If you haven’t been Downtown, you’ve missed the ‘boat.
Downtown is where it is happening. It’s where Steamboat’s history was made and where the community plays.
Almost a century before there was the Steamboat Ski Area, pioneer James Crawford founded the town of Steamboat Springs along the Yampa River. When Crawford moved his family west from Missouri in 1875, he was drawn to the many mineral springs and the beauty of the surrounding area. What was to later be known as Downtown Steamboat Springs grew up as the heart of the community and the center of commerce for the region. And so it remains today.
Although most people come to Steamboat Springs the first time to challenge the ski mountain or to hike/fish/bike in the surrounding wilderness, it is downtown that lets them know Steamboat is a community first and a ski area second. It is where the governmental functions of the city and county take place, where the post office is, and the unique shopping and dining experiences lie. With over 80 shops and 35 restaurants, all within walking distance, there is that will appeal to everyone.
Downtown has three distinctly different streets running parallel to the Yampa River. The main street through Steamboat Springs, Lincoln Ave (which also happens to by US Highway 40 – a portion of the historic mother road across the United States), is home to most of the retail shopping, art galleries, and many of the restaurants. Yampa Street, next to the river, is the dining and entertainment street and home to the Steamboat Farmers Market during the summer months. Riverfront dining is extremely popular both summer and winter, and views of historic Howelsen Hill Park in the winter might offer a glimpse of one of Steamboat’s many winter Olympians training on the ski jumps across the river. Oak Street, on the other side of Lincoln, is an eclectic mix of churches, professional offices and a vibrant wellness niche that encompasses massage, nutrition and mental health counseling, yoga and dance.
Many of the community amenities reside downtown. The Old Town Hot Springs, with its naturally heated mineral springs pools and water slides is a must. Most nights of the week there is something happening at The Chief Theater, Steamboat’s original movie theater turned community theater with a wide range of offerings. The historic Depot Art Center is home to the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, representing the many visual and performing arts groups in the community, including the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra. Named for one of Steamboat’s famous Olympians, the Bud Werner Public Library invites locals and guests to attend any of the varied programs offered throughout the year or just a quiet place to rest while perusing a good book or one of the free public computers. And the Tread of Pioneers Museum does a superb job of showcasing Steamboat’s pioneer, skiing, mining and agricultural history.
And towering above downtown, across the river, is historic Howelsen Hill Park. Named for Carl Howelsen, father of skiing and ski jumping in Steamboat Springs, and the reason Steamboat is called Ski Town USA, the park now includes not only the Howelsen Hill Ski Area (the oldest continuously running ski area in the state), but is home to an Olympic-sized skating rink, Alpine slides, acres of cross-country, hiking, biking and horseback trails, and an active rodeo arena that hosts rodeos every Friday and Saturday night in the summer.