While Denver’s Baker neighborhood and the surrounding areas have no shortage of unique coffeehouses, vintage shops, and craft stores, there’s another reason to make the trip: the eclectic bars and music venues on South Broadway. Not only do these stages highlight our thriving local music scene, but they attract nationally known acts to intimate spaces. Here’s the lowdown on some of the notable watering holes that night owls and groupies have known about for ages.
Boundaries: Most of the entertainment options on South Broadway (not an official neighborhood on its own, but a frequented thoroughfare) rest between 2nd Avenue and Iowa Street (past I-25).
The Vibe: The hipper the better. While this area might be your best bet at finding the city’s heavy metal fans and punk rockers, rooftop patios help create the perfect mix of Denverites.
In addition to being one of the city’s best authentic dive bars, this 13-year-old venue has a knack for booking acts just one summer before they hit the Red Rocks line-up—for a fourth of the price. Known for their sound quality (the system was installed by Bon Iver’s touring engineer Xandy Whitesel), the owners actually raised the roof and installed speakers on the ceiling in 2013 to perfect the concert-going experience. With a lineup varying from their monthly “Guilty Pleasures” DJ, who plays the 90s tunes some of us deny we love, to more well-known national acts like the art-rock duo Mr. Gnome, Hi-Dive’s dance floor is always packed. 7 S. Broadway
With two full-service bars, a dance floor, pool tables, and darts, what’s not to love? This classic 1960s, rockabilly-inspired establishment is split into two levels. The first runs a calendar of live music with plenty of space to jive; upstairs (which you can access without paying the cover, should you want to skip the live entertainment that night) you’ll find bar games, a small patio, and a jukebox waiting to be played. 140 S. Broadway
Just past I-25, this stage escapes the bustling crowds of “SoBo” and vies to be something a little different: an incubator for local artists. They host open mic nights during the week and book a variety of entertainment over the weekends, ranging from reggae to all-vinyl indie dance parties. The kitchen makes everything in-house, including plates like rabbit dates and lemon-lavender crème brûlée (both under $10). And there’s one more thing here that you’ll rarely find in this ‘hood: a parking lot in the back. 554 S. Broadway
Known as South Broadway’s top rock venue, 3 Kings Tavern doesn’t stop there. Starting with a full lineup of national and local bands, there’s also an impressive amount of pinball machines, pool tables, and a weekly burlesque show on Mondays. What regulars might sometimes forget is the multi-purpose basement used for art shows, comedy acts, and more. 60 S. Broadway
French for courtyard, La Cour is a hidden gem at the end of this strip that’s worth the trek. This Parisian cafe has a picturesque outdoor patio, a quaint downstairs bar with exposed brick, and a cozy upstairs dining room hosting live music every night they’re open (Tuesday to Sunday) from 7–10 p.m. While you can wander in almost anytime to dine downstairs or on the patio, to score a seat upstairs you should make a reservation in advance. Likely the best date-night spot in the city, you can impress your dance partner by ordering escargot to start off the romantic evening, hoping that it ends in a two-step. 1643 S. Broadway
Unlike its name implies, this South Broadway stalwart is arguably one of the best-known venues in Denver. Open since 1962, Herman’s hosts nearly 50 bands per week ranging across genres. Music lovers who visit the space can geek out over the big-name acts that have graced the stage, such as The Fray, Widespread Panic, Phish, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and many more. Grab a drink at the bar, cozy up at one of the high-top tables, and don’t forget to break a sweat on the dance floor. When you need a breather, step out on the cramped patio and revel in the fact that whatever show you’re enjoying is a part of Denver’s musical history.