Best of Boulder 2017 — Entertainment & Culture

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Music Venue


18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison,

Second Place: Boulder Theater

Third Place: Chautauqua Auditorium

Fourth Place: Fox Theatre

Fifth Place: eTown Hall

Red Rocks Ampitheatre isn’t just a great place to see a show, it’s a geological treasure that stands out as much on the world stage as it does on the local one. While Boulder’s music venues have their own great histories and are certainly treasures in their own right, it’s tough to match a venue created over millions of years by wind and water with a little help at the end from human hands. How do you surpass a venue that can claim the moon and Denver’s night lights as part of its regular show? There’s a reason so many bands have had legendary gigs at this venue and chosen it as a location to shoot videos of their live performances.

Nonprofit/Charity Organization


2323 55th St., 303-442-4030

Second Place: Planned Parenthood

Third Place: Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center

Fourth Place: Eco-Cycle

Fifth Place: Emergency Family Assistance Association

Write In: Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

They say a dog is a man’s best friend. And a cat… well, a cat is really only so benevolent as to let you be their caretaker. Animals are the best of companions and that’s why the Humane Society of Boulder Valley has made it their mission to foster the relationship between pets and people for more than a century. The nonprofit houses more than 7,000 animals each year, 93 percent of which are either adopted or reunited with their guardians. With a veterinary clinic, animal shelter, and training and behavioral courses, in addition to a retail and thrift store, the Humane Society doesn’t just take care of animals, it serves the entire community.

Place to Play Pool


1136 Pearl St., 303-449-4987

Second Place: World Famous Dark
Horse Bar and Grill

Third Place: The Attic Bar and Bistro

Fourth Place: The Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill

Fifth Place: Pearl Street Pub & Cellar

The Sundown Saloon recently celebrated its 35th birthday, but it seems like this Boulder staple has been around even longer than that. In its original location on Pearl Street, The Downer’s old-school charm draws everyone from pool aficionados to billiards newbies and everyone in between. Once again, it’s our readers’ choice for best place to play pool, so head on down to see what all the fuss is about. Rack ‘em up, order a beer and enjoy yourself.

The Dairy Arts Center creative group, clockwise: Bill Obermeier, Executive Director; Jim Bailey, Music Producer; James Goldmill, Marketing; Shay Wescott, Box Office; Samantha Vakiener, Lead House Manager; Shannon Nesser, Client Services; Rebecca Cuscaden, Visual Art Curator; Glenn Webb, Cinema Manager Susan France

Performance Arts Venue


2590 Walnut St., 303-440-7826

Second Place: Boulder Theater

Third Place: Chautauqua Auditorium

Fourth Place: Macky Auditorium

Fifth Place: BDT Stage

It is said that you can best judge a community by the art it offers. If that’s the case, then The Dairy Arts Center is Boulder’s most valuable resource. Regularly the home to visual art, film, theater, comedy, music and much more, the Big Milk, as no one calls it, is a gathering place where members of the community can go to be inspired, challenged and entertained. Its exhibitions and galleries rotate regularly, so check The Dairy’s schedule for upcoming events and you’re sure to find something that will stimulate the mind and soul.

Sports Bar


1346 Pearl St., 303-440-3355

Second Place: Harpo’s Sports Grill

Third Place: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

Fourth Place: Pumphouse Brewery & Red Zone

Fifth Place: West End Tavern

Stop sitting at home screaming at the television set by yourself every time your favorite team plays a game. It’s not right. Besides, there’s this great cultural innovation called the sports bar where all the people like you can come together and scream at a television in a bar while consuming great pub food, cold beer or some other libation. You and your new friends can even wear matching shirts with other people’s names across the back and nobody will think you odd. If all this sounds like a great night out then we’ve got the place for you. When it comes to sports bars, our readers tell us The Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill is their favorite. So drop on by for that next big game which is sure to be playing on one of the many large-screen TVs hanging around. And don’t forget to dress the part. And if you’re the only one wearing a certain jersey, cheer quietly in a corner by yourself and don’t make eye contact.



2960 Diagonal Highway, 303-443-4672

4760 W. Baseline Road, 303-443-4672

611 Broadway, 303-443-4672

1669 Euclid Ave., 303-443-4672

(and other locations in Boulder County)

Second Place: Chase Bank

Third Place: Wells Fargo

Fourth Place: FirstBank

Fifth Place: U.S. Bank

Credit unions are like the Cheers of banks — it’s where everybody knows your name. Founded in 1953, Elevations Credit Union has worked diligently in its mission to perfect the art of the community banking business. To do this, Elevations steers clear of the product-centric business model the big banks use, and focuses on creating consumer solutions — that’s great for people like you and me. It’s grown from a 12-member operation with less than $100 in assets to more than 120,000 members that manages more than $1.7 billion in assets. It is the No. 1 credit union mortgage lender in Colorado. It’s easy to see why our readers say Elevations is the best bank around.

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

Second Place: Boulder Creek Festival

Third Place: Frozen Dead Guy Days

Fourth Place: Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Fifth Place: Boulder International Film Festival

By now, the Boulder County Farmers Markets are institutions. Locals rely on these rain-or-shine events to cull ingredients from local farmers for a week of eating. Accompanied by live music, food trucks and plenty of prepared food stalls, the farmers’ market is a way to spend an entire Saturday morning or Wednesday evening. Vendors come from across the state and sell fresh produce, meat, eggs, crafts, art and products ranging from hot sauce to cherry pies. And even if you don’t end up buying anything, just the sights and sounds of the market will energize you for the week ahead.

The happy staff of Boulder Theater and fox Theatre: Ben reynolds, peter sheetz, Annie Franklin, Haasini Ravisankar, Darlene D’Agostino Beck, Andrew Gill, Nick Angiono, Sam Thaler, Will Totte, Karen Shaviv, Lyndsey Wilkinson, Jake Hiersteiner and Daniel Mullan Susan France

Movie House/Theater


2032 14th St., 303-786-7030

Second Place: AMC Flatiron Crossing 14

Third Place: Century Theatre

Fourth Place: Boedecker Theater

Fifth Place: Chautauqua Auditorium

From the ancient amphitheaters of Greece and Rome, to the playhouses that brought us Shakespeare, Mozart and ballet, theaters have long been gathering places for communities to come, be entertained and reflect on the common stories that unite us all. From modern cinema to stand-up comedy and live music, theaters still draw people from all different backgrounds. Boulder Theater is no different. Offering a wide variety of weekly films, concerts, performances and speakers, this historic gathering place in the heart of Boulder continues to bring us together.

Local Celebrity


1644 Walnut St., 303-484-9596

Second Place: Zip Code Man

Third Place: Hazel Miller

Fourth Place: Jessica Biel

Fifth Place: Big Head Todd and the Monsters

Cue “Eye on the Sky,” the twinkling, energizing Alan Parsons Project song that introduces the Chicago Bulls… And now, representing Colorado’s second district… he built a tech empire out of an online greeting card company… he spends most of his days in Washington, D.C. cutting through the red tape of bureaucracy for Boulder County residents… he’s number one in your hearts and single-handedly made bowties cool again… from Princeton University, Representative Ja-reeed Po-liiiiis. Jared Polis is our readers’ favorite celebrity. Good on ya Jared. Oh, and he sometimes dresses up like Mork, which is actually really cool.

BDT Stage performance of Disenchanted Courtesy of BDT Stage/Glenn Ross

Live Theater Group


5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000

Second Place: Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Third Place: Boulder Ensemble Theater Company

Fourth Place: University of Colorado Theater and Dance

Fifth Place: Peanut Butter Players

You don’t have to travel to New York City to see Broadway-quality shows — just head to BDT Stage. Our readers say it has the best live theater group, and for good reason. Members of the company have performed all around the country, from New York to Chicago. Some have been cast in sitcoms and feature films. This isn’t amateur hour, that’s for sure. BDT Stage presents four shows a year, each accompanied by live musicians. Enjoy a delicious meal and get up close and personal with the cast as they serve your table. You won’t get that on Broadway.

Private school


10455 Dawson Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-6679

Second Place: Friends’ School

Third Place: Boulder Country Day School

Fourth Place: Shining Mountain Waldorf School

Fifth Place: Bixby School

When it comes to finding the right school for your child, details matter. That’s what separates Dawson School from the others; attention to detail in educating and caring for students is what makes Boulder County parents interested in sending their kids to Dawson. Founded in 1970, the school takes a multidisciplinary approach so as to ensure well-rounded students, while also providing opportunities for kids to pursue their educational and athletic goals. Dawson also focuses on bringing in global perspectives, with students from 22 countries represented. And world language lessons begin in kindergarten to encourage early learning. Now that’s getting a head start.

Classical Music


2590 Walnut St., 303-449-1343

Second Place: Boulder Symphony

Third Place: Colorado Music Festival

Fourth Place: Colorado Symphony

Fifth Place: CU Presents

Classical music is alive and well in Boulder County. It likely has more than a little something to do with premier ensembles like the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. Comprised of exceptional musicians from Colorado and beyond, the Boulder Phil produces multi-genre productions featuring dance, choral and visual elements, resulting in a growing number of sold-out concerts each year. The Phil helps youngsters foster a love of classical music through their Discovery Concerts for fourth and fifth graders in 28 schools across three counties in Colorado, as well as through the annual young Artist Concerto Competition.

Way to Get In Touch With Your Inner Child


1938 Pearl St., 303-443-3469

Being an adult sucks. Thankfully, sometimes you can forget all those bills and deadlines and have some much-needed playtime. If that sounds like what you need then get yourself over to Color Me Mine stat. Check those responsibilities at the door and prepare to have some fun. The good folks over at Color Me Mine essentially hand you a blank canvas (or a ceramic piece) for your imagination to go wild. For those a little reluctant to completely forget about those adult duties, don’t worry, you can always paint something practical like a mug or a plate. But those ready to go back to the playground days, feel free to make a hand mold to document all those years of middle-aged growing.

Music Festival


200 E. Baseline Road, Lafayette, 303-665-0599

Second Place: Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Third Place: RockyGrass Festival

Fourth Place: ARISE Music Festival

Fifth Place: Rocky Mountain Folks Festival

This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Colorado Music Festival, a fitting time for the event to win best music festival. Chautauqua Auditorium transforms into a repository for the best orchestral music the world knows, performed by an amazing collection of musicians from all over the country and the world who form the festival’s orchestra and its many smaller variations. The festival also features amazing guest soloists. This season kicks off on June 29 and ends with the season finale on August 4, and festival organizers have pulled out all the stops to make this season the best yet. With concerts geared toward kids, and casual happy hour concerts, this year’s festival figures to be as inclusive as ever.

Place to Dance


6185 Arapahoe Road, 303-440-8303

Second Place: St Julien Hotel & Spa

Third Place: Boulder Theater

Fourth Place: Tahona Tequila Bistro

Fifth Place: Fox Theatre

The Avalon Ballroom is serious about dancing. And when we say dancing, we mean all kinds of dance. The Avalon’s website says “come and enjoy contradance, swing dance, salsa, waltz and other dances on a large cushioned dance floor at the Avalon! All events include a dance lesson. No partner or experience needed.”

The dance happy folks at The Avalon have lessons and exhibitions of various types of dance going on all the time. It is truly a place that celebrates the art of movement. No wonder it’s our readers first choice when it comes to where to dance. So whether you’re in the mood to two-step in a cowboy hat or experience the sexy intensity of salsa, The Avalon is the place to learn it, and do it.



1750 13th St., 303-443-2122

Second Place: National Center for Atmospheric Research

Third Place: University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

Fourth Place: WOW! Children’s Museum

Fifth Place: Leanin’ Tree Museum and Sculpture Garden of
Western Art

The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) has been on a mission to serve as “a catalyst for creative experiences through the exploration of significant art of our time” since 1972. Founded by a group of local artists, BMoCA has maintained its commitment to fostering art through innovative exhibitions and engaging programming for all ages. BMoCA’s SPARK! program offers an opportunity for individuals living with early to mid-stage memory loss and their families to enjoy interactive experiences. Every Thursday, Mathias Kessler’s Cultural Cul-de-sac uses space in the gallery for local chefs, filmmakers, poets, scientists, performers, musicians and creative entrepreneurs to present and perform.

Place to Wi-Fi


1001 Arapahoe Ave., 303-441-3100

(and other locations in Boulder County)

Second Place: Ozo Coffee Company

Third Place: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

Fourth Place: Trident Booksellers
& Cafe

Fifth Place: Brewing Market Coffee

Argentine poet and librarian Jorge Luis Borges was steadfast in his reverence for libraries. His 1941 short story “The Library of Babel” conceived of a universe in the form of a vast library containing, in some fashion, every book ever written. His most personal work, Dreamtigers, follows a reclusive character who dreams of disappearing into the world of his books. “I imagine paradise to be a kind of library,” Borges wrote. Today, the internet provides the world with a new kind of library — an entire universe, really — and Wi-Fi connections let us explore this universe of knowledge. Our readers think the best place to Wi-Fi is the Boulder Public Library. A library within a library — Borges would be in paradise.

Hoop Classes



If you’ve never been to a music festival or a city park or Pearl Street, you may not know that hula hoops are no longer just for children. Kristina Sutcliffe is the mastermind behind O Dance, “an eclectic dance experience.” If you want to increase physical, mental and spiritual awareness, hula hooping is the fun fitness practice you’ve been looking for. Choose from beginning classes, intermediate, choreography and Latin hoop rhythm. Classes are held at Kakes Studio and the Boulder Circus Center, Joy in Motion, 24 Hour Fitness and, for members only, at RallySports.

Live Dance Group

Boulder Ballet

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

Second Place: Frequent Flyers Productions

Third Place: Streetside Dance Studios

Fourth Place: Lemon Sponge Cake Ballet

Fifth Place: Samba Colorado

Boulder is a place where people dance, watch people dance and appreciate the artistry of truly great dancing. The latter is where Boulder Ballet comes into play. Boulder Ballet has received accolades for its stunning live shows that deliver on theatrics as well as impressive choreography. You don’t have to be light on your feet or know the difference between “fondu” and “allegro” to enjoy one of the many performances the Boulder Ballet Company puts on every year. You can catch them doing Ballet in the Park during the summer or make it to the The Nutcracker come the holiday season. Whatever the performance, it will be time well spent.

Jonathan Montgomery recites poetry at the Laughing Goat Coffeehouse. Susan France

Open Mic


1709 Pearl St.

Second Place: Conor O’Neill’s Traditional Irish Pub & Restaurant

Third Place: Oskar Blues Brewery (various locations)

Fourth Place: The Attic Bar and Bistro

Fifth Place: Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe

Open mic nights are an important part of any community’s culture. It’s the link between singing in the shower or writing poetry in your journal and becoming a professional or at least accomplished amateur. Open mics are plentiful in Boulder County and our readers really like the poetry version at The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse. Afterall, our town is home to the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, founded by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman. You can become a part of Boulder’s esteemed poetry community at The Goat’s “So, you’re a poet” open readings every Monday. There’s no better way to perfect your art than by performing it live.

Art Gallery


1750 13th St., 303-443-2122

Second Place: The Dairy Arts Center

Third Place: Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery

Fourth Place: Leanin’ Tree Museum and Sculpture Garden of Western Art

Fifth Place: Art + Soul Gallery

You don’t have to travel around the world to see stimulating contemporary art. You can stay right here in Boulder County and spend a day at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA). BMoCA not only exhibits art, it supports the art community by often commissioning original installations for the space in its main galleries. Quality exhibitions by lesser-known artists are also a mainstay in its galleries. BMoCA also sponsors events to spur a community conversation about its exhibits and artists. With a location across the street from Central Park and next door to the iconic Dushanbe Teahouse, it’s easy to plan a whole day of fun and artistic stimulation without ever needing to get behind the wheel.

Burlesque Group

Bronze Fox Burlesque

Thankfully, we don’t have to drive far away to get the best food, shopping or entertainment. And that entertainment is fun and varied. For a night filled with stockings, glitter, sequins, some winks and some raunch, stop by a performance from Bronze Fox Burlesque. The members of this local group are always up for a good time and they bring the talent to back it up. They perform shows around town and they bring some much-needed spice into the everyday droll. Ain’t Boulder County great?

Advanced Education


1505 University Ave., 303-492-5148

Second Place: Naropa University Extended Studies

Third Place: Front Range Community College

Fourth Place: Food Lab

Fifth Place: Boulder Digital Arts

We all reach a point in life where we have to decide what it is we’re going to be. Some figure it out early and move on, others don’t know until they’re retired. But for everyone in between, there is the University of Colorado Continuing Education program. The offerings allow students to pace their degree efforts in order to accommodate those looking to spend time abroad, those working full-time jobs, or any other of life’s obstacles that prevent full-time study. To make the most of your career goals, check out CU’s program and get going today.

Community Choral Program



The Boulder Chorale is Boulder’s oldest and largest community choral organization, founded in 1966 by a group of local musicians. It has  developed into an organization supporting four choruses serving children and adults with more than 100 active members. They support the Young Artists Vocal Competition and the High School Choristers Program as a way to expand music education in the community. They have embarked on concert tours to China, Italy, Austria, Greece and Costa Rica. If you’re looking for a reason to sing, look no further than the Boulder Chorale.

The Gazebo at St Julien features live music. Courtesy of St Julien

Live Jazz Venue


900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696

Second Place: Nissi’s

Third Place: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

Fourth Place: Hotel Boulderado

Fifth Place: Oskar Blues Brewery (various locations)

Does La La Land have you hankering for some jazz this year? Well, since you’re in Boulder County and not New York or Chicago or LA or New Orleans or some other city that made jazz famous, our readers suggest you head on over to the St Julien Hotel and Spa for the best jazz in town. You many not find Ryan Gosling or John Legend, but local jazz staples like the Nice Work Jazz Combo, Ron LeGault Jazz and the Mike Robinson Quartet making regular appearances at the St Julien. Hosted by the T-Zero Lounge where handcrafted cocktails and a large wine selection make the music that much tastier. So come rain or shine, inside or outside, enjoy the live Jazz at St Julien for a great time.

Summer Camp


10063 Gold Hill Road, 303-442-4557

Second Place: YMCA Summer Camps

Third Place: University of Colorado Science Discovery

Fourth Place: Avid4 Adventure

Fifth Place: Thorne Nature Experience

Summer camps may be more important now than ever. Ever increasing technology, the introduction of virtual reality and the endless digital entertainment options beg for kids’ attention these days. But summer camps provide a connection to nature, a sense of adventure in the real-world and the possibility of lifelong friendships. And the day camps at Colorado Mountain Ranch do just that. They offer a plethora of activities to get your kids outside and making friends all summer long.

Local Musician/Group


Second Place: Gasoline Lollipops

Third Place: Bonnie & the Clydes

Fourth Place: Hazel Miller

Fifth Place: Elephant Revival

Face is a vocal celebration that makes you want to move. More specifically, it’s a five-member a capella group that lays down amazing harmonies to dance beats. The band’s members — Ryan Driver, Forest Kelly, Mark Megibow, Cody Qualls and Stephen Ross — have deep ties to Boulder and the University of Colorado. The group is now known all over the nation. It has appeared on America’s Got Talent, played with Jon Bon Jovi and has performed for multiple U.S. presidents. Now, thanks to our readers, they can add another Best of Boulder title to their impressive resume.

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