Ten best places to watch the presidential debate tonight

You might not be this close to the action, but you'll be in good company.
You might not be this close to the action, but you'll be in good company. Slide show: Obama in Colorado
Brandon Marshall

Some sports fans and barflies are going to be very unhappy tonight. That's when many of their favorite bars will switch channels from whatever game is on to the first of the three presidential debates, which will be happening right here, at the University of Denver. Those tickets are impossible to come by, but there are plenty of other places where you can gather with friends to watch the political sparks fly -- and then drown out those sparks with booze.

Bear in mind, this is not exhaustive. But does it include the best place to watch the action? That's debatable.

See also: - Debate 2012: Ten things you don't know about the University of Denver - Debate 2012: Take an Instagram tour of preparations for the big event - Debate 2012: Ten signs the presidential debate is coming to Denver

10. Governor's Residence at Boettcher Mansion/Govnr's Park Tavern 400 East Eighth Avenue/672 Logan Street

Dubbed "One Past 5: The Great Debate," this happy-hour party brings the public together with experts from Historic Denver. In keeping with the event's title, admission costs $25.01 and the event begins at 5:01 at the Governor's Residence at Boettcher Mansion; the drinks will be flowing until 7 p.m. After that, if you want to watch the actual debate, the party moves down the street to Govnr's Park Tavern. For more information and tickets, go to

9. Crimson & Gold 2017 South University Boulevard

One of DU's main watering holes, this prototypical college bar has been repainted and redecorated in anticipation of the debate, which it will be showing on televisions in the bar. Some drink specials will be available, too, including $2 Buds. But the real bonus will be watching the action just a few hundred yards from where the main event is taking place. Fair warning: You'll need to bike or walk in.

Ten best places to watch the presidential debate tonight

8. Snarf's Sub Shop 1729 East Evans Avenue

"Oh, yeah, I've been to the one in Boulder." You hear that ad infinitum if you hang around the Snarf's by DU for very long. And with good reason: The original location on Pearl Street in Boulder is damn near legendary. But it's Snarf's new location near DU that will be hosting a debate party, complete with specialty headaches-in-a-shotglass called Donkey Punch and Elephant Drunk. Never mind that the Donkey Punch is a red concoction and the Elephant Drunk is blue, confusing the two political parties' colors; just drink the dang thangs.

7. The Wildlife Experience 10035 Peoria Street, Parker

If ever you've wondered, "What would Mitt Romney look like if he were thirty feet tall?," this is the place for you. The Wildlife Experience is showing the debate on a 40-by-60-foot screen, in what it calls a "non-partisan" environment. There is a cash bar and concession stand for the kids, too. Admission is free.  

Meet Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein at Central Presbyterian Church
Meet Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein at Central Presbyterian Church

6. Democracy Now!'s debate talkback at Central Presbyterian Church 1660 Sherman St.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein will be the featured guest on this live broadcast of Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Along with former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, they'll be discussing the finer points of presidential politics during the debates. Note to those of the right-wing persuasion: You may want to skip this one. Admission is free. RSVP at

5. Fix the Debt! at Tavern Wash Park 1066 South Gaylord Street

Fix the Debt! is a national campaign co-chaired by former U.S. senator Judd Gregg, whose purpose is -- well, you can probably guess that by the organization's name. The local Fix the Debt! outfit is having a debate-watching party at Tavern Wash Park, where organizers will be fact-checking Obama's and Romney's answers, and where the beer will flow freely. Admission is free.

4. Budweiser Clydesdales at Stadium Inn 1701 East Evans Avenue

Depending on how your preferred candidate handles the debate, you may need a strong drink afterward. But why wait 'til then? Start early by toasting to America's favorite horses, the Budweiser Clydesdales, at the Stadium Inn, a DU hangout for decades. According to owner Jordan Solomon, the surefooted beasts will be clip-clopping down the street around 5 p.m. There will be drink specials through the evening, and the debate itself will be down on TVs in the bar.   3. Republican Party party at Brooklyn's 2644 West Colfax Avenue

This debate-watching event is organized by the Colorado Republican Business Coalition and the Colorado Hispanic Republicans, and will be held at Brooklyn's, near Mile High Stadium (sorry -- Sports Authority at Mile High). Admission is $20.

2. Democratic Party party 2200 Elm Street

The official Democratic Party debate-watching party will be at a private residence just east of City Park. Hosted by Chuck Castellani and Margaret Melcher, it's also a fundraiser to help re-elect House District 8 Representative Beth McCann. Admission is free, but you must RSVP: Contact McCann at

Ten best places to watch the presidential debate tonight
Instagram user jlyons919

1. Debatefest at the University of Denver 2199 South University Boulevard

True, you can't actually watch the debates from DU's lawn, but you'll be able to feel the vibes. Like being in the pits during a NASCAR race, you'll be in the middle of the action -- which more than compensates for the fact that you're not seeing the debate firsthand. The party runs from 3 to 9 p.m., and there will be food, live music and a telecast of the event on a giant screen. But pre-registration is required; if you're too late for that, just get as close as you can, take a smartphone or radio with you, gawk at the freak show, and for the love of Pete, don't do anything that would attract the attention of the Secret Service.


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