RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE
18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 720-865-2494
Silver: Boulder Theater
Bronze: Chautauqua Auditorium
There is a good reason why half the well-known rock bands in the world have a music video featuring the torch-lit rock cliffs of Red Rocks Amphitheatre at dusk. Why’s that, you ask? It’s only the most beautiful outdoor music venue on the planet, and ever since U2 shot its famous “Sunday Bloody Sunday” video here in 1983, everybody who’s anybody has just had to make one here as well. In all seriousness, Red Rocks is considered one of the top venues in the world by both musicians and ticket-holding fans, so it just makes sense that our readers would agree. If you’re looking for an excuse to head down to this Morrison stage, just take a gander at its 2019 concert schedule and you’ll find one for sure.
2032 14th St., 303-786-7030
Silver: AMC Flatiron Crossing 14
Bronze: Boedecker Theater
Seeing a film at Boulder Theater is something special. From the beautiful art deco interior and exterior to the old-school velvet curtains that wrap the stage, Boulder Theater is a local treasure. It’s also truly an all-around entertainment venue featuring live music of all genres, comedy, spoken word, conferences and private celebrations in addition to films. And now, The Lounge next door is serving McDevitt Tacos. So, head on over for a few tacos and a drink during happy hour before the movie, and you’ll know why our readers call this their favorite movie house.
Place to Dance
6185 Arapahoe Road, 303-440-8303
Silver: Boulder Theater
Bronze: Tahona Tequila Bistro
Write-in: Block 1750 F
From swing dancing to the waltz, one-step to salsa, the Avalon Ballroom is home to Boulder’s best dance floor. Head on down to the venue for different events and workshops to learn new dance styles or meet folks already jivin’ and groovin’ to the beats you love. At the weekly meetups, find like-minded people pursuing Zumba, Scottish Country dance or aerobic workouts, to name just a few of the year-round activities.
ELEVATIONS CREDIT UNION
Various locations around Boulder County
Silver: Chase Bank
Banks are like bananas. You think you know what they are, and then you go to Hawaii and you’re like, “This is a banana? This is fantastic.” That’s how we’re assuming our readers feel about Elevations Credit Union, which takes banking from a mundane institution into something greater — a partnership where you feel like your financial situation is cared for. The friendly staff, the commitment to bolstering the local economy, the wallet-friendly banking account structures… there’s a lot to like about Elevations.
Live Jazz Venue
ST JULIEN HOTEL & SPA
900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696
Bronze: The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse
There’s nothing quite like sipping a delicious glass of wine or a cocktail on the St Julien Hotel & Spa terrace during the summer, taking in the breathtaking view of the Flatirons in the (nearby) distance. The only thing that makes it better is the addition of some of Boulder’s best live jazz music. That’s why year after year our readers vote St Julien’s as the best place to experience live jazz music. Boasting both local talent and traveling bands, you can take it all in from the comfort of your own table or get up and dance. Not summer yet? Don’t fret. St Julien’s T-Zero Lounge offers live jazz all winter long.
Reader Comment: “Odd to choose Best Nonprofit when it is about
their mission. What does ‘best’ mean?”
Editor’s note: Many businesses, whether nonprofit or for-profit organizations (including the Weekly) prioritize their mission ahead of profits. “Best” means that they have succeeded in their mission, at least in the eyes of Weekly readers.
THE LAUGHING GOAT COFFEEHOUSE
1709 Pearl St.; 2907 55th St.; 1720 Pleasant St.
Silver: The Attic Bar & Bistro
Bronze: Oskar Blues Breweries (various locations)
Whether you’re a first-time open mic’er with a poem or a song, or a stand-up veteran, you want and need an inviting, comfortable place to showcase your talents. The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse fits the bill, catering to both novices and experts alike. The laid-back atmosphere helps you feel at home when the room is full of strangers. Our readers tell us the Goat’s talent level on open mic night is the best around. So, come on out and support our local creatives and help them feel right at home.
COLORADO MOUNTAIN RANCH
10063 Gold Hill Road, 303-442-4557
Silver: Avid4 Adventure
Bronze: YMCA Summer Camps
Write-in: Easton Summer Camp
This is Colorado Mountain Ranch’s seventh time among the pages of Best of Boulder. Looks like our readers have stayed impressed with the high-quality summer experiences this camp affords. The Walker family, who has now been running the camp for generations, sure know what they’re doing. Since 1947 they’ve been offering summer camps — that’s a lot of practice, so expecting a steady level of perfection from this iconic pillar of the Boulder County community isn’t actually so far fetched.
THE LAZY DOG SPORTS BAR & GRILL
1346 Pearl St., 303-440-3355
Silver: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill
Bronze: Red Zone at the Pumphouse Brewery
Write-in: Ralphie’s Bar & Grill=
Since 1997, the Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill has been locally owned and operated. This could be why our readers have called out this sports bar again and again for its superior game-day atmosphere, not to mention the other nights of the week rocking with live music. The packed lunch and dinner menus offer everyone something appealing, while the alcohol list features 16 rotating taps and three fully stocked bars. So, drop on by and enjoy your favorite sport, whether it’s something played with a ball… or just drinking.
Festival/Event (non music)
BOULDER COUNTY FARMERS MARKETS
13th Street between Arapahoe and Canyon, 303-910-2236; Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont;400 E. Simpson, Lafayette
Silver: Boulder Creek Festival
Bronze: Frozen Dead Guy Days
Buying fresh, local produce and products is no longer just a trend, it’s a way of life. And while there are plenty of farm stands and local shelves at stores around Boulder County, nothing beats walking around a Boulder County Farmers Market on a Saturday morning (or weekday evening), talking with the farmers and other makers, enjoying the festive atmosphere and community. Whether you know exactly what you need or just want to peruse a variety of stalls, it’s always a good time. That’s why week after week, our readers choose the Boulder County Farmers Markets as the place to be.
Reader Comment: “Need a category that is a bit outside of theater, nonprofit or festival. Maybe Social Justice or Human Rights organization?”
Silver: Zip Code Man
Bronze: Gregory Alan Isakov
Can you guess this year’s winner? Here’s some hints: He’s thrilled you with his work on the Colorado State Board of Education. He wowed you as the representative for Colorado’s second congressional district. He’s been a member of more congressional caucuses than you knew existed, helped get pot legalized in Colorado and now calls himself the first openly gay and Jewish governor of Colorado. You guessed it. Our readers’ favorite local celebrity is Jared Polis. Thanks for your service, Jared!
BOULDER MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
1750 13th St., 303-443-2122
Silver: Museum of Boulder
Bronze: National Center for Atmospheric Research
Since its founding in 1972 by a group of local artists, The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) has been at the cutting edge of the Boulder County art scene, exploring contemporary art through traveling exhibits, performances, music, visual art and educational programs for people of all ages. BMoCA provides these enriching experiences for over 114,000 regional, national and international visitors annually, making this museum the centerpiece of art for our area and the favorite of our readers.
Place to Play Pool
1136 Pearl St., 303-449-4987
Silver: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill
Bronze: The Outback Saloon
Write-in: Dillingers Food & SpiritsI
If the perfect atmosphere for a good old-fashioned game of pool was transformed into a song, the Sundown Saloon would hit all the notes: free games, cheap pitchers of beer, soft lighting, eclectic characters, loud music. Even after cresting three-and-a-half decades of service, the Sundown Saloon has maintained a grasp on its original grungy, homely, approachable vibe, a haven for many yearning for yesteryear.
Silver: Big Head Todd and the Monsters
Bronze: Hazel Miller
Here’s proof that popularity transends existence. For 11 years, Elephant Revival toured the country sharing their lively blend of gypsy, Celtic, Americana and folk music. But in 2018, the band had to make a difficult decision: with pressing family matters making it hard to tour and carve out time to make new music, the band decided to put family first by taking a hiatus from Elephant Revival. They still individually continue to advocate for public lands and other social justice causes, and they still participate in their annual Trail Revival project, which works in conjunction with the state of Colorado to clean up and restore trails within the state’s public lands. We hold on to the hope that life will offer this talented group of musicians a chance to create together again. Until then, thanks for all the music and activism Elephant Revival!
Live Dance Group
2590 Walnut St., Suite 10, 303-443-0028
Silver: Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance
Bronze: Streetside Dance Studios
With performances that range from elegant, classic fairy tales to contemporary stories of imagination, power and love, ballet is a mixture of athleticism and grace. 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. With programs all year long, Boulder Ballet always has a unique theatrical performance just waiting for you to experience.
5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000
Silver: Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Bronze: University of Colorado Boulder Theatre & Dance
Write-in: Motus Theater
Our readers know that when they want a little taste of Broadway, they can catch a great show at BDT Stage. Members of the company have performed on stages all over the country, from New York to Chicago and Hollywood. They’ve been cast in sitcoms and feature films. Some have been nominated for Academy Awards. At BDT Stage, you get to interact with the actors as they serve you food and drink before the play and during intermission. It’s an intimate, Broadway-quality show for a fraction of the price. Hard to question why it’s our readers’ favorite live theater group.
HUMANE SOCIETY OF BOULDER VALLEY
2323 55th St., 303-442-4030
Silver: Planned Parenthood
Write-in: Attention Homes
We are blessed with some of the best nonprofits anywhere. Whether it’s feeding hungry people, saving the environment, funding education needs or any number of other good deeds, Boulder County has a big heart. But even so, year after year in this category, our readers tell us that it is the Humane Society of Boulder Valley’s treatment of our less fortunate four-legged furry friends that makes them the best of the best. Congrats, BHS, and a special thanks to all the dogs and cats who snuck onto their owners’ computers to fill out a Best of Boulder survey.
Performing Arts Venue
2032 14th St., 303-786-7030
Silver: Dairy Arts Center
Bronze: Chautauqua Auditorium
Night after night, Boulder Theater’s stage hosts brilliant musicians playing their world-class music of every genre imaginable. But that’s not all. This venue’s lights shine down on poets, spoken word artists and intellectual leaders of all stripes. Just check out the famous marquee out front. You never know if you’ll see new names or those familiar. The lineup is constantly evolving, welcoming in an increasingly diverse collection of musicians, performers and educators. Our readers love this place because they know that the future of this community landmark will always include a wide array of great performances.
Staff Pic: Alternative Date Night
2141 Regent Drive, Boulder, 303-492-5002, colorado.edu/fiske
When you’re looking to wow that special someone with a creative date, take them to Fiske Planetarium. What’s sexier than exploring fundamental questions about the origins of the universe in glorious 8K resolution on a 65-foot-diameter dome with surround sound? Not a damn thing, that’s what. Fiske’s MegaStar projector shows 10 million stars and the Milky Way, all in the climate-controlled comfort of a 206-seat auditorium. Catch a laser light show set to music from Pink Floyd or Lady Gaga, or get lost in the psychedelic art of Android Jones’ Samskara. Your date will be impressed, and if they’re not… thank u, next.
Reader Comment: “Thorne Nature Experience is an incredible organization that provides outdoor education opportunities free of charge for some of the most underprivileged kids in our county.”
TELLURIDE BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL
Town Park, Telluride, 800-624-2422
Silver: Colorado Music Festival
Bronze: RockyGrass Festival
You know it must be special when our readers’ favorite music festival takes place several hours to the southwest in the spectacular mountain community of Telluride. Despite its location, this world-famous fest does have its roots in Boulder County. It’s put on each year by Lyons’ own Planet Bluegrass. If you haven’t been to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, this is the year to go. The combination of the best music festival lineup anywhere set against the backdrop of the San Juan Mountains is impossible to beat. And don’t let the name fool you, there’s way more on the ticket than just bluegrass. And hanging out in Telluride ain’t chopped liver.
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO BOULDER CONTINUING EDUCATION
1505 University Ave., 303-492-5148
Silver: Naropa University
Bronze: Front Range Community College
People have been partaking in the University of Colorado Continuing Education program for more than a century. That’s 100 years of folks learning about everything from anthropology to climate science to media studies to, yes, neuropharmacology, and more. Online, evening and weekend courses make the workload suitable for those with other responsibilities, and students can finish degrees, earn new certificates, and learn new skills all on their own schedule.
BOULDER PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
1595 Pleasant St. (performance space, Macky Auditorium), 303-449-1343
Silver: Boulder Symphony
Bronze: Colorado Music Festival and Center for Musical Arts
Did you know that Brahms was a regular at the Red Hedgehog coffeehouse in Vienna? Or that Vivaldi was nicknamed the red priest? Or that Schubert spent the last days of his life reading the novels of James Fennimore Cooper? Or that Haydn’s “Water Music” was first performed on a barge in the middle of the River Thames, thus earning its name? Now that the classical music trivia is out of the way, it’s time to talk about Boulder’s favorite classical music outfit: The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. “Boulder County’s cultural gem,” the Boulder Phil has been sharing the music of Brahms, Vivaldi, Schubert, Haydn and more for over 60 years.
Staff Pic: Place to Teach Gen Z What a VCR Is
Media Archeology Lab
1320 Grandview Ave., Boulder, mediaarchaeologylab.com
The Media Archeology Lab (MAL) has a pretty woke motto: “The past must be lived so that the present can be seen.” Whoa, right? This research lab and hands-on museum uses fully functional vintage technology to answer questions about what the future of media might look like. Ever wonder what the world’s first portable computer, the Osbourne 1, looks like? Well, it weighs 25 pounds and you can find it at the MAL. Are you an audiophile? The MAL has a wicked collection of audio materials ranging from a 1914 Edison Diamond Disc recording of “Medley of American War Songs” to a cassette tape of R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People from 1992. The lab hosts artist and scholar residencies and exhibitions, and visitors to the museum are encouraged to play. Check the website for visiting hours. Arcade Games
PRESS PLAY BAR
1005 Pearl St., 720-508-4916
Silver: Tilt Pinball
Bronze: Dave & Buster’s
Write-in: Quarters Bar + Arcade
Really, is there a better place to get into some arcade games than Boulder’s Press Play Bar? Our readers say, “Nope. No way. Press Play all day.” Walk down the stairs into Press Play’s emporium of classic arcade games, hop on Cruis’n USA, order a drink from the full bar and take in some live music. The games are well maintained and the atmosphere is always fun and lively, so a good time is practically guaranteed, even if you clunk out in Pinball or can’t manage to get past M. Bison in Street Fighter. Good luck, and have fun.
DAIRY ARTS CENTER
2590 Walnut St., 303-440-7826
Silver: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
Bronze: Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery
Write-in: R Gallery
What a treat it is to have the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder County. Our readers love checking out the Dairy’s various cultural offerings, such as films, theater, speakers and art exhibits. The space is welcoming, the talent level high and the galleries and films are carefully curated. All forms of art are represented in the space over the course of a season, and once you’re done perusing the current exhibit, head over to the Dairy’s Boedecker Theater for a flick you likely won’t be able to see elsewhere, or to the Gordon Gamm Theater to take in a play.
10455 Dawson Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-6679
Silver: Shining Mountain Waldorf School
Bronze: Boulder Country Day School
Four core beliefs have defined the Dawson School since its inception, namely the values of respect, compassion, courage and integrity. In offering an array of challenging courses, a robust selection of after-school programs and initiatives and a competitive sports environment, students return to these four pillars every step of the way. Dawson School’s supportive educational environment encourages students to pursue their dreams. And the sports programs build community while teaching fairness and responsibility. Put it all together with the thoughtful after-school academic and arts-related opportunities and you have a student headed down the college-ready path.
Staff Pic: Celebration of Cultural Harmony
Soul Rebel Festival, soulrebelfestival.com
For the last 17 years, Robert Oyugi has put on the Soul Rebel Festival — by himself. This annual grassroots festival showcases local and international reggae, Afro pop, world and American roots musicians. It honors legendary reggae studio musician and founder of The Yellow Wall Dub Squad Fazal Prendergast, who passed away in a fatal car accident in 2005. The festival benefits MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault). Funky beats for a good cause — what could be better?