Ultimate U.S. Ski Trip? Steamboat’s Got My Vote

Faster than you can slalom a black-diamond slope at Wilmot, I blurt out “Steamboat Springs” when asked about an ultimate ski vacation destination. There are so many reasons to give this Colorado resort an “ultimate” crown.

 

First, of course, is the town’s natural beauty and the resort’s ski essentials: trails for every ski level, which are rarely crowded; new snow almost daily; and excellent ski school.

Then there are the extras—the remodeled kids vacation center, and nighttime activities, such as sledding, sleigh rides and night skiing. We love the challenging expert trails and the back-country skiing at Rabbit Ears Pass.

And the diamond in the crown? You can fly into Hayden, Colo., and avoid the Denver airport. Hayden is less than a 30-minute drive to the mountain.

We’re not the only ones who bestow accolades on Steamboat. Ski magazine recently named it North America’s No. 1 Family Resort and it was tagged Best Resort for Trees by Skiing magazine.

So if you’re ready to start packing, check out our list of best places to stay and dine in Steamboat.

Best condos

The Porches (970-879-0600; theporches .com) are large and very luxurious townhomes in a resort-style community. They are 400 yards from the Steamboat Ski Area. On-site amenities include a heated outdoor pool, spa tub and fitness facility with Nautilus equipment. A complimentary ski shuttle is available to area lifts. Additional amenities include complimentary wireless Internet access in public areas, business center and full concierge services. Parking is free.

Torian Plum Condominiums (970-879-8811; resortqueststeamboat.com) are slightly less spacious and luxurious than The Porches, but they enjoy a much better location. It is basically a ski-in/ski-out site. Ask to be in the Creekside building; it has ski lockers by the main door to the slopes and is a little newer and more up-to-date. The condos are also on Ski Time Square, home to many good restaurants, bars, shops and a fully stocked grocery store.

Eagle Ridge Lodge and Townhomes (800-525-5502; steamboatresorts.com) is not a ski-in/ski-out residence, but it is only about a block from the base. The free shuttles are always regular and on time. Each condo has a kitchen and washer/dryer, gas fireplace, outdoor hot tub, heated pool, steam rooms, fitness room and ski lockers. And it’s just down the road from a great grocery store and a Walmart/shopping area.

Chateau Chamonix (970-879-7511; chateauchamonix.com) is a ski-in/ski-out property with three-, four- and five-bedroom condo suites. Each suite includes fully equipped kitchen, cable TV with HBO and VCR, stereo with CD, phones with voicemail, gas fireplace and private balcony master bathroom, wet bar, gas fireplace and washer/dryer.

Antlers (800-525-5502; steamboatresorts .com), a ski-in/ski-out property, has two, three- and four-bedroom condos. Each unit has a fully equipped kitchen, cable TV/VCR with HBO, stereo with CD, telephone and jacuzzi. The ski concierge even warms your boots before you come down in the morning.

Bear Claw II (970-879-6100; bear-claw .com) has three- and four-bedroom condos with great concierge service, a nice pool and hot tubs, lounge, private shuttle and great ski-in/ski-out location.

Best hotels

Steamboat Grand (877-269-2628; steamboatgrand.com) is in an ideal location at the base of the mountain. Most guest rooms have a wonderful view and you can walk easily to the gondola and area attractions. The lobby has an authentic Western feel and the staff’s very friendly.

Sheraton (866 716-8134; Sheraton.com/steamboatsprings) is also at the base of the mountain. The rooms are very comfortable with balconies and wonderful views. The hotel has been renovated and the lobby area has great seating/fireplaces. With four outdoor hot tubs, there is always at least one available.

Best sit-down dining

Hazies (at Thunderhead) is great for “fine dining” and a relaxed lunch.

Ragnars (at Rendezvous Saddle) has a more European feel, but it is often more crowded and somewhat less relaxing.

Best in-town dining

Fiesta Jalisco (445 Anglers Drive, Steamboat Springs, 970-871-6999). Don’t let the strip-mall location turn you off. I got this recommendation from a local and it’s a great child-friendly restaurant.

Steamboat Smokehouse (912 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs, 970-879-7427) is a favorite with locals. Try the ribs, pulled pork or smoked chicken wings, half flavored with the dry spice rub, the other half sweet and sour sauce. The flavor is fantastic.

Winona’s (617 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs, 970-879-2483). This is strictly a breakfast and lunch restaurant, and the food is fabulous. Try their vanilla-flavored coffee; it’s amazing. Don’t miss the cinnamon roll with homemade cream-cheese icing.

Blue Sage Moon Pizza (1809 Central Park Drive, Suite W205, Steamboat Springs, 970-870-8600) has the best pizza in Steamboat. The crust is perfect.