Updated July 2021
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Steamboat is the place we have traveled to the most. I’d say we’ve easily been here 15+ times. It’s a nice, quaint mountain town in Colorado. Most mountain towns you think of in Colorado are right off I-70 (Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, etc). Steamboat is about an hour and a half from I-70, so it’s a bit quieter.
It has a lot to offer though.
There are tons of things to do outside and plenty of activities for the whole family. I think of it as a little boutique mountain town. It’s open and happy to have visitors, but removed enough that it’s not quite as commercial.
Read on for the best things to do in Steamboat! You’ll find things to do in winter; fun, kid-friendly hikes; shopping, best places to eat, and where to stay in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Closest Major Airport to Steamboat Springs, CO
If you are able to fly into Hayden, that is the closest airport.
However, the closest major airport to Steamboat Springs is Denver (DEN). It’s about 3 to 3 and a half hours to Steamboat from the airport.
Where to Stay in Steamboat
We stay at the Steamboat Grand, a big, green-roof hotel up on the hill as you come into Steamboat. It is right across the street from Steamboat ski resort. The service and staff here is great and the hotel is top notch. You can get a typical hotel room, or if you want more space, you can reserve up to 5 rooms in the same unit! We usually go up with a bunch of family in a 3 bedroom unit, which includes an upstairs. It also includes a nice, stocked kitchen area, dining area (a lot of seating), and a large living room with a fireplace. The rooms have a very mountain-west feel to them.
Every unit layout is not exactly the same in regards to where bedrooms are or what they look like. But the living area and kitchen have so far all been similar.
The hotel also has a large, heated, saltwater pool open year-round. The saltwater is easier on the skin, and doesn’t burn quite like chlorine on your eyes. On either side of the pool is a very large hot tub; one for all ages, and one for adults-only. In addition, the hotel has a great fitness facility, steam room, sauna, locker room, spa, concierge, restaurant, and a beautiful lobby.
Want more info? Read my FULL REVIEW of the Steamboat Grand Hotel
Other option: Rabbit Ears Motel is a classic piece of the town, if you want a hotel right downtown.
Or if you want a rental home, check out these awesome Rentals in Steamboat!
What to do in Steamboat Springs in Winter
Skiing in Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat has two ski resorts (Steamboat and Howlsen Hill ski area).
Steamboat resort is off Mt. Werner road, a little outside of the downtown’s main street (Lincoln highway).
Howlsen Hill is located right in the downtown area. Many people visit Steamboat during the winter months for its great skiing, combined with it’s wonderful mountain town. If you get the chance to ski in Steamboat…take it!
Snowshoeing in Steamboat Springs, CO
There are trails all over Steamboat that you can snowshoe on. If you want a really cool, middle-of-nowhere adventure (without actually being in the middle of nowhere at all!), head over to Rabbit Ears Pass.
There are plenty of pull-outs along the road of Rabbit Ears Pass where you can park and start your journey.
We even took some light sleds with us one time to get some good, backcountry sledding!
Hiking and Exploring In Steamboat
Burgess Creek and Mountainside Fun
The Steamboat Grand is just across the street from Burgess Creek, a fun little water area for the kids to play in during the summer months. The creek area is constructed with rock on the perimeter. There are small sandy beach areas to play in as well. Steps away at the bottom of the mountain, you can ride the gondola, experience a mountain coaster (the longest one in the US!) , or play some mini golf.
Fish Creek Falls – easy hike for kids in Steamboat
Our summer travels to Steamboat often lead us to Fish Creek Falls, a short little hike to a really great waterfall. You can access this by following the signs starting on Lincoln Avenue and 3rd street.
The hike from the parking lot is maybe a quarter to a half-mile downhill one-way. (So, a quarter to a half-mile UPhill coming back. But it’s not too bad). Our kids have done it many times, even the littlest ones. And we have taken a stroller too. I would make sure it’s a good stroller that can handle dirt and that you don’t mind sweating a little to get it back up. But again, it’s short and very worth it.
Tip: It is $5 per vehicle to park at the trailhead (at the time of writing this). And on holiday weekends, it gets very backed up with parking, so go early!
If the kids are up for it (and probably older and you’ve got snacks and drinks), you can continue hiking past the falls for a bit. We haven’t made it to Long Lake before as it’s 5 miles out, but it was fun to hike a little and turn around.
Want somewhere you can play in the water with an incredible backdrop? Check out Steamboat Lake State Park!
Spring Creek Trail – another easy hike in Steamboat with kids
The Spring Creek hike is located just beyond downtown Steamboat. Take 3rd Street, to Fish Creek Falls Rd, and left on Amesthyst Dr. Just past the high school, you will see a small dirt lot on the right. Park there to begin the Spring Creek hike (those with accessible parking passes can drive farther up to park). This easy hike goes along the access road along a creek. In less than a mile, you will be at two different, but close-together ponds. Dogs can be off leash at the lower pond (there is a sign to guide you).
Good to know: Parking is free, but there is a place to donate. The trail goes just to the right of that green sign, but quickly meets right back up along the dirt road, so it doesn’t matter which way you start. Since there is a dirt road, good strollers can easily do this trail! I’d guess it’s about one mile, one way.
Right as you reach the ponds, there is a large, wooden picnic shelter with a table. Pack a lunch to bring along and enjoy the day!
This hike is easy for young and old! Our 3-year-old did it without a problem. I suggest staying on the dirt trail, even though it is right along the road. The road has a few cars, as well as many mountain bikers that come down quickly.
Fiddlehead Trail – top-of-the-mountain easy hike in Steamboat with kids
This trail is a bit further up the mountain from downtown Steamboat. It took us about 15 minutes to get to the trailhead from downtown, but it provides great views to parts of Steamboat you wouldn’t see otherwise.
The trailhead is located at 32586 Forest Rd 60, Steamboat Springs. (It’s best to just put that into your maps app.) Once you are there, there is a small dirt lot to the right of the large sign/outhouse. Park there. Then walk back across the dirt road where you see the sign for Dry Lake Campground. Just to the left of that, you’ll see a trail going off the main road. There may be cars parked here on the side of the road, so you have to look for it. (see Pics below for guidance)
The Fiddlehead trail is easy enough and about 2 miles long of a loop. Our 3-year-old could do it without a problem. I would guess a good, outdoor/off road stroller could handle it just fine as well.
The views from the Fiddlehead trail are amazing! The trailhead begins high up the mountain, so as you hike, you are eye level with some of the mountaintops around you. You also have a great view of the mountain range in the distance. This kid-friendly hike is also full of greenery, or if you go in fall, many colors. We got there a week or two late, so most of the colors were already browning. But I imagine it was a beautiful, colorful scene not long before!
The trail takes you through both wooded areas and open areas. Where it tends to fill with water and get swampy, there are little bridges to cross over and stay dry.
I would definitely recommend Fiddlehead trail for anyone that wants a nice, easy hike or anyone that has little kids with them!
Good to know: After you park in the dirt lot, there are a lot of trailheads right at the dirt road / campground intersection, so make sure to use the labeled picture above to find your start easily. Eventually as you go down the labeled trailhead, you will see a sign for Fiddlehead Trailhead 1027. It is open to hikers, horses, and bikers.
At the beginning of the dirt lot, there is a large board with a map and a outhouse. If you go to the trail right next to that, you can also hike Panorama Trail, which is marked as an easy trail. I haven’t done it, but maybe next time we’ll try it.
Our Favorite Lightweight Hiking Packs:
Fourth of July in Steamboat
We often go to Steamboat for the Fourth of July. The town does an awesome parade down its main street. They block off traffic and people line the streets on both sides, all the way up and down. The parade features horses, local organizations (hockey teams, swim teams, dance teams, political party floats), police, firetrucks, rodeo stars, with music and an announcer filling the air. Some toss out candy or ice pops, so we always have a little bag ready to collect! The parade also features a competition of roller-skiing up and down the street.
More Great Things to do in Steamboat with Kids!
Those are our favorite kid-friendly things to do when in Steamboat, but there is so much more when time allows!
Steamboat Springs Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday in summer (June through mid September), you can walk through many local pop-up booths at the Main Street Steamboat Farmer’s Market. It’s set up mostly on Yampa Street, from 5th to 8th street. We always find plenty of fun, fresh, and unique items as we stroll down Yampa. You can find fresh made soaps, lotions, local honey, produce, blankets, jewelry, art, and plenty more. The market runs from 9am to 2pm. Most vendors accept credit through a Square (or similar), but come prepared with cash as well.
Yampa River Botanic Park
The Yampa River Botanic Park is filled with flowers, birds, and the occasional moose visitor nearby, as it sits right beside the Yampa river. Admission is free, donations appreciated.
Howlsen Hill – Rodeo and mountain biking in Steamboat
Howlsen Hill is a great place, too. There is great mountain biking in the summer and an alpine slide. Around 4th of July, the arena here hosts the Pro Rodeo series, with the firework show after the rodeo on the 4th. We’ve been to this once or twice and had a really great time.
Howlsen Ice Complex – fun things to do in Steamboat with kids
The Howlsen Ice Complex offers the only place in Colorado to experience bumper cars…on ice! You can also ice skate while you’re here.
Bike or Walk Along the Yampa River
You can rent bikes at Orange Peel, which is right next to the trail that runs along the Yampa River. (It’s also right across the street from a great playground and park area). Enjoy the day biking along the river, or even just take a stroll on the trail watching kayakers and other float down river.
Walk along the Yampa Trail, right along the Yampa river. The trail is cement and mostly stays within the shade of many trees. There are beautiful photos right along the river, as well as large, spacious gazebos to eat lunch in or take a snack break.
Float the Yampa River in Summer – fun things to do in Steamboat with kids
Float down the Yampa river in an inner-tube! The river is gorgeous and a great way to see the outskirts of downtown and beyond. Rent from Bucking Rainbow Outfitters and they’ll even shuttle you back when you’re done!
Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs
Visit Old Town Hot Springs right off Lincoln Avenue for a fun family day of hot springs with a pool-like setting There are even water slides! Or drive up the mountain and outside town for a more natural setting of hot springs at Strawberry Hot Springs, which is kid-friendly during the daytime only.
Enjoy the Outdoors- all year long!
In addition to all those fun activities in Steamboat, there are so many kid-friendly hiking, biking, skiing, and fun things to do in Steamboat! (If you are there in February, look up their Winter Carnival that exhibits breakfast, a showcase of races and events down Lincoln, ski jumping at Howlsen, and people lit up with flares and lights skiing down after dark!)
Shopping in Downtown Steamboat Springs
Strolling down Lincoln Avenue (main street) is always fun too. My kids love to visit Fuzzywigs candy shop and pick a candy, freshly made chocolate or confection treat, ice cream, or toy. The store is kinda a one-way traffic flow and gets crowded, but it will be the kids’ favorite stop.
Stop by the Steamboat Shoe Market for a large selection of brand-name shoes. The owners here are delightful and helpful. Most of the brands they carry are very foot-friendly (Dansko, Jambu, Born) as well as running shoes, hiking shoes, sandals and boots. Of course you can also find accessories like socks and insoles. Whether you’re looking for style or comfort (or both), they’ve got it. (Even kid’s shoes!) The staff here is incredibly helpful and incredibly friendly.
For an absolutely charming, local bookstore, check out Off the Beaten Path. Serving up both books and coffee, you’ll be warmly greeted by the most pleasant people and feel the excitement as you browse though this store. You’ll find best-sellers, cooking, hiking, among other genres, as well as a kids section of books! Located right behind Fuzzywig’s on 9th Street.
A few others to mention:
In Celebration of Kids– this is kind of like a mini-mall, but all for kids! Located right on Lincoln avenue, this place has everything a kid could want! You’ll find kid’s clothing stores, toy stores, candy, games… you could spend a while here!
River Blue– This is just a little shop, but we always love stopping here. It has the typical souvenir sweatshirts, t-shirts, pajama bottoms, hats, etc. But there’s also a kids section in back with kid sizes, and fun toys and stuffed animals. Near the checkout you’ll find jewelry, stones, cards, puzzles, and more. My kids love going in this store…and so do I!
F.M Light & Sons– you basically have to go here when you go to Steamboat. It is a western/cowboy store, but it is a long-time tradition of Steamboat whether you are cowboy or not. If you drive in from Denver, then starting from moments after you leave Kremmling (a small town you drive through about an hour from Steamboat) you will see big yellow signs for F.M. Light & Sons. You’ll find western clothing, cowboy hats, jewelry, and a kids section in back with the same as well as toys. Out in front, anyone under 110 pounds can take a photo-op on the horse!
Need more summer fun? Check out 5 Beautiful Lakes in Steamboat Springs
Where to Eat in Steamboat Springs
Where to eat Lunch in Steamboat
An outdoor shopping plaza, called Old Town Square, has great stops for lunch. Visit the standalone food booths right near the street, or walk into the plaza for more options.
On the top floor of the plaza you’ll find a sandwich shop (formerly “Backcountry”, now “Yampa Sandwich Company” with fresh, creative combos (we’ve been here a few times and always enjoyed it.)
Down the stairs is Skull Creek Greek, which we just visited for the first time and it won’t be the last! They’ve got gyros, falafel, chicken shawarma wraps and pitas that are packed with flavor and goodness.
We also often go to Double Z Bar and Barbecue. Located at the end of Yampa street, you can enjoy the outdoor ambiance of the river and trees if you take a patio seat. The barbecue is great whether you go for a chicken sandwich, brisket, or hot links. Make sure to ask for extra bbq sauce. You’ll want it 😉
Where to eat Dinner in Steamboat
There are plenty of great restaurants to find a great dinner in Steamboat. If you are in the mood for Italian, you’ll enjoy both Mambo Italiano on one side of town and Mazzola’s on the other. These nicer restaurants do have a slightly higher cost. Mambo is a favorite because of the fresh-tasting, homemade pasta. They also have creative pizza combos and lasagna that was raved about in a Denver newspaper!
If you are seeking Mexican, we have loved Vaquero’s, also located on Lincoln Avenue. Make sure to try the Colorado Chili!
If you want quick and easy take-out, try pizza from Blue Sage Pizza (a short drive beyond downtown on Mt. Werner Circle) or Beau Jo’s, a Colorado classic pizza joint!
Hopefully you now have some great, kid-friendly ideas of things to do in Steamboat Springs! What are you most excited to do when you visit Steamboat? Comment below!