CU Continuing Education
1505 University Ave., 303-492-5148
Runner-up: Naropa University Extended Studies
Over the course of our lives, our enthusiasm for school seems to follow a sine wave, more or less: up, then down, then up again. Our first day of kindergarten is the most exciting day of our tiny lives, and we can’t wait for story time, recess and show and tell. Then our interest wanes a bit throughout elementary school, one year much like the last and summer vacation claiming our affections. The first day of middle school, it’s on the upswing again, and ditto for the first day of high school. During college, our enthusiasm is geared more toward our “extra curricular activities” than school, per se. And once we graduate and join the work force, education usually takes a back seat to other demands. Thank goodness then for places like CU Continuing Education, which not only teaches us things we need to know for work, but a whole host of subjects we always meant to study, like theater, anthropology and film. There’s also the estimable Naropa University Extended Studies, which is this year’s runner-up. Front Range Community College took third place, while Culinary School of the Rockies came in fourth and Boulder College of Massage Therapy took fifth.
Colorado Music Festival
Runner-up: Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra
The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Music broadly dates classical music from the 11th century through present times. We haven’t done the exact math, but that’s a longer track record than just about every other genre of music we can think of — combined. Some musicians chase the latest trends and fads, like electronica, dub step, drone, 8-bit and trance, to keep their sound fresh. Making music that’s sometimes centuries old exciting and entertaining for modern audiences is a challenge to say the least, and one that the Colorado Music Festival handles with class and élan. Their summer festival is an annual tradition in Boulder, pulling in audiences — not to mention performers — from around the country. It is not to be missed, whether you’re a classical music buff or think that Beethoven was a St. Bernard. Boulder Philharmonic, which has seen 53 successful seasons, garnered runner-up honors. Colorado Symphony Orchestra won third place, while CU Presents came in fourth and Boulder Chamber Orchestra took fifth.
Boulder Creek Festival
Runner-up: Boulder County Farmer’s Market
Give me your spiritual, your bored, your poor college students, your hungry-for-free-samples masses. And send them to the Boulder Creek Festival. The yearly festival that snakes along Boulder Creek has activities, performances, food and drink, and, of course, ducks. It’s a three-day festival that’s free of charge and full of Boulder personality. The free samples are enough to get by on for the day, but there’s also plenty of food for purchase, and more importantly, cold drinks for the hot summer day spent by the Creek. The Boulder County Farmer’s Market comes in second, offering locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as locally prepared food, arts and crafts. In third is Nederland’s Frozen Dead Guy Days, a festival that celebrates Grandpa Bredo, a real dude really frozen in the Tuff Shed, and in fourth is the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Fifth place goes to the Boulder International Film Festival.
Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery/Southern Sun Pub & Brewery
Mountain Sun: 1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886
Southern Sun: 627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886
Runner-up: The West End Tavern
There were some conspiracy theories surrounding this year’s Best Bar winner — did Mountain Sun and Southern Sun Pub & Brewery win just because they had two chances to win votes? Turns out, no, it was the selection of award-winning beers they brew, the friendly atmosphere in which to drink the beer, and the selection of great foods that go along with the beer. It’s a great place to meet with friends in the middle of a sunny day or at the end of a long shift and feels more like an old-fashioned public house, or “pub” than a typical bar. (In my case, while writing this — hey, it’s research!) Second place went to The West End Tavern, a Boulder fixture for more than 20 years with a fantastic view from their rooftop bar. Conor O’Neils took third, while the Sundown Saloon and Dark Horse claimed fourth and fifth places.
LIVE JAZZ VENUE
St. Julien Hotel and Spa
900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696
Runner-up: Laughing Goat
Jazz music can mean any number of things to different people. To some, it’s the big brother of blues; to others it’s a language of struggle and perseverance. Others say, if you have to ask what jazz music is, you’ll never know. But most people will agree that it’s flat-out classy music. This year, our readers voted St. Julien Hotel and Spa as Boulder’s best place to enjoy live jazz — and maybe a martini and some sophisticated conversation on the side. St. Julien typically hosts four to five shows per week, ranging from jazz and jazz fusion to blues and funk. No matter what you end up seeing, it’ll be fantastic. The hotel has hosted a number of touring acts, as well as making regulars out of a few local favorites, such as Mestizo, Robinson Quintet and the Jack Hadley Band. Taking second place this year is The Laughing Goat, while third place went to Oskar Blues. Readers voted Nissi’s in fourth place, while fifth place was claimed by Boulder Outlook Hotel.
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
1750 13th St., 303-443-2122
Runner-up: Dairy Center for the Arts
This year’s winner of Best Art Gallery, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, may be a smaller venue, but it’s been making big statements with its current exhibitions. Take, for example, one current exhibit, Ourrubberos by Boulder-based artist Jessica Moon Bernstein, who utilizes recycled materials to create her masterpieces; or the other exhibit, by Henrique Oliveira, which is partly funded by the Embassy of Brazil. This is typical for this art museum, which emphasizes quality, community and creativity, rather than the number of exhibits or the size of the space. Runner-up this year is the Dairy Center for the Arts, with its stimulating art, film and dance productions. Art and Soul took third place. Boulder Arts and Crafts Cooperative and Boulder Public Library snagged fourth and fifth places, respectively.
KBCO Studio C CD
4695 S. Monaco St., Denver, 303-444-5600
Runner-up: Puttin’ on the Leash Gala
The KBCO Studio C CD is unique in terms of fundraisers. People literally wait outside all night, just to give their money to charity. And in return, they get versions of their favorite songs they won’t find anywhere else. This year, proceeds from the CD went to the Boulder County AIDS Project and Food Bank of the Rockies. Going on 22 years now, KBCO’s Studio C tradition will continue to attract hordes of people clamoring for music they might not even realize is being sold for a great cause. Puttin’ on the Leash, an auction for the Humane Society of Boulder, is our runner-up in this pet-friendly county, and the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling took third place. The KGNU Benefit was awarded fourth place, and the Boulder Historic Homes Tour took home fifth place.
LIVE DANCE GROUP
2590 Walnut St., 303-443-0028
Runner-up: Frequent Flyers
Well, there’s no such thing as a dead dance group, at least until the zombie apocalypse arrives, so this category might be a little redundantly named, but let’s not quibble. Instead, let’s talk about the aptly (and concisely) named Boulder Ballet company, one of the most talented, engaging and lively group of dancers this side of the Bolshoi. Tackling everything from the traditional Nutcracker to more modern fare with their annual Stepping Out concert of contemporary dance, these are some seriously talented ballerinas and male ballet dancers. (Seriously, do you know of a word for a male ballet dancer? Ballerino?) For a high-flying good time, check out runner-up finishers Frequent Flyers, who defy gravity and the imagination. Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet came in third. Ballet Nouveau Colorado took home fourth, and in fifth we have 3rd Law Dance named for Newton’s third law — which, if you ever find yourself at a pub quiz or on Jeopardy!, is the law of equal and opposite reactions. (Editor’s note: A male ballet dancer is called a “danseur.”)
Lazy Dog Sports
Bar and Grill
1346 Pearl St., 303-440-3355
Runner-up: Walnut Brewery
It’s a fact: football is a dangerous sport. There’s the risk of broken bones, concussions, serious brain damage, torn tendons and who knows what else. For your health and safety, it’s much better to merely watch this glorious sport from afar, preferably from a comfortable booth at the Lazy Dog Sports Bar and Grill, where the biggest danger is slipping off your stool after one too many cold ones. A favorite hangout for Boulder locals, the Lazy Dog features great wing specials, plenty of wide-screen televisions and occasionally some awesome live music, as well. For delicious brews and great food to go with it, hop on over to Walnut Brewery, our runner-up in this category. Dark Horse, home of great burger deals and plenty of televisions — two essentials for a good game night — came in third. Groucho’s little brother Harpo’s Sports Bar came in fourth, and Old Chicago came in fifth.
LIVE THEATER GROUP
Boulder’s Dinner Theatre
5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000
Runner-up: Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Going to a play is usually an enjoyable and relaxing experience. You dress slightly fancier than you normally would, while escaping reality as you become immersed in a fictional world of riveting characters. Yet things are always better when food is involved. Boulder’s Dinner Theatre takes the restaurant experience and combines it with an unforgettable performance of popular theatre productions. Not only does the small setting allow for a more personal feel, but the food servers are the main characters of the play, chatting and jotting down your dessert order as if they did not just amaze you on stage. Also, what other theater provides guests with ponchos to protect them from getting drenched during the rain scene in Singin’ in the Rain or evokes magical feelings when Peter Pan flies overhead while you enjoy your chocolate cake and coffee? If you would rather enjoy a production outdoors, attend the Colorado Shakespeare Festival this summer, our runner-up. Third place went to the talented students hard at work at CU Theatre & Dance. Readers voted Vox Feminista as fourth place, and the children of Peanut Butter Players were voted fifth place.
Zip Code Man
Pearl Street Mall
Runner-up: Big Head Todd
The two offices of memory are collection and distribution,” said poet Samuel Johnson. If we were to take this quote as true, we might assume David Rosdeitcher, or Zip Code Man, spent a large portion of his life as a post office worker collecting and distributing mail. But he didn’t. He just has an uncanny knack for memorizing United States ZIP codes. Out of all of the zip codes in the United States, Zip Code Man reportedly has 35,000 to 40,000 memorized. If you were to ask him how he came to memorize all of those numbers, he’d tell you he started learning the various patterns of zip codes and began stockpiling them into his memory as he made his way across the country with his juggling act. Local singer and guitarist Big Head Todd is our runner-up this year, while third place went to Hazel Miller. Readers voted chef Hosea Rosenberg in fourth place, while fifth place was claimed by folk rock artist Gregory Alan Isakov.
BEST MOVIE HOUSE/THEATER
2032 14th St., 303-786-7030
Runner-up: Century Boulder @ 29th Street
So what’s the big deal with watching movies at the Boulder Theater? They don’t have stadium seating. They don’t have an IMAX screen, and you probably won’t see the new Green Lantern or Thor movies there. But what you do get is great niche films you won’t see anywhere else and classic films that you can watch with the people in your community. Some of the recent films included The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee Scratch Perry, a Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance-hosted night featuring documentaries about riding in some of the nation’s most pristine bike trails and The Fly Fishing Film Tour, which featured films about the best places to fish across the world. In the past some of the classic movie events included showings of The Big Lebowski. All in all, it’s the best place to catch a flick with your neighbors. The runner-up this year was Century Boulder @ 29th Street, where you can catch those blockbuster films, followed by Boulder Outdoor Cinema, which took third. AMC Flatiron Crossing and CU International Film Festival took fourth and fifth, respectively.
YMCA of Boulder Valley
2850 Mapleton Ave., 303-442-2778
Runner-up: CU Science Discovery
Every year parents scramble to find something for their kids to do during the summer while they’re out of school. They can’t just sit around the house and play video games and watch movies all day, right? The YMCA of Boulder Valley provides such a plethora of camps for kids that it’s basically a one-stop summer camp shopping center. The YMCA offers both day camps and overnight camps that can range from your average activity day of games and field trips to more focused camps related to your child’s interests, such as a skateboarding camp, a LEGO Robotics camp or bicycle riding camps. So while you’re toiling away eight hours a day in your office this summer, you’ll know your child is safe and probably having the time of his or her life. CU Science Discovery, known for its superb science camps, was the runner-up, with Colorado Mountain Ranch taking third. Eldorado Mountain Yoga, and Doghouse Music Rock & Roll Camp and Thorne Ecological Institute tied for fourth place.
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
1750 13th St., 303-443-2122
Runner-up: University of Colorado Museum
Boulder’s art community encompasses more art forms than most people know what to do with. The town has a history of traditional forms, notably plein air painting, and is starting to build a reputation for more innovative art forms, notably in the electronic literature scene. This year, readers voted the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art as their favorite place to admire the finer things Boulder has to offer. The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art quickly established itself as a community hotspot and recently hosted the cutting-edge Communikey Festival of Electronic Arts. The museum consistently brings experimental and innovative artists from around the world to share their work and provide interesting site-specific art installations. The University of Colorado Museum is this year’s runner-up, while third place went to World of Wonder. Readers voted Boulder History Museum in fourth place, and Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art claimed fifth place.
Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Runner-up: Colorado Music Festival
Boulder may be voted the best place to live in America, but Telluride is the best place to jam. The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is celebrating its 38th annual weekend of music and mayhem this June, and tickets are already sold out. This year the festival coincides with the summer solstice, meaning the longest day of the year will be complemented by the laid-back luxury of bluegrass. With a diverse array of acts spanning Boulder’s own Yonder Mountain String Band as well as the commercial success of Mumford and Sons and indie-rock darlings The Decemberists, this year is sure to be a hit. Planet Bluegrass works to keep the festival green and the earth happy with sustainable solutions to energy and waste, something that leaves all festivarians feeling healthy and happy. The estimable Colorado Music Festival is our runner-up, while third place goes to Rockygrass. Folks Festival claims fourth place, and Nedfest takes fifth.
W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison,
Runner-up: Boulder Theater
Immortalized in U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” video and more recently in B.O.B.’s video for “Don’t Let Me Fall,” Red Rocks is internationally renowned and a Colorado treasure. Recognized as one of the best music venues in the world by both musicians and fans, it isn’t much of a surprise that the hometown folks would consider it the best in the area. Every summer, the venue hosts the state’s best shows and this coming summer is no different. Earth, Wind & Fire, Peter Gabriel, The Global Dance Festival, Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour and dozens more are scheduled. It’s definitely worth the drive and hours getting in and out of the parking lot for shows. Traffic is just part of the fun, right? The runner-up went to local favorite Boulder Theater with its partner Fox Theatre in third. The historic Chautauqua Auditorium, home to an excellent summer series, took fourth, and Nissi’s took fifth.
Humane Society of Boulder Valley
2323 55th St., 303-442-4030
Whether it’s their “Free Cat Fridays,” their “Dog of the Week,” or throwing fun events like “Puttin’ on the Leash,” the Humane Society of Boulder Valley knows how to have fun when it comes to caring for lost and homeless animals. Although the business they’re in is a serious one, the people who work and volunteer for HSBV have great attitudes, are compassionate about animal issues and very helpful when it comes to picking out pets, training your pets and helping you maintain the health of your pets. What more could you ask for? Eco-Cycle, one of the largest nonprofit recyclers in the nation, was our runner-up, while Planned Parenthood came in third. The Boulder County AIDS Project came in fourth, and long-running public radio station KGNU came in fifth.
The Laughing Goat
1709 Pearl St., 303-440-4628
Runner-up: Conor O’Neill’s
Boulder boasts a surprising number of open mic nights for a town of its size. It seems that as soon as an open mic series shuts down, a new one begins a few blocks away. Open mic participants vary greatly in terms of experience and raw talent, but it seems like many of the veterans flock to The Laughing Goat on Pearl Street on Monday nights. The coffee house’s weekly “So, You’re A Poet” open mic series draws MFA candidates from both CU and Naropa and has also attracted a handful of poets who return every week. With live entertainment every night, The Laughing Goat has established itself as a community center for art, music, poetry, inspiration and, of course, coffee. Conor O’Neill’s, a restaurant known for its traditional Irish pub feel, is our runner-up this year, while third place went to Oskar Blues. Readers voted Rock N Soul Café in fourth place, and Boulder Outlook Hotel claimed fifth place.
PERFORMANCE ARTS VENUE
2032 14th St., 303-786-7030
Runner-up: Dairy Center for the Arts
The Boulder Theater is already well known for its concerts and film showings, but it’s also a hotspot around town for the performing arts. You can catch a ballet, maybe a play or even a comedian. One of the recent events was the BaoBao Festival where local and international performers gave a presentation of traditional West African dancing, drumming, music and storytelling. There’s also an upcoming performance of The Little Mermaid by Boulder Ballet with choreography by Ana Claire and Peter Davison. The venerable Dairy Center for the Arts is our runner-up with its venue built especially for the performing arts. Macky Auditorium, which also hosts a variety of events, came in third while Boulder’s Dinner Theater was fourth, and the 1stBank Center came in fifth.
PLACE OF WORSHIP
Boulder Shambala Meditation Center
1345 Spruce St., 303-444-0190
Runner-up: Unity of Boulder
There’s a saying that a church isn’t a building, it’s what you do (though having a building to do it in does help). And while the Boulder Shambala Meditation Center has one beautiful, stately building, we’re guessing that’s not the reason they won best place of worship. It has more to do with their welcoming atmosphere, sense of community and comprehensive offering of Buddhist teachings. The beautiful building and awe-inspiring art adorning the walls are just icing on the cake. Unity of Boulder comes in second place for this category, with third place going to Flatirons Community Church. St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church garnered fourth, and in fifth place is First Presbyterian Church of Boulder.
PLACE TO DANCE
St. Julien Hotel & Spa
900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696
Runner-up: Round Midnight
With live music almost every night, the St. Julien Hotel & Spa tops the list of places to dance in Boulder. Even on the nights without the bands, the drink selection and snazzy atmosphere will keep your feet moving. With samba, jazz and blues bands, among others, you can perfect your favorite dance moves in every category — though doing The Sprinkler doesn’t count. The newest craze is “The Bernie,” where you hang your head back and flail your arms behind your back a lá Weekend at Bernie’s. We wouldn’t recommend trying it at a classy place like the St. Julien, though. Runner-up Round Midnight may have more of the atmosphere needed for funny dance moves. The Avalon Ballroom took third place, and The Fox Theatre is in fourth. Nissi’s came in fifth place.
PLACE TO PLAY POOL
1136 Pearl St., 303-449-4987
Boulder’s prized dive-bar den of debauchery, The Sundown Saloon, affectionately known as “The Downer,” and its five pool tables, wins Best Place to Play Pool. The beloved bar is known less for pool than it is for hipsters, $6 Pabst Blue Ribbon pitchers and for being the busiest bar on Pearl Street on Friday and Saturday nights. The dark wooden interior, free of the campy decorations that clutter the walls of so many dive bars around the country, the dark lighting and the loud indie rock and metal blaring through all hours of the night contribute to an atmosphere that almost guarantees you’ll have a great time. Pool is free until 10:30 p.m., when the crowds start to arrive. The Catacombs gets runner-up honors this time around. A Boulder college tradition, The Dark Horse, comes in third, with The Attic taking fourth place and the Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill claims fifth place.
Alexander Dawson School
10455 Dawson Dr., Lafayette
Runner-up: Shining Mountain Waldorf
There are a lot of basic English terms that get mixed-up, misunderstood and mistranslated between the U.S. and the UK. Biscuit vs. cookie. Football vs. soccer. And zee vs. zed. And confusingly enough, public schools in Britain are really what we’d call private schools here. So for any Brits perusing this issue of Best of Boulder, let us clarify: this category is about the American version of public schools. And in Boulder, the best example is Alexander Dawson School, a private K-12 preparatory school situated on 113 beautiful acres in Lafayette. Shining Mountain Waldorf School, which offers kids pre-K through 12th grade a well-rounded education, won runner-up this year. September School got third place, Friends’ School snagged fourth and Watershed School came in fifth.
PLACE TO WI-FI
The Laughing Goat
1709 Pearl St., 303-440-4628
Runner-up: Panera Bread
The quest for wi-fi and caffeine is one on which college students, professors and professionals regularly embark. Strolling from coffee shop to café looking for space to spread out a week’s worth of academics and bum around on Facebook is one that begins on 9th and ends on 17th with a giggling goat. The Laughing Goat Coffee House has everything a Boulderite needs for an exquisite engagement with the Internet: organic, fair-trade, locally retailed coffee, baristas trained in latte art, always ambient music and most importantly, plenty of bandwidth with which to browse the Web. The coffee house’s medley of caffeine buzz and Internet browsing has spread from the pedestrian mall to the Norlin Library commons. It is a feeding frenzy of students from dawn until dawn again (it’s open 24 hours). Panera Bread takes second place as another wi-fi hotspot for Boulder residents. Ozo Coffee, which just opened a new location on Pearl Street, takes third. Fourth place goes to The Cup, which is home to some of the tastiest coffee in town, and fifth place went to Vic’s.
PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL
Boulder High School
1604 Arapahoe Ave., 720-561-2200
Runner-up: Fairview High School
In the shadow of CU, Boulder High School is like the kid trying to live up to his older brother — and doing a damn good job of it. Originally found in 1875 as a part of the university, BHS is one of the oldest and most distinguished high schools in the state. Students enjoy not only high academic standards, but also strong arts and music programs, a wide range of clubs and an active athletics department. And, as they do every year, the extraordinary Fairview High School Knights gave the BHS Panthers a run for their money. Third place in this competitive category goes to New Vista High School, fourth to Niwot High School and fifth to Monarch High School.
PUBLIC SCHOOL K-8
Peak to Peak Charter School
800 Merlin Dr., Lafayette, 303-453-4600
Runner-up: Casey Middle School
According to the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 3.7 million children started kindergarten in 2010. About 70 of those tiny tots started at Peak to Peak Charter School, which means less than 0.002 percent of the nation’s kindergarteners were lucky enough to start their educational career at the county’s reader-ranked No. 1 elementary school. Those lucky few can look forward to years of excellent academics, ambitious athletics and awesome activities. Congratulations, Pumas! Runner-up goes to Casey Middle School, while third goes to Boulder County School of Integrated Studies (BCSIS). Fourth place goes to Louisville Middle School, while Eisenhower Elementary finishes fifth. A-plus, everyone!
Yonder Mountain String Band
When they first started playing music more than a decade ago, no one thought Yonder Mountain String Band would ever make it anywhere beyond their home base in Nederland, except maybe Boulder. There wasn’t a market for four-piece string bluegrass bands; no one could dance to music without drums. Boy, were the doubters wrong. With just a bass, a banjo, a guitar and a mandolin, YMSB sold out Red Rocks Amphitheatre last year, and the crowd was as raucous as any other crowd that packed the venue that summer. And though Yonder did briefly flirt with drums, touring with Phish drummer Jon Fishman for a spell, they have stuck to their traditional string band format, and they continue to grow their fan base and expand their following to this day. DeVotchKa took runner-up honors. Big Head Todd and the Monsters came in third, and Hazel Miller took fourth, while a cappella savants FACE came in fifth.