By Alex Bisanz | Steamboat Springs

For a lot of people, Steamboat Springs means skiing, hot chocolate, and winter fun. And in their defense, the skiing truly is fantastic – and kids ski for free! But for the select few that have had the privilege to experience the hot springs, that’s where the real magic is. The hot springs were actually what gave Steamboat Springs its name – before construction quieted the springs, they made noises like a steamboat coming down the river.

We really wanted to take advantage of the Hot Springs during our stay in Steamboat, and had two very different options to take try while we were there. The larger of the two springs is the Old Town Hot Springs in the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center. Located in the heart of downtown, the facility is open to the public and features eight hot springs pools. This is a great kid-friendly option, with water slides, climbing features, and more of a “water-park” feel. There is also a locker room, snack bar and fitness center, which makes it easy to change and store all of your stuff.

My personal favorite, however, was the Strawberry Park Springs. About seven miles from downtown Steamboat, the Strawberry Park Springs are a little bit smaller, and significantly more rustic. I would recommend scheduling a massage during your time that you spend there – the hot springs will only enhance the benefits. Strawberry Park Springs seeks to place an emphasis on the beauty of the natural surroundings, and as a result there is limited heat and electricity on the property. If you plan to go at night, pack a flashlight! You won’t be able to enjoy the mountain scenery, but the stars are amazing.

Back in town, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the quality of the restaurants and service in Steamboat. Steamboat in general is an incredibly friendly place, but the quality of the staff was better then I have experienced anywhere else. We ate out most nights – some of our favorites included the Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grille, Mazzola’s Italian Restaurant & Lounge and the Bistro CV. At the end of the day, it was a pleasure to return back to the Cimarron Chalet. The Chalet was the perfect place to enjoy family time- big enough that we were able to be close, without feeling crowded. And on top of that, the concierge staff and amenities made it feel like we were staying in a four-star hotel. After the experience – I can’t wait to go back!