Best Early Entertainment in Boulder

Aren't You Entertained? Boulder's Music and Theater for Early in the Evening

Boulder, Colorado is known as a cultural mecca attracting live music, theater, artists, and foodies from across the nation. As such, the search for fine-dining and entertainment is a simple, yet varied one. For folks who prefer to get their entertainment on earlier rather than later, Boulder's coffee shops, breweries, and community theaters are happy to oblige. 

Topping our list is the cozy and comfortable Laughing Goat Coffee Shop, which serves up Fair Trade and organic coffee with a side of live jazz or bluegrass. This intimate venue is perfect for couples or friends who want to spend a quiet evening enjoying tunes and conversation. 

In need of something a bit more raucous? Boulder's Fox Theater or Conor O'Neill's offer live music of many varieties, drinks, and delicious food. At Conor's, local bluegrass musicians will often come to pick and play as patrons of the bar drink and look on. 

If you're looking for microbrews in a calm but lively environment, Avery Brewing Company regularly offers exciting beer release parties, live music, and the occasional play. Brewery tours are also offered throughout the day and are quite entertaining. 

Whether it's food, music, or event, Boulder has something for you non-night owls. 


This beautiful Art Deco theater was built in 1906 as an opera house and was later converted to a movie theater. Today, it's one of the city's finest venues for live music, independent films, and community events. Concerts draw everything from local jazz bands to international performers and speakers. "E-Town," an NPR program focusing on entertainment and the environment, broadcasts from here as well. What's makes this theater special? Its intimate atmosphere. The stage and it's players can be seen well from any vantage point in the theater and, for most shows, the audience moves about so fluidly that you can often make your way to the front or various parts of the theater during the course of the show.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Boulder Theater is the perfect place to spend an evening listening to popular music or taking part in one of their many events.

Hope's expert tip: If you're planning a trip to Boulder, be sure to order your tickets well in advance as shows sell out fast.

Read more about Boulder Theater →

Bands on the Bricks is a free, weekly concert put on by the City of Boulder on downtown Pearl Street at absolutely no cost. A beer garden featuring local brews from Avery, West Flanders, and Upslope Brewing Company can be enjoyed, as well has the delicious food from Pearl Street restaurants. At this event you'll find all ages and creeds of people dancing and enjoying the merry-making together. A pop jet fountain nearby, entertaining street acts, and a small rock playground are perfect for entertaining the little ones in between sets. If you're looking to spend a little dough, you can always shop before or after at the numerous local and big-named retail shops along the mall. This event runs June-September.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Band on the Bricks is a great way for your children to experience local music, food carts, and the pop-jet fountains of Pearl Street.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to take advantage of the beer garden and nearby restaurants on Pearl Street.

Read more about Bands on the Bricks →

Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place
Photo courtesy of SHINE Restaurant and Gathering Space

Locally owned and operated by three spunky and innovative sisters, SHINE Restaurant and Gathering Space offers the perfect venue for building community, mingling, getting down to some local music, or just relaxing with a much needed cocktail at the end of the day. Their event room boasts a stage and hardwood floor with plenty of space for dancing. Local music can be seen on weekends and many of SHINE's delicious alcoholic concoctions can help you to relax and get your groove on. This venue is an elegant and swanky alternative if you're wanting something a bit more refined than the pub or club atmosphere.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: SHINE frequently opens up its event space for local music and events that are affordable and fun.

Hope's expert tip: For an elegant alternative to pubs and clubs style dancing.

Read more about Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place →


With two locations just 20 minutes from Boulder in Lyons and Longmont, this local brew-pub favorite if one of the best places around to grab a delicious burger, beer, and dance the night away. The Tasty Weasel taproom boasts a large dance floor and stage on the second floor of the building so that you can eat down below and then enjoy the after-party up above. Local live bands as well as national known acts play every Saturday and Sunday at a minor cover charge. Don't be surprised if one of Oskar's local regulars asks you for a dance, since there are many people who come every week to kick up their heals are not shy when it comes to meeting strangers.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: With a variety of music and events throughout the entire evening, Oskar Blues caters to those who want to get home early or stay out.

Hope's expert tip: You'll be sure to have plenty of colorful and friendly local regulars to dance with at either of Oskar's fine locations.

Read more about Oskar Blues Grill & Brew →

Broadway musicals along with dinner and drinks are a hit at this Boulder favorite. Gourmet dining and full-length productions such as "Damn Yankees," " Grand Hotel," and "Will Rogers' Follies" entertain a mixed crowd of business people, families, and students. All meals are reasonably priced, delicious, and alcohol is served in case you need a nip to relax for the evening. The Boulder Dinner Theatre is also known for booking bands and a cappella groups and putting on creative, modern family favorites such as Shrek: The Musical.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Dinner, drinks, and family-friendly musicals and plays are what makes the Boulder Dinner Theatre one of the best entertainment spots in town.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to get your tickets early since they go fast!

Read more about Boulder's Dinner Theatre →

This popular University Hill concert club features local, regional and national acts such as Martin Sexton, Hootie and the Blowfish, Disco Inferno, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Fat Mama, and ekoostik hookah. Look for alternative, standard rock, blues, folk, jazz, and jamgrass musicians. This former movie theater boasts a top-rate sound system and three bar areas. This hip spot is also known for hosting some of the best festivals in the area, including the Boulder Roots and Blues Festival along with the Boulder Brew and Music Festival; if the name doesn't say it all, this festival gives you access to over 25 different breweries set to music.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Fox Theatre is your one stop shop for dancing, local jams, and early or late-night entertainment.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to catch one of Fox Theater's rockin' festivals, including the Roots and Blues Festival, along with the Brew and Music Festival.

Read more about Fox Theatre →

Popular culture is the theme of the decor at this popular landmark. Movie memorabilia, big screen TV's, pool tables, air hockey, foosball, and video games dominate the space. A wide assortment of microbrews is available. The typically American menu includes burgers, sandwiches, fish and chips, and Tex-Mex. The Avocado Burger is sure to satisfy, especially if it's washed back with a pint of local beer. Pool tables are available after who've downed a few pints and finished off your pub-grub. Speaking of pub-grub, did we forget to mention the Jiffy Burger? Aptly named, instead of ketchup or mustard this burger offers Jiffy Peanut Butter as it's condiment of choice.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Dark Horse is known for its silly games, karaoke, live music and awesome drink specials.

Hope's expert tip: Be bold and try the Jiffy Burger, aptly named for its peanut-buttery spread.

Read more about The Dark Horse Bar and Grill →

Truly unique to the area, Red Rocks combines natural geological wonders with a stellar concert and event schedule. Come during the day for the best view of the red sandstone formations, over 250 million years old and 300 feet high. A moderate 1.4-mile trail loops around the area for the best views. Return in the evening to experience acoustic perfection as some of the biggest stars in music take the stage, including acts like Fleetwood Mac, Bruno Mars, and The Avett Brothers. A summer film series provides a change of pace when two bands perform before the screening of a classic movie.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Red Rocks Ampitheater is world renowned for its amazing concerts, events, and movie showings. Many events, particularly Film on the Rocks, start early.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to book tickets well in advance since they go fast!

Read more about Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater →

Conor O'Neill's

This lively and feisty traditional Irish pub is one of the most exciting ways to spend and evening in downtown Boulder. Lagers, Ciders, Ales, and Stouts abound, including Guinness on tap because what Irish pub is complete without it? In addition, several tasty micro-brews are available. Weekly live music is a staple at Conor O' Neills and includes slots for collaborative bluegrass pickin'. With plenty of space to dance, you'll be tapping your toes or doing an Irish jig. If you're a little rusty on your Lord of the Dance skills, the bar also offers classic rock to rock your body.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Conor O'Neill's provides and eclectic mix of bluegrass for toe-tapping or blues for jamming.

Hope's expert tip: Grab a Guinness and sit back for some of Boulder's local bluegrass pickers.

Read more about Conor O'Neill's →

The Laughing Goat

The Laughing Goat coffee shop offers two convenient locations; on Pearl Street in the heart of downtown Boulder and on the CU campus, should you want to mingle with the students. Live music and pungent, fair trade, organic coffee are staples of the warm and cozy spot. At the Pearl Street location, local art is featured regularly and a variety of music can be heard throughout the week, including jazz, blue grass, and classical. Because this particular spot is rather small, performances are intimate and provide for excellent acoustics. Furthermore, if you prefer to enjoy your music while sipping a beer instead of coffee, Laughing Goat offers several local ales.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Laughing Goat offers a warm atmosphere and an intimate venue where you can experience Boulder's finest live music.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to grab a seat early in the night, since this cozy little spot on Pearl Street fills fast.

Read more about The Laughing Goat →


Meet Hope Gately

Hope Gately should have a bumper sticker proclaiming "Not a Native...But I Got Here as Fast as I Could!" A transplant from the Midwest, Hope has fallen in love with Colorado's mountains playing...  More About Hope