Breckenridge, Colorado, fondly referred to as Breck, is known as a skier’s paradise. With the 9,603-foot summit, Breckenridge sits at the foot of the Rocky Mountains on the Ten-Mile range. Peak 10 beckons skiers every year. Beyond the snow-capped mountains, you may not know that Breck is a year-round town. With hiking, biking, rafting, and its creative maker activities, it’s a summer playground.
Breckenridge is about 100 miles west of Denver International airport (DEN). In Breckenridge, you won’t need a car due to the public transportation alternatives, so arrive from the airport in one of the van services or private shuttles that run from the airport to Breckenridge.
Disclaimer: Some of my visit to Breckenridge was hosted by Visit Breck. The opinions are mine based on my experience.
As in winter, Breck has a variety of outdoor activities. In summer, you’ll find water activities, such as fly-fishing, rafting, paddle boarding, and kayaking. If you’re more of a landlubber, horseback riding, biking, hiking, and golf are also options. History buffs will enjoy discovering Breckenridge’s mining history, while makers and creators have many opportunities to try their hand at new types of art skills.
Things To Do
Take A Breckenridge Walking Tour
Get an overview of the town’s history through a tour with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. Their tours showcase establishments that date back to the 19th century. More than 200 buildings in Breck are on the National Register of Historic Places. One example is the Gold Pan Saloon with the longest-standing liquor license west of the Mississippi River. The 90-minute tour goes rain or shine and covers the 6-block area of downtown Breck. While the tour makes occasional stops with places to sit, you will be standing most of the time. If you take the tour a second time, you’ll see new things and hear different stories because each guide may take a slightly different route.
Breckenridge’s Welcome Center offers trail maps for sale, or you can download a Hiking and Biking Trail map. To learn more about Breck’s history, take a guided ride with Ridden. Breck features more than 50 miles of biking trails. Ridden’s Fat Tire Bike guided tour started at their downtown shop and ended at the Broken Compass Brewery, about 3 miles north of downtown. They use Borealis high-performance carbon fiber Fat Tire bikes, which are easy to pedal. You’ll have excellent traction in rocky or sandy terrain. They gear the tour toward all riding abilities, and it’s another way to learn about Breck’s history.
Breck offers an abundance of hiking and biking trails. The scenic Blue River Recreation Path starts next to the Breck Connect Gondola, with plenty of parking. The path runs along the Blue River on one side and the Rocky Mountains on the other, so you’re in for a scenic ride. The paved, easy-to-navigate 7.1-mile path is busy with hikers and in-line skaters in addition to other bikers.
Explore The Craft Brew Scene
Broken Compass Brewery has a casual dog-friendly environment. Their ski-lift seating adds to the fun ski atmosphere. Rocky Mountain snowmelt water makes the Broken Compass beer unique. Two of my favorite beers are the Chili Pepper Pale Ale and the Coconut Porter. The full-flavored Coconut Porter, with roasted organic coconut, has you thinking you’re in the Caribbean. The Chili Pepper Pale Ale combines five chili peppers to provide a smooth brew with heat that doesn’t burn your mouth. If you biked out to Broken Compass from town, don’t worry about biking back after a few beers. They offer a complimentary service to take you back to Breckenridge.
Another player in Breck’s craft brew scene is the Breckenridge Tap House; with over 35 choices, it’s the largest craft beer selection in Summit County. If you prefer liquor, you can choose from over 125 premium whiskeys or 130 premium tequilas. Come for a brew and stay for dinner. Breckenridge Tap House’s slow-braised meat tacos that stay in the oven for 24 hours will eliminate your hunger. The meat is so tender.
Take On An Art Project
Breckenridge Creative Arts (aka Breck Create) offers a variety of classes. At the Hot Shop, we spent the afternoon making some metal-smithed jewelry creations. Other maker activities at Breck Create include ceramics and glassblowing.
If you brought along the grandkids, every second Saturday of the month, they offer hands-on art classes for children. The morning classes are first come, first serve, and you can sign up online. The complimentary classes are at the Art’s District Campus. Breck Create provides all art supplies, and the kiddos take home their project as a Breckenridge souvenir.
Explore The Mountain
The mountain isn’t just a place to swoosh down the slopes in the winter. It’s a source of hiking and other fun summertime activities. You can take the complimentary BreckConnect Gondola to Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Epic Discovery. Located at the base of Peak 8, you can zipline, try a climbing wall, take a guided hike, and learn about wildflowers and wildlife.
Tour And Sample Some Spirits At Breckenridge Distillery
The world’s highest distillery, Breckenridge Distillery on Airport Road, offers complimentary tastings of their award-winning spirits. Guests can upgrade their tasting experience for a small fee. Beginning March of 2021, Breckenridge Distillery will be offering an expanded whiskey experience including small-bite and spirits pairings, chocolate and spirits pairings, and allowing guests to blend their own whiskey. The Rocky Mountain snowmelt water makes the hard liquor smooth, and vertical barrel aging is necessary due to the dry mountain air. Both contribute to making Breckenridge Distillery’s spirits unique. They run a complimentary shuttle daily so that everyone can enjoy the libations with the designated shuttle driver.
Best Restaurants In Breckenridge
Breckenridge chefs emphasize Colorado foods on their menus. You’ll frequently find trout, bison, and lamb in the chef’s creations. Fruits and vegetables also are critical ingredients in sustaining Colorado’s active outdoor lifestyle.
Breckenridge Distillery Restaurant
The Breckenridge Distillery also offers a restaurant with a modern farm-to-table philosophy devoted to the whole animal. They serve American food in a relaxed mountain setting. Chef David Burke received a U.S. patent for his unique dry-age process where he utilizes pink Himalayan salt to dry-age steaks up to 100 days. Burke is a two-time winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in New York.
Giampietro Pasta and Pizzeria offers a complete Italian menu in a casual pizzeria setting. Everything is house-made -- from the pizza sauce to the balsamic vinaigrette. House-made pizza and plate-sized calzones make sharing a budget-friendly option. If you’re staying a vacation rental, this is an excellent place to go because you’ll be able to re-heat your leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
Colorado Mountain College Cooking Class
Colorado Mountain College offers two ways to enjoy a dinner from their chef. You can hire their chef to create a meal in the privacy of the kitchen in your lodging -- request a personal chef to shop, arrive at your venue, and cook a feast for the family. Another option is to take the family or a group for some team building to make dinner and eat at the college. We chose the second option and made our dinner under Chef Ian Buchanan’s supervision at Colorado Mountain College. Our feast included Brazilian and Argentinian dishes. They have various cuisines in their menus, and the chef will tailor them to your needs. You’ll walk away from the recipes to recreate your memories at home.
Blue River Bistro
The Blue River Bistro is a farm-to-table restaurant that offers Colorado favorites like elk carpaccio and buffalo short ribs. They also have international cuisines such as Spanish paella and Scottish salmon. They present dishes in such a way the plates are almost too pretty to eat.
Best Places To Stay In Breckenridge
Vacation rentals from Pinnacle Lodging are one choice. They have a variety of housing choices for any size group. Our rental, Bogart House, had room to sleep 16, five bedrooms, and five and a half bathrooms. The dining area and gourmet kitchen areas made it easy to cook a meal at “home” after a day of outdoor activities.
For those who love fresh air, sleeping under the stars might be the perfect accommodations. While lugging camping gear can be a challenge, especially when you fly in, Ridden’s got you covered. They rent camping kits that include everything you’ll need to rough it, including toilet paper. They say, “Come in with just your cowboy hat and cowboy boots; we’ll rent you the rest.”
Pro Tip: Due to the elevation, start hydrating several days before traveling, consuming 2 to 3 liters of water per day. Remain hydrating throughout your stay.
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