The Outdoors,  Travel Guides

Exploring Breckenridge Colorado-A Mountain Town Vacation

These days, Breckenridge feels like a second home to me. I’m dramatic, but in the past two years, I have hosted three different groups of friends and family in Breckenridge. Not to mention, all of the day trips we’ve made. Sure, there are plenty of other ski resorts that I can take visitors to, but there are several reasons why I consistently choose Breckenridge. First of all, in Breckenridge, Colorado things to do outside of the ski resort are endless. It is also easily accessible (as long as you can avoid I-70 traffic), and with simply more accommodations than in other ski towns, you can find more reasonable prices on stays. Finally, the town of Breckenridge gives visitors the aesthetic cozy mountain town feel. 

What To Do:

Ski, here are 6 tips

  • Buy the Epic Pass and you will save a fortune. You can buy anything from a 1-day pass to a season pass. The catch is that these passes are typically only on sale from March through November, so you have to be willing to plan ahead. If you can’t plan ahead, use a buddy pass from your type-A, organized friend for 20% off of your lift ticket. 
  • If you’re a beginner skier, consider taking a lesson at Breckenridge. There are several options from adult group lessons to private lessons. Group lessons cost around $200, while private ones can get pricey up to $1,000 for a full day.
  • Reserve your skis ahead of time. Whether you grab your skis in Denver or get them at one of the Breckenridge bases, you’ll save time and money by booking in advance. We heard people walking in to get rentals being quoted a 2-hour wait. If you’re just in for the weekend, that can be a lot of missed time on the mountain. 
  • It is worth it to stay close to the resort. The Breckenridge traffic is infamous for being exceedingly awful on Saturday mornings. You can really save yourself a headache with easy access to the gondola, shuttles, and bases where you stay. If you’re a beginner skier or it’s your first time in Breck, I recommend starting on peak 8 or 9. These peaks have awesome bases and offer the most variety of runs from beginner to more advanced. 
  • Breckenridge is high up…if you’re coming in from out of town, this is a major safety precaution. There are several ways to reduce the impact of the elevation change and I encourage you to be prepared! 

Snowshoeing/XC skiing + Happy Hour

  • Head to the Breckenridge Nordic Center for some snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. These are great activities for nonskiers to enjoy the beauty of the mountains in the winter. Snowshoeing is the best option for beginners. While you can just rent snowshoes for $23 and forge your own path elsewhere, I recommend that you pay the $25 for a Nordic Center Trail pass and snowshoe along their beautifully groomed and well-marked trails. We took the “Willow Trail” recommended for beginners by the friendly staff at the nordic center. 
  • After your snowshoe, stay at the nordic center for their Friday night happy hour from 3:30-6 pm with live music. They have a pretty well-stocked bar including seasonal cocktails and cozy drinks like mulled wine! 

Go Shopping in Town

  • One of my favorite things about Breckenridge is that there is a town beyond the ski village. Head to Main Street for endless shopping opportunities. You’ll find everything from outdoor gear brands like Patagonia to fashion-forward boutiques and souvenir shops. Complimentary to the awesome shops is the “Hallmark movie” aesthetic that’s perfect for pictures and transporting you into those laid-back mountain vibes. 

Ride the Gondola

  • From the South or North Gondola parking lots, you can pick up the Breck Connect Gondola for free and ride it up to the peak 7 or peak 8 bases. This is accessible to skiers and nonskiers alike from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. My out-of-town (non-skiing) visitors said that this was their favorite activity as the gondola provided a unique experience with incredible views. 
  • Once at the base, you can visit the lodges, cafes, and restaurants while taking in the backdrop of the mountain. I recommend stopping at peak 8 and visiting The TBar for the widest selection of drinks, bar food, a live DJ, and happy hour. Disclaimer, this is not really a small-child/family scene…

Where to Dine:

I am not claiming that these are the best places to eat in Breckenridge, I’m just giving my own recommendations based on where I myself and the people I traveled with had a good experience. 

For Breakfast

  • Columbine Cafe:
    • Columbine Cafe is an institution in Breckenridge boasting “the best breakfast” in town. It’s a small, bustling, old-school diner serving monstrous portions of all the classic breakfast favorites. Perfect just before a day on the mountain. Their drinks include a full coffee bar with lattes and mochas plus your brunch favorites like bloody marys and mimosas. You can’t go wrong ordering something from their “Columbine Favorites”, but I also recommend the C.B.H. or Salmon Benedict. 

For Lunch and/or Happy Hour

  • The Canteen Grill and Taphouse
    • My father raved about this place, so naturally, it made my list of restaurants to try in Breckenridge. The Canteen provides rustic cabin vibes while serving up comfort food like sandwiches, burgers, and mac & cheese. My dad and uncle wandered in around brunch time and were extremely pleased with their bloody marys and the laid-back atmosphere that all dads crave. 
  • Breckenridge Brewery
    • Probably not the hottest take, but visiting the O.G. brewpub in Breckenridge seems to be a right of passage. The beer is fresh as you can see it being made right behind the bar. You can take $2 off your brew during happy hour from 3-6 pm and they have a large food menu with a variety of options from soups and salads to grilled pork tenderloin. 
  • Breckenridge Pour House
    • My sisters spoke very highly of their espresso martinis at Pour House. If it were me, I would have ordered a charcuterie board to accompany my cocktail and gossip hour. Happy hour is from 3-5 pm Sunday through Thursday and includes $3 off all drafts, $4 off all specialty cocktails, plus discounted appetizers. The full food menu is another eclectic, yet elevated one. I recommend this place for larger groups as they accept reservations! 

Dinner

  • Cabin Juice at Gravity Haus:
    • We had 10 people in our group. With a large group like that, it is best to make a reservation. The problem with this plan is that many of the Breckenridge restaurants don’t take reservations. Cabin juice, luckily, does. Although we landed on Cabin Juice by default, the cozy cabin ambiance, farm-to-table food, and friendly and attentive staff, did not disappoint. The dinner menu featured meat from a farm in Salida, CO when we went, but changes seasonally. The most popular dish was their cheeseburger with fries, but don’t be fooled by our simple palette, the menu also included dishes like curried Verlasso salmon and short rib pappardelle.

Where to Stay:

Airbnb/VRBO

Breckenridge Colorado things to do
  • Best for location flexibility and larger groups 
    • I’ve now gone to Breckenridge two times with a group of 10 people. Each time we’ve opted for an Airbnb, but with very different priorities. The first group was all young and filled with mostly skiers. We wanted space to drink without a noise complaint. Also, a hot tub and cool space to hang out were necessary for nonskiers. This list led us to stay in a home in Blue River. Blue River is an awesome option for groups with beautiful lodge-like homes perfect for a snowy weekend inside. It’s also just a 5-10 minute drive from Breckenridge, so non-skiers just dropped the skiers off in the morning. 
    • The next group was filled with mostly non-skiers who don’t want to deal with traffic and an uncle who loves to cook. We ended up with a condo right across from the gondola lot that was walkable to Main Street. This gave my uncle access to a kitchen, a walkable route to Main Street dining and shopping, and easy access to the slopes. 
    • Airbnb gave us plenty of options in Breckenridge, but I recommend booking a few months out if you’re traveling with a larger group. We went in January/February and booked our places in September/October. 

The Lodge at Breckenridge 

  • Best for smaller groups, privacy, and incredible views
  • Rated as one of the world’s highest-altitude hotels, The Lodge at Breckenridge is a bit off the beaten path. By that, I mean a 5-minute drive from town. It’s a boutique hotel that provides amenities like complimentary breakfast, a hot tub with an incredible view of the mountains, a restaurant on-site, and a shuttle service to the ski resort. Although we stayed with another couple here, I think this place would be great for a romantic weekend getaway. Its location provides some privacy away from the hustle and bustle of the town and resort. The Lodge at Breckenridge is my favorite stay in Breck so far! 

I hope this guide to Breckenridge Colorado things to do either convinces you to go or gives you the confidence to plan your upcoming trip. All of these recommendations come from enjoyable experiences and mistakes that we have made on our trips to Breckenridge. Traveling from out of town and up to the mountains can feel like more of a logistical burden than most other vacations, but it shouldn’t have to. Now, be sure to take a moment and breathe in that fresh mountain air as you sip your cozy cocktail, hike in your snowshoes, or make your way up the ski lift. Congrats on nailing your perfect weekend in Breckenridge. 

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