Distance from Denver: 156 miles Northwest; 3-hour drive
Why it made our list: The original hometown of downhill skiing of course has great offerings for snow sports as well as tubing, fishing, and kayaking. Steamboat is unique because it lacks the pretentiousness of typical ski-towns and has a very laid-back, Western vibe. It also has two great hot springs parks, which are accessible year-round.
Pro tip: Every January, cowboys come from all over to ride the slopes in the Cowboy Downhill event. If you go in the summer, check out the annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, which happens in July.