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In the 1960s, a trickle of Fortune 500 corporations started moving their headquarters from New York 38 miles northeast to Stamford. That flow became a steady stream by the 1980s, and Xerox continues to direct its operations from here, with the Royal Bank of Scotland moving in during 2008. These businesses have erected shiny midrise towers that give the city of 119,000 residents an appearance more like the new urban centers of the Sun Belt than those of the Snow Belt.

One result is a lively downtown that other, less prosperous Connecticut cities surely envy. Roughly contained by Greylock Place, Tresser Boulevard, and Atlantic and Main streets, downtown Stamford has two theaters, tree-lined streets with many shops and a large mall, pocket parks and plazas, and a number of stylish restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and clubs patronized by the city's large cohort of young single professionals.

After Dark -- The Stamford Center for the Arts, Atlantic Street and Tresser Boulevard (tel. 203/325-4466; www.stamfordcenterforthearts.org), has two venues. The Rich Forum, 307 Atlantic St., presents professional productions, with boldface name actors, of successful Broadway and off-Broadway plays as well as musical and dance presentations. The Palace Theatre, 61 Atlantic St., offers rotating appearances by the Stamford Symphony Orchestra, the Connecticut Grand Opera and Orchestra, and the Connecticut Ballet, as well as one-night stands by the likes of B. B. King, the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and Bill Cosby.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.