Ideal for families thanks to a prevalence of varied terrain options, lauded children’s childcare and snowsports programs and facilities and a gamut of kid-pleasing activities, Steamboat should be at the top of every clan’s ski-destination bucket list.
Steamboat is recognized as the “Premier Family Ski Resort” by Jetsetter and has ranked within the top 10 family ski resorts by Ski Magazine and Forbes Magazine throughout the last three years. If all the options and accolades haven’t convinced you that Steamboat should be your next family ski trip, perhaps their Kids Ski Free and Grandkids Ski Free programs will. Children under age 12 and under ski free the same number of days as their parents/grandparents when parents/grandparents purchase a five-or-more day adult lift ticket.
Now that you’re swayed, start mapping out your Steamboat family ski vacation with the help of our expert-vetted, five-day itinerary.
Day 1: Check into your accommodations and check out Steamboat’s night skiing
Steamboat is full of family-friendly accommodations—truly. Few other resorts can compete with Steamboat’s array of slopeside lodging options, which is an especially convenient feature for getting kids on the slopes in the morning and reducing the equipment schlep factor.
Recommended family-friendly Steamboat lodging
Located less than 250 yards from the Gondola Square, Steamboat Grand caters to families because of its convenience to the lifts, unique collection of room types and assortment of amenities. Families can opt for standard hotel rooms, hotel rooms with lock-offs, studios and penthouses and one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom condos with home-away-from-home amenities, like full kitchens. In addition, the Grand’s onsite dining makes getting the kids fed a cinch, and parents and kids alike will love playing and relaxing in the heated, salt-water pools and hot tubs.
Learn more about the Steamboat Grand in our featured Concierge Conversations series>>>
Steamboat Night Skiing
Photo: Steamboat Resort
After you’ve checked into your room or unit, bundle up, grab your ski gear, get your lift tickets and head out into the beautiful, crisp winter night to experience one of Steamboat’s most popular on-slope draws: night skiing. Open for night skiing on Thursday to Monday, Steamboat’s night skiing is the perfect way for families to kick off their ski vacation. You’ll want to plan ahead for this and book your flight schedule accordingly. To save yourself time that night and the next morning, be sure to reserve any equipment rentals you might need in advance. Conveniently, Steamboat’s night skiing takes place just above the main base area, the Gondola Plaza, which is where you’ll find the lift ticket office and equipment rental shops. Ask a Mountain Travel Expert to build your vacation package so you can experience night skiing on your arrival day.
Day 2: Get your kiddos in snowsports school and explore the mountain
In addition to Steamboat’s prevalence of conveniently placed accommodations, the Kid’s Vacation Center makes family ski trips easy, breezy. Located in Gondola Square underneath the gondola building, the Kids’ Vacation Center is a one-stop facility where families have lift tickets, lessons and equipment rentals at their fingertips. Children age two to Kindergarten will learn to ski or ride at the on premise learning area. Kids in first grade through age 15, will also meet at the base area in front of the red school house. No matter what your kids’ age, they’ll be heading to the same place in the morning.
For the littlest ducklings, age six and under, Kid’s Vacation Center offers a fully licensed daycare facility. Children up to age six can enjoy a snowsports school and daycare package. Depending on the child’s age they’ll do an hour or two of skiing in the morning and in the afternoon. When they’re not skiing, they’ll be playing and learning indoors under the supervision of fun, professional child-care providers.
While your youngsters are enjoying expert instruction and making friends, take the opportunity to ski at your own pace. If you’re looking for a couple warm up laps or some good cruisers, head over to the Sunshine lift. If your clan isn’t opting for snowsports school, the Sunshine area is also a great place for the whole family to enjoy some turns together. This zone features the lion’s share of green and blue cruisers, fun glades and even a couple blacks. Everyone can ski or ride their stripe of slope and meet back up at the lift and ride together. If you’re on the hunt for Steamboat’s lauded Champagne Powder® check out the gladed, powdery tree skiing off the Sundown lift.
Whether you’re skiing as a family or have gone your separate ways for the day, lunch at Rendezvous Saddle, located halfway down High Noon run, is a great way to reconnect. Enjoy pizza, pasta, sandwiches, soups and Mexican specialties.
Day 3: After skiing, go snow tubing followed by a sleigh ride dinner
Photo: Steamboat Resort
Cap off another great day of skiing with an unforgettable family evening. Head over to Saddleback Ranch for some classic winter activities. Located 15 miles outside of Steamboat Springs, Saddleback Ranch is a 8,000-acre, fourth-generation, family-owned and -operated working cattle ranch, where you can enjoy snow tubing at Yee-Haw Hill, followed by a cozy, 45-minute Belgian Draft-drawn sleigh ride to Double Dollar Lodge. Upon entering the warm, Western lodge, families are welcomed with hot chocolate and apple cider and dinner is served shortly thereafter.
Transportation to and from Saddleback Ranch is provided. Sleigh Ride Dinner guests are required to call Saddleback Ranch at least 48 hours prior to your sleigh ride to confirm dinner menu and pick-up location.
Another great snow tubing option includes Howelsen Hill. Located in downtown Steamboat Springs, Howelsen Hill tubing is accessed via magic carpet. Kids and kids at heart will love the thrill of zooming down this historic snow tubing hill. Howelsen Hill is a small ski area in Steamboat Springs, with a series of ski jumps and facilities, which has produced more than 70 Olympians in alpine and Nordic events.
Day 4: Ski a half day as a family and enjoy a hot springs soak in the evening
Photo: Steamboat Resort
If you haven’t skied as a family yet, reserve at least a half day to explore Steamboat’s world-class terrain together. Be sure to snap a family pic at the top of Sunshine Express lift—which offers some of the most stunning on-resort views of the surrounding Yampa Valley. If your family has a competitive streak, make your way over to the NASTAR Race area off the Bashor lift. Race one another and see who the king of the hill is in your family.
In the afternoon, set aside a couple hours to enjoy soaking in the therapeutic waters of Strawberry Hot Springs—one of Steamboat’s most popular attractions. The water is a soothing 101° to 105°. Sign up for transportation to the hot springs via Sweat Pea Tours. Afternoon pick-up times for families with children under 18 include: 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Guests need to bring their own towels, swimsuits, warm clothes and beverages, but no glass containers, food or alcohol. Adult passes are $35-$40 (depending on the day of the week), Teens (13-17) passes are $30 and Youth (3-12) passes are $20.
Day 5: Hit up downtown Steamboat Springs for souvenirs and treats and enjoy Western-style family dinner
On your last day in Steamboat Springs, spend some time exploring charming, historic downtown Steamboat Springs, be sure to reserve a couple hours before you leave to peruse the many quaint shops. The kids will love the colorful treats inside the Giggle Gulch Candy Corner—so be sure to put that on your list. Stock up on official Steamboat logo tees for the whole clan at Steamboat Apparel and Gifts or grab some new, technical apparel from brand-name vendors.
When dinnertime arrives, make sure you have reservations at Western BBQ—an on-mountain dining experience the whole family will love. Featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner at an affordable price, Steamboat’s Western BBQ is located at the top of the gondola and will please families’ stomachs and wallets. An added perk, a Western rock band serenades guests as they take in the sights and tastes. Plus, kids 12 and under eat free when accompanied by a paying adult. One free child per adult.
Ready to take your family to Steamboat this winter? Get started by filling out a form for a free, custom quote.
Director of SEO + Content
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now living in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com as Director of SEO + Content, I've been able to combine a litany of skills, passions and interests. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.