Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom

Cervantes' really provides the best of both worlds with its art-splashed outdoor patio and two indoor spaces, the Masterpiece Ballroom and the more intimate Other Side. Bringing in funky acts both local and national, it's a cool place to see a wide variety of bands, especially jam, bluegrass, funk and DJ acts like GRiZ or CloZee. Cervantes' has held its own as an independent venue in Denver for nearly twenty years, and it's become an essential part of the city in that time.

Mission Ballroom

When the Mission Ballroom opened in 2019, everyone was impressed with the incredible acoustics, the incredible murals and the incredible disco ball...that failed to spin on opening night. Since then, though, we've been able to see the shimmering orb in all its glory. Emblazoned with a flower-of-life pattern, the colossal disco ball turns as LED lights illuminate it to the beat of the music. It's the cherry on top of an already sweet venue, and the Mission just wouldn't be the same without it.

Marquis Pizza

When we stumble out of a show at the Marquis Theater, sweaty, ears still ringing from the music and (probably) a little buzzed, there's only one thing we want: a hot slice. Fortunately, you don't have to look far. The literal hole in the wall that is the Marquis Pizza window is a beacon in the night, calling to all who crave a late-night fix of thin-crust, New York-style pizza. Slices are cheap, tasty and ready fast, and that's exactly what a post- (or even mid-) show bite should be.

Mile High Spirits

The Mile High Spirits Tasting Room boasts a wide array of acts and fun activities week in and week out; it's also a pretty good place to get drunk (there's even an event here called Blackout Brunch). But you'll definitely want to pay attention to the drinks menu, because while almost all of the cocktails here are $10 a pop, they're all double pours. If you want to listen to music while on a budget, MHS is the move. Just be sure to keep Uber on speed dial.

They may be no-frills, but the bathrooms at Ball Arena are clean and, most important, abundant. With a capacity of 20,000, it's essential that the venue — which brings in national touring acts such as Billie Eilish and John Mayer and hosts basketball and hockey games and monster truck rallies — have enough bathrooms, because there's nothing worse than waiting in line for 45 minutes and missing your favorite song. Fortunately, Ball Arena has plenty of them — and they're conveniently located next to other services such as food and drink stations.

Your Mom's House
Sam Nguyen

While the name of this venue may leave newcomers to the city confused ("You're going where?"), it has, without a doubt, the best dance floor in any Denver venue. The space is illuminated with cubes of LED lights that bounce from color to color with the music, so you can dance to the beat with the light on your feet. That design makes Your Mom's House a popular spot for flow artists such as hula-hoopers and poi spinners, prop dancers who can match the LEDs of their flow toys with the lights on the ground. A night here is almost always a colorful dance party lush with self-expression.

Sugarkube is a private, members-only arts collective that stays open European late. It also boasts the only Funktion-One Vero VX system in the United States. Funktion-One is commonly used as a marketing term to get people to come out to shows, despite the system often being a mutant combination of other sound systems. But this is the real deal, engineered by one of the only teams in the world licensed to use the rare piece of technology.

Denver Botanic Gardens
Brandon Marshall

Every summer, the Denver Botanic Gardens hosts its Summer Concert Series, which includes shows in the grassy amphitheater at the center of the York Street facility; this year will see performances by DeVotchKa, Corinne Bailey Rae and the Keb' Mo' Band, among others. The DBG will also host the return of Evenings al Fresco, a pandemic innovation that allows you to spend a warm summer evening listening to small ensembles perform while you stroll the stunning grounds. Heighten an already heartwarming experience with a bit (families come here, too) of psilocybin and enjoy the company of friends and music in the midst of lush greenery and exotic plants.

When you want some shisha, you really want two things: a variety of flavors and a clean, comfortable environment in which to enjoy them. You're covered on both counts at Aria, which specializes in hookah and only hookah. The laid-back surroundings are definitely welcoming — you can bring in food if you like, and there are a number of non-alcoholic drinks available — but the big draw is the shisha, with plenty of blends to keep people coming back. Hands down, Aria smokes the competition.

When 3 Kings Tavern announced that it was closing, an owner of the Oriental Theater jumped at the opportunity to create HQ at its South Broadway location. While the club faced the challenges of opening during a worldwide pandemic, HQ has thrived, bringing in both local and touring bands and DJs. But it also hosts karaoke nights, dance parties, drag shows and more; every Friday, it’s now home to indie dance party Lipgloss, which is back at the address where it started more than twenty years ago.

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