Steamboat Springs is hands-down one of my favorite ski towns in Colorado. It's low-key and unpretentious, unlike Aspen or Vail. And it offers some of the best hiking and skiing in Colorado.

I've been to Steamboat Springs several times, in both the summer and the winter. But my favorite trip by far was when I went to Steamboat Springs with InvitedHome last fall.

InvitedHome is an awesome rental company that hand-selects rental properties all over the states. When they offered me a rental house, I gathered together my closest friends to spend a long weekend there. Needless to say, we had a blast.

I would love for you guys to love Steamboat Springs as much as I do, so here are the things that make Steamboat so special to me.

1. The downtown's old western vibe

Steamboat's downtown is really cute! It looks like an old western town, similar to Telluride. It's also super walkable and has great boutiques, so it's perfect for an afternoon of shopping.

2. Strawberry Hot Springs

Strawberry Hot Springs are the best hot springs I've been to in Colorado. They're pristine, beautiful, and don't smell like sulfur, unlike other hot springs I've been to.

There are three different springs with varying temperatures; hot, warm, and freezing. I stick to the hot or warm, but I've seen people swimming in the cold ones even in winter, so hats off to them.

Another thing that's cool about Strawberry Hot Springs is you can visit at night or during the day. I've done both and loved it both times.

3. Horseback riding

One of the best days of the trip was horseback riding at Saddleback Ranch. Saddleback Ranch is a fourth generation working cattle ranch with 8,000 acres.

The morning of our ride, the weather was beautiful and the ranch even more so. Unfortunately, I didn't get great photos – wielding a DSLR on a horse is basically impossible.

4. Hiking the ski hills

If you don't ride, you can also explore Steamboat's mountains on foot. One morning, we hiked up Steamboat Ski Resort Trail, which in the winter is a ski hill.

As many of my guests were visiting from Michigan or Chicago, they were struggling a bit with the altitude. I almost died laughing when my friend Kate from Michigan looked up at the ski hill and said, “Is this a fourteener?” A.k.a. Colorado-speak for a fourteen-thousand foot mountain.

5. The super easy waterfall hike to Fish Creek Falls

While in Steamboat, I'd highly recommending hiking to Fish Creek Falls. It's the perfect hungover hike – it's only a half mile to and from the waterfall – super easy but with a big payoff.

6. The rooftop at Salt & Lime

Salt & Lime is the perfect place to catch a breeze and nosh on tacos. While ski towns aren't exactly known for their Mexican food, the food at Salt & Lime is surprisingly delicious.

I'd recommend requesting a table on the rooftop to enjoy the beautiful views of Steamboat.

7. Our gorgeous rental home with InvitedHome

InvitedHome seriously hooked us up. Our six-bedroom, five-bathroom house had a hot tub, fire pit, six bedrooms. Over the weekend we cooked our own breakfasts, ordered in pizza, and drank beers in the hot tub under the stars. Overall, I absolutely loved the house and the experience we had there.

The view from the balcony!

8. The beautiful fall weather

Though most people think of Steamboat Springs as winter destination, fall is an excellent time to visit Steamboat. The Aspen leaves are golden, there are very few tourists, and the weather is crisp, sunny and in the mid-70s. Plus, it's so much cheaper to rent a house in the fall than in the winter.

Steamboat is wonderful any time of year, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the shoulder season.

9. Driving to Steamboat

If you're driving from Denver, prepare yourself – the drive to Steamboat is absolutely beautiful. We kept getting out of the car to snap pictures of the Westworld-esque landscapes.

10. (In the winter) Absurdly good champagne powder

Okay, okay, I didn't ski Steamboat (obviously) on this trip. But I want to make sure you all know how amazing the skiing is at Steamboat Springs. Steamboat Springs is known for its champagne powder which is super dry and fluffy. Also, it's not as popular as resorts like Vail or Beaver Creek, so I've never seen it super crowded.

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Thoughts on InvitedHome

Overall, I loved our experience with InvitedHome. Their homes are hand-selected so I was really impressed with quality of homes on the website. The service is excellent – I loved that our InvitedHome representative called us to make sure everything was going smoothly.

The only drawback? It's a little pricey. But quality rentals cost money, so that's to be expected. What you can do is split the rental between a lot of people.

Here's the math – if 14 people stay two nights at a rental that costs $600 a night, it's only $42.50 per person per night. Which is totally reasonable! Plus, when you rent a house you can save money by cooking your own meals. And with a hot tub, you don't have to go out in town – you can just drink in the hot tub.

Important info:

We stayed in this rental property and absolutely loved it. There is a hot tub, and plenty of room, and gorgeous views. Highly recommended.

Strawberry Hot Springs is cash only and costs $15 for adults $8 for kids 3-7, and is free for kids under three. Bring your own towel.

The two hikes we did were Steamboat Ski Resort Trail (the ski hill) and Fish Creek Falls Trail (the waterfall).

We went horseback riding with Saddleback Ranch and had a fantastic experience.

I really enjoyed Salt and Lime for Mexican, Creekside Café for brunch, and Mountain Tap Brewery for beer.

Have you ever been to Steamboat Springs? What did you think?

A big thank you to InvitedHome for hosting our stay in Steamboat Springs. As always, all opinions are my own.

Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Uganda. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Colorado. She's been to forty countries but somehow still gets lost in her home town. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour magazine.
Ashley Fleckenstein
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