Steamboat Springs, Colo. Essentials

Stay in, go out, dance the night away — this visitor's guide will help you do it.
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Food and Drink: The Best Place To...

BUY GROCERIES

Two supermarkets supply the basics: Safeway (37500 E. US Hwy 40, 970-879-3766) boasts the better meat department, thanks to its in-house butcher; City Market (1825 Central Park Plaza, 970-879-3290) takes the prize for best produce except in summer when a farm stand called Sweet Pea Market (735 Yampa St., 970-879-1221) purveys the season’s freshest Colorado-grown fruits and vegetables.

STOCK THE BAR

Central Park Liquor, 1835 Central Park Drive, 970-879-3428

This bustling superstore consistently offers the best prices on beer, wine and liquor. And the discounts are even deeper during the annual “Locals’ Appreciation Sale,” held in early December, when the whole town turns out to stock up for the holidays and beyond.

SIP A LATTE

Steaming Bean, 635 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-3393

It’s difficult to make a quick stop at the Steaming Bean: Service is speedy, but you’re almost certain to run into someone you know. Yet the chance to chat with familiar faces is part of the appeal of this community java joint, located in the heart of downtown.

BLOW YOUR DIET

Winona's, 617 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-2483

Locals and visitors alike crowd into this cozy main street cafe, serving breakfast and lunch, but anytime is the right time for one of Winona’s celebrated cinnamon rolls. Topped with orange-scented icing, these pillowy spiced pastries make for a decadent reward after a strenuous day outdoors.

HAVE A LIGHT LUNCH

Freshies, 595 S. Lincoln Ave., 970-879-8099

It’s little wonder there’s almost always a short wait for a table at this bustling eatery serving scrumptious, veggie-laden dishes made from scratch. Tasty soups, creative salads and classic deli sandwiches dominate the lunch menu, and even the heartier options are lightened up: Burgers feature local grass-fed beef. Stop by regularly, and upbeat owners Scott and Kristi Fox will likely welcome you by name.

MEET FOR HAPPY HOUR

Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Dipping Grill, 435 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-3773

Even locals who rarely indulge in a dinner out frequently hit happy hour, and Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Dipping Grill is the most popular meeting spot of them all. Every day from 4 to 6 p.m., all drinks are half-price, and the $1 tapas menu includes the likes of brie-and-mango phyllo cups and crab tostadas. Prices are cheap, but the decor is anything but: Dramatic lighting and local art attracts crowds of young professionals (the after-work crowd generally packs the bar by 4:30).

SPARK ROMANCE

Cafe Diva, 1875 Ski Time Square, 970-871-0508

Instead of one ballroom-sized dining room, tables at Cafe Diva are tucked into several intimate nooks and alcoves perfect for whispering sweet nothings. The staff delivers impeccable service, Steamboat-style (servers are attentive yet relaxed) and the menu presents nouveau-Colorado versions of classic elk, beef and seafood dishes. During mud season in spring and fall, Sunday “Date Night” specials cater to local couples with discounted prix fixe dinners.

GRAB A LATE-NIGHT BITE

Mazzola’s Italian Restaurant, 917 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-2405

“Late” is a relative term in Steamboat Springs, where most establishments snuff the lights at 10 p.m. But Mazzola’s welcomes night owls with pizza slices until 2 a.m. in its subterranean bar, which refuels locals after a night of dancing or waiting tables.

Entertainment: The Best Places To...

HEAR FREE LIVE MUSIC

Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concert Series

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Susan Tedeschi, Steel Pulse, and Michael Franti with Spearhead have all recently performed free outdoor shows thanks to the city of Steamboat Springs, which brings five to six major national acts each summer. Venues alternate between Howelsen Hill and the Steamboat ski area. Bring a blanket to sit on and a sweater to ward off the evening chill, but no alcohol: Beer is sold at the concert grounds, and the revenue helps pay for the bands.

BOOGIE THE NIGHT AWAY

The legendary Tugboat (1860 Ski Time Square, 970-879-7070) stages incredibly loud rock music on the mountain; downtown, Mahogany Ridge (435 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-3773) hosts jazz, bluegrass, funk and rock bands. The Ghost Ranch Saloon (56 Seventh St., 970-870-1829) also serves up live music in a rowdy atmosphere.

SURVEY THE CITY

Climb uphill via any of the Emerald Mountain trails and you’re bound to find yourself at The Quarry. Here, high above the valley floor, sandstone was once removed to build businesses and homes downtown. Now, the perch provides a spectacular view of the city and the ski area, and it serves as a popular turnaround point for hikers and mountain bikers.

TAKE THE KIDS

Little Toots Park, 12th and Yampa streets

Families with young kids flock to Little Toots Park. Tots swarm happily over the jungle gyms and swings, while moms chat in clusters on the picnic tables.

RELAX WITH FIDO

Slopeside Grill, 1555 Ski Time Square Drive, 970-879-2916

Innumerable dog-friendly paths and parks are tucked within the Steamboat Springs city limits, but when the walk is over, head to Slopeside, one of the few restaurants that welcomes fuzzy friends. As its name implies, this pizza-and-burger joint borders the Steamboat ski area, so its patio tables overlook an open field where pups can frolic or just watch you tip back a pint.

MEET PEOPLE

The Locals’ Ski Clinics, offered by the Steamboat ski resort in early winter, offer a great opportunity to make new friends and meet potential ski buddies. The multiday instructional clinics are organized by ability, so attendees mingle with compatible skiers and enjoy enough time to get to know one another.

SPICE UP YOUR LIFE

All The Jazz, 601 Lincoln Ave., Suite 103, 970-879-4422

This store sells much more than music: A wide selection of SmartWool socks and sweaters, fun winter hats and funky reading glasses appeal to everyone from teens to early retirees. Listening stations let you sample new tunes before you buy.

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