Best of Boulder East County — Entertainment & Culture

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Sue France

Live Jazz Venue

NISSI’S

2675 Northpark Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-2757

Longmont Winner: The Speakeasy

Louisville Winner: Gravity Brewing

Honorable Mention: Bittersweet – Cafe & Confections (Louisville); Ziggi’s Coffee (Longmont)

Thanks to Nissi’s intimate dining setup, cozying up with a date for some live jazz has never sounded more appealing — think old-school supper club. The team behind the scenes manages to balance a lively atmosphere with a sophisticated overtone, ensuring everyone has a seat at a table, but plenty of room on the dancefloor in case the music is too good to resist.

 

Place to WiFi

STARBUCKS

Locations throughout East Boulder County

Runner Up, East County: Brewing Market (Longmont, Louisville)

Honorable Mention: Bittersweet – Cafe & Confections (Louisville); Panera Bread (Longmont); Ziggi’s Coffee (Longmont)

If you had to pick one “best thing” about Starbucks, you might be tempted to think it’s the pumpkin spice lattes, but we all know it’s really the coffee house’s ubiquity. With more than 25 locations in East Boulder County, chances are you’ll spot its green twin-tailed mermaid en route to wherever you’re going. Pick up a coffee, stay for the WiFi, listen to the soothing jazz. It’s the same everywhere you go, and in this case, that’s the real bonus.

 

Open Mic

OSKAR BLUES HOME MADE LIQUIDS AND SOLIDS

1555 Hover St., Longmont, 303-485-9400

Lafayette Winner: Cannon Mine Coffee

Louisville Winner: Waterloo

Honorable Mention: Bootstrap Brewing Company (Niwot);
The Dickens Tavern (Longmont)

Mark Wednesdays as booked in your calendar right now. Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids and its weekly open stage is the best place to get over that mid-week hump and let loose those lyrics you’ve been practicing all week. For those of you who might need to loosen up a bit before making your on-stage debut, there are 43 rotating taps to choose from, including some of our favorites, like Oskar Blues’ Old Chub Nitro.

Sue France

NonProfit

LONGMONT HUMANE SOCIETY

9595 Nelson Road, Longmont,
303-772-1232

Lafayette Winner: Sister Carmen Community Center

Honorable Mention: Community Holistic Health Center (Lafayette); WOW! Children’s Museum (Lafayette)

The team at the Longmont Humane Society are tremendously hard workers — they have to be, considering more than 4,000 animals come through their doors every year. The crew of volunteers ensure no puppy nor scaredy-cat go unloved, and the veterinary staff perform thousands of spay and neuter surgeries to help curb overpopulation across the county. To call them the best friends of humans, dogs, cats, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits isn’t too far-fetched.

 

Bank/Financial Institution

ELEVATIONS CREDIT UNION

1900 W. South Boulder Road, Lafayette, 303-443-4672 

1079 Hover St., Suite 100, Longmont, 303-443-4672 

777 21st Ave., Longmont, 303-443-4672

300 McCaslin Blvd., Louisville,
303-443-4672 

Runner Up, East County: Chase Bank

Honorable Mention: FirstBank (Louisville, Erie); US Bank (Louisville, Erie); Wells Fargo Bank (Louisville)

There are many things to love about Elevations Credit Union, and it’s not just the hot coffee that pours freely in its lobby. Honestly these folks just put their money where their mouth is. This member-owned, nonprofit establishment serves hardworking customers up and down the entire Front Range, so it’s about as local as digital money gets these days. Thanks to its customer support and affiliate branches across the nation, it’s clear its interest in optimizing every customer’s experience is genuine.

 

Public School (9-12)

CENTAURUS HIGH SCHOOL

10300 South Boulder Road, Lafayette,
720-561-7500

Louisville Winner: Monarch High School

Honorable Mention: Longmont High School (Longmont); Niwot High School (Niwot); Peak to Peak Charter School (Lafayette)

Aside from the eight-inch Newtonian reflecting telescope that has all us space nerds geeking out (it’s the only one at a BVSD high school), what really sets Centaurus High School apart, according to the school’s families, is its award-winning Engineering Academy and International Baccalaureate Program. With numerous state and national academic achievements awarded to students every year, this high school places students on a fast track to collegiate success.

Sue France

Art Gallery

pARTiculars Art Gallery & Teaching Studio

401 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 720-890-7888

Longmont Winner: Firehouse Art Center

Honorable Mention: Arts Longmont (Longmont); Dona Laurita Photography + Fine Art (Louisville); Still Cellars (Longmont)

Teamwork makes the dream work at this cooperative art gallery and teaching studio. And dreams really do come alive at pARTiculars Art Gallery, an artist-owned establishment tucked into Old Town Lafayette. Now nearing a decade old, this gallery and studio features over 40 Colorado artists working in mediums that range from photography to fiber art, clay, bookmaking, mosaics and jewelry. The gallery also hosts classes in all these disciplines, so you too can create your own dreams.

 

Public School (K-8)

PEAK TO PEAK CHARTER SCHOOL

800 Merlin Drive, Lafayette, 303-453-4600

Longmont Winner: Flagstaff Academy

Louisville Winner: Louisville Elementary

Honorable Mention: Lafayette Elementary (Lafayette); Monarch K-8 (Louisville)

The central belief system at Peak to Peak Charter School is that all students harbor different strengths and weaknesses. Rather than using strict age limits to cluster students in elementary classes, the school uses ability measurements to group students in math and reading classes so as to ensure everyone’s needs are being met. This mind-set carries through to the middle school, too, where students choose electives based on their own interests and are encouraged to pursue extracurriculars that spark their curiosity.

Private School

DAWSON SCHOOL

10455 Dawson Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-6679

Lafayette Winner: Adventure Montessori

Louisville Winner: St. Louis Catholic School 

Honorable Mention: Shepherd Valley Waldorf School (Longmont); St. John the Baptist Catholic School (Longmont) 

All hail the blue and white! Dawson School’s co-curricular design, arranged to maximize students’ participation in a wide array of academics, athletics, art and social activities, is worth celebrating, our readers say. Its award-winning sports teams, world-travelling students and commitment to community engagement is part of what makes the K-12 school stand out across the entire state. Go Mustangs!

 

Museum

WOW! CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

110 N. Harrison Ave., Lafayette, 303-604-2424

Longmont Winner: Longmont Museum and Cultural Center

Honorable Mention: Agricultural Heritage Center (Longmont); Louisville Historical Museum (Louisville)

Confession time: though “children” is clearly in the name, our readers think this place is great for people of all ages. That’s because the WOW! Children’s Museum exhibits do an excellent job of inspiring creativity, curiosity and discovery in even the grizzliest adults. Between the science, art and human health exhibits — which are all designed and built by an amazing team of community members right in Lafayette — every kid and parent is sure to beg for a return visit.

Sue France

Place to Play Pool

HENRY’S BAR & GRILL

935 Pine St., Louisville, 303-665-9966

Longmont Winner: Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant

Honorable Mention: Dillinger’s Food & Spirits (Lafayette); Billiards Express (Longmont); Breakers Bar & Grill (Longmont)

Henry’s Bar and Grill just about nails everything you need for a good pool hall: balls breaking, beer flowing, high fives slapping. Factor in the jukebox and it’s no wonder this place has kept pool sharks coming back for years. As one reviewer said, “when it’s gone, you know the town has sold its soul.” That’s why our readers say its the best place to play pool in East Boulder County.

 

Sports Bar

THE LAZY DOG SPORTS BAR AND GRILL

3100 Village Vista Drive, Erie, 303-664-5299

Longmont Winner: Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant

Louisville Winner: Mudrock’s Tap & Tavern

Honorable Mention: Buffalo Wild Wings (Longmont); Dillinger’s Food & Spirits (Lafayette)

The team behind The Lazy Dog Sports Bar and Grill are anything but lazy. When you walk in those doors psyched for the big game, they’re poised to do everything they can to help you out, our readers say. Their extensive menu (which includes great options for children) is all made from scratch and is complemented by a classic selection of Coloradan craft beers, ciders and cocktails. So bring the whole family, sit down for the game, relax and let the boisterous cheer top it all off.

 

Sue France

Theater Group

LONGMONT THEATRE COMPANY

513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200

It’s been said that local theater is the lifeblood of a community. It brings the art of the written word to life in the form of plays, musicals and more, without necessitating a trip to the Great White Way. Longmont Theatre Company has been doing just that since 1957. Go ahead and book some tickets to a performance; it’s money well spent.

Sue France

Festival/Event (non music)

LOUISVILLE DOWNTOWN STREET FAIRE

Downtown Louisville

Lafayette Winner: Lafayette Peach Festival

Longmont Winner: Longmont Farmers Market

Honorable Mention: Art Night Out (Lafayette); Longmont Oktoberfest (Longmont)

Let’s start with the best part: This lively summertime festival isn’t just a one-off occasion. No, the Louisville Downtown Street Faire takes over the historic Louisville every Friday night in June, July and the first half of August, rain or shine. This long-time Louisville tradition is really a make-your-own adventure: dress up or dress down; bring your own food or eat out on the town; kids or no kids; timeless tunes or new local favorites. It’s always free and always a good time.

 

Advanced Education

FRONT RANGE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

2190 Miller Drive, Longmont, 303-678-3722

Runner Up, East County: Southwest Acupuncture College (Gunbarrel)

Honorable Mention: Rolf Institute of Structural Integration (Gunbarrel)

Learning is a lifelong endeavor. Front Range Community College helps everyone from students out of high school to those decades removed get started on that new language, dissect a new book or break down those economic theories they’ve always wondered about. For years now, Front Range has topped our readers’ choice for advanced education, and whether you’re knocking off pre-reqs, finishing a degree, or just want to win the dinner table debates, this is the place to go.

 

Place to Dance

NISSI’S

2675 Northpark Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-2757

Longmont Winner: Dickens Opera House

Honorable Mention: Oskar Blues Grill & Brew (Lyons); The Speakeasy (Longmont); Waterloo (Louisville)

Nissi’s steals the show once again, serving as the dance hall of choice for the majority of our readers. With a rotating lineup of live musicians nearly every night of the week bringing the dance floor to life, it’s not hard to see why our readers love it. Get a mix of entrees and cocktails to start the evening off and fuel your favorite moves once you’re ready to hit the floor.

 

Sue France

Best Auditorium

STEWART AUDITORIUM

400 Quail Road, Longmont, 303-651-8374

Stewart Auditorium opened its doors a couple years ago, and it has elevated the quality of entertainment in East County ever since. Offering a varied catalogue of happening throughout the week, the Stewart Auditorium provides a space for all types of media: music, performances, film screenings, cultural celebrations and more. Even though it’s brand new, we can’t imagine life without it.