How to Spring Break at Any Age in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Enjoy spring break at Steamboat with plenty of fun outdoor and indoor activities for kids, teens, and adults alike.

While the idea of spring break may conjure up images of sunbathing on a white sandy beach, another white, expansive landscape calls to many people: the snowy slopes of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. After flying into Denver, head west on Interstate Highway 70, north on State Highway 9 through the Arapaho National Forest and west on U.S. Route 40 to reach Steamboat Springs in about three hours.

Simply called Steamboat by locals, this small town’s year-round population is about 12,000. But come winter, more than 100,000 tourists visit from around the world to explore the area’s nearly 3,000 skiable acres and 165 trails. Luckily, there likely will still be plenty of snow during spring break, as well as great deals, especially in the April shoulder season. Steamboat offers activities for everyone, from the youngest bunny-slopers, to daredevil teenagers and even to adults craving a relaxing escape.

Spring Break With Young Children

With silky-soft snow, Steamboat is a great place for your wee ones to learn to ski. Start them at the Kids Vacation Center, which offers on-the-snow programs for kids as young as two. Just outside the center are five lifts just for kids and two beginner teaching areas with special “Magic Carpet” lifts. If your children already know their way around a ski slope, bring them to Rough Rider Basin’s kids-only area, featuring a dedicated lift, tepees and a frontier-style fort. If you’re planning on buying a 5-day or more lift ticket for yourself, choose the Kids and Grandkids Ski Free program, which allows children age 12 and under to ski free for the same number of days. 

After a full day on the slopes, feed hungry tummies at Johnny B. Good’s, a ’50s-style diner in downtown Steamboat. Choose from warming diner classics like meatloaf dinner and open-faced turkey sandwich topped with mashed potatoes and gravy, or kid-friendly options like chicken fingers and grilled cheese. Adults can top off their meal with a tasty homemade alcoholic milkshake in flavors like the grasshopper or nippin’ nanners, which is made with bananas and banana liqueur.

Young Children

Spring Break With Teens

Even hard-to-please teens will love Saddleback Ranch, located about a 20-minute drive west of Steamboat. The whole family will find a variety of activities, including two-hour horseback riding tours that traverse hilly, wooded terrain, as well as snow tubing Yee-Haw Hill. Energetic and adventurous teens can also sign up for a three-hour guided snowmobile tour, which includes lunch and an hour of tubing. 

If you need a break from the snow, unpack your bathing suits and head east on US-40E for about 20 minutes to Old Town Hot Springs, which offers two 230-foot waterslides, eight natural mineral hot pools and an aquatic climbing wall. The Heart Spring pumps approximately 220 gallons of water per minute and comes out of the ground between 102 and 103 degrees, keeping bathers toasty warm.

For dinner, drive downtown to the laidback Tap House, which offers a variety of family-friendly cuisine like wings, sliders, fajitas and tacos, and live trivia on Wednesday nights. Play as a family; your teens can get you up to speed on current pop culture while you impress them with your knowledge of long-ago times — like the 1980s.


Adults-Only Spring Break

Spend a day on the slopes, or visit the backcountry via a guided snowshoe tour of Rabbit Ears Pass and Fish Creek Falls in the Routt National Forest. Night owls can opt for an evening experience with a moonlit snowshoe tour, which also includes dinner. More adventures await active travelers on the mountain, from scenic sleigh and gondola rides to cross-country skiing.

If you’re looking for a more soothing experience, the Rocky Mountain Day Spa offers a signature Skier’s Paradise massage, which includes a hot-stone foot massage to take care of any ski-boot-induced cramps. Don’t leave Steamboat without checking out one of the area’s natural springs. Drive 20 minutes on County Road 36 east to visit Strawberry Park Hot Springs, which offers 104-degree mineral water pools in a wooded natural setting.

Options abound when it's time for aprés ski, the social, and nightlife scene at ski resorts. If you don’t want to leave the slopes, check out Steamboat Mountain’s Thursday night Sunset Happy Hour, wherein the Steamboat Gondola whisks you to Thunderhead, about 9,100 feet above sea level, for live music. Different bands play each week, so enjoy the tunes, the view of the town’s twinkling lights below and grab a drink and appetizer. Try a snowcat dinner at Four Points Lodge, which sits atop the Four Points chairlift on Storm Peak. Diners are picked up at the base of the mountain via a snowcat and taken up the run for a prix fixe five-course northern Italian feast.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs
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About the Author

Rebecca Strauss is a travel writer for outlets such as Rough Guides, Caribbean Travel and Life, Destination Weddings and Honeymoons, USA and Sport Diver magazine. She's a seasoned traveler, having visited more than 50 countries, as well as an avid scuba diver and beachgoer.