by Jeanne DeFauw
Every summer when the temp reaches the 90s in Denver, we escape to the mountains. It's 10 degrees cooler! One of our favorite places to visit in Colorado is Steamboat Springs. I recently spent a week there with my husband and our two boys (ages 5 and 3).
Days are spent on short hikes with the boys, finding playgrounds, exploring the very kid-friendly library, and watching the kids play in the creek. We didn't get bored once during the week.
Staying at a condo makes traveling with young children easier. We had two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and best of all - laundry! I think we did a load of laundry everyday. Kids are messy.
I found the Torian Plum on VRBO (managed by Steamboat Vacation Rentals). There are tons of condos in the area, but I would go back to this one again. The Torian Plum complex is right in Ski Time Square, with restaurants, pubs, fitness area, a pool and 4 hot tubs. We could park the car and not move it again if we wanted.
The best part of the condo was the proximity to the man-made beach and creek in front of the complex. The boys spent hours playing in the sand and climbing the rocks. We would find comfy chairs and bring coffee (or wine) and our kindles full of books we'd planned to read since our last vacation. It was incredibly relaxing.
The nearby gondola square has an adventure zone, kid club, restaurants, bars, hotels, as well as a gondola to the top of Mt. Werner. The boys loved riding to the top of the mountain. It was scary! Try to catch a happy hour on Sunday and Thursday nights at the top of the mountain. We never made it, but it looked like lots of fun!
It was so easy to sneak away for an hour in the mornings to hike. The trails were just steps away from the condo. Most of the trails are designated either hiking or mountain biking, so I didn't have to spend the entire time dodging bikers.
The town of Steamboat Springs also has plenty of family activities. The Bud Werner Memorial library has a coffee bar, computers loaded with kids' games, toys, and tons of books. It's very inviting, and no one blinks an eye if your kid is loud. There's a playground next to the library and access to the Yampa River. The river is usually filled with people floating on tubes. Our boys were too small, but we look forward to taking them tubing in a few years.
The boys have been wanting to go to a large beach, and in lieu of buying plane tickets to Florida, we took them to Steamboat Lake State Park. The State Park is a beautiful 40-minute drive from the town of Steamboat. There is a marina with boat, kayak, and paddle board rentals. We explored the lake in a little fishing boat. Captain Daddy steered the boat, to the boys' delight.
Everyone visiting Steamboat in the summer has to visit 280-ft Fish Creek Falls. It's mandatory. The waterfall is perfect for the entire family. The main trail to the waterfall is paved, with places to rest along the way. There's a dirt trail leading to the bottom of the falls, which also takes you to a longer hiking trail. People clamber over the rocks and stop to take family photos on the bridge in front of the waterfall. It can be crowded during busy summer days.
Another good, family hike is the Spring Creek Trail. A half-mile walk will lead you to two small ponds and a covered picnic area. There's lots of shade along the flat, wide path. There's a narrow running path beside the wider one. We jokingly told the boys it was a path for wolves, which they took as an invitation to run around screaming: watch out for wolves! We brought along the fishing nets from our previous lake adventure, but didn't catch anything.
After the hike, we stopped at the Old Town Hot Springs. It was packed! There are several pools, lap lanes, hot tubs, and a kiddie play area. They have towel rentals, locker room and a snack bar. The pools are great, but after an hour we felt overheated. We would enjoy it more in cooler weather.
Our week in Steamboat was exhausting, but great. The mountain town is perfect for families. There is so much to do for all ages. We can't wait to go back next year!
Don't forget your Colorado souvenir! Stop by my shop for Colorado-themed art (along with art from other US states and countries).