Kid Town, U.S.A.
Steamboat Springs is known to many as Ski Town, U.S.A.®, Bike Town, U.S.A.® and even Dog Town, U.S.A., but I’d like to propose a new title to Steamboat’s already impressive crown: Kid Town, U.S.A. With endless outdoor opportunity in and around Steamboat, super kid-friendly ski and bike areas, a town that plans nearly every public event with children in mind and an amazing network of daily activities for kids of all ages, this town is a kids’ paradise.
It’s not unusual to see 4-year-olds biking on some easier dirt trails around town sans training wheels. In fact, the local Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series has a division specifically for children ages 6 and younger. And if your child isn’t quite ready for mountain biking, head to the Bear River Bike Park and find a range of medium to expert jump lines, or check out Steamboat Springs’ BMX track laid out at the base of Howelsen Hill. Either of these bike parks are suitable for anyone from 2-year-old still figuring out balance on a Strider to the accomplished rider soaring high over the obstacles. Don’t miss the 10-race BMX summer series racing circuit where you’ll easily find a solid 10 riders in the 2-year-old division, ready to zoom around the obstacles on their Strider bikes.
Once bikes are put away and snow is blanketing the Yampa Valley and surrounding mountains, skiing and snowboarding is the activity of choice for many families who live in Steamboat. We put our oldest son on strap-on skis at 18 months, allowing him to slide around our front yard to get used to the idea of having skis attached to his feet. And at 2 1/2, he was learning to ski at Steamboat Ski Resort, mostly around the Preview area but sometimes adventuring down Why Not, stopping only to check out the cool animal signs posted along the trail. Our youngest son, now 19 months, will soon be on those same strap-on skis, figuring out his balance and getting ready to keep up with big brother in the years to come.
Not only does Steamboat Ski Resort offer lessons to kids ages 2 1/2 and up, but it also allows children ages 12 years and younger to ski free if a parent, grandparent or legal guardian has a ski pass. For parents, that’s hard to beat! Also available to children are the many amazing programs offered by Steamboat’s renowned Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. The Little Toots ski program is for the youngest skiers, accepting any skill level, with its main goal being to expose kids to skiing and snow play in a friendly group setting. From there, SSWSC programs are numerous, varied and impressive, and with eight Olympians on staff, they offer the best coaching your child can find in the country. In fact, the SSWSC has trained 88 Olympians, with 151 Winter Olympic appearances in 19 Winter Games representing 12 countries. Now that’s impressive!
Skiing and biking are obviously two of my favorite things to do with my kids; however, Steamboat offers a wide array of activities, both indoor and outdoor, available to children all year long. The Bud Werner Memorial Library is an incredible facility in downtown Steamboat Springs, with a particularly fun and engaging children’s area, including daily story-times and special events geared toward spawning creativity and imagination. Next to the library is one of our favorite parks: Little Toots Public Park on the Yampa River. Scattered around town you’ll find other great parks where kids can be kids and release some energy, like Whistler Park, the Howelsen Hill complex, the Steamboat Springs Community Center park or the playground at Soda Creek Elementary School.
Another fantastic indoor facility for kids of all ages is Excel Gymnastics of Steamboat located on the west end of town. Not only does Excel provide classes for all levels and abilities, but it also has Open Gym times for anyone to bring their kids for an hour of fun. Howelsen Ice Arena is also a great indoor option for kids to play hockey, practice their skating skills or even drive bumper cars on ice!
For the past four years, I’ve loved taking both of my kids to Music Together of Steamboat Springs, an interactive music class for children from birth to age 5. And for the art lovers, there is Make Studio, a children’s art space offering classes, workshops and camps — perfect for empowering a child’s creativity and imagination.
And that’s not all: Steamboat offers dance classes, yoga classes, the Coca-Cola Adventure Zone and Outlaw Mountain Coaster at the base area, zip-lining with Steamboat Zipline Adventures, indoor rock climbing at Love Climbing Adventures, a Youth Concert Series put on by Strings Music Pavilion, and so on and so forth, all for kids. And if that’s not all, the city of Steamboat puts on some awesome events, most of which have kids in mind. Winter Carnival, the July 4th celebration, the Balloon Rodeo, Wild West Air Fest, the Rubber Ducky Race and the Downtown Halloween Stroll are just a few of our favorites, and certainly not to miss if you have kids.
Beyond all of the activities and events in town, there is endless opportunity for children to explore the outdoors. Hiking is boundless; paddleboarding around Steamboat Lake, Pearl Lake or Dumont Lake is adventurous; camping and making s’mores is almost a requirement of parenting in Steamboat; and tubing the Yampa River is a nice way to cool off in the summers. I could go on and on about things to do with children in and around Steamboat, but I think I’ve made my point: Steamboat Springs is Kid Town, U.S.A. in my book!
November is a peaceful and quiet time of year in Steamboat, a time for locals to catch up on house chores, read a good book or enjoy the last little bit of dry ground before the snow settles in for the season. It’s a time when seasons collide, leaving a golden valley floor set against frost-covered mountains.
Snow is starting to fall, the mountains are turning a lovely shade of white and excitement over the impending ski season is in the air. In fact, exactly two weeks from today, we’ll be hitting the slopes and taking those first turns of the season with grins from ear to ear!
Erin Campbell, Alpine skier/snowboarder
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