The Ski Town with a Twist
Playtime: The phrase "champagne powder" was coined in Steamboat Springs, but this citadel of snow is more than just a place to carve turns—it's a mountain town that hasn't lost its soul to the resort. It's also a jumping-off spot for backcountry and Nordic skiing, as well as one of the best adrenaline rushes you can have on snow: dogsledding.
The adventure starts out romantically enough—wrapped around each other, covered in heavy blankets, snuggled into a sled. But with the word mush!, and a chorus of yelps, the sled lurches forward, pulled by eight or more of the wiry, tough-as-nails Alaskan huskies who'll skim you over the rolling snowfields at Stagecoach State Park. Try Red Runner Dog Sled Tours, which offers half-day outings that include post-ride refreshments in a warming hut. Tours start at $260 per sled.
Downtime: Start your day with the cinnamon-roll French toast at Winona's (970-879-2483); end it by wandering along Lincoln Avenue, poking into a few shops, and grabbing a pint at Mahogany Ridge grill (970-879-3773). For dinner, Café Diva's tiny dining rooms and small tables make for an intimate environment. But it's the local clientele and ample comfort cuisine—like crab and tomato bisque or lamb shank—that make this a savvy choice for romantics looking to avoid stuffy resort fare.
Stay the Night: The Highmark Steamboat isn't your average ski-lodge hotel. With 23 condo suites, this Bavarian-style tower, opened just last year, nestles into the base of the mountain and makes for a decadent escape. Jacuzzi bathtubs, flat-screen TVs, fireplaces, and sprawling king-size beds will leave you wondering what good you must've done in another life to deserve it all. Winter rates for a two-bedroom condo range from $299 to $599.