I have a thing for Colorado towns.
It’s part of why my husband proposed to me in a resort town under the stars, why we got married near our favorite hometown mountain, and why we picked jobs that moved us closer to the best slope in the state.
It’s also a big reason we decided to pack our bags to Steamboat Springs, to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary.
Steamboat Springs is a Colorado town with lots to give. It has all the best qualities of a resort area: excellent (not to mention Olympic and historic) skiing, gorgeous scenic views, and an undeniable charm. You can wander through shops and gasp at prices, hang out at a brewery with dogs all around, and soak in its geothermal waters. And that’s exactly what we did.
Day 1: Saturday
We began our trip with treats from Glenwood Springs’ Riverbend; my chai latte paired well with a sweet cinnamon roll. Chad opted for a matcha latte and breakfast burrito. For this Not A Morning Person, they were a necessity to rid myself of those too-early crankies. And after admiring the art at Hotel Denver, we began our 2.5-hour trip to Steamboat, going from one springs town to another.
The drive was absolutely breathtaking. We knew we would see fall colors, but did not anticipate how much of a peak-season we were entering. Yellow leaves popped out at us, prompting us to pull over for pictures more than once. There was very little traffic, which made for a calm, gorgeous, and serene road trip.
Once we arrived in Steamboat, Chad and I ventured to the Steamboat Springs Botanical Gardens. We got a little lost and wandered through a local soccer game, but we found our destination after getting plenty of steps in.
The gardens, free for the public, were stunning. We wandered through the different species of plants—about 6,000 in total—in awe of the sheer natural beauty around us. Small paths took us through trees and by ponds and around bees working their magic. It was easy to feel the romance—we walked hand-in-hand, and understood why a wedding was being set up for later that afternoon. We also figured that we were dressed too casually to crash it.
Next, we wandered throughout downtown Steamboat. We are not big shoppers, but we were able to ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ at top-quality out door gear and mountain wear, and marvel at cowboy boots and sherpa clothing. We walked through a charming farmers market which, to our surprise, had over five stands dedicated to hemp CBD.
We decided to make a pit stop at a nearby brewery. Mountain Tap Brewery had a good balance of indoor and outdoor seating, with plenty of shade and water bowls for pets. Note: dogs are only allowed on the patio, and not indoors. We certainty did not mind ogling the nearby pups—especially one lovable Bernese Mountain Dog—which only fueled our dog-fever.
We ended up ordering garlic knots (they hit the spot) and a round of beer. Chad went with “Mountain Macaroon,” a malty and nutty brown ale that had notes of toasted coconut and chocolate. I ordered “Passionate Pedal,” a wheat beer that boasted a tart and citrus twist on top of passion fruit.
After our beer pit stop, we decided to find ice cream (one of my favorite small-town treats). We found ourselves stuffed in a booth at a 50s-themed diner, Johnny B’s, and within no time were sipping on shakes and nibbling a side of cheese fries. I had a classic chocolate shake, while Chad went with peach. We were pleasantly full and plump, right on time to put on our swimsuits.
Next up: hot springs. We had a blast at Old Town Hot Springs, located in the heart of Steamboat Springs. They have served the community for over 100 years, and are a wonderful source of family-friendly fun. Chad and I spent several hours soaking, and even tried the 230-foot water slides. Read my complete review here!
After washing up in our Airbnb, Chad and I dressed up and had a late anniversary dinner at Mambo Italiano. Everything was perfect. The ambiance was pleasant and up scale (though we noticed “Mambo Italiano” never once played in the background, despite my guess that it would be on a constant loop throughout the evening), and every person we came across was kind and helpful.
The meal was extra special. We started out with cocktails—I went for a Rose Cooler (mixing wine, rose liquor, raspberry puree, soda, and summer berries), while Chad tried the La Menta, made with bourbon, cherry, mint, and vanilla bean. Top marks all around.
We opted for an appetizer, and chose the prosciutto and melon, made with ham, watermelon, Bulgarian feta, fennel pollen, walnuts, micro greens, and a biting balsamic vinaigrette. It was gourmet and fabulous.
For the main course, I ordered a delectable gnocchi. Besides not being able to pronounce it, I was totally impressed—it was served in a pesto sauce with peas, pancetta, pecorino, and flowers. I ate every bite—stems and leaves and all.
Everything was delicious. Though expensive for us (we are notoriously frugal, and have been working to cut down eating out), it was 100 percent worth it. It’s worth mentioning that the company was also delightful, and rather cute. Our anniversary meal was a total success.
Day 2: Sunday
Though Sunday was our actual anniversary, most of the celebrating took place the day before. However, we still hoped to get the most out of our day.
To start, we popped out of bed bright and early (again, a difficult feat for me, especially on my usually lazy Sundays) and headed to breakfast at Freshies, a local hot spot for breakfast and lunch.
At Freshies, I feasted on a lovely chai and a green smoothie bowl. The bowl was as delicious as it was enticing, made with a frozen blend of fruits and veggies, served on top of coconut, granola, bananas, walnuts, and blueberries. It was incredible and nourishing. Chad enjoyed walnut and granola pancakes and breakfast potatoes with coffee, and felt the same level of satisfaction.
Pro-tip: if you’re planning to eat at Freshies on the weekend, get there early. We beat the church crowd and only had to wait a few minutes. As we left, the entire outside area was covered with hungry parties with lengthy wait times.
Before heading home, we went on one last autumn drive to admire Steamboat’s vibrant colors. We went toward Strawberry Park Hot Springs (a rustic and gorgeous soaking spot with limited amenities but an amazing reputation), and traveled through aspen groves and onto a dirt road. We drove for about half an hour each way, again pulling over and grabbing our cameras at every chance.
We left Steamboat Springs with a sigh, promising to return.
When I was in high school, I participated in a Triple Crown softball camp in Steamboat (fondly referred to as “Hell Camp” by my team, since it was such an intense, strenuous, and back-breaking, in all the best ways). Before this weekend, I’d thought of Steamboat as a place-setting for a hellscape retreat. Now, I see it through a brand new lends.
Steamboat Springs is a designer getaway, filled with many opportunities to escape. By the time we left town, our spirits and bodies were rejuvenated and we felt entirely refreshed. Our anniversary was sweet and authentic and celebratory, thanks to our gorgeous and plentiful surroundings.
Thank you, to both this mountain town and my sweet husband, for pushing my love even deeper.