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Far from the dive bars and dollar shots near the University of Colorado campus (in style if not in miles), Downtown Boulder offers a host of polished places for imbibing after dark. (And before dark — the town's daily happy hours are legendary. Check Downtown Boulder Inc.'s website for schedules.) If you're looking for an after-dinner drink, though, head to Walnut Street and start at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star St Julien Hotel & Spa; the bar is a chic spot for a taste of Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. Then walk one block west to the swank (but still mountain-minded) Bitter Bar for some of the best cocktails you'll find anywhere. The Bitter's bartenders really know their stuff and can craft a perfectly personalized drink in no time. Beyond The Bitter Bar, any one of Boulder's excellent restaurants are just as popular after-hours as they are for dinner — move over to Pearl Street and sidle up to the bar at Jax Fish House, West End Tavern or Centro Latin Kitchen and you'll enjoy good drinks and good eats late into the night.
For vibrant nightlife in Boulder, Forbes Travel Guide recommends you take cues from the residents near the University of Colorado Boulder. Just a block from campus is an area affectionately called The Hill, where you’ll find clubs, a bustling indie music scene, a few gritty bars and casual dining. Farther down the road off of the Pearl Street Mall is the historic Boulder Theater where more mainstream bands perform. The lobbies of the St. Julien Hotel and Hotel Boulderado morph into local hot spots after dark, with upscale dining and live jazz music. Also noteworthy is the smattering of award-winning microbreweries and pubs around town, such as Avery Brewing Company and Oskar Blues Brewery, where locals gather for tastings, small plates and good conversation.