Best of Boulder 2022 — Entertainment & Culture

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Music Venue

Red Rocks

18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 888-729-4718

Silver: Boulder Theater

Bronze: Chautauqua Auditorium

Red Rocks is one of the premiere music venues on planet Earth. Having it just a short 30-minute drive from Boulder, it’s only natural that this naturally-sculpted, world-famous amphitheater was voted this year’s Best of Boulder music venue. The scenery, the sound system, natural amplification and history of incredible live music makes for an experience that’s hard to compete with. The spring, summer and fall line-ups at Red Rocks are already stacking up and tickets go fast these days. So if you see something you like, buy the ticket and take the ride. 

Music Festival 

Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Silver: RockyGrass

Bronze: Colorado Music Festival

There’s nothing that beats Telluride Bluegrass Festival when it comes to bringing quality tunes, stunning vistas, good food and drink all together under one big-blue sky. Our readers know exactly where to go in June to soak up the sun, bask in the dramatic mountain’s glow and absorb the best of our nation’s bluegrass: the striking town of Telluride, where our friends at Planet Bluegrass never fail to curate a spectacular summer festival. 

Public School (9-12)

Boulder High School

1604 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 720-561-2200

Silver: Fairview High School

Bronze: Monarch High School

Founded in 1875, Boulder High School was the state’s first public school for grades 9-12 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.


Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

1750 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-2122

Silver: Museum of Boulder

Bronze: National Center for Atmospheric Research

Like some of the best parts of Boulder, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA to us locals) was founded in the ’70s—1972 to be exact. It’s been on the cutting edge ever since, embracing the temporality of contemporary art. More than 114,000 visitors flock to BMoCA annually. If you’re not a member, you’re missing out. Sign up today and let BMoCA enrich your future.


Festival/Event (non-music)

Boulder County Farmers Market

Multiple Locations, 303-910-2236

Silver: Boulder Creek Festival

Bronze: BolderBoulder

Early mornings with some freshly brewed local coffee and a fresh pastry, browsing stalls of produce and goodies from local farmers, makes a great start to the weekend. Maybe that’s why our readers think the Boulder County Farmers Market is their favorite (non-music) event in the county. With locations in downtown Boulder and at the county fairgrounds in Longmont, it can be fun to switch it up and find new vendors. 


Eco-Cycle CHaRM

6400 Arapahoe Road, Boulder, 303-444-6634

Silver: Humane Society of Boulder

Bronze: Community Food Share

The passionate folks behind Eco-Cycle CHaRM, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit recyclers and Zero Waste organizations in the U.S., led the charge that made Boulder one of the first 20 communities in the U.S. to offer curbside recycling. 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. You can even call the Eco-Cycle recycling hotline for answers to all of your recycling and waste reduction questions. No wonder Eco-Cycle is our readers’ favorite nonprofit. 

Open Mic

The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

1709 Pearl St., Boulder

Silver: The Attic Bar & Bistro

Bronze: Oskar Blues Brewery

A dim room, static lights over the stage and a tinny sound system carry strumming through a crowd. Soulful folk singers and aspiring poets alike grace the stages of open mics near and far, but our readers think the best spot to find them is The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse. From weekly poetry readings to regular live music sessions, The Laughing Goat is the place to be.

Live Theater Group

BDT Stage

5501 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-449-6000

Silver: Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Bronze: CU Theater

Treat yourself to dinner and a show, at BDT Stage in Boulder our readers’ favorite live theater group. Enjoy live performances of satire, romantic comedy, musical performances and straight up musicals. They’re back and ready for action after a long COVID intermission—and they’ve got shows lined up and stacked out. Find one you like, buy some tickets, set up a date night, and show up hungry for a good time (and some delicious menu items and drinks as well). 

Live Dance Group

Boulder Ballet

2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-443-0028

Silver: Alchemy of Movement

Bronze: Frequent Flyers

We believe life without ballet is pointeless. Ha! Get it? Puns aside, ballet is an art form that defies physics and delights the mind. Presenting originally choreographed works as well as classics, our readers love Boulder Ballet. The company also helps foster a love of dance in the community by offering classes for beginners of all ages.


Boulder CPA Group

1790 30th St., Suite 418, Boulder, 303-449-3060

Silver: Cahill & Associates

Bronze: Graham & Company

It’s no secret: Doing your taxes is the worst. Whether personal or for your business, taxes can be confusing. That’s why having a good accountant is so important. Our readers suggest giving the accountants at Boulder CPA Group a try the next time you need to wade through a pile of IRS forms. 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.

Place to Dance

The Avalon Ballroom

6185 Arapahoe Road, Boulder, 303-440-8303

Silver: Boulder Theater

Bronze: St Julien Hotel & Spa

Write-in: Supermoon

Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, kick off those shoes, it’s dancing time! At The Avalon Ballroom off Arapahoe, you can enjoy swing dancing, waltzing, contra dancing, salsa and more, all under a single roof. Every event comes with a dance lesson and you don’t need to have a partner to participate (although it makes for a fantastic date night). Their schedule on the website is absolutely jam packed with anywhere from three to six events and lessons on any single day—and there’s something for everyone. 

Local Musician/Group

String Cheese Incident

Silver: Gregory Alan Isakov

Bronze: Big Head Todd

Our readers are giving thanks to the ’90s for more than just fanny packs, scrunchies and animal prints—in 1993, the String Cheese Incident was born in Colorado, and the jam band has been gracing ears all over Boulder County with their fusion of bluegrass-rock-electronic-country-funk-jazz-reggae-psychedelia music. Fun fact: all band members write original compositions and sing. Check ‘em out!

Financial Advisor

Edward Jones

Multiple locations in Boulder, 303-543-6086

Silver: Raymond James

Bronze: Mercer Advisors

Personal finances and money management can be tricky things to juggle with work, family, and all the responsibilities and obligations of the day to day. That’s what financial advisors are for, and in Boulder, the best in the business, according to our readers, are at Edward Jones in Boulder. If you want to retire early, provide your children with higher education or save money on taxes, these are the advisors you want on your side.

Place to Wi-Fi

Boulder Public Library

1001 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-441-3100

Silver: Trident Booksellers and Cafe

Bronze: OZO Coffee Company

Write-in: Bona Coffee Roasters

For some people, there’s something inherently soothing about getting lost in stacks of books. Maybe it’s being surrounded by a vast temple of knowledge, or maybe just that the Wi-Fi is free, but our readers once more chose Boulder Public Library as the Place to Wi-F–i in town. Whether it’s studying, working or just relaxing, the library offers sanctuary. And if the internet can’t help with your research paper, maybe you can absorb information from the thousands of books around you. Or ask a librarian.

Movie Theater

Boulder Theater

2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-786-7030

Silver: Century Boulder (29th Street)

Bronze: ACM Flatiron Crossing

The Boulder Theater is one of Boulder’s favorite places to gather and watch live music—the art adorning the walls and ceiling, the sound system and stage setup, and multiple bars all make it a perfect place to enjoy a show. But it’s also Boulder’s favorite movie theater in town. If you haven’t been to the Boulder Theater for a film yet, check out their schedule, pick one that strikes your fancy and get over there. You’ll be glad you did. 

Public School (K-8)

Bear Creek Elementary School

2500 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, 720-561-3500

Silver: Peak to Peak Charter School

Bronze: BCSIS

There are a lot of things that make for a great public school: good teachers, friendly staff, a playful engaging environment and a strong community. Bear Creek Elementary School has all of that, and it has one of the best views of any school (public or private, primary or secondary) in the country. That’s why our readers chose it as this year’s best public school in Boulder County.

Summer Camp

Colorado Mountain Ranch

10063 Gold Hill Road, Boulder, 303-442-4557

Silver: Avid4 Adventure

Bronze: CU Science Discovery

Write-in: AR Workshop

Simplicity, nature, connection and fun—those are the four pillars of Colorado Mountain Ranch, one of Boulder’s original summer camps for kids. At Colorado Mountain Ranch, kids are introduced to all kinds of incredible outdoor activities and get to explore the greatest playground ever: Mother Nature. Experiences like that can have lasting impacts on children and can help shape their views of the world around them. 

Advanced Education

CU Continuing Education

505 University Ave., Boulder, 303-492-5148

Silver: Front Range Community College

Bronze: Naropa

Online courses and flexible class schedules with the University of Colorado’s Continuing Education program make the pursuit of knowledge just a bit more accessible, according to our readers. From finishing up missing credit hours for a degree or exploring new options, CU Continuing Education offers myriad possibilities to serve the community’s educational needs.

Bank/Financial Institution

Elevations Credit Union

Multiple Locations, 303-443-4672

Silver: Chase Bank

Bronze: Wells Fargo

Whether business or personal, who handles your money matters. With a reputation for treating their members like family and not just customers, our readers say Elevations Credit Union is the place to trust with your finances. The credit union offers all the perks of modern banking while ensuring that member’s money also serves the community they live in, with the Elevation Foundation nonprofit providing relief and assistance after disasters like the 2013 flood or the recent Marshall Fire.

Day Care Center

Boulder Day Nursery Association

1518 Spruce St., Boulder, 303-442-7605

Silver: La Petite Academy

Bronze: Rainbow Center

Write-in: Boulder Journey School

For a century, Boulder Day Nursery Association (BDN) has provided families access to high-quality infant, toddler and preschool care in Boulder County. With low child-to-teacher ratios, BDN educators are able to tailor curriculum to meet each child’s needs and ignite learning. Its play-based, experiential curriculum takes children outside the school to explore the community around them, learning life skills along the way. BDN takes a holistic approach to supporting children, providing an on-site cook and health coordinator, and also parent groups to help guardians discuss topics like coping with transitions, no-drama discipline, healthy eating, safe body workshops and more. There are endless reasons why this is our readers’ favorite day care center.  

Art Gallery

Dairy Arts Center 

2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-444-7328

Silver: BMoCA

Bronze: Boulder Arts & Crafts 

With a commitment to bringing in new, unique voices (and several galleries to prove it), the Dairy Arts Center offers space for local, national and international artists to display and disseminate their work. Visit the arts center (which once-upon-a-time was a dairy plant) for the exhibits themselves, or the various rotating events, speakers, film screenings and other artistic offerings. 

Live Jazz Venue

St Julien Hotel & Spa 

900 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-406-9696

Silver: Hotel Boulderado

Bronze: Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

As the days grow longer, the terrace at St Julien Hotel & Spa comes alive with an arrangement of tables and chairs, all oriented around the small music pavilion, from which delicious jazz music croons many a summer night. Refreshing drinks, a beautiful sunset, elegant jazz and an elevated ambiance—all this makes date-night at the St Julien a must, no matter whether you’re treating a best friend, your life-long partner, or yourself. 

Local Celebrity

Jared Polis

Silver: Gregory Alan Isakov

Bronze: Hazel Miller

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.

Sports Bar

World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

2922 Baseline Road, Boulder, 303-442-8162

Silver: West End Tavern

Bronze: Lazy Dog

A Boulder institution, our readers keep coming back to the World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill as their choice for game days. Fill up with burgers and wings to cheer on your team, washing it all down with a pitcher or two while you scream at the bad calls from the ref. And if you’re tired of watching a losing team, take out your frustration on the pool table or take a close look at the memorabilia on the walls.

Private School

Alexander Dawson High School

10455 Dawson Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-6679

Silver: Friends School

Bronze: Shining Mountain Waldorf

Here’s the inside scoop: our readers say the best private school in Boulder is Alexander Dawson High School for a number of reasons: for one, the entire staff dedicates themselves to excellence of mind, body and character; two: teachers seriously invest in the creative, resilient and problem-solving capacities of students; three: Dawson provides opportunities for each student to specialize and to reach their individual potential, all the while also developing skills to meet the evolving challenges of a complex world.

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