Where to ski, board, stay, eat, drink, shop, play, and buy real estate in Colorado's best mountain towns.
Steamboat’s ski area may be massive—2,965 acres, 3,668 vertical feet, and 349 annual inches of snowfall—but the town still feels small. And real—locals have been skiing the area since the first families homesteaded in the Yampa Valley in the mid-19th century. But passion for community runs even deeper: Steamboat Springs’ relative remoteness (a three-hour drive from Denver) has strengthened bonds among neighbors and allowed this pioneer town to preserve its unique character. Real cowboys live here, rubbing elbows with Olympic athletes and mountain-raised kids who zip through Steamboat’s famous glades as naturally as streams flowing around stones.
SKI On powder days, savvy locals hit the runs off Four Points first: It serves Twister, Nelson’s Run, and similar runs that generally hold plush, wind-sheltered snow. On nippy days, warm up on Sunshine Area—its east-facing slopes are some of the first to catch the rays. End your day on Ted’s Ridge, where soft snow awaits along the edges, even after noon.
STAY Two-bedroom, affordable family-size rooms at Hotel Bristol start at $159 (917 Lincoln Ave., steamboathotelbristol.com). Couples should try the upscale Mariposa Lodge, a ranch-style B&B on a quiet downtown side street (855 Grand St., steamboatmariposa.com starting at $139). For condos of all sizes and rates, contact Mountain Resorts (steamboatspringsvacations.com).
EAT Hit Freshies for veggie-laden omelets, surprisingly light Benedicts, and Steamboat’s best Bloody Mary (595 S. Lincoln Ave., freshiessteamboat.com). Pop into Chocolate Soup Pastry Café for fresh soups, gourmet sandwiches, and—of course—chocolate confections such as truffles and dipped macaroons (2300 Mt. Werner Circle, C-1, chocolatesoupcafe.com). For a dinner splurge, try Bistro C.V. for top-tier, sustainable edibles such as white-truffle gnocchi with ramps and oyster mushrooms, and a grilled romaine salad that locals adore (345 Lincoln Ave., bistrocv.com).
DRINK After the lifts stop running, Slopeside Grill is mobbed with beer-quaffing sunbathers soaking in the scene from plastic chairs arrayed on the snow—you’ll want to join them (1855 Ski Time Square, Torian Plum Plaza, slopesidegrill.com). Downtown, hit the 4 to 5:30 p.m. happy hour at Mahogany Ridge for $2 locally brewed beers (like the tasty Alpenglow Ale), half-price drinks, and $1 tapas that include crab tostadas and mango-Brie phyllo cups (435 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-3773).
SHOP Modern mountain men hit Zirkel Trading for Mountain Khakis, Filson wool vests, and Jhane Barnes button-downs (703 Lincoln Ave., B-102, zirkeltrading.com). Get local gear at BAP!, including Big Agnes (tents and sleeping bags), Honey Stinger energy bars, BAP! fleece, and Smart Wool base layers and socks (735 Oak St., bwear.com).
BUY IN Luxury condos at Howelsen Place put owners in the heart of downtown for $315,000 to $2 million (skitownlifestyleproperties.com). Or live slopeside, at One Steamboat Place, a sumptuous new base area development located steps away from the gondola and priced at $370,000 (for fractional ownership) to $3.9 million (onesteamboatplace.com).
DON'T MISS Adored by everyone, Strawberry Park Hot Springs is worth the 20-minute drive on a gnarly road—in winter, you’ll need four-wheel drive or chains ($10 per person, strawberryhotsprings.com). Rent cross-country skis at Ski Haus and head up to Rabbit Ears Pass, where nonmotorized trails weave through evergreens and snowfields (1457 Pine Grove Road, skihaussteamboat.com).