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Planning a Fantastic Steamboat Springs Summer Weekend [Local Tips]

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

Originally published on Hashtag Colorado Life.

I currently live in Denver, Colorado and recently took a weekend trip to Steamboat Springs. The mountainous city is a popular ski destination in the winter, but it also has so much to offer during the summer.

From floating down the Yampa Valley River to soaking in the natural hot springs, there is so many fantastic things to do.

You could spend a lifetime in this city, but here is how I spent a fun-filled weekend near Denver.

If you’re looking for what to do during a Steamboat Springs summer weekend, then keep reading.

How to get to Steamboat Springs

The drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs took less than three hours. It is a straight shot up Highway 9 and Route 40.

The surrounding views of Colorado were absolutely stunning, and I passed through multiple mountain tunnels.

About halfway through the drive I stopped at Maryland Creek Park in Silverthorne. And it was the perfect spot to take a quick break.

They have clean restrooms, water fountains, and even a dog park for my pup, Bo, to run and play!

Also bordering the town of Silverthorne is the Dillon Reservoir (or Lake Dillon). I stopped to take photos of this gorgeous, sparkling lake.

Off the Beaten Path Cafe

Once I arrived in the city, I visited Off the Beaten Path (a bookstore and café) to meet one of my favorite authors, Brianna Madia.

The wild, van-lifer, dog-mom of four was doing a book signing for her New York Times Bestseller, Nowhere for Very Long.

The store was absolutely packed with women who admire Brianna’s adventurous spirit and honest, humorous storytelling.

While I anxiously waited to meet my idol, I enjoyed an iced “Mr. Darcy”. This year-round drink special is the cafe’s take on a cinnamon vanilla latte.

The folks running the shop couldn’t have been kinder to all of us crammed in their small bookstore.

When I finally got to meet Brianna, she was so sweet, embracing me with a good, long hug. We chatted for a few minutes about our shared New England upbringing and our love for dogs, and then I was on my way!

Steamboat Springs Downtown

Next up I explored Steamboat Springs’ beautiful downtown area along South Lincoln Ave.

The streets are lined with all sorts of businesses, from jewelry and clothing boutiques to ski shops and candy stores. There is also a wonderfully overwhelming number of restaurants, cafes, and pubs.

If you’re into fine art, check out the Wild Horse Gallery which features paintings, drawings, sculptures, blown glass and more.

In the summer, the Steamboat Springs Arts Council offers fun art classes and events for both kids and adults.

These are just a few of the plethora of things to do in downtown Steamboat that are within walking distance.

Visitors can enjoy free transportation on any of Steamboat’s free buses which run every 10 minutes. Or look for the long-term parking lots off Yampa Street if you need to park your car.

Mountain Tap Brewery

I’m a beer-lover, so I headed straight for the local brewery, Mountain Tap Brewery, which is just off the main street. Located right next to the Yampa Valley River, the brewery has plenty of outdoor seating for me and my pup to enjoy.

As I marveled over my newly signed book, I sipped on their “Current IPA” which is deliciously hoppy and malty, but not too strong (it had a 6% ABV).

While there, I munched on some fire-blistered shishitos that were covered in a sticky beer glaze along with hop salt.

To balance that out I also had a chickpea salad that was made with fresh arugula and heirloom tomatoes from their local Bee Grateful Farm.

Yampa River Botanic Park

After lunch, I headed to the Yampa River Botanic Park which is a beautiful area just 1-mile from downtown Steamboat Springs.

The park is free and open to the public from May to October, so you bet I stopped in to admire their lush flowers and trees.

The sprawling, six-acre park is home to 60 unique gardens, and thousands of different plant species. As I wandered through the meandering dirt paths it was hard not to stop and smell every flower!

The entire Yampa River Botanic Park was so quiet and peaceful. What I would have given to curl up on a bench with a book for a few hours.

But I had to be quick since dogs were not allowed in the park (Bo stayed in the car for a few minutes while I wandered through the garden).

This place of serenity hosts music festivals, group walks, weddings, and yoga all throughout the summer. Definitely take a few minutes, or hours, to come visit this lovely spot.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Steamboat Springs is known for having two beautiful, natural hot springs: Old Town Hot Springs and Strawberry Park Hot Springs. I chose to visit Strawberry Park since several locals recommended it to me.

Nestled in the Colorado mountains just twenty minutes north of Steamboat Springs lies Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a gorgeous outdoor oasis.

It is even one of the top hidden hot springs in Colorado for escaping the crowds.

Walking into the park, I felt like I’d stumbled into a fairytale. The sun was shining through the trees with waterfalls and hot springs that were sparkling. Everyone was smiling as they soaked in the soothing, natural water.

Strawberry Park features several connected hot springs that are naturally heated from the Earth’s crust.

Some of the pools vary in temperature, but the water stays comfortably hot (similar to a hot tub) all year-round.

Natural hot springs are said to help naturally detox your skin and strengthen your bones, so enjoy swimming and relaxing for as long as you wish.

The park offers campsites and rustic cabins for those who want to stay the night. Guests of all ages are welcome throughout the day, but kiddos are not allowed past dark.

Rumor has it that clothing is optional once the sun goes down! Regardless of clothing, you’re sure to see incredible views of the stars in this quiet, remote area.

The Best Restaurants in Steamboat Springs

There’s no shortage of great restaurants in Steamboat Springs, so take your pick!

If you’re looking for great Italian, then make a reservation at Mambo’s and enjoy their fine dining.

Craving a burger? Head to Back Door Grill and choose from any of their 21 mouth-watering burgers.

If you want to share a variety of tapas plates, then visit Laundry for charcuterie and their globally-inspired small plates.

While I was there, I was looking for a pub style restaurant, so I headed to O’Neil’s Tavern & Grill, Steamboat’s Irish Pub.

While sitting on their outdoor patio with Bo, I ordered the sharable fried chicken sliders topped with pickles and roasted jalapeno honey.

I’ll be honest, I did not share any of these—they were just so tasty! Okay, okay, I gave Bo a tiny piece of chicken.

And rather than getting an Irish whiskey or Guinness pint, I opted for a Fruit Smash Hard Seltzer from New Belgium’s Fort Collins brewery. It is so refreshing after a long day.

Big Iron Coffee

The next morning, I headed to Big Iron Coffee for breakfast before my three-hour journey home. The inside décor is filled with exposed wood, comfortable seating, and cool skeleton artwork.

Outside, they have a spacious, dog-friendly patio that’s in the heart of Steamboat Springs’ downtown.

I sipped on a creamy cold brew and ate a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich on a sesame bagel.

The sandwich is made with freshly cracked eggs, which I really appreciated. Next time I visit, I want to try their frozen coffee, which is their take on a Frappuccino.

Driving over Loveland Pass

On my way back to Denver, I decided to take a detour over Loveland Pass. At 11,992 feet, it’s one of the highest paved roads in America.

It’s also the highest mountain pass in Colorado that stays open during the treacherous, snowy winters.

As someone who is terrified of heights, I found the journey to the top of Loveland Pass surprisingly easy.

The winding roads and sprawling views are absolutely breathtaking. I was too in awe to be afraid!

At the top of the pass there’s a dedicated area where everyone pulls over to take photos. When I stepped out of my car, I was shocked by how cold it was and how hard it was to breathe (thanks to the elevation).

I took my time taking photos and videos, which truly don’t capture the beauty of the Colorado mountains.

If you bring your hiking shoes, then you can hike Grizzly Peak’s 7-mile climb to 13,427 feet.

I walked up about 20 steps and was completely out of breath. So, there’s no shame in taking in the view and getting an obligatory picture with the Loveland Pass sign.

A Steamboat Springs Summer Vacation

My trip from Denver to Steamboat Springs, Colorado was a non-stop whirlwind of scenic views and stunning photos.

But a quick summer weekend could only scratch the surface of what this city has to offer. I can only imagine what it’s like in the winter.

The diverse food, Strawberry Park Hot Springs, and bustling Steamboat Springs downtown are great reasons alone to visit this city.

I highly recommend visiting here any time of year, because it is absolutely worth the drive.

When you get back to the Mile High City, grab a cup of coffee, a craft beer, spirits from Denver distilleries, or any drink at these great bars!

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