Breckenridge, CO, is more than 150 years old and wasn't conceived as a ski resort town with gold panning and placer mining on the brain of the first settlers. Breck is a unique prospect in Summit County with a mellow, almost hippie atmosphere, and it's undoubtedly more easy-going than voguish Vail or Aspen. The city has a permanent population of about 5,000 residents and 300 days of annual sunshine—sounds like the beginning of a fabulous adventure to us.
The mountains have a siren song, which is why thousands of people flock to Colorado yearly. If hitting the slopes is your primary focus, Breck's five distinct peaks, part of Rocky Mountain's Ten Mile Range, offer more than 3,000 acres of skiing potential. Breckenridge expanded its skiing routes over the last few decades to a point where it's now competing to be the most popular ski resort town in America. You won't be disappointed.
Main Street is part of Breckenridge's historic downtown, so you'll sense some Old West frontier aesthetics. It has its modern touches, too, with dozens of trendy stores selling everything from après-ski fashion to cottagecore. Make sure to stroll along the Rec Path next to the Blue River. Indulge your crepe cravings or book a spa sesh to work the kinks out after skiing. You can throw some axes for fun, have a bash at the Escape Room, or gulp down some oxygen if the altitude is getting you down.
Epic Discovery is a whole-day affair, and entertainment waits around every corner. But the long queues snaking outside rides on busy days may dampen some of the excitement, and inclement weather also doesn't bode well, so check the forecasts. If you're not sure whether the coasters and facilities are worth the price of the ticket, hop aboard the free gondola to scope the place out. Be sure to pack some snacks—they'll tide you over for a bit, and you'll spend less on overpriced food. Expect maintenance on some of the rides, too.
Some people delight in driving, and others prefer the passenger life. Whatever your inclination, you'll love the 22-mile Boreas Pass between Breckenridge and Como. This high-alpine stretch is a heavenly slice of the central Rockies with breathtaking colors in fall and wildflowers in spring and summer. You might want to get used to the altitude before embarking on this road trip lite. The Continental Divide section of the drive is not paved, but it shouldn't pose any issues.
Barney Ford's story should inspire everyone. As a runaway enslaved person, he persevered and became a successful businessman and civil rights figure. He and his wife lived in Breck for eight years between 1882 and 1890, and you can look around his impressive home and learn more about his life for free at this non-profit museum; it's right off Main Street. If you're interested in visiting another museum, give the family-friendly Edwin Carter Museum and Park your time. You'll learn about mining, conservation, and taxidermy.
Breck has a dynamic arts scene, and the local organization Breck Create has, for many years now, been transforming the town into a creative hub for local makers and tourists alike. Visitors can attend classes and acquire new skills in multiple studios, and there's a focus on getting kids involved, too. There's a ceramics studio at Quandary Antiques Cabin, and at Breckenridge Theatre, you can watch shows and explore various exhibits. The instructors' enthusiasm and energy are infectious, and workshops often occur in unrivaled natural spaces.
People from all over the world don't just come to Breck for traditional winter sports. Teams come to compete in an annual contest for bragging rights. Breckenridge Ski Resort provides a few tons of snow, and the artisans chisel away at 12-foot blocks with only hand tools. In the end, all the ice sculptures are illuminated to glorious effect. Watching folks stay up to the wee hours crafting temporary art is fascinating, and the results are simply wow.
If dog sledding and snowmobiling are on your bucket list, add Breckenridge's insane scenery to the mix, and you've got the ingredients for a truly memorable experience. The Siberian Huskies are gorgeous, and in the right hands, you'll feel safe going at comfortable speeds, and the dogs will look happy. The handlebars are heated, which makes the whole undertaking that much more pleasant.
Need a break from downhill skiing? Go Nordic cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at Breckenridge Nordic Center. The prices are reasonable, the trails are well-groomed, and if you've never tried these activities before, the guides tend to be friendly and patient during lessons. They throw in nuggets about the town's history and geography, which is edifying, and it also helps that the food here is yummy.
Sawmill Reservoir is close to town and has a lovely hike for anyone keen on a relaxed route. You can get to the trail at Snowflake Lift by foot or bike or jump in the car for a quick drive. Take your toddler nephew and your grandma; they should be okay getting to the top of the scenic loop where the lake is, and carry your fishing paraphernalia if you'd like to catch some rainbow trout. It's a maximum two-mile distance with a 249 ft elevation, and you'll cross two bridges over the forested creek. The air is clean and sweet, so take some nice deep breaths. In the mood for more exertion? Adrenaline pumping possibilities in Breck include mountain biking, fly fishing, horse riding, and white water rafting, while golfers can test Jack Nicklaus's 27-hole signature course.