Best of Boulder 2021 – Entertainment


Boulder Theater

2032 14th St., 303-786-7030
Silver: AMC Flatiron Crossing
Bronze: Century Boulder

Boulder Theater has a long history as a movie house. When it opened in 1906, it featured silent films along with opera music and musical productions. In 1926, it showed the first “talkie,” The Jazz Singer. Today, Boulder Theater continues its film history, annually hosting the Boulder International Film Festival, Warren Miller Films, Boulder Adventure Film Festival and Banff Film Festival. Our readers love to take in a film in the beautiful art deco space and drink in the history of this iconic theater.

Boulder High School

1604 Arapahoe Ave., 720-561-2200
Silver: Fairview High School
Bronze: Monarch High School
Write-in: Skyline High School

Founded in 1875, Boulder High School was the state’s first public school for grades nine-12 and it has maintained its reputation ever since. Over the years, the school has continued to evolve to provide a rigorous education in a creative and caring environment. The school’s motto, “A Place for Everyone,” means this community continues to foster a learning environment that is based on high expectations while ensuring that it meets the needs of all students.

Dairy Arts Center

2590 Walnut St., 303-440-7826
Silver: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
Bronze: Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery (permanently closed as of April 2021)
Write-in: Western Stars Lyons

With several galleries and a commitment to bringing in new, unique voices, the Dairy Arts Center provides space for diversified content from local, national and international artists. Visit for the exhibits themselves or check them out on your way to any one of the Dairy’s other artistic offerings. Just make sure to give yourself time to see it all.

Elevations Credit Union

Multiple Locations
Silver: Chase Bank
Bronze: FirstBank
Write-in: Vectra Bank

Banking with Elevations Credit Union makes you more than a customer — you’re a member, a part of a local business that is constantly giving back to its community. When you open an Elevations Membership Savings Account, you get the ability to apply for a checking account, credit card and loans, but you also get a lifetime share in the credit union, which offers services we’ve all come to expect from traditional banks. But unlike others, its profits are reinvested back into our Boulder County neighbors and local businesses. As Elevations says, “It matters where you bank.”

La Petite Academy

380 S. McCaslin Blvd., 888-330-1458
Silver: TinyMinders
Bronze: Rainbow Child Care Center
Write-in: Boulder Day Nursery

With a mission of encouraging little innovators, La Petite Academy in Louisville offers a wide range of programs for children 6 weeks to 12 years old. With specialized programs for infants, toddlers, preschool, before and after school and summer camps, your child will grow through hands-on learning, build confidence, develop critical skills and gain independence, as they achieve new abilities and experiences. Led by director Jodie Buffo, the staff at La Petite has years of early childhood development experience, making this day care our readers’ go-to spot in Boulder County.

World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

2922 Baseline Road, 303-442-8162
Silver: West End Tavern
Bronze: Mudrock’s Tap & Tavern
Write-in: The Tune Up @ Full Cycle

Founded in 1975, the World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill knows how to do the sports bar right. All the ingredients are there: low light to make the illuminated screens sharp, long bartops perfect for large groups or finding someone new to argue with. It has draft specials and friendly staff, plus a menu full of classic bar food from burgers to wings to Rocky Mountain oysters, plus arcade games, pool and other bar games to distract you at half-time. With multiple rooms, TVs and games to choose from, Dark Horse is the place to be.

Avid4 Adventure

Silver: YMCA Summer Camps
Bronze: Boulder Ki Aikido
Write-in: Cal-Wood Education Center

Ah, summer camp. Where lifelong memories and friends are made. But these days it can be hard to pry kids away from screens. Avid4 Adventure reconnects young folks to the natural world and introduces them to the power of the outdoors. With a selection of day camps, camp at home, camp on the go, expeditions and resident camp, there’s a camp to suit any young person’s personality.

Horizons School

4545 Sioux Drive, 720-561-3600
Silver: Louisville Elementary
Bronze: Bear Creek Elementary
Write-in: Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies

School can be intimidating — for adults and their young ones. Will it be rigorous enough? Will it provide opportunities for creative expression? Will my child find support and lifelong friends? But our readers have no fear when they send their children to Horizons School. Founded in 1996, Horizons provides students with an innovative, caring and rigorous learning environment — a welcoming place where students and adults work together to strengthen their skills and maximize their potential. Recognized by numerous organizations for its commitment to education and sustainable practices, it’s no wonder Horizons is our readers choice for best K-8 public school.

Friends School

5465 Pennsylvania Ave.
3800 Kalmia Ave., 303-499-1999

Silver: Dawson School
Bronze: Shining Mountain Waldorf
Write-in: Boulder Valley Waldorf

Is there a nicer name for a school than Friends School? As it turns out, our readers say this private institution walks the walk, too, as pre-K to eighth-grade children are welcomed into a friendly learning environment where they have a holistic learning experience, focusing on “educating the head, hand and heart.” Leaders are cultivated here by challenging minds and nurturing spirits.

CU Continuing Education

1505 University Ave., 303-492-5148
Silver: Naropa University
Bronze: Front Range Community College
Write-in: Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism

The University of Colorado’s Continuing Education gives people the ability to continue their educational journey in ways that work for their lifestyle and schedule, with evening, weekend and online options. If you’re missing a few credit hours from your undergraduate degree, CU Continuing Education can help you fill in the missing pieces. If you’re looking for quality, innovative, lifelong learning opportunities, our readers say CU Continuing Education has everything you need.

Edward Jones

Multiple Locations
Silver: Waddell & Reed
Bronze: Impact Wealth
Write-in: Raymond James Financial

Let’s be honest: We could all use some help with finances. Our readers say the financial experts at Edward Jones can help you meet all of your financial goals, whether that’s saving enough for retirement, securing adequate life insurance, getting out of debt or investing in stocks, bonds or mutual funds. Edward Jones will work closely with you to understand your needs and make recommendations that align with your values.

Boulder Public Library

1001 Arapahoe Ave., 303-441-3100
Silver: OZO Coffee Company
Bronze: Rayback Collective

Wi-Fi-in’ isn’t so much about where to find free Wi-Fi (it’s pretty much everywhere nowadays); it’s about Wi-Fi-in’ some place you feel comfortable. The Boulder Public Library is loaded with quiet spots where you can use your laptops and other Wi-Fi-equipped devices to surf the interwebs. Public libraries have long been a resource for those interested in accessing information and educating themselves, and in our digital age that makes it our readers’ go-to spot to access the internet.

Boulder CPA Group

1790 30th St., Suite 418, 303-449-3060
Silver: Kristi L. Hattig, CPA, LLC
Bronze: Johnson Kightlinger & Co.
Write-in: Cahill & Associates

Man, taxes. They’ve been quite confusing the last few years, right? With extended deadlines, job losses, stimulus money and working from home, doing your taxes, whether personal or for your business, can be confusing. But that’s why having a good accountant is so important. Our readers say head to Boulder CPA Group. The experts here specialize in tax prep for medium-sized businesses and individuals, from planning to compliance and forward-thinking strategies. Plus, it’s not just about knowing the tax code. These folks pride themselves on developing personal relationships that create a true partnership.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Silver: Colorado Music Festival
Bronze: RockyGrass Festival
Write-in: Arise

Is there a better place than Telluride to take in live music? Not according to our readers. In thin air, with dramatic mountains nestling you in, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, from our friends at Planet Bluegrass, has become a must-visit attraction for bluegrass aficionados here in Boulder County. Stay tuned for updates on the festival this year and in years to come.

Gregory Alan Isakov

Silver: Big Head Todd
Bronze: Face Vocal Band
Write-in: The String Cheese Incident

South African-born (and current Boulder resident) Gregory Alan Isakov is our readers’ choice for the best local musician. His music combines indie and folk, featuring rich guitar and bright banjo playing. His music has brought him international acclaim, and yet we get to claim him as a Boulder County artist. Isakov is our musical ambassador, and our readers say he represents our music scene well.

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

1750 13th St., 303-443-2122
Silver: Museum of Boulder
Bronze: NCAR Mesa Laboratory
Write-in: CU Museum

Museums are wormholes to other worlds. They are ecstasy machines. Follow your eyes to wherever they lead you… and the world should begin to change for you.” So said Jerry Saltz, Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. When Boulder Weekly readers are looking to change things up, they head to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) to get lost in the ambitious and innovative exhibits and programs. Through the creative expression of ideas, BMoCA provides an open forum for dialogue as it exposes us to other worlds.

Jared Polis

Silver: Gregory Alan Isakov
Bronze: Zip Code Man

Jared Polis has served Colorado for a long time, most recently and currently as Colorado’s governor. Before that he was a congressman. Before that he made communicating with friends and family, loved ones and colleagues, that much easier with Blue Mountain Cards. It’s hard not to love the Polis uniform: running shoes, a polo shirt and blazer. It’s no wonder he’s our readers’ favorite celebrity once again. Go Jared. And thanks for sharing him with us, Marlon.

St Julien Hotel & Spa

900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696
Silver: The Laughing Goat Coffee House
Bronze: Hotel Boulderado

In the summer, the St Julien Hotel & Spa transforms its terrace into a live music venue, and it’s a particularly great place to take in some jazz. Something about a warm night, refreshing drinks and jazz makes this experience at St Julien one you ought to put on your Boulder bucket list if you’ve never stopped by. Comfort, style and ambiance are all paramount here.

FESTIVAL/EVENT (non-music)
Boulder County Farmers Market

13th Street, 303-910-2236
Silver: Boulder Creek Festival
Bronze: Frozen Dead Guy Days
Write-in: BolderBoulder

It’s no wonder our readers chose the Boulder County Farmers Market as their favorite (non-music) event. What’s better than being able to talk to local farmers, smell the aroma of fresh harvested produce, pick from local ingredients and assemble a home-cooked meal sourced from food grown by good folks within 30 miles or so of home? After switching to a limited in-person market and an online ordering system last year, BCFM has returned to in-person markets again this year, with safety — and convenience (you can make reservations and still order things for pickup) — in mind.

The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

1709 Pearl St.
Silver: The Attic Bar & Bistro
Bronze: Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
Write-in: Jamestown Mercantile

Open mic nights rely on people. Real people, in the flesh. Magic happens at open mic nights; unheralded artists hop on stage before a group of friends and strangers, playing songs few have heard before. So many musicians get their start at such events, and the pandemic, dang it all, has put a crimp in them. But when they do come back, our readers say to go to The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse for its open mic nights.

Avalon Ballroom

6185 Arapahoe Road, 303-440-8303
Silver: Boulder Theater
Bronze: St Julien Hotel & Spa
Write-in: Arthur Murray Dance

Whether you’re a professional terpsichorean or the proud owner of two left feet, Avalon Ballroom has a space for you. With different dance styles offered each night of the week, you can come early and take lessons or stay late to show off your skills and attract new dance partners. It’s Boulder’s one-stop shop for contradance, swing, tango, ballroom, salsa, waltz, community dancing, foxtrot, one-step, tea dances — all things dance.

Boulder Ballet

2590 Walnut St., 303-443-0028
Silver: Alchemy of Movement
Bronze: Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance
Write-in: Centennial State Ballet

Boulder Ballet has a rich history of bringing classic, contemporary and uniquely theatrical ballet to venues across the Front Range. Each year the performances range from elegant, classic fairy tales to contemporary stories of imagination, power and love. With programs all year long — hopefully resuming soon as the pandemic wanes — Boulder Ballet takes the audience into different worlds though its interpretations of the human story. Since the 1980s, the company has been enriching the whole region with their mix of classic and contemporary shows, while pursuing innovation, programmatic growth and an attention to quality that really makes these dancers shine.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 888-729-4718
Silver: Boulder Theater
Bronze: Chautauqua Auditorium

Seeing a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a bucket list event. When you’re inside the natural amphitheater, surrounded by the majesty of those jagged sandstone formations, the rest of the world drops away. Those stunning vistas and honed acoustics have hosted thousands of concerts since the park opened as a venue in 1941. The Beatles, U2, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead, The Grateful Dead, Daft Punk, Nine Inch Nails… if those rocks could talk, oh the stories they would tell. No wonder it’s our readers’ favorite music venue.

BDT Stage

5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000
Silver: Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Bronze: CU Theatre
Write-in: Jester’s Dinner Theatre

BDT Stage takes dinner theater to the next level with Broadway-quality acting and set design. This is a taste of The Big Apple right here in Boulder. Members of the BDT company have performed on stages all over the country, from New York and Chicago to Hollywood. They’ve been cast in sitcoms and feature films. Some have been nominated for Academy Awards — but they all choose to call BDT Stage home.


1901 63rd St., 720-564-2220
Silver: Humane Society of Boulder
Bronze: Boulder Food Rescue
Write-in: Conscious Alliance

Did you know Boulder was one of the first 20 communities in the U.S. to offer curbside recycling? No? Well you know now. And we’ll also tell you that effort was led by the passionate folks behind Eco-Cycle, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit recyclers and Zero Waste organizations in the U.S. that got its start right here in Boulder County. Not only does Eco-Cycle process the community’s recycling, it also provides educational programming for school-aged kids and community education for the rest of us. Plus, the Eco-Cycle volunteers that man the recycling hotline can answer all of your recycling and waste reduction questions. There are no shortage of nonprofits in Boulder County, and Eco-Cycle is this year’s fan favorite.


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