Weekend Getaway: Steamboat
Written by Alexa Owen • Feb 07, 2017
Dubbed in the early part of the 20th century “Ski Town USA,” Steamboat Springs is a must for an avid skier's weekend getaway.
Photo: Steamboat Resort
Since its recreational skiing beginnings in the late 1920’s, Steamboat has continuously grown as a community rooted in the love of skiing. The town of Steamboat Springs has produced more Olympic athletes than any area in the country – a testament to its love for the outdoors and dedication to sport. As a ski resort, Steamboat is known for its champagne powder, cruising tree runs, and fun-loving ski bums. Far enough removed from Denver, it doesn’t get as much weekend traffic as resorts like Vail and Copper, so you can bet that a weekend at Steamboat will feel like a true getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Steamboat Springs has often been compared to destinations like Jackson Hole because of its more remote location and tight-knit community. Northwest of Denver and far from the buzz of the I-70 corridor, Steamboat is tucked into the Yampa River Valley and offers visitors everything they could want from a classic Colorado ski resort. At 3,000 skiable acres – all of which is below tree line – it’s the ideal ski area for those looking to ski powder lines without the crowds, and mellow cruisers with stunning views. All levels of skiers can ski at varied points across the mountain, meaning beginners can ski from the summit and advanced skiers will find glades to charge lower down.
Steamboat is known as the original Ski Town USA, and around town you’ll find cheery locals who made ski bumming their dream, crafting businesses in the old western town that have contributed to building up the place as a destination resort. Stroll downtown or visit local hot springs, dine at casual fine dining bistros that blend European and western flair. The down-to-earth friendliness of this town is irresistible, which is why we love it for a quick, stress-free getaway.
Nonstop flights to Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN) are now available from 12 major U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Shuttle service for the 40 minute drive is available daily.
A cheaper option is to fly into Denver International Airport (DIA), but note that the drive is 3-4 hours and prone to delays in bad weather; add an extra day to your weekend getaway in this case to get enough time in at the resort. Daily shuttles are available; rent a car if you plan to explore the surrounding Steamboat area.
Photo: Steamboat Resort
The ski-in/ski-out Steamboat Grand Hotel boasts luxury rooms and suites with mountain views, on-site spa and shopping, and 3 delicious restaurants. The concierge services make short stays fabulously convenient, and include ski storage and valet, on-site equipment rental, and complementary shuttle that runs downtown until 10:15pm. For a long weekend splurge, opt for a studio or suite.
For your first night, opt for casual fine dining at Aurum Food and Wine, which serves up locally famous contemporary American fare. The bar and lounge is ideal for small bites and burgers, while the dining room boasts favorites like marrow bone brulee with palisade jam and coffee rubbed bone-in short rib. The wine list is the most extensive in Steamboat.
Old Town Pub and Restaurant hosts live music on weekend nights, and their pub grub is popular for late night eats. The pub recently underwent a remodel under new ownership, and the historic building sets the perfect space for a lively mountain town crowd. Live like a local with an aged whiskey or hoppy microbrew on draft.
Photo: Steamboat Resort
Sit down to a hearty breakfast at The Cabin, located inside the Steamboat Grand. A sprawling breakfast buffet includes a chef’s omelet station, breakfast tortillas, Western biscuits and sausage, and fresh fruit bar. A la carte options are also available.
Steamboat is one of the few Colorado resorts that is entirely below tree line, and as such is known for its tree slopes. Intermediates can find cruisers and dip in and out of trees along the Sunshine Express, while experts should head to The Ridge for steep thrills. The layout of Steamboat is excellent for different level skiers because there’s beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain on virtually all levels of the mountain. Everyone can meet at the top of the gondola for lunch.
Indulge in a fine dining lunch at Hazie’s, located at the top of the gondola. The restaurant hosts a buffet daily with soups, salads, and carving station, as well as a small menu of gourmet sandwiches. The food is great, but the views are stunning: be sure to get a table by the window for panoramic views of the Yampa Valley. Be sure to taste their famous spicy Bloody Mary.
The Steamboat Grand Spa offers an array of body treatments, including body rituals, facials, and massages. Be sure to book an appointment. Book a deep tissue massage for working out the muscles after a morning on the slopes, or an organic sugar scrub to exfoliate and hydrate the skin. If you’re interested in more than one treatment, be sure to ask about packages – they’re not necessarily listed in the brochure.
Photo: T Bar
T Bar calls itself Steamboat’s 5-star dive bar, and we can’t think of a better title. Laid-back yet refined, T Bar gets packed after lifts close with locals, tourists, in-bounds rippers and backcountry explorers looking to celebrate another great day in the mountains. Just off Right-O-Way past the base of Thunderhead Lift, T Bar is easily accessible, bumpin’ with music, and serving up gourmet grub alongside local drafts.
Boasting Steamboat’s only wine cellar and a delectable blend of French and contemporary fare, Harwigs must not be missed as a foodie dinner destination. Head downtown for farm-fresh bites crafted in traditional French style. The menu changes monthly to keep with the freshest seasonal cuisine. Expect entrees like crispy duck breast with potato fondant, and peppermint lamb chops with smoked onion jam. Save space for the sticky toffee pudding with medjol date and candied almond.
Schmiggity’s is the top destination for live music and dancing; it goes off on Saturday nights with big sound, great drinks, and a dance scene you wouldn’t expect in this little Colorado mountain town. Happy hour is from 7-9pm, and shows start by 10. The drink specials are some of the best in town, and even if you’re not into the late night scene, this bar is worth a few songs for the rockin’ local vibe.
Photo: Steamboat Resort
Take the morning to explore the backside of the mountain, known as Morningside Park. Frying Pan is not to be missed on a powder day; head to the trees below Wake Up Call for secret powder stashes. Head over early to beat the crowds, then take the Morningside Lift to get back to the front side for lunch.
A favorite fine dining spot with Scandinavian roots, Ragnar’s boasts gourmet eats at their convenient location at the top of South Peak Lift. The cozy wooden interior is reminiscent of old-time Norway, and the menu features delectable soups and sandwiches. Try the Colorado lamb burger with pickled mustard seed and goat cheese, or warm up with a cup of seafood chowder. Reservations are recommended.
Downtown Steamboat boasts an array of shopping – ranging from ski and outdoor gear stores to fine art galleries. Cruise around Lincoln Ave for a look at great local shops. Off the Beaten Path Bookstore is a local community gem that stocks new and used books and fine coffee. Drop into F.M. Light & Sons for a pair of authentic Colorado cowboy boots. Stop by the Artisans’ Market of Steamboat for gifts and home décor goods crafted by local artists.
Spend an evening at Strawberry Park Hot Springs, which offers several large pools of natural 104° mineral water, massage huts, and watsu therapy in a private pool.
Ready to book your weekend getaway? Get the best Steamboat deals here.