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The 20 Best Things to Do in Steamboat Springs for First Timers

Fish Creek Falls

Steamboat Springs is a city and popular tourist destination in Yampa Valley in Colorado. It is known for its ski resorts and its hot springs. This city is a fantastic place to visit if you enjoy spending time outdoors, although there are plenty of other activities and attractions to see and do. To get the most out of your time in this city, it may help to plan your itinerary in advance. So that you can do this, here are the 20 best things to do in Steamboat Springs for first-timers.

Yampa River

20. Float Along the Yampa River

Yampa River runs right through the center of downtown Steamboat Springs. Walking along the river or shopping at the stores lining this waterway are popular activities. However, you can also get in the river to cool off and enjoy some fun or adventurous activities. Some of the activities you can try on this river are tubing, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and rafting. It is possible to hire the equipment, and some companies also offer tuition if you are a novice at your chosen activity. Floating along the river is a great way to see the sights of the city and to appreciate the magnificent surroundings.

Round of Golf

19. Enjoy a Round of Golf

If you are a fan of golf, then Steamboat Springs is a great place to visit. According to Steamboat Chamber, there are some excellent golf courses in Steamboat Springs and the surrounding area. Not only do these courses each offer different challenges, but they are also set against the stunning backdrop of the mountains. Some of the best golf courses to play a round of golf during your vacation include Steamboat Golf Club, Haymaker Golf Course, and Rollingstone Ranch Golf Course.

Mountain Biking at Emerald Mountain

18. Go Mountain Biking at Emerald Mountain

Even if you have not taken your mountain bike along with you on your vacation, it is possible to hire a bike so that you can explore the local mountain biking trails. A fantastic place to enjoy mountain biking is at Emerald Mountain. The trailhead for the Emerald Mountain Trail System is behind the horse stables and rodeo grounds at Olympian Hall. There are several trails within the system that vary in difficulty, so there are easy, moderate, and difficult trails available.

Take to the Water at Steamboat Lake

17. Take to the Water at Steamboat Lake

Just outside Steamboat Springs and set against the backdrop of the mountains is Steamboat Lake. This is a recreation area that offers something for all the family to enjoy. The best activities are all water-based and include sailing, boating, kayaking, fishing, and waterskiing. For boat rentals, tackle hire, and fishing licenses, you need to head to the Steamboat Lake Marina. Other popular activities include birdwatching, photography, and swimming. There are also camping sites around the lake, so you can spend a few nights of your vacation in the beautiful countryside. During the winter months, you can try snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and ice fishing.

Dog Sledding

16. Try Dog Sledding

For some people, a vacation is an opportunity to try new activities that they have never tried before. While you are in Steamboat Springs, one activity that you might like to try for the first time is dog sledding. The Grizzle-T Dog Sledding company offers adventure seekers the chance to learn how to drive a dog sled team of Alaskan Huskies. Along with the experienced guides, you can then take the dog sled team out across backcountry trails and over mountainous ranches. There are various packages available with trails of different lengths.

Horseback Riding at Saddleback Ranch

15. Go Horseback Riding at Saddleback Ranch

A fantastic way to explore the outdoors and appreciate the beautiful scenery is on horseback, and the best place to enjoy this is at Saddleback Ranch. It is a working ranch located on Saddle Mountain, and it covers eight thousand acres. There are various horseback riding packages available, including taking part in the morning cattle drive to participating in the Photo Opportunity Ride that takes you to picturesque spots that offer photo opportunities. Another package involves riding in a horse-drawn carriage and then dining at the Double Dollar Lodge.

Aurum Food & Wine

14. Dine at Aurum Food & Wine

You will find many outstanding restaurants in Steamboat Spring, so you can enjoy some delicious meals during your visit. One of the best restaurants to visit is Aurum Food & Wine. This is am elegant restaurant that boasts stunning views over the Yampa River. There is the option to eat in the modern and comfortable dining room, or to enjoy an alfresco meal on the decking area, where you can sit around a fire pit. Chef Chase Wilbanks is at the helm of this restaurant, and he creates American cuisine with a modern twist. Aurum Food & Wine is also known for its extensive wine list, which features several wines from their own vineyard.

Drink a Beer or Two at Mountain Tap Brewery

13. Drink a Beer or Two at Mountain Tap Brewery

Owned and operated by Rich and Wendt Tucciarone, the Mountain Tap Brewery is a brewpub in Steamboat Springs that has been open since 2016. There are 12 house-made beers available on tap, and the brewpub also has an extensive wine list. Other drinks available include hard ciders and a range of non-alcoholic beverages. You can also grab a bite to eat in this rustic venue, and their specialty is wood-fired pizzas. They also serve dishes using locally-sourced ingredients, and there is a children’s menu available.

Steamboat Symphony Orchestra

12. Enjoy a Performance by the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra

Those who enjoy music will love seeing a performance by the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra. This orchestra was formed in 1991, and they are now well-respected in the United States. The orchestra includes many talented, local, professional musicians, and they have a String Quartet and a Woodwind Quintet. If you want to see them during your visit to Steamboat Springs, then you should check out their performance schedule and book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. There are also educational music programs throughout the year for both adults and children.

Steamboat Art Museum

11. See the Art at Steamboat Art Museum

If you are an art enthusiast, then one of the best attractions to visit is Steamboat Art Museum, says Vacation Idea. You will find this art museum on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs close to the Yampa River. Established in 2005, this museum is housed in the historic building that was once the First National Bank. The exhibits in this museum include photographs, paintings, sculptures, and quilts.

Howelsen Ice Arena

10. Have Fun at Howelsen Ice Arena

An alternative to spending a day on the snowy slopes is spending time at an ice arena. The Howelsen Ice Arena is a fantastic place to have some fun as a family ice skating. You can also enjoy ice hockey and ice bumper cars. There is a range of activities and programs throughout the year, including ice hockey camps during the summer.

Strawberry Fields Hot Springs

9. Relax at Strawberry Fields Hot Springs

In addition to the ski resorts, Steamboat Springs is known for its hot springs, and it is for these that the city earned its name. Although there are many hot springs to visit, the most famous is the Strawberry Fields Hot Springs, which are just a few miles north of the city. You will find the hot springs in Strawberry park, and the water in the mineral pools is 104-degrees Fahrenheit. There are also heated changing cabins, private massage areas, and picnic spots. If you wish, you can stay overnight in the park in a log cabin, train caboose, or covered wagon.

Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs

8. Play Tennis at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs

While skiing is probably the most popular activity in Steamboat Springs, there are plenty of things to enjoy for those who are fans of other sports. One example is playing a game of tennis at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. There, you will find 14 indoor and outdoor tennis courts, along with eight pickleball courts. It is possible to book lessons for both adults and children.

Tread of Pioneers Museum

7. Go to the Tread of Pioneers Museum

If you are interested in learning about the history of the local area, then one of the best attractions to visit is the Tread of the Pioneers Museum. This museum is housed in a Victorian house that boasts 20th-century furnishings. Its exhibits cover a variety of topics relating to local history, include the history of the Native Americans and early pioneers, along with the importance of mining, agriculture, and skiing. A visit to this museum is suitable for all the family, and children will enjoy the scavenger hunt and interactive exhibits.

Steamboat Gondola

6. Ride the Steamboat Gondola

Located at the bottom of Steamboat Ski Resort, you will find the gondolas. The Steamboat Gondola offers a practical solution for people who want to get to the top of Mount Werner, especially for those with mountain bikes. However, the gondolas are also a tourist attraction, as tourists like to travel in the gondolas to enjoy the scenic views of the area. Once at the top of the mountain, visitors can enjoy a meal at the Oasis Sundeck restaurant. Alternatively, you can walk the Vista Nature Trail, as this activity is included in the price of a gondola ticket.

Steamboat Ski Resort

5. Enjoy the Activities at Steamboat Ski Resort

The ski resorts are the biggest draws to this area, and the larger of the two is Steamboat Ski Resort. This resort encompasses six mountains and offers 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. There are 165 trails for lovers of the outdoors to enjoy, and there are multiple activities to try. In addition to skiing, you can try snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hiking, mountain biking, paddle boarding, fishing, and kayaking. An interesting feature of the resort is the Coca-Cola Adventure Zone, which is like a small theme park. For younger visitors, there is a Kids’ Adventure Club.

Yampa River Botanic Park

4. Visit Yampa River Botanic Park

US News recommends a visit to Yampa River Botanic Park, which was once a horse pasture. Now, it is a 6-acre botanic garden popular with the locals and a tourist attraction. Some of the features of the gardens include berms, ponds, and native plants. The park is divided into 50 gardens, each of which has something different to offer. If you visit this attraction in the summer months, you can also enjoy afternoon concerts.

Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests

3. Explore the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests

Also called the Land of Many Uses, the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests cover more than two million acres of northwestern Colorado and spread across southeastern Wyoming. Of all the sections of the forest, the most visited part sits approximately three miles north of Steamboat Springs. The forest is connected to the city by a dirt track called the Buffalo Pass. This forest is a popular place for hiking, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, and snowmobiling.

Yampa River Core Trail

2. Walk the Yampa River Core Trail

The Yampa River Core Trail is a multi-use paved trail that is suitable for people of all abilities, and it is possible to hike or bike the trail. It starts in downtown Steamboat Springs and runs for 7.5-miles to Bear River Park. Along the trail, there are scenic overlooks, picnic tables, and several playgrounds. There are some incredible sights and fantastic photo opportunities along this scenic trail.

Fish Creek Falls

1. See the Fish Creek Falls

According to Steamboat Chamber, one of the best things to do in Steamboat Springs is to see Fish Creek Falls as this is one of the most stunning natural landmarks in the area. The falls are an impressive sight as they drop 280-feet, and they are set in the forested mountain wilderness. Four hiking trails are leading to the falls, the easiest of which is a short wall from downtown Steamboat Springs. The most challenging of the trails, for experienced hikers, leads to Long Lake. The best time of year to see the falls is in spring.

From golfing to mountain biking, a visit to a ski resort or natural hot springs, there's no doubt that fun and entertainment will be had in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Above all, a visit to The Rocky Mountains will have you wishing you could stay longer!

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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