some tickets to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, you should go. Nowadays, that’s a big if — the popularity of the fest has reached its zenith, and its no wonder why. First, the natural setting is unparalleled. Second, music sounds better at 8,000 feet. Third, the lineup of bands is a knockout every single year. In 2018 we’re talking about Sturgill Simpson, Emmylou Harris, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Bela Fleck, Yonder Mountain String Band, Chris Thile and so, so many more great acts. The festival takes over Telluride, and it’s an event to witness. Our advice: start planning your trip to 2019’s festival right now.

Performance Arts Venue


2032 14th St., 303-786-7030

Silver: Dairy Arts Center

Bronze: Chautauqua Auditorium

Boulder is rich in spaces that offer themselves up to performance art of all varieties. Boulder Theater, our readers’ favorite performance art venue, has a history befitting such a beloved spot: it was opened in 1906 as Curran Opera House, featuring opera, musical productions and silent movies. During the Depression, the theater screened double features and handed out bags of groceries to those lucky enough to end up in one of the selected seats. The theater is so important to Boulder that it’s been resurrected and renovated several times. It’s hosted some of the best musical acts in the world, and it continues its movie house history today by hosting several film festivals each year.

The hard workers behind the scenes at boulder theater — Front Row (Left to Right): Darlene D’Agostino Beck. Annie Franklin. Middle Row (Left to Right): Erica Congelli, Cheryl LiguoriIan Frodesen. Back Row (Left to Right): Paul Witkovich, Amanda Silecchio, David Weingarden, Lee Oberg, Will Totte. Sue France

Movie House/Theater


2032 14th St., 303-786-7030

Silver: AMC Flatiron Crossing 14

Bronze: Century Boulder

If you’re like most of our readers, you can probably think of at least 10 great nights in your life you’ve spent at the Boulder Theater. It’s hard to imagine what Boulder would be like without this world-famous venue, but we almost found out back in the 1990s when some unenlightened forces were contemplating tearing it down to make room for some more office space. Fortunately, the theater was saved (thanks, Nick Forster) and the rest is history. From music to film, debates to dance, theatrical performances to celebrations of everything under the sun, the beloved Boulder Theater has been serving and entertaining our region since 1906. That’s 112 years of happiness if you’re counting. Here’s to the next 112.

Place to Play Pool


1136 Pearl St., 303-449-4987

Silver: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

Bronze: The Outback Saloon

There’s nothing better than an old-school bar. There’s no pretense. You’re there for cold libations, interesting people and maybe some foosball. The Sundown Saloon — known lovingly as the Downer — has all that and more. But not too much more because it’s old-school and we’re not looking for fancy gimmicks. Conveniently located on Pearl Street, you can stroll the mall during the day then head to the Downer for some evening shenanigans. Make a new friend when you accidentally gouge them with your pool stick or puncture them with a misfired dart. Make sure to buy your new friend a drink to apologize for your clumsiness.

Local Musician/Group


Silver: Big Head Todd and the Monsters

Bronze: Hazel Miller

Write-in: Augustus

We are really lucky to live where we do. If this were the results of a “best of” survey for Gotebo, Oklahoma, the winner of this category might be some guy named Daryl who plays the kazoo with his nose. But because this is Boulder County, Colorado, our readers got to choose between a fair number of really talented national touring acts as their favorite local musician or group. They chose Elephant Revival, and we couldn’t agree with them more. Not only is this group a collection of amazingly talented musicians, but by all counts they are also some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet. And we all know that when really nice, really creative, really talented people get together on a stage, great things happen. So if you get the chance to catch ’em playing locally, don’t miss it.

Place to Dance


6185 Arapahoe Road, 303-440-8303

Silver: Boulder Theater

Bronze: Tahona Tequila Bistro

Write-in: Press Play Bar

When our readers put their dancing shoes on, they head to The Avalon Ballroom. Tempted to tango? Bonkers for bachata? Zany about Zumba? Fanatic for folk? Soulful about salsa? The Avalon Ballroom offers more than a dozen classes each week for practically any kind of dance, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned two-stepper. Get out of the box and learn Scandinavian dance basics or Israeli dancing. Check their calendar for offerings and find something to shake a leg to.

Live Theater Group


5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000

Silver: Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Bronze: University of Colorado Boulder Theatre & Dance

Write-in: Longmont Theatre Company

Looking for an entertaining evening out? Maybe one that includes a great meal and a show? Why not do both at the same place by spending an evening at BDT Stage? Not only will you be treated to a tasty meal, you’ll also get to see a show by one of the region’s top theater companies. Our readers choose BDT Stage as the area’s best live theater group year after year for a reason: they are really good. You don’t have to drive to Denver or fly to New York to watch top-notch performances on the stage. Members of the BDT company are real pros who have performed in shows across the nation, as well as on television and in feature films. So drop by and enjoy a delicious meal and meet the cast as they serve your table. Now that’s entertainment.

Festival/Event (Non-Music)


13th Street between Arapahoe and Canyon, 303-910-2236;

Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont;

600 S. Public Road, Lafayette

Silver: Boulder Creek Festival

Bronze: Frozen Dead Guy Days

Take one look around 13th street between Canyon and Arapahoe on a Saturday morning and you’ll understand what Elyse Wood, Boulder County Farmers Markets’ (BCFM) operations and community manager, told our food editor earlier this year: “I think first and foremost we are a community resource and a place where … people can come together.” You’ll watch people mingle among the dozens of booths fronted by local artisans as they engage the farmers, bread bakers, meat smokers and all the other folks responsible for growing and creating this plethora of healthy, tasty foods. It’s quite the scene, so don’t be the only thing missing.

Art Gallery


2590 Walnut St., 303-440-7826

Silver: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Bronze: Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery

Write-in: Firehouse Art Center

For a moment, think of Dairy Arts Center like a beautiful porcelain bowl. Now imagine dropping in the artwork of students and teachers from throughout Boulder County. Now mix in a few major works from nationally acclaimed artists along with lectures from cultural intellectuals from around the world. Gently stir and you have our readers’ favorite art gallery. So next time you are taking in a film at the Boedecker or catching a play at one of the other theaters at the Dairy, be sure to come early and enjoy the latest art exhibit.

Arcade Games


1005 Pearl St., 720-508-4916

Silver: Tilt Pinball

Bronze: Lyons Classic Pinball

What’s better than a classic arcade game? A giant collection of arcade games that are surrounded by DJs, drinks, food and a whole lot of other people just as excited as you are. Enter Press Play Bar, an establishment that knows how to have good, old-fashioned fun. There are pinball machines with various themes like Game of Thrones, Metallica and Ghostbusters. If you’re a classic game lover, you’ll find skee-ball and foosball, air hockey, pool, ping-pong and giant Jenga. When you’re ready for the dive into the good old days, play Pac-Man and Tetris and a host of other classics.

Nonprofit/Charity Organization


2323 55th St., 303-442-4030

Silver: Planned Parenthood

Bronze: Eco-Cycle

Write-in: Boulder Psychic Institute

The nice thing about the voting for best non-profit and charity is that there are no losers. Our readers say their favorite place to contribute their time and money is the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. Providing a space for abandoned animals, the Humane Society allows people to adopt these animals, giving these needy cats, dogs and more to families looking to grow. The Humane Society also provide veterinary services for Boulder County animals. It’s a worthwhile place to support, so check them out.

BMoca Executive Director David Dadone and Deputy DirectoR Gwyneth Burak Sue France



1750 13th St., 303-443-2122

Silver: National Center for Atmospheric Research

Bronze: University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

Art. It fills in the gaps of this increasingly senseless world with inspiration, magic, codes to live by and opportunities to escape. Luckily, we have the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) to visit. The work of world-renowned artists rotates in and out at BMoCA, and it’s available for perusing for only $1 per visit. Founded in 1972 by a group of local artists, BMoCA is still serving the community by enriching and inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds. The landmark building in which it resides is a piece of art itself and a staple of Boulder architecture.

Private School


10455 Dawson Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-6679

Silver: Boulder Country Day School

Bronze: Shining Mountain Waldorf School

The sprawling 107-acre campus at Dawson School is perfect for activities befitting kindergartners to 12th graders. There’s fencing, a student-tended garden, woodworking and ceramics. But those experiences do not come at the expense of a full theater, engineering programs, two gyms and six sports fields. The school also offers a great internship program for high school seniors, who get a chance to learn the ropes in the working world before graduation. At Dawson, students are not just another face in the crowd, everyone is valued for their distinct personalities and abilities. It may be a college prep school, but Dawson also prepares students for life.

Continuing Education Photo by University of Colorado.

Advanced Education


1505 University Ave., 303-492-5148

Silver: Naropa University School of Extended Studies

Bronze: Front Range Community College

The folks at University of Colorado Boulder Continuing Education (CE) get you. Life is complicated, and there’s never enough time to do everything you want to with the limited hours in your day. And that’s exactly where CE comes in to help. CE classes are flexible, approachable and dig into an array of fields, virtually guaranteeing that you’ll find a subject that piques your interest — from business and economics to art history or astrophysics. Take classes at night, online or during the day and start making your dreams come true.

Sports Bar


1346 Pearl St., 303-440-3355

Silver: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

Bronze: West End Tavern

Write-in: Boulder Beer on Walnut

There’s no better way to watch sports than drinking a cold one with a plate of something fried in front of you. Even better, do it with a Broncos jersey on. Better yet, do it at The Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill, our readers’ pick for best sports bar. With almost too many TVs to count, an extensive drink list and plenty of great food (fried and otherwise) on the menu, this is the go-to spot for catching all the sports your heart desires. Where else can you see a championship lacrosse game stuck in between a poker tournament and a curling match? Unless it’s Sunday and then of course all screens are tuned to football… because, you know, football is awesome.

Place to Wi-Fi


1001 Arapahoe Ave., 303-441-3100

(and other locations around Boulder County)

Silver: Ozo Coffee Company

Bronze: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

Write-in: Rayback Collective

Centuries ago, our forefathers (and mothers) went to sleep with the sun, unable to do much of anything productive in the dark. Then came the candle, and we humans started reading after sundown. Then came electricity and our predecessors could take care of business way past dusk. Fast-forward a century or so and our productivity is soaring with faster and smoother Wi-Fi. We can buy groceries, pay bills, correspond, interact with the government, watch cat videos and do just about anything else thanks to the internet. Which is why we all need a comfortable and reliable place to Wi-Fi. Our reader’s say the Boulder Public Library is the place to be, whether you just want to relax and read a good article online or get important stuff done. But no sleeping.

Summer Camp


10063 Gold Hill Road, 303-442-4557

Silver: YMCA Summer Camps

Bronze: University of Colorado Boulder Science Discovery

Braces, flashlights, late-night giggles, lip-syncing, tube socks and short shorts. The making of a great summer camp — at least according to Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. But summer camp is so much more than that. At Colorado Mountain Ranch, both kids and adults can enjoy a plethora of activities from archery to a ropes course to horseback riding to mountain boarding to wood carving to… you name it, they probably offer it. That’s why our readers named Colorado Mountain Ranch the best summer camp around for yet another year. Check out their day camps, family camps and all their other camps if you want to have great time. And don’t worry, there isn’t a Mr. Fletcher waiting to blow his whistle and stop all the fun.

Place to Fix a Flat Tire


Westbound U.S. 36 between the McCaslin and Table Mesa exits.

Here’s the thing, getting a flat tire while out biking sucks. It’s never fun. Ever. Unless you’ve got a great view, right? Or maybe a taco stand right nearby. But if you can’t wrangle your flats near a taco truck, try at least breaking down in a view-worthy place. Around Boulder County, that’s not that hard to come by. Our recommendation? Pop your tire or loosen your screws right around the Davidson Mesa Scenic Overlook on the U.S. 36 Bikeway — you know, that big hill on westbound U.S. Highway 36 between the McCaslin and Table Mesa exits. The little bike station has a pump and a few useful tools to make sure your ride is back up to speed real quick. Bonus: There’s also a bench (great for eating snacks) and a water fountain (great for taking a drink).