Steamboat Springs: Fun Town USA

Steamboat Springs Colorado has a lot of names -- Ski Town USA, Bike Town USA, but it is also a fun town summertime place to be. In the wintertime lodging near the ski area's is premium and smart. In the summertime, downtown lodging is good. You can walk everywhere except to some skiing areas, even then you can ride the free bus system to get to the Steamboat Ski Area lifts. You will want to take the lift up to the top of Mount Werner and enjoy the marvelous view.

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We stayed at the Rabbit Ears Inn downtown, an older motel with new additions. It is a family owned & operated motel since 1971. There are two reasons that it is special, first one is location. It sits directly across the street from the Old Town Hot Springs with the famous Heart Spring. The Yampa River borders the motel, making it so convenient for guest to enjoy the park setting and the river.

Second, is its famous pink neon Rabbit Ears Sign, designated as historical and in fact it's been on the State Register since 8/31/2006 (5RT.2296). The iconic sign has been there since 1954

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Old Town Hot Springs has eight spring-fed pools each with a different water temperature. Immerse yourself in a soaking mineral pool, a giant 25-yard lap pool, kiddy pool and two water slides. There is a fitness center, exercise classes, Tennis courts, massages and a snack bar. You and your family may spend the entire day at the Old Town Hot Springs. They even rent suits and towels. This facility and the pools are open year round, even in below zero weather -- this desert rat cannot imagine.

The Yampa river and its pleasant river walk runs parallel with the main street through town, your daily walk, run or jog taken in the pleasant country surroundings of water and trees can end with only a block long walk up the main drag for restaurants and shopping. Tubing on the river is big in the summertime. Anglers and picnickers are commonplace along the river.

Tread of Pioneers museum host weekly walking tours of historic nature. Do not miss taking at least one of these tours. Each day of the week the tour has a different theme, a museum guide presents facts and stories about the town. Our tour was the highlight of our visit, more about the tours in part two. A visit to the Tread of Pioneers Museum itself is noteworthy. Housed in an historical home, you can see life as it was in early Steamboat Springs while learning of its history and present day achievements.

Just around the corner from the Museum is Lyon's Corner Drug & Soda Fountain, housed in an older building (circa 1908) that still has the original soda fountain. It is a most popular place. While we were there, the counter stools, were always filled with visitors and local teenagers who were there enjoying the truly old fashion made sodas and ice cream parlor condiments. I was impressed that the fountain manager made sure the young help learned how to make a proper old fashion soda.

A short four-mile drive from downtown will take you to the Fish Creek Falls. It is just a short 1/4-mile, handicapped accessible, scenic walk on a gravel path to see the 280-foot tall falls. This waterfall was the inspiration for the Coors beer can introduced in 1935. When Coors lite made its debut in 1978 Fish Creek Falls lost out to Melton Falls, near Marble.

Olympic History

A highlight of our visit to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was our Olympic Heritage walking tour. On this tour, we learned the history of the town-- how it became Ski Town USA. The tour began at Olympic Hall at Howelsen Hill, the oldest continuously operating ski area in Colorado.

: Our tour guide from the Tread of Pioneers Museum came in costume and eagerly and boastfully told us of the town's Olympic history.

The Barnum & Bailey Ski jumping sensation known as "The Flying Norseman," Carl Howelsen arrived in Steamboat springs in 1913. He immediately began teaching the town youngsters how to ski. The ride to Olympic championships in winter sports and downhill skiing, has been (pardon the pun) uphill ever since.

Carl built a ski-jump across the river from Steamboat in 1915 for the winter carnival. From his first jump of 127 feet, he launched a skiing legacy. His Winter Carnival and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club have initiated a tradition for the young local athletes aspiring to be Olympic competitors.

Howeslsen Hill is the training area for Olympic hopefuls. We were fortune enough on our tour to be there while some of younger set were practicing their jumps in August. Silly me, I thought you had to have snow to ski jump. We watched these kids do their amazing jumps and talked to them after. They are so enthusiastic about their hopes of becoming competitors and about their town of Steamboat Springs which encourages all the young people to join some type of sports. Even the local schools operate around practice times.

With this kind of encouragement and history, it is easy to see why Steamboat Springs has produced more Olympic Athletes than any other town in North America.

In Olympian Hall, the colorful flags hang in honor of each Steamboat Springs athlete and the host country where they competed. Many places in town have some display honoring their athletes of whom they are so proud.

When you take the Steamboat lift to the top of Mount Werner, in the summertime you can enjoy lunch with a view. Sundays they feature "Brunch on the Mountain". Of course, there is a nice display inside, of the town athletes and their accomplishments.

Summer Fun

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In the Summertime Steamboat Springs is known as "Bike Town USA." The USA Pro Cycling Challenge takes place here. Another big deal, close the roads, party time in the community. All summer the ski lifts are carrying bikers and their bikes for downhill runs on the mountain. The lifts are busy summer and winter.

When you visit Steamboat if they are not skiing, biking, hiking or fishing they just might be Rodeo-ing. Friday and Saturday nights June 14-Aug 17th at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena at Howelsen Hill or you may want to join a cattle drive at Saddleback Ranch.

Yes, there is golfing at the Haymaker golf course -- when there isn't snow on the ground.

Performing arts are alive and well at the Perry-Mansfield performing arts school & camp, the oldest in the nation. Guest can see original work performed here first. Steamboat's free summer concert series is yours to enjoy.

Steamboat Springs is an extremely visitor friendly town, winter and summer. Everything is geared to make you feel welcome, demonstrated by local friendliness, helpful signage, free bus transportation.

If you are staying down town, you have numerous choices of places to eat, all walkable. You must try Winona's Restaurant and Bakery for breakfast. Her famous homemade Cinnamon Buns once, rightfully featured in Gourmet and Bon Appetite Magazines-- unbelievably good, unbelievably huge. We enjoyed everything about this inviting town.

Dining choices from casual B.B.Q and beer to Gourmet food, but it is advertised "there is no place in Steamboat where a man can't dine in nice cowboy boots and clean jeans".

I cannot think or a reason not to visit Steamboat Spring (in the summertime anyway) I am dubbing it Fun Town USA.

Have a comment to share? Like us on Facebook - OffbeatTravelCom and post your comment. >p> Bobbie Green grew up in southern California. She is a member of the North American Travel Journalist Association. She is a freelance writer and has been published in various Senior Wire Publications, The Desert Valley Times, Nevada Magazine, Mesquite, Travel World International, and Besides enjoying her love of travel by doing it as often as she can, she enjoys photography and attends numerous travel trade functions. Presently she is enjoying desert living in Mesquite Nevada.

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Published: March 1st, 2014

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