Where to start an epic night out in a university town that loves to reward a day on the trails with a frosty beverage or two? There are more Boulder nightlife options than we could possibly cover here. But if you start by picking your poison below, you’ll be well on your way to an evening full of after-dark adventures in Boulder.
Craft Cocktail Bars
Slip into a sleek booth at The Bitter Bar, where cocktails are taken seriously and lighting is low. Snuggle into a corner of the speakeasy-inspired License No. 1, downstairs from the historic Hotel Boulderado. Or shimmy on over to the tiki bar, Jungle, whose bartenders sling truly unique tropical cocktails in a welcoming, celebratory atmosphere. The cocktail game is also strong at Boulder's two upscale food halls, Avanti F&B and Rosetta Hall, which both happen to have exceptionally gorgeous rooftop patios with views.
Play a round or two of pool with beer and cocktails at Attic Bar & Bistro, probably Boulder's most classic American sports bar experience, with multiple sporting events playing on TVs throughout the venue. Or stop into The Sophomore on Pearl Street to catch a game and eat actual delicious (and creative) bar food. If cycling is more your lane, head to The Tune Up at Full Cycle bike shop, where they have 16 beers on tap, epic bike gear for sale, live music, sports games broadcasts and Tour de France watch parties. Boulder's only soccer bar, The SKYBOX Bar & Cafe, serves local beers and wine from box seats where you can see soccer leagues play below or watch live sporting events on their massive flatscreens. If you'd prefer a more Ted Lasso soccer (or shall we say football) vibe, you can catch English Premier League games while enjoying a pint and pub grub at The Hungry Toad.
Bars with Dance Floors
"Is there anywhere to go dancing in Boulder?" you may wonder. Press Play rattles and clinks with 25 vintage arcade games, pinball machines and a giant Jenga, but it's all drowned out by DJs spinning dance beats on Friday and Saturday nights. Across town is DV8 Distillery, a queer bar with a lineup of raves, dancing, drag shows and more after dark. You can get a proper cocktail and cut a rug to live music at the stylish Velvet Elk Lounge. Or for some late-night fun, head to The Spotted James, a nightclub just off Pearl Street Mall with dancing, DJs, pool tables, darts and lounges open until 2am.
Cheap drinks, a basement location, dart boards, free billiards and Christmas lights on the ceiling — Sundown Saloon is a dive bar in the very best sense. Outback Saloon has true dive cred, too, is known for karaoke (and axe throwing!) on any given night and lies a bit off the beaten path north of downtown in a strip mall. Or head down to the Pearl Street Pub and Cellar for pool tables and a jukebox (and a buffalo head on the wall is kissed by those celebrating their 21st birthdays). Bluff Street Bar & Billards also has pool tables, giant screens and classic dive-bar eats.
At The Sink, which was named one of the 150 Best Bars in America, you’ll go for the nostalgic graffiti that decorates every inch of this place and stay for the great beer and scrumptious pizza pies. On the opposite side of campus, Dark Horse is a longtime CU favorite, with circus-like décor hanging from the ceilings, walk-up bars, great burgers and an easy-going crowd. Divey college bar Taco Junky has cheap tacos and a variety of infused tequila cocktails, Mexican beer cocktails and other spirits and beer on tap. Or opt for Half Fast Subs on the Hill: choose a sub sandwich from the huge menu and pitcher of their powerful and potent Strong Island, and you'll be set to lounge on their patio for hours.
West End Tavern is renowned for its downtown rooftop, a great happy hour and 25 craft beers that rotate regularly. Nearby, at the Hotel Boulderado, The Corner Bar offers a cozy welcome, with a gleaming all-wood interior and luxe leather booths to disappear into with a martini. In a less-trafficked location in North Boulder, The Local is an upscale neighborhood oasis with a warm vibe and weekly specials, including ladies' night and margarita Mondays.
Too. Many. Choices. But we’ll give you a handful to start. The fire pits, food trucks, strings of twinkling lights, picnic tables and yummy nibbles set the scene at Rayback Collective, which offers nearly 40 beers, ciders and seltzers on tap. Mountain Sun on Pearl Street is a six-barrel brewery that focuses on ales and lagers and has a long, rotating tap list. In South Boulder, its sister pub and even more extensive brewery, Southern Sun, boasts a big patio and foothill views. At Bohemian Biergarten, an authentic German beer garden located downtown, you'll find a wide and authentic selection of European beers on tap. The Post Brewing Company delivers not only award-winning, finger-lickin' chicken but also expertly crafted beers on tap that have won many medals themselves. Boulder has about 20 breweries in total, so go to our Breweries page for many, many more options.
Great Food & Drink
One can't subsist on beer alone. Put yourself in the hands of the farm-to-table mixologists at Oak at Fourteenth, yum-out on inventive tacos and mojitos at Centro or go for late-night gourmet bites and divine craft cocktails at Bramble & Hare. Looking for chic and stylish surroundings? Take the staircase to The Kitchen "upstairs" for locally sourced small dishes and expertly paired wines. Or let the expert mixologists at SALT conjure something up for you and your companions (you'll also want to share their famous dark chocolate caramel salt tart). Small bites are often just the ticket when you're drinking and the Spanish tapas, wine, sangria and cocktails at Gemini deliver. Need something more substantial? Indulge in creative and high-end Italian fare with an extensive drinks menu at Stella’s Cucina or opt for specialty cocktails along with a steak and seafood dinner at the always-elegant Steakhouse No. 316.
Non-Alcoholic & Alternative Bars
For those who'd prefer not to imbibe, there are many enjoyable alternatives to typical bars and nightlife in Boulder. The Root Kava Bar serves up noble kava, a plant cultivated in southeast Asia that is purported to have calming effects. Over at Tonic Alchemy Lounge, you can peruse the menu just like any other bar, but instead of beer or wine, you'll find a selection of herbal cocktails, elixirs, kefir water, teas and much more. If it's purely positive health effects you're after, check out Onus iV Bar and Hydrate IV Bar, where you can walk in and get an IV to help with altitude sickness, hangovers, jet lag and more.