Enjoying a meal together as a family has become more of a rarity these days in our jam packed lives. So there’s something pretty amazing about being on vacation with your family and not having to gobble down your meal in 60 seconds or less in order to get everyone to and from their various activities.

Here in Steamboat, you get to kick back, enjoy the view and savor a little family conversation. Because Steamboat is such a family-friendly town, it’ll come as no surprise that even our white tablecloth establishments have tempting kids’ menus.

I have pretty much taste-tested every kid niblet in town and am happy to share a few of our family’s favorites.

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Mazzola’s

Something about being handed a ball of real dough to play with before dinner, and then have it cooked and presented with their pizza or pasta is a treat my kids never tire of. And Mazzola’s nice selection of wines and adult fare (three words: house-made raviolis) satiate the rest of us.

Johnny B. Good’s

Johnny B’s is the milkshake mecca of downtown. This 1950s-style diner is always fast and friendly and perfect for both breakfast and lunch. We firmly believe that all kids should have their requisite summer sugar intake long BEFORE bedtime, so with a lunch time shake, there’s still plenty of time to run that energy off.

Lyon’s Drugstore

Another family favorite. Hot diggity dogs for the kids and a fresh avocado, tomato and cucumber veggie melt for me (OK, it’s a grilled cheese, but, I swear, it’s a very grown up and delicious grilled cheese). Homemade sodas, lemonade and $1 ice cream cones plus every type of melted marshmallow, hot fudge, caramel topping imaginable makes this a frequent stop for most families in Steamboat.

We also adore Ciao Gelato (seems like we eat a lot of ice cream, doesn’t it?) – Italian square pizza slices with a fabulous array of gelato choices and a San Pellegrino always hit the spot.

slopesideSlopeside

Slopeside has a whole new amenity that is truly hard to beat as far as summer time atmosphere. The newly daylighted Burgess Creek runs through the base of the ski mountain and right by Slopeside. The outdoor area at Slopeside is often called “The Beach” in the winter time due to the ski-clad sun soakers sitting outside. And now Slopeside is in beanbag tossing distance to an actual beach at the base of the creek. We like to order pizza in a to-go box for the kiddos so they can munch and splash around in the base area beach while we’re on the Slopeside patio enjoying the scenery.

Mambo Italiano

Mambo Italiano has a lovely outdoor patio perfect for people-watching and relaxing. The considerate kid’s meal includes a complimentary chipwhich (chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich) and is hugely popular with the little ones. If you’re dining inside, crayon coloring on the paper table cloth is encouraged. Accent your art with a little marinara sauce for an edible masterpiece.

Old Town Pub and The Tap House are great spots to bring your big groups. Does the size of your family resemble the Brady Bunch or a baseball team? Then these spots have you covered. Both have games to keep kids occupied and Old Town Pub has a nice mix of pub fare, kids plates and upscale items (plus that infamous burger) to sate everybody’s appetite.

McKnight’s Irish Pub & Loft near the mountain area is also a great pick for your big group with plenty of room downstairs and games galore upstairs.

Rex’s American Grill & Bar also accommodates big groups plus a wide variety of taste buds. Hula hooping is encouraged on the beautiful back patio and Chef Vicki’s menu truly has something for everyone.

bistro CV – And if you’re looking for something a bit more grown up, but don’t have a babysitter, then encourage little palates to branch out at one of Steamboat’s finest restaurants. The best kept secret is the bistro CV kids’ menu. They’ve got the most delicious hot dog I’ve ever tasted (not that I steal my kids’ food or anything....), hamburgers with mashed potatoes and buttered noodles that are to die for. And you can make a game out of their kids’ menus as each one features a different mystery photo of one of their chefs. You get to look at the open kitchen and guess which sauce-covered sweet cherub on the menu cover is actually cooking your savory meal.

Now get up here, so you can dig into these delicious ‘Boat bites.