Steamboat Springs competing for spot in Outside Magazine’s Best Towns 2016 contest | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs competing for spot in Outside Magazine’s Best Towns 2016 contest

Mountain bikers are a common sight in Steamboat Springs, a town full of outdoor adventures. Steamboat Springs was recently nominated by Outside Magazine as one of the towns in its Best Towns of 2016 contest and it's up to readers to decide the winner. (In this photo: Tony Dickson pedals near the top of Mount Werner on Wednesday during the Storm Peak Hill Climb)

— Steamboat Springs is in the running for a chance to win Outside Magazine's Best Towns 2016 contest.

Outside Magazine searched for towns that offered "the perfect jumping-off point for adventure," with top-notch restaurants, farmers' markets, thriving neighborhoods and ready access to hiking and biking trails.

The initial bracket for the competition is composed of 60 towns from across the U.S. selected by Outside Magazine editors and grouped into four key categories: beach, river, mountain and culture.

In addition, four "wild card" towns — Mammoth Lakes, California (mountain); Imperial Beach, California (culture); Billings, Montana (river); and Grand Marais, Minnesota (beach) — were chosen by readers through a social media-driven voting process on Instagram.

"The goal is to let our readers know about the best places to live the lifestyle we promote in Outside," said Chris Cohen, Outside Magazine associate editor. "A big inspiration every year is identifying up-and-coming towns — last year’s winner, Chattanooga, (Tennessee), wouldn’t have been on many people’s radars 10 years ago. But they’ve made huge strides, adding outdoor access and other amenities, like their super-fast fiber-optic network."

The magazine has featured Best Towns for more than 30 years, Cohen said. This will be the third year it has used a bracket format.

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Through the next six weeks, readers will have an opportunity to vote once per round for each of the six rounds of voting at outsideonline.com/2056761/best-towns-2016.

The winners of each round will advance until the final two towns face off in a showdown to determine the Best Town of 2016. The magazine will feature the final 16 towns and winner in its September 2016 issue.

"There’s no one criteria we look for — we take a holistic approach to deciding which towns to include," Cohen said. "Some are noteworthy for their unparalleled access to the outdoors, like Steamboat Springs, while others — New Orleans, for instance — get consideration for other factors, like rich cultural amenities, even if they don’t have world-class skiing and trout fishing right in town, like you guys."

With access to the outdoors a top priority, Cohen said the editors — who consult with writers and other experts in those regions for advice on picks — strive to create a balanced list of towns and recognize a variety of amenities from a noteworthy craft beer scene to a town's beaches and culture.

"It's (Steamboat Springs) a mecca for outdoor recreation, all year," Cohen said. "And we loved that outdoor gear companies like Moots and Big Agnes have chosen to make it home. That’s always a great sign."

Outside Magazine's Best Towns 2016 Competition features:

Beach

Bolinas, California; Los Angeles, California; Bellingham, Washington; Cape May, New Jersey; Wilmington, North Carolina; Ketchikan, Alaska; Ludington, Michigan; Miami, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Duxbury, Massachusetts; Islamorada, Florida; Fairhope, Alabama; Yachats, Oregon; Bayfield, Wisconsin; Pacific Grove, California; Grand Marais, Minnesota.

River

Milford, Ohio; Phillipsburg, Montana; St. Louis, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; Salida, Colorado; New Orleans, Louisiana; Nevada City, California; Livingston, Montana; Boise, Idaho; Bend, Oregon; Gunnison, Colorado; Charlotte, North Carolina; Leavenworth, Washington; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Harper's Ferry, West Virginia; Billings, Montana.

Mountain

Silver City, New Mexico; Salt Lake City, Utah; Durango, Colorado; Jackson, Wyoming; Sun Valley, Idaho; Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Sedona, Arizona; Tucson, Arizona; Bishop, California; Waynesville, North Carolina; Waterbury, Vermont; Marquette, Michigan; Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania; Staunton, Virginia; Talkeetna, Alaska; Mammoth Lakes, California.

Culture

Cleveland, Ohio; Ojai, California; Taos, New Mexico; Atlanta, Georgia; Princeton, New Jersey; Austin, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Denver, Colorado; Amherst, Massachusetts; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Brunswick, Maine; Hanalei, Hawaii; Aspen, Colorado; Savannah, Georgia; Beacon, New York; Imperial Beach, California.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1