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Battle of the Bars: Old Town Square vs. Pearl Street

Collegian | Michael Marquardt
The Bohemian Biergarten in Boulder, Colorado, Sept. 4.

Across the Front Range, all eyes are turning to the Rocky Mountain Showdown, a long rivalry between Fort Collins’ Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Boulder. This football rivalry goes deeper than just sports, and many make comparisons between the two towns at large.

One of the most notable aspects of a college town is the quality of its nightlife. When interviewing bargoers from both cities, the bar cultures seem to be very comparable.


In Boulder, many of the bars are located on Pearl Street. This road runs east to west in the central area of Boulder, and there is no through traffic, making Pearl Street a spacious walkway for Boulderites.

Pearl Street has plenty of cute restaurants and a wide range of stores and is a family-friendly spot during the day. CU sophomore Eli Swerland said the bar scene comes alive around 11 p.m., and there is always a crowd. He recommended Thursday through Saturday as the best nights to go out.

In Boulder, there are three main bars within walking distance of each other: The Attic Bar and Bistro, Sundown Saloon and Rosetta Hall. CU senior Jack Stein said this is the route he was taught and seems to be a common path for CU students.

“The route is usually Rosetta, Attic, Downer,” Stein said. “I couldn’t tell you; I just go with the flow, and that’s the flow I was put on. College night at Rio it’s always a great deal, … $6 margaritas on Thursdays.”

When arriving on Pearl Street, the Sundown Saloon is just off the main strip. The Sundown Saloon has a country bar feel with a stairway to a basement. The Sundown Saloon has game space with plenty of pool tables to go around.

Swerland said the Attic has a more club-like theme, with cheap beer and good times. In comparison, Rosetta Hall is an elegant daytime dining establishment that transforms into an upscale rooftop bar at night with spiffy beverages.

In Fort Collins, the college bar scene can be found in Old Town Square. Old Town Square is situated between Walnut Street, North College Avenue and East Mountain Avenue, making it an immersive square with bars and stores on all sides.

A few popular bars in the Old Town Square are Bondi Beach Bar and Grill, The Yeti Bar & Grill, The Rec Room and Lucky Joe’s Sidewalk Saloon. Most of the bars have a club-like feel, with loud music and dancing. Lucky Joe’s and the Yeti are the exceptions, as Lucky Joe’s is an Irish bar, and the Yeti has a sports bar feel.

The Yeti’s general manager Tiki Dave said that normally Thursday through Saturday nights are the best nights to go out, and Saturdays and Sundays are the best times during football season. Dave also said the best drink to get while passing through the square is the root beer barrel bomb — only found at the Yeti.


CSU senior Mia Ritter said her favorite drink can be found at Lucky Joe’s.

“Chicks dig it from Lucky’s … it’s grenadine vodka,” Ritter said. “It tastes like a strawberry lemonade, and it has a cherry gummy worm, a lime and a lemon. It’s super fancy, super good.”

Both Pearl Street and Old Town Square have great options for going out and having a great time. The general consensus from both towns is that the bar action doesn’t start until later in the evening — 10:30-11:00 p.m. seems to be the sweet spot for hitting the town.

The most notable difference between the two towns is their focus on recreational activities. Pearl Street attracts those who want to play games like pool, whereas Old Town Square doesn’t have quite as many games, but it offers loud music and dancing that fills the square.

Both towns offer a unique bar experience with ups and downs, but at the end of the day, the better bar scene comes down to how you want to spend your night.

Students enjoy their respective towns and take pride in their community, and the bar scene offers a fun opportunity to live out the college experience.

Reach Jack Fillweber at or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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