Confucius say, when Memorial Day descends upon Boulder, humans flock to town like, well, a flock of seagulls. Like all the seagulls.
We’ve all heard the infamous trope that Boulder is 25 square miles surrounded by reality. Well this weekend, the entire “reality” is about to infiltrate town.
With the Bolder Boulder hitting streets Monday and Boulder Creek Fest partying all weekend, it’s safe to assume that every human will find something to enjoy. Whether that’s gnawing on a monstrous turkey leg or sweating to the oldies, while running a 10K, and squeezing in a slip-and-slide jaunt, summer is nigh.
And the fun stretches way beyond Monday. Any given summer day in Boulder County, people can stroll through downtown locales and run into activities that smell like summer.
Be sure to tune in next week, too, when we map out the summer concert guide. Start marking those calendars, because Boulder County is ready to roll. Dine out at award-winning restaurants, then get your groove on with events that will satiate every palate. We’ve got a full list of events below.
Find your inner foodie
Boulder County’s dining scene has been long recognized on the national stage for its unique offerings. From “Top Chef” and Food Network winners to James Beard-honored chefs and restaurants, culinary enthusiasts have a slate of cultural cuisine and farm-to-table fare to choose from.
In Boulder, “Top Chef” winner Hosea Rosenburg’s Blackbelly is not only a butcher shop, but it offers farmhouse-style charcuterie boards, burgers and steaks. His restaurant Santo offers rustic New Mexican cuisine spotlighting his Taos roots; blackbelly.com and santoboulder.com.
Cafe Aion‘s chef and owner Dakota Soifer cooks up Spanish- and Moroccan-inspired cuisine on Boulder’s University Hill, and the restaurant was recognized from Soifer’s win on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” From paella-of-the-month clubs to small plates, the chef cooks up traditional dishes with Colorado ingredients; cafeaion.com.
Author, restaurateur, chef and farmer Eric Skokan brings farm-fresh fare from his sprawling Boulder County farm to his two downtown Boulder restaurants:
Black Cat Farm Table Bistro eatery and Bramble and Hare. Skokan is currently a finalist among six other chefs for a James Beard Award for “Best Chef” in the Mountain Region. Award results will be revealed at the ceremony on June 13 in Chicago; blackcatboulder.com.
Chef Daniel Asher has long been a proponent of an organic local food movement and as a certified Raw Foods Chef, he helps run the Israeli-inspired Ash’kara and River and Woods, which both plate up locally sourced comfort food and a big selection of vegan options; ashkarafood.com and riverandwoodsboulder.com.
Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine and Pizzeria Locale, owned by “Top Chef Masters” alum and chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, who received a James Beard best chef award in 2008. His Italian-inspired fare at Frasca and gourmet Neapolitan pies at Pizzeria Locale cook up a number of unique dishes; frascafoodandwine.com and pizzerialocale.com.
From Musk family fame (we won’t talk about Elon, no, no, no), Boulder restaurateur Kimbal Musk runs The Kitchen Restaurant Group, a collection of bistro-style elevated international eats that have garnered much acclaim, including The Kitchen American Bistro and ND streetBAR (formerly Next Door American Eatery); thekitchenbistros.com and ndstreetbar.com.
Big Red F Restaurant Group, which operates popular Boulder spots West End Tavern and Centro Mexican Kitchen, plus Jax Fish House (with five Colorado restaurants, including one in Boulder and one in Fort Collins) and The Post Chicken and Beer (with seven spots, including Boulder, Lafayette and Longmont joints), was just awarded Business of the Year by the Downtown Boulder Partnership; bigredf.com.
The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, reigning as Boulder’s OG longstanding favorite happy hour spot with panoramic rooftop views to die for, plates up Colorado’s brand of TexMex and some of the tastiest (and strongest) margaritas around. Wash down a plate of Shrimp Esquite tacos with a couple watermelon margs at the digs, 1101 Walnut St., Boulder, that were renovated in 2019; riograndemexican.com.
Longtime Boulderite and local restaurateur Edwin Zoe (CU Boulder class of ‘88), who was nominated this year for a James Beard award, owns Zoe Ma Ma and Dragonfly Noodle (formerly Chimera Ramen) in Boulder. Zoe, along with his mom Anna Zoe, aka “Ma Ma,” hand craft all the noodles in-house for the two authentic ramen shops; zoemama.com and dragonflynoodle.com.
In neighboring Lafayette, owners Dau Xiong and Maria Nguyen tip their hats to their Hmong heritage with the popular Asian-Cajun fusion restaurant Casian Seafood. Also nominated for a James Beard award this year, the eatery cooks
up seafood boils with Louisiana-sourced crawfish and shrimp; casianseafood.com.
In a crew full of picky eaters? Boulder has two food halls and a food truck park for a variety of options.
Avanti Food and Beverage food hall on the Pearl Street Mall boasts killer rooftop views and international fare from Boychik’s Middle Eastern eats, coffee and desserts from Lost City, pizza pies from New Yorkese, Taiwanese from Pig and Tiger, Venezuelan eats from Quiero Arepas, classic American fare from Rooted Craft Kitchen and Jewish cuisine from Rye Society. Avanti also hosts live music, DJ dance parties, stand-up comedy and trivia nights; boulder.avantifandb.com.
With equally impressive rooftop views, Rosetta Hall is right downtown Boulder and is also stuffed with cultural cuisine from eight restaurants (and two bars.) Enjoy Persian Gulf-flavors from Amira, Italian handmade eats from Amalfi, northern and central Taiwanese fare from Chiang Mai, classic new American dishes from Flatiron, pastries (including vegan and gluten-free) from Petite Fleur, street and regional Chinese food from Shanghai Moon, contemporary Mexican with vegan options from Tierra and authentic Trinidadian flavors from Trini; rosettahall.com.
The Rayback Collective, a unique food truck park and live music venue, features a rotating calendar of cuisine-on-wheels. Patrons can enjoy trivia nights, stand-up comedy from the Boulder Comedy Club on Sunday nights and local bands performing on the main stage in a cozy outdoor setting; therayback.com.
On Pearl Street’s East End, Dedalus Wine Shop & Market, formerly Cured, is a gourmet grocery store and café that stocks fresh cheeses, cured meats and wine. Boxcar Coffee Roasters shares the space and brews up sustainably sourced, fair-trade beans from its Boulder-based owners who mastered brewing coffee at altitude; dedaluswine.com and boxcarcoffee.com.
Oak at Fourteenth plates up American cuisine in a fine-dining environment. It uses local ingredients for its seasonal menu that boasts unique flavors from its oak oven; oakatfourteenth.com.
Gemini, a new spot on Pearl Street that serves Spanish small plates, helps fill the tapas void ever since Boulder’s iconic The Mediterranean restaurant shuttered during the pandemic after 27 years downtown. Gemini uses sustainably farmed meats and produce from Colorado; geminiboulder.com.
Longmont’s culinary scene, much like Boulder’s, celebrates its abundance of agriculture by creating seasonal menus to highlight current agriculture. The newly opened Urban Field Pizza & Market — complete with a bar pouring cocktails and mocktails alongside a unique selection of pizza, salads, pasta and more — uses produce from Erie’s Zed Farms; urbanfieldpizza.com.
If a restaurant could be a deity, Colorado’s Cajun brunch goddess would be Lucile’s Creole Café. With various locations across the Front Range including Boulder, Longmont and now Erie, Lucile’s is a local favorite for brunch. It serves up piping-hot sugar-dusted beignets, Louisiana-style eggs, grits, gumbo, po’boys, blackened salmon, beans and rice and a whole lot more; luciles.com.
Offering a taste of Hawaii in Longmont, Swaylo’s Tiki Restaurant & Bar is a landlocked island paradise where patrons can sip on exotic tropical drinks in a beach bungalow or go to town on mahi-mahi tacos, luau chicken, smoked octopus and more — while seated inside a pirate ship; swaylostiki.com.
Feast on ahi poke nachos and sip on an array of summertime cocktails like sangria, margaritas, Painkillers and more at The Roost in Longmont. Its rooftop, with fabulous foothills views, is a perfect spot for summer happy hours; theroostlongmont.com.
Located next to Roosevelt Park, Longs Peak Pub & Taphouse — sister to Boulder’s Mountain Sun and Southern Sun pubs — has Mountain Sun beers on tap and a selection of signature margaritas. All three spots boast some of the county’s favorite burgers. In Longmont, play cornhole on the patio while listening to a rotating selection of local musicians; mountainsunpub.com.
Tortugas has been a Longmont staple for more than 25 years and serves up Caribbean-style fish cuisine in a century-old house. From fried plantains to shrimp ceviche and etouffee to jambalaya, Tortugas brings the island vibe to Longmont; tortugaslongmont.com.
From Duck Duck Cous Cous to charcuterie boards and eclectic brunch options, the West Side Tavern in Longmont also pours super fancy libations in a spot that’s far from pretentious; westsidetav.com.
Oskar Blues Liquids & Solids serves Longmont a big selection of beer, burgers and more in a unique rustic setting where musicians have been known to randomly post up in the middle of the restaurant and start jamming to bluegrass; oskarbluesfooderies.com.
With spots in Lafayette, Longmont and Boulder, Tangerine plates up unique, fresh takes on a.m. fare, including an impressive amount of vegan options and a big selection of Benedicts. The popular brunch spot with a cheery vibe also has baristas crafting coffee, espresso, chai and tea drinks; tangerineeats.com.
A sprawling craft cidery in the countryside, Stem Ciders in Lafayette brings fresh cider and farm-to-table plates to its onsite restaurant, Acreage. With
gorgeous views and dishes from salads to small plates, large plates and sweets, the spot also serves alcoholic libations and beer; acreageco.com.
These spots barely break the surface of all the goodness Boulder County has to offer, so try things out and find the next favorite spot.
Arts in the Park – This series brings culture, movement, art, music and dance to the Boulder Bandshell. From concerts to performances from staples like Boulder Ballet, Boulder Opera and Boulder Symphony, there will also be live theater, the Colorado Brazil Festival (Aug. 12-13) and even a weekly Bandshell Boogie — where from 7:30-9 p.m. on Fridays in July and August, DJs will host a big dance party. Check out this weekend’s event, a Street Wise Boulder art battle where 10 muralists will paint park benches for prizes from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; boulderartsinthepark.com.
Art @ River Bend – With a scenic backdrop in Lyons of sandstone cliffs and rushing water from the North Saint Vrain Creek, this annual art market brings in dozens of creatives selling their wares from every medium imaginable. There will be live demos, children’s activities, food and drink on-site and more; noon-7 p.m. July 17; bouldercountyarts.org/art-at-riverbend.
Art Market at Metamorphosis – This Lyons tattoo and art gallery is bringing in an indoor/outdoor artisan market of various mediums to its shop where patrons can meet the tattooists (although there will be no tattooing during the market) and there will be local musicians each day; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 25-26; metamorphosistattoostudio.com.
Bands on the Bricks – Complete with a beer garden, downtown Boulder’s long-standing concert series offers free shows every Wednesday from 5:30-9 p.m. on the 1300 Block of Pearl Street. Lineup: June 15 Hazel Miller & the Collective, June 22 Saritah, June 29 Chimbangle, July 6 Eagles tribute The Long Run, July 13 Titonic, July 20 The Coffis Brothers, July 27 Chain Station and Aug. 3 The Goonies; boulderdowntown.com.
Boulder Comedy Show – This weekly event has ballooned into a behemoth since its 2013 inception and consistently has lines out the door. Featuring national and local comedians who have appeared on the biggest stages, patrons should get there early as seating is first-come, first-served; 7 p.m. Sundays at Boulder’s Rayback Collective; $20; bouldershows.com.
Boulder County Farmers Markets – The markets roll in the goods fresh off local farm trucks and load them up at a festive markets that boast live music, packaged and prepared goods, seasonal fruit and vegetables, skincare products, fresh-cut flowers, seeds, baked goods, handmade cheeses, butcher-fresh cuts, handmade pasta and way more. The markets, which will run through Nov. 19, also include kids’ art activities and artisan fairs. Boulder Market, on 13th Street between Canyon and Arapahoe, is open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. to dusk Wednesdays. Longmont Market, at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, is open 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays; bcfm.org.
Boulder County Plein Air Event – This exhibit, reception and auction will feature hundreds of works of art that were created during a week-long plein air competition. Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder will host the party that highlights moments captured from breathtaking scenic Boulder County. Meet the regional artists at a 4 p.m. reception and bid for pieces at 5:15; 4-7 p.m. June 11; openstudios.org/boulder-plein-air-fest.
Chautauqua Silent Film Series – This unique Boulder experience features a live chamber ensemble that brings live soundtracks to silent films with Boulder-based Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Screening old-school films like “Nosferatu” (1922), “Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1923) to favorites from Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, the series runs June 29-July 27; chautauqua.com/event.
Concerts in the Park – Boulder Concert Band, made up of volunteer musicians, will host a free concert at a different Boulder park every Monday from June 20-Aug. 1. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket or chairs and post up for some concert-band classics; Find the schedule at boulderband.org.
Cultural Caravan – Starting on June 5 with a free pop-up concert on the Pearl Street Mall, this series will bring in seven big main-stage concerts along with 25 pop-up concerts in Boulder and Longmont. The event will bring in more than 30 local artists from renowned classically trained musicians to Zimbabwean Afropop and singer-songwriters; culturalcaravan.org.
Downtown Mural Tour – Boulder is home to talented muralists, street and graffiti artists. Take a self-guided walking tour to see the masterpieces that enhance Boulder’s urban environment in an event hosted by Street Wise Arts, a local collective aiming to amplify diversity and engage people in social justice; free; streetwisearts.org/downtown-mural-tour-2022.
Downtown Summer Concerts – Longmont is making dancing in the streets a summer vibe with its free Friday concert series at 4th and Kimbark streets. From 6-9 p.m. Fridays in June, there will be live music, food trucks and craft beverages. Lineup: June 3 Pato Banton and Mono Verde Collective, June 10 Crick Wooder and Unauthorized Absence, June 17 Face Vocal Band and Bruce Cook Band, June 24 Chris Daniels & the Kings and The Delta Sonics; downtownlongmont.com.
Fandom Masquerade – Celebrate pop culture in a comic-con style party where fans of all genres of fandom can join — from Star Trek and Star Wars fans to those of anime and Harry Potter. Outworld Brewing in Longmont will host the shindig at 6 p.m. June 4. A $50 ticket will give patrons access to a themed buffet, nerdy trivia, fun crafts and more, like an escape room and a cosplay competition. All ages welcome; bit.ly/3PCYEJK.
First Friday Art Walks – Head to North Boulder every first Friday from 6-9 p.m. for brand new exhibit openings, receptions, live artist demos, live music, food trucks and meet-and-greets with creators. The community-focused collective encapsulates more than 200 artists and creative industries along Broadway in North Boulder. A daytime alternative to First Friday, NoBo’s Second Saturday Art Walks offers free self-guided tours of artist studios and creative businesses in the NoBo Art District from 1-6 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month; noboartdistrict.org.
Friday Night Weird – Get weird at this weekly cult film series at Boulder’s arthouse cinema, Boedecker Theater, located in the Dairy Arts Center. The curated picks, ranging from deadpan sci-fi to reality TV farce, and everything in between, bring new and classic films to the big screen. Lineup: May 27 “The Fifth Element,” June 3 “Superior,” June 10 “Neptune Frost,” June 17 “You Are Not My Mother,” June 24 “Stanleyville,” July 1 “Dual”; thedairy.org.
Hawaiian Hula Classes – Let summer soak up island vibes and learn the art of Hawaiian hula, chant and culture. Boulderite Miriam Paisner, who lived in Hawaii for 20 years and holds a master’s in dance ethnology, with a Polynesian dance focus, teaches a weekly class where drop-ins are welcome. A second class will kick off on Mondays at 6:45 p.m. starting June 6; 5 p.m. Sundays, Boulder Ballet Studio 3 at Dairy Arts Center; $20-$75; email@example.com or 720-771-9772.
Hooplagers – Wibby Brewing in Longmont is bringing back its pool party and beer festival for lager lovers. With unlimited pours from more than 50 breweries, Wibby is bringing the island vibes with a beach party, complete with sand and steel drums, artisan vendors, pool games and more. Attendees must bring a non-perishable food item for this food-drive event from noon-6 p.m. on July 16; $20-$75; wibbybrewing.com.
Leftapalooza – Longmont’s famed family-friendly cover band festival returns after a two-year pandemic hiatus and features cold beer, tasty snacks and a full day of music as bands compete for the Leftapalooza title. Lineup: Halfway There (Bon Jovi), Rooster (Alice In Chains), Fire and Ice (Pat Benatar), TEN (Pearl Jam), Forever Man (Eric Clapton), Those Crazy Nights (Journey) and Guerrilla Radio (Rage Against the Machine). Ages 12 and under are free; $15-$350; lefthandbrewing.com.
Longmont Artists’ Guild Summer Art Show Exhibition – This artist collaborative will bring its newest artworks to the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont that will also host an artisan marketplace with various vendors. Rob Lantz, owner of Boulder’s R Gallery and a fine art photographer, will serve as the exhibition judge. Running from June 9-12 in Longmont, the awards ceremony will take place 6-8 p.m. June 11; longmontartistsguild.org.
Longmont Juneteenth – Juneteenth became an official Colorado state holiday this month, one that celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. Head to Roosevelt Park in Longmont from 1-6 p.m. June 19 for a celebration of culture and freedom. There will be food, live entertainment, special guests and more; bit.ly/3sNSaxG.
Meadow Music for Families – Kids can participate in, and dress up for, this science and nature-focused series hosted by the beloved Boulder music duo of Jeff and Paige on the lawn of Chautauqua Meadow. The environmental educational series, that’s celebrating its 18th year, runs June 4, 13 and July 11, 18, 24 and Aug. 1, 8, 15, 21, 28; jeffandpaige.org.
Movie Night in the Backyard – Summit Tacos in Longmont has popcorn and drinks for sale at the back bar and movies screening in the yard on various Thursdays through the fall. The event takes place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. with $5 tickets and ages 10 and under are free. Patrons can bring chairs and blankets; eatsummittacos.com.
Longmont Creative District Public Art – Longmont’s Art in Public Places program has funded various projects, from murals to painted switchgear boxes and statues around town. Go check out some of the city’s vibrant outdoor art; Mural locations at bit.ly/LongmontMurals.
Outdoor Concerts at the Museum – Longmont Museum’s annual series hits the stage from 6:30-8 p.m. June 16-July 28 on Thursday nights. In the outdoor courtyard, patrons can bring lawn chairs and blankets and there will be alcohol and concessions for sale. Lineup: June 16 Megan Burtt, June 23 Mile High Powwow Dance Experience, June 30 On the Rise: Songwriter Showcase, that’s curated and hosted by Bonnie and Taylor Sims, will feature music from Andrew Sturtz, Dechen Hawk and Alysia Kraft, July 7 Foxfeather, July 14 Los Mocochetes, July 21 Delta Sonics, July 28 Hazel Miller & The Collective; longmontcolorado.gov.
Pearl Street Arts Fest – Downtown Boulder turns into an art gallery with vendors selling wares from sculptures and paintings to photography and jewelry in a juried celebration of art. The event boasts children’s activities, live interactive performances and more; July 16-17 with a preview event July 15; downtown Boulder; boulderdowntown.com/arts-fest.
Rhythm on the River – Annual bash at Roger’s Grove brings live music, art, food and family activities and is returning for the first time since 2019. The event will host some of the area’s best bands and will have a 5K race among other local attractions from 5-10 p.m. July 8-9 at Roger’s Grove. There will be free shuttles to the parking lot at Boulder County Fairgrounds. Lineup: July 8 will feature Tim Ostdiek, Sturtz, Honeytree, Gabriel Mervine Trio, The 89’s and Gasoline Lollipops. July 9 will spotlight Taylor Shae, Augustus, Many Mountains, Mojomama, Foxfeather with Kate Farmer and The Burroughs; longmontcolorado.gov.
Rock and Rails – Niwot’s lively summer series brings local bands to Whistle Stop Park every Thursday night from June through August. Food trucks and local beer vendors will be on hand and patrons can bring chairs and blankets. Lineup: June 2 Funkiphino, June 9 Atomga, June 16 Mojomama, June 23 One on One, June 30 Tierro Band with Bidget Law, July 7 Chris Daniels & The Kings with Freddi Gowdy, July 14 Sammy Mayfield Blues Band, July 21 Eagles Tribute The Long Run, July 28 Twenty Hands High, Aug. 4 Last Men on Earth, Aug. 11 Face Vocal Band, Aug. 18 Quemondo Salsa, Aug. 25 Hazel Miller & The Collective; niwot.com/events/rock-rails.
Second Saturday Creative Crawl – Longmont Creative District invites patrons to explore its varied offerings from 2-6 p.m. the second Saturday of each month through December. Featuring gallery openings, interactive activities, local artists and makers, food and drink vendors, live music and special activities, the free event focuses on the creative minds of Longmont; downtownlongmont.com.
Summer Kids’ Film Series – Tuesdays this summer, from June 7-July 19 at 10 a.m., kids can enjoy films from Disney classics to current blockbusters in Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium; $3 for movie or $5 for movie with popcorn and a juice box, free for those ages 1 or younger. Lineup: June 7 “Snow White,” June 14 ”Frozen II,” June 21 “Soul,” June 28 “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” July 5 “Inside Out,” July 12 “Lady and the Tramp” and July 19 “Finding Nemo”; longmontcolorado.gov.
Summer on the Streets – Every Saturday from 4-8:15 p.m. from July 9- Aug. 27, Firehouse Art Center hosts an art-forward community event with an art market, food trucks and beer and wine. Various dates will cycle with live tunes, filmmakers screening their works, theater troupes staging kid-friendly performances and more. At 4th Avenue and Kimbark Street each week, more than 20 artist vendors will be on hand and the series will wrap on Aug. 27 with the popular chalk-art festival, Chalkmont; firehouseart.org.
Sunflower Farm’s Summer Music Evenings – On stage from 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 10, local musicians perform at the Longmont farm while food trucks plate up snacks and patrons can mingle with the furry farm friends. Bring the fam, the chairs, blankets and drinks; $26, reservations required. Lineup: June 1 Big Richard, June 8 River Arkansas, June 15 Big Hooray Bluegrass, June 22 Sturtz, June 29 Ragged Union Bluegrass, July 6 Libelula, July 13 The Sweet Lillies, July 20 Frog & Fiddle, July 27 Foggy Memory Boys, Aug. 3 High Lonesome, Aug. 10 Tierro Band with Bridget Law; sunflowerfarminfo.com.
Twenty Ninth Street Summer of Love Concert Series – The outdoor shopping mall is bringing in local bands from July 8-Aug. 26 to its Central Plaza where patrons can sprawl out with sweet Flatirons views. Lineup: July 8 SweetSummer, July 15 Hazel Miller, July 22 Jacob Larson, July 29 The Hamilton Band, Aug. 5 Chris Daniels & The Kings, Aug. 12 Dotsero, Aug. 19 Face Vocal Band, Aug. 26 Quemando Salsa; twentyninthstreet.com/events.