Cabin in the snow in Steamboat Springs

Steamboat is one of the top winter destinations in the country. (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

Plan Your Any-Season Weekend Escape to Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is where you’ll find nature-made adventures all year round. The mountain town is also home to an indie-spirited downtown, filled with shops, restaurants and galleries, with stunning mountain views wherever you look.

There are 170 trails at the Steamboat Springs Resort, which also offers a zip line, a mountain roller coaster and horsebacking riding.

And nature provides hot springs as well, a welcome après amenity — as are the area’s 50-plus restaurants and pubs.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Discover Downtown Steamboat

Downtown Steamboat Springs during the winter
There’s plenty to explore in downtown Steamboat. (Photo: Marriott International)

Make your introduction to Steamboat Springs a lively one by heading to Lincoln Avenue, a main thoroughfare for shops, galleries and restaurants. Kick off the day at Creekside Café, a breakfast spot famous for its “Fourteener” (a reference to the area’s loftiest peaks), a platter of malted waffles, French Toast or buttermilk pancakes, served with sausage and eggs.

When fully fueled, it’s time to stroll down Lincoln Avenue.

Even if you didn’t plan on clothes shopping, a visit to F.M. Light & Sons is all but required. “Outfittin’ the West for 100 Years (since 1905)” is the tagline for this Western-wear emporium, now operated by a fifth generation of family members, selling heritage brands such as Stetson, Wrangler, Lucchese and Pendelton — from the same store, with some of the same fixtures and furnishings.

Lincoln Avenue is home to Standard Western Art + Drink, which is anything but standard, with its cool interiors and “New West” paintings, sculpture and artisan-made objects. You’ll also find the Jace Romick Gallery (for fine art photography) and, a minute’s walk away on Ninth Street, Pine Moon, a studio and gallery featuring the work of 14 artists, with new exhibits every month.

Back on Lincoln, there’s the Steamboat Art Museum, which also showcases art by local makers and pieces sourced from around the American West, as well as Solar Flare Glass Work, a shop and studio with artists crafting functional and decorative objects on-site.

From Lincoln, you can wander up Main for more browsing — Steamboat boasts some 70 shops and 12 galleries and many are in this area (if you go this route, do check out the independent Off the Beaten Path bookstore).

Or if it’s time for lunch, walk toward the Yampa River and Yampa Street — Steamboat’s de facto restaurant row, where you’ll find 15-plus eateries that are so close together you can peruse them all, then grab a table at your favorite.

If hand-crafted tacos on the riverfront sound good, consider Taco Cabo. Or try the Mountain Tap Brewery, which cooks everything in a Neapolitan-style wood-burning oven, from popcorn to pizza — and makes a fine selection of suds, as well.

Your post-lunch activity depends on the season — but you’ll want to get in a physical before the day’s final meal. In the summer, you won’t have to travel far to paddleboard or kayak on the Yampa River, with all the equipment you need to rent at Hala Gear, right on Yampa Street.

In the fall or spring, indulge in the sport that gave this city its nickname: Bike Town USA. You can rent bikes at the Steamboat Sports Bike Shop and follow the paved, 7.5-mile Yampa River Core Trail, which crosses picturesque bridges, winds through downtown and leads to the Yampa River Botanic Park (a wonderful destination unto itself, if strolling gardens is more your speed).

And in the winter, your easiest way to spend a half day on the snow is cross-country skiing at Howelsen Hill Ski Area. Colorado’s oldest continuously operated ski area (and training ground for the 1996 Winter Games) is located directly across the Yampa River from Taco Cabo (but first rent the equipment you need at Ski Haus).

Finally, end the day with another excellent meal and a handcrafted cocktail at the Press, a local favorite where you can get a sharing menu for the table while taking in live music or comedy. Then, visit Steamboat Whiskey Company to sample their stuff — or the locally made vodkas, gins and even rums (the Ski Town Tiki Rum is a favorite).

Saturday: Hit the Slopes

Grab an early breakfast at the hotel, then make your way to Steamboat Ski Resort — whatever the season. In the winter, skiers and riders can explore 170 trails across 3,000 acres of pristine mountain landscape.

But there are a few ways to make your time on the mountain even more thrilling. The resort offers add-ons like the “First Tracks” experience, for instance, which guarantees visitors the first spot in line so they can rip down the fresh powder solo.

Ski slopes at night in Steamboat Springs
Try your hand at some night skiing. (Photo: Getty Images)

Not a morning person? That’s OK, because the mountain also offers night skiing for those who’d like to get in a few runs under a blanket of twinkling stars. Steamboat also offers a Love Climbing Adventure tour, which brings visitors to the backcountry for ski and snowshoe tours.

Not really a skier but still want to get involved in the alpine action? You can, thanks to mountain tubing, ice skating and winter horseback riding, with all the rentals and instruction you need on offer, too.

When there’s no snow, hike the vast network of trails on and around the mountain. Travelers looking for an adrenaline rush can find it at theSteamboat Zipline Adventures, which will have you flying through the treetops. Or try the Outlaw Mountain Coaster, which speeds you the mile down the mountain via twists, turns, dips and waves.

And you’ll find excellent sustenance to fuel your fun at the Timber & Torch, an American bistro with a heated terrace at the base of the mountain, part of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas.

Travel back to town for your après experience, checking out one of those Yampa Street eateries that weren’t open for lunch. For fancy French fare, your best bet is Sauvage, which serves a six-course tasting menu in its elegant dining spaces.

Primrose is another excellent choice for its elevated American cuisine and heavenly dessert menu (try the house-made “Fluffernutter,” which combines peanut butter custard, caramelized banana, toffee ice cream and other sweet stuff).

If you’re still standing — and our Stetson’s off to you if that’s the case — then head over to the Old Town Pub, housed in a circa-1904 former hotel building on Lincoln Avenue. Steamboat’s not a late-night town (because: freshies), but the after-dark atmosphere is convivial here, and many of the spirits served are locally sourced.

Sunday: Relax at the Spa

It’s time to relax, so it’s a good thing Steamboat is famed for its natural-spring-fed spas. Start with a light bite at Freshies Restaurant, where you can get a fresh-fruit açai bowl, toasted quinoa and butternut bowl or — oh, why not? — a stack of banana walnut pancakes.

The most celebrated place to get yourself into hot water is Strawberry Park Hot Springs, located on a mountain road about 17 miles north of Steamboat. Make reservations for the worth-it trip to this rustic (and extremely affordable) complex of sprawling pools fed by natural hot springs. Visitors plunge into the 101-degree (and hotter!) water, then lounge poolside, warmed by the steam.

Or not: The hardiest among them jump into the nearby icy river and roll around in the snowbanks. (Notes: No children are allowed, and a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed to get up to the springs in winter; private shuttle service is available.)

Another excellent (and affordable) choice is Old Town Hot Springs. This decidedly unfancy, in-town complex of pools requires no reservations, and kids ages 15 years and older are welcome. For a more traditional day spa experience, book a massage or body treatment at the in-town Life Essentials Day Spa or Westside Day Spa, which offers holistic treatments, detoxification treatments and more.

Margarita with salt and lime
Toast to a perfect trip with a margarita. (Photo: Marriott International)

If it’s lunch time, check out Salt & Lime for the chef’s fresh takes on Mexican food — and where the “Frito Bowl” is a salty and savory delight. Dine inside the chic dining room or on the outside patio; the tequila (and margs) flow freely wherever you land.

Spend your final afternoon at the Haymaker Golf Course, a 223-acre championship course offering mountain views from nearly every tee. To continue the weekend’s four-season theme, you can snowshoe (or cross-country ski) the trails, with equipment available at the Haymaker Nordic Center, where fat-tire bikes are rented, as well.

For your last Steamboat supper, book a table at the romantic, in-town Laundry, which specializes in smoked and cured locally sourced meat and fish. In a building that housed the Steamboat Laundry from 1910 to 1977, located along Soda Creek, the restaurant serves a tasting menu for two, which can be accompanied by a flight of Dulce Vida tequilas (another weekend theme). Cheers!