Sunny days by the river and beautiful evenings on the restaurant patio — it’s officially summer in Steamboat! As any parent of a toddler knows, going out to eat can quickly become this week’s latest torture event. Let’s face it: Who wants to sit at a table alone while your partner chases down your little love before all hell breaks loose? It’s not exactly the happy hour of your earlier days. Don’t despair! I’ve found some of the happiest spots on the block for parents and their little rascals.

Steamboat base area
You may have spent some time at the “beach” along Burgess Creek at the base of the ski area. If so, you know this is a fabulous spot for kiddos. With water, rocks and sand, there is no better combo to entertain the curious minds. Match this with the fabulous eats at the many nearby restaurants — including Gondola Pub & Grill, Bear River Bar & Grill, Paramount, Los Locos and Slopeside Grill — and you have a perfect combo. You may still have some moments of eating alone, but you will be in good company.

Rex’s Bar & Grill
If your child is anything like ours, the car seat is one of her least favorite places. It ranks right up there with shots and diaper changes. If we can avoid the drama of driving, we are happy people. Living on the east side of town, this spot is our bike-to favorite. Beyond the ease of the commute, Rex’s has a dynamite setup for families. A large grass area provides lawn games for all ages, including adults. The children’s menu is awesome and includes Freya’s favorite, mac ‘n’ cheese. (Often finished by dad or yours truly.)

Aurum
If you’re looking for a perfect downtown spot with a deck that overlooks the Yampa River, Aurum is my pick. Mix the ideal location with a grassy area for kids to romp around and you have a happy family. With a fabulous happy hour menu and friendly staff, this is a a great place to nominate someone you love to chase your kids.

Check please!
Caroline Lalive Carmichael moved to Steamboat with her family in 1995 and joined the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. After one season, Caroline was named to the U.S. Ski Team and competed for 13 years, attending two Olympics. After retiring in 2009, she returned to Steamboat as a coach. She and fellow Olympian Nelson Carmichael were married in 2012 and welcomed their daughter, Freya, in 2015.