Sunday, June 13, 2021

Summer Vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

It’s good to date your husband. It is even better when you can hop on a plane and vacation together in a cool location like Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While Jon and I had been to Steamboat before, this was our first time going without a big family group. Obviously known for its winter skiing and sports, there is something extra magically about Steamboat in the summer. 

Foodie Central 

We plan trips, stops and whole vacations around food. Whether you love good food as much as we do or are simply wanting a good bite to eat between activities, Steamboat has you covered. Each night we made sure we had a reservation. I only started on reservations a week before our arrival and dining times and options were limited. With some schedule rearranging, we could still get into some of our favorites, but I would recommend getting things locked in earlier than later. 

Another tip is happy hour is your friend. Traveling from central time to mountain played in our favor. At most restaurants, we were able to catch the end of happy hour and grab some half-priced drinks and snacks. 

Our Favorite Restaurants 

Breakfast: Highly recommended by the locals, The Egg is no fuss, true American breakfast spot. We loved it so much that we did breakfast here two days in a row. Don’t pass up the biscuits and gravy, the waffles or anything that has bacon in it. We went here during the week and never had to wait, but have heard it is an incredibly popular weekend spot with longer wait times. Freshies also came with high reviews, but we didn’t get a chance to try it out. 

Mexican: Taco Cabo was phenomenal. I am not sure I have ever had a better carne asada taco. This was the last place we ate on our trip but I think if we would have tried this place the first night we wouldn’t have eaten anywhere else. 

Steakhouses: E3 Chophouse is in the most beautiful locations along the Nampa River. Highly recommend making a stop here for happy hour. The lavender honey slush was my favorite cocktail of the whole trip. Excellent steak and fantastic key lime pie will make it a memorable dinner. We’ve done 8th Street on past trips. Here you get to choose your steak and then grill it yourself. While a neat experience we have enjoyed other places more. Ore House was another local recommendation that we have added to our list to try on future trips. 

Italian: We decided to go with more classic Italian and choose Mazzola. Again great food. We loved the fried calamari as an appetizer and they do family-sized salads. Mambo looked good, too with a patio option and a slightly more modern Italian menu. 

Small Plates & Signature Cocktails: Jon is not a big fan of small plates but I convinced him to try Laundry, and I am glad we did. A fantastic collection of seasonal plates with a really cool vibe. Laundry is also known for its whiskey and tequila infusions, and craft cocktails. 

E3 Steakhouse Patio
How to Spend Your Time

While you might decide to simply eat your way through Steamboat, there are a plethora of other activities to fulfill your time. I’m going to specifically stick to the activities we have done during our summer trips. 

Golf: Jon and I are big fans of golfing and there are two courses we have spent time on. Let me preference by saying that I am by no means a pro golfer, probably somewhere below average but I do love it. Don’t let the challenge of these courses stop you from visiting them. The Haymaker is a wide-open course; however, it is easy to lose a ball with deep rough/long grass areas. Rolling Stone is a stunning course with incredible views. A river crosses through the course multiple times and it is common to catch sightings of wildlife. It was easy to rent clubs at both courses, but did add to the expense. If we had to make a choice Rolling Stone would be our pick. 

Horseback Riding: I don’t remember the name of the outfitter we used, but we did this on one of our family reunion trips. Half of the group did the trail ride and the other group rode a wagon to a meeting point where we then enjoyed a "cowboy" dinner together.  

Whitewater Rafting/Tubing: Whether you are looking for a thrill or want to more lazily float the Nampa these are two popular activities. Again, tons of guides offer these services and other companies that will rent you the equipment. 

Pro Rodeo: On Friday and Saturday nights from mid-June to mid-September you can catch the Steamboat Pro Rodeo. There are lots of options for food at the event as well as a bar to grab a cold one. 

Zip Line: I am not a huge fan of heights, but we had so much fun at the Steamboat Zip Line Adventures. You’ll get to see breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains from a whole different vantage point. 

Strawberry Park Hot Springs: We were scheduled to finally make a visit here and then it didn’t work out, so I have a few tips. According to the locals, Strawberry Park has become one of the biggest attractions in the Steamboat area no matter the time of year. It is slightly out of town, and you can visit the hot springs as a guest or stay at their hotel and have access. The hot springs do require a reservation (make this early!). However, we made an error. If you are not driving to the hot springs yourself, you need to book THEIR shuttle. We thought we could use our condo’s shuttle to get up there, but by the time we figured that out it was too late and we had to cancel our plans. There are hot springs in downtown Steamboat, but we’ve been told that Strawberry Park is substantially larger and the place you want to be. 

Gondola Ride: It is fun to take the gondola up the mountain. No matter the season the views are stunning. When we were there (June 2021) major renovations were happening to the gondola and at the base of the mountain so this area was all shut down. 

Where to Stay:

Jon’s family owns a timeshare at One Steamboat Place, located at the base of the mountain. The location, amenities, and condos themselves are fantastic. Most of the condos are 3-4 bedrooms, with large living rooms and kitchens. One of the other huge benefits is that they will shuttle you anywhere in town and offer complimentary pickup/drop off from the airport. I believe anyone can rent at One Steamboat Place, but you would want to call to get those details. 

Other options in that area include the Sheraton Resort Villas and Steamboat Grand. However, there are TONS of hotels, Airbnb and VRBO options in Steamboat. I think it would be fun to stay in downtown Steamboat sometime. If you have traveled there before and have a favorite place leave a comment below.

Other Things to Know 

You really can’t beat the summertime weather in Steamboat. Even when it is hot the lack of humidity is ideal. It is cool in the mornings, and be prepared for an afternoon rain shower – especially in June. However, any rain typically moves out as fast as it moves in. 

We fly into the Hayden airport when traveling to Steamboat. It is about a 30-minute drive from Hayden to Steamboat. While the flights are not exactly cheap, the time and money saved from flying into Denver, renting a car and then making the 3+ hour drive makes it simpler to choose Hayden. 

We spent three full days in Steamboat and then had two travel days on either side that allowed us an afternoon and morning. I felt like we got a lot done in this amount of time. I would really like to hike to Fish Creek Falls sometime. If we were going to try to fit everything that we did on this trip (two days of golf and an almost hot spring trip) I would definitely want to add another full day. 

Here is to all the summer travels! Make sure you don't miss any of my summer tips and finds by subscribing to my weekly newsletter

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