Downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado

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Downtown Steamboat Springs wasn’t at its most attractive, when I visited in June, 2010.  The big construction project that had created a traffic nightmare on the way into town also made a huge mess of US 40 through the downtown business district.

Looking past the torn-up streets and orange cones, it was easy to see that Steamboat Springs is a nice little town — easily the third or fourth I had discovered on this trip, that I wouldn’t mind running away to.  The downtown is worth a stop for at least an hour or two, and there are many stores and restaurants along Lincoln Avenue (US 40) to keep you occupied.

One of them is F.M. Light & Sons.  No doubt, you saw their signs (possibly hundreds of them) on the drive into town.  That’s the store, in the picture above, with the yellow sign above the door.  After seeing all the billboards, I expected a bigger store, packed with touristy items.  Instead, I found exactly what the signs promised: a decent selection of cowboy apparel.

If all the shopping leaves you searching for a seat, you can rest for a moment next to Ben Franklin, or Abe Lincoln, who stares out unceasingly over his namesake road.

 

The Chief Plaza Theater dates back to the 1920’s.  It’s still open, although its original 450-seat auditorium was sliced into four smaller rooms.  A movement is underway to buy the building, restore it to its former glory, and use it as a performing arts center.

It’s hard to miss the funky sign outside Space Station Gas.  The old sign received some attention in 2009, allowing it to be lit for the first time in years.  The gas station also underwent some remodeling, to capitalize on the 50-year-old sign’s Sputnik-era theme.

The downtown construction project was slated to be complete by November 12, 2010, so there’s a good chance that by the time you read this, it will be nothing more than a messy memory for the town.
It’s impossible to talk about Steamboat Springs without mentioning the town’s famous ski resort, 3 miles south of town.  Steamboat Ski Resort offers hiking and biking trails in the summer, and fantastic skiing in the winter.  During the summer months, you can catch a gondola ride for $20.  In winter, 165 named trails await, with 23 lifts to take you to the top of the slopes.

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