It's easy to fall in love with Loveland, especially in spring, when the lustrous snowcapped mountain peaks sparkle in the sun, the lakefront swells with starry-eyed couples ambling hand in hand, and the snow begins to melt at Benson Park Sculpture Garden.
Visitors to the picturesque town are also finding themselves enamored of Loveland's downtown district, four blocks touting new restaurants and shops and a thriving performing arts center.
Loveland is 56 miles north of Denver. Take I-25 to exit 257B, then go west on U.S. 34 and turn south on Cleveland Ave./U.S. 287. Drive about 10 blocks south to Loveland's downtown area on E. Fourth St. To reach Benson Park Sculpture Garden from E. Fourth St., go left onto Lincoln Ave., left onto E. 29th St., and right onto Aspen Drive.
Benson Park Sculpture Garden. From a stern Shakespearean actor to a whimsical horse to an abstract swirl, the sculptures stand out against the park's trees and the mountains beyond. INFO: 2908 Aspen Dr.; www.sculptureinthepark.org; 970/663-2940.
Rialto Theater. Live concerts, lectures, classic films, and dance performances in a restored performing arts center, built in 1920 and now on the National Register of Historic Places. INFO: 228 E. Fourth St.; www.cityofloveland.org; 970/962-2120.
Monaco Trattoria. Glossy hardwoods, crushed velvet banquettes, and a modern Italian menu. Reserve the back table for a view into the exhibition kitchen, then retire to the intimate bar for a post-dinner pour. INFO: $$; 218 E. Fourth St.; 970/461-1889.
Henry's Pub. A classy watering hole with cozy alcoves and a friendly, bustling bar parading more than 40 local and imported draft and bottled beers. INFO: 234 E. Fourth St.; 970/613-1896.
Lux of Loveland. Home furnishings and accessories: leather sofas, overstuffed chairs, bold artwork, chandeliers, and plump pillows. INFO: 129 E. Fourth St.; 970/663-4311.
Almosta Mercantile. A gift-and-fashion emporium with bath scent-ables, whimsical baby attire, sterling silver jewelry, and women's clothing and handbags. INFO: 343 E. Fourth St.; 970/663-2626.
Cattail Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast. Enviably located on the Cattail Creek Golf Course and one block west from Lake Loveland, the Cattail Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast flaunts sweeping views of Colorado's Longs Peak; spacious, individually decorated rooms (most with decks); a communal living room with leather sofas and a blazing fireplace; and Belgian pecan waffles with peaches sautéed in peach brandy for breakfast. INFO: 8 rooms from $115; 970/667-7600.