The After-Dark Destination
Playtime: The usual skiing and shopping delights Durango's visitors by day, but a more magical experience awaits when the sun sets. Durango Mountain Resort's moonlight or starlight snowshoe tours allow you to explore Purgatory Mountain after dark alongside one of the resort's knowledgeable guides. For a mellow evening, take the last chair of the day up the mountain and watch the alpenglow light up the Needles mountain range. Then travel around Purgatory's slopes, enjoy a wine-and-cheese party at the Powderhouse Cafe, and make your way back down the mountain toward dinner.
Downtime: Durango is one of the last authentically Western towns in Colorado. Sure, it's become an exclusive slope-seekers' enclave in recent decades, but Main Avenue looks much like it did 100 years ago. You can still wander in and out of the historic Strater Hotel and its Diamond Belle Saloon, although a contemporary side of Durango lies behind the historic facades. For women's clothing try From the Heart boutique, or check out the exhibits at Open Shutter Gallery—both of which are located on Main.
Once the sun goes down over the Rockies, grab a crisp glass of white at Jean Pierre Bakery & Wine Bar, order a steak at the Palace Restaurant, and slip into a slow dance at the Lost Dog lounge (970-259-0430). Or dine at the romantic Chez Grand-mère, chef Michel Poumay's intimate French eatery.
Stay the Night: The Strater Hotel charms history buffs, but for privacy and modern flair, try the Nobody's Inn. Located just off Main Avenue in a fully restored 120-year-old building, the inn has no on-site staff; you feel like you're staying in a friend's professionally decorated apartment rather than a hotel. All four of the inn's rooms (we like the Homebody for its back-of-the-building privacy) come with a kitchenette, plush linens, and a gift certificate for the Irish Embassy Pub across the street. Winter rates start at $99.
Side Trip: Just seven miles away, you'll find the pools of Trimble Spa and Natural Hot Springs. Bring a thermos of hot cocoa, ease into the 100-degree water, and decompress.