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Best of the West 2021: Critics’ Choice


We’re absolutely in love with here!


Screenshot, FRBC

Front Range Brewing Company (Lafayette)

We’re not sure if they got a new menu or a new chef (maybe both?) but FRBC is killing the game. We’ve always loved the beer here. We know most of you feel the same way. What better buzz than one you can get locally? With awards already piling up, there’s no reason not to get absolutely tossed at Lafayette’s 1st and oldest brewery.

Longmont festival.

The Neighbors (Longmont)

Most communities say they love their neighbors, but this was a top answer for Longmont. It’s all very Andy Griffith show, but actually diverse, with neighbors-turned-family that wanna be there for you. Bike night? We’ll ride together. Need tools? Borrow mine. Dia de los Muertos? I’ll do your makeup. This community shows up for each other.

Image by Paul Wedlake

Yellow Scene (BOCO, until we take over the world)

We gotta toot our own horn. It feels good to have survived COVID on our 20th anniversary year and be throwing ourselves headfirst into 2021 in our ongoing quest to be the best. We’re accused of being progressive and… we’ll take it. We’re also still killing it with our writing and art. We’re on a roll, baby.

Image by Simon Krejcik

Sunset and Sunrise (Erie)

Ok, we’re gonna claim this one, even if the sky belongs to us all. Except… there is that whole skyline difference between Erie and everyone else, and our perfect distance from the mountains…and the hilltops to face East. Ok yeah, we totally won this one.

CO Brazil Fest, screenshot

Summer Festivals & Music Scene (Boulder)

We love Denver, but we love our own vibe, too. The music here is fantastic. Our local performance scene is epic. From Shakespeare Fest to the Chautauqua Summer Concert Series, to Dead & CO to Frequent Flyers to Brazil Fest…on top of the Fox and Boulder theater.

Image (cropped) by Judy Morrell

Hot Air Balloons

No matter where you’re at in BOCO, one thing is certain: the views. This time we mean massive inflatables tied to wicker baskets, flying hundreds of feet above us…with a handful of intrepid souls. Can anyone get enough of the sight of hot air balloons taking flight, aloft, almost suspended, high above us? We love it.

Kaley Ocasio & Mobius Engineering, Ouray, by De La Vaca

Wilderness (BOCO at large)

Let’s face it, a lot of us live here because it’s more than a little outdoorsy, a little wild. Not Wild Bill wild, but we have our share of coyotes, bears, mountain lions, and predator birds. What would we be without all the lakes and reservoirs, the trails, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Boulder Canyon? I can be ascending any of the Indian Peaks by late breakfast or Ouray by lunch.

Google map screenshot

The Flatirons

World famous for not being as flat as the name implies, and in spite the near weekly injury reports, we love the Flatirons. Here’s a fun fact: the huge red Flatirons were named for their resemblance to flat irons, metal heated and used to press clothes by pioneer women. We’ve never climbed them, but we know people who have. One day we will.

Screenshot, Sotheby’s

The most down-to-Earth million-dollar neighborhoods around

Funny as hell, and it speaks to how the market has changed. Sure is different then when our publisher moved to Erie way back in ‘92. There was a property she wanted to buy but didn’t know how; it was three houses and land in Old Town, for $85,000. She didn’t know how so she didn’t buy it. She sure wishes she had now. C’est la vie.

Downtown revelry, by Chris DeCicco

Quaint Downtowns (All of them)

We’re happy for big cities, but big love to our small town charm. This award is for having the absolute best small downtowns on the Front Range. Every city, from the L’s to Boulder to Erie, to Niwot and Gunbarrel have gorgeous little walkable, family friendly, bar ready, food happening downtowns that make us feel like we’re home. We can bike there, walk there, or drive there. This is literally the good life, folks.

Screenshot, Black Cat Farms

Farm-to-Table Everything (BOCO)

You get home, open the fridge to grab ingredients, and you cook. But you don’t bust out a box of Kraft Easy Mac. You grab produce hand-selected by people at the local farmers market. You grab a cut of beef farm-raised locally. You’re opening artisanal Ales or pouring spirits brewed and distilled down the road. You’re garnishing from your garden. This is what perfect taste like.

It’s the Weed for me, mannnn (everywhere)

Some people like a little giggle flower, a little smokey smoke, a fat tokey toke. We stan it. Sure, I quit the Devil’s lettuce in college but that doesn’t mean you can’t pack a bowl in the basement or dab in the den. We good, fam. Not to mention the added perks of health benefits, and the fact that CO weed is so damn good. Roll it up, light it up…and tell your dispensary that Yellow Scene sent you.