When most people think of Colorado ski resorts, Breckenridge comes to mind immediately. This charming mountain town has something for everyone. Whether you like to ski or snowboard, hike or rock climb, shop, eat, or drink, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Breckenridge, Colorado, and the surrounding area. In our complete visitor guide below, we’ll share 21 different activities to get you started, along with recommendations for dining, hotels, camping, and more. Let’s get started with some background information and history about Breckenridge.
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Setting the Stage for Your Breckenridge Adventure
Breckenridge is situated in an ideal location in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Nestled along the Blue River between the Front Range peaks to the east, the Tenmile Range to the west, and the Mosquito Range to the south. Originally founded as a mining camp, today it is a bustling ski resort town with a rich art and culture scene and dozens of outdoor recreation opportunities. Here is some background on this beautiful mountain community.
Breckenridge: A Town With A History
Breckenridge, Colorado, found its roots in the 1859 gold rush, quickly growing into a thriving mining town. Initially named after Vice President John C. Breckinridge, the town’s spelling was changed during the Civil War when Breckinridge sided with the Confederacy.
The town’s fortunes dwindled post-gold rush, but the establishment of the Breckenridge Ski Resort in 1961 revitalized it into a popular winter sports destination. The resort’s long ski seasons and abundant snowfall transformed the area into a hub for skiing enthusiasts.
Today, Breckenridge seamlessly blends its historic mining town charm with its modern status as an international vacation hotspot. Its preserved Victorian architecture coexists with a lively arts scene, diverse cuisine, and numerous outdoor activities, drawing visitors from all over the world.
Choosing the Best Time for Your Breckenridge Visit
Breckenridge is truly a destination for all seasons, each offering its distinct charm and array of activities. Winter draws ski and snowboard enthusiasts, with the town transforming into a picturesque snowy haven. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, the promise of top-notch winter sports from November to April may be hard to resist.
In contrast, the summer months, from June to August, welcome warmer weather and the mountains burst into color with wildflowers. This season offers perfect conditions for hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, and simply soaking in the vibrant atmosphere of the town. So, whether you’re seeking snow-capped adventures or sun-soaked exploration, Breckenridge caters to all your vacation desires.
The graphs below show the typical temperate, rain, snow, and daylight for each month in Breckenridge.
21 Things To Do in Breckenridge, Colorado
Explore Main Street: This is the heart of Breckenridge, with a blend of historic buildings and modern amenities. The area offers unique boutiques, diverse cuisine, and delightful art galleries. It’s a hub for community events and a perfect place to understand the pulse of the town. Read more.
Breckenridge Nordic Center: A winter haven for enthusiasts of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, offering miles of well-groomed trails amidst breathtaking scenery. Equipment rentals and lessons are available for novices and experts alike. Read more.
Breckenridge Ski Resort: This world-class resort offers a diverse array of slopes for all skill levels. There are facilities for downhill skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, with professional instructors available for lessons. Check their website for lift pass prices and operation hours. Read more.
Backstage Theatre: A cultural cornerstone of Breckenridge, this theatre offers a year-round program of plays, musicals, and special events. It’s a great place for evening entertainment after a day in the mountains. Read more.
Edwin Carter Discovery Center: This museum is dedicated to Edwin Carter, a miner turned naturalist. It showcases his life’s work in wildlife conservation and features interesting exhibits about local fauna. Read more.
Hike the Boreas Pass: This scenic trail offers breathtaking views, particularly in fall when the aspens turn gold. It’s a moderate hike suitable for all skill levels, although remember to prepare for changing weather conditions. Read more.
Breckenridge Distillery: Known as the world’s highest distillery, it offers guided tours explaining the distilling process, followed by tastings of their award-winning spirits. They also have an excellent restaurant on-site. Read more.
BreckConnect Gondola: This free gondola ride provides stunning views of the town and the surrounding peaks. It links the town with the ski resort, making it an enjoyable and practical mode of transport. Read more.
Barney Ford Victorian House: This museum celebrates the life of Barney Ford, an African-American pioneer and successful businessman. The house is restored to its Victorian-era glory, providing a glimpse into Breckenridge’s past. Read more.
Fish in the Blue River: The Blue River is renowned for its trout fishing. You can either bring your gear or rent from local outfitters. Don’t forget to check Colorado’s fishing regulations. Read more.
GatherHouse Glassblowing: Watch master craftsmen manipulate molten glass into beautiful art at GatherHouse. They offer demonstrations and even workshops if you’re inclined to try it yourself. Read more.
Snowmobiling in the White River National Forest: Numerous outfitters offer snowmobile tours in this expansive national forest, providing a thrilling way to enjoy the winter landscape. Ensure to follow safety instructions and respect the environment. Read more.
Hot Air Balloon Ride: Enjoy the Rockies from a different perspective, floating high in a hot air balloon. Morning flights are common for optimal weather conditions, and the sight of the snow-capped peaks at sunrise is truly spectacular. Read more.
Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival: Held every fall, this festival celebrates artisan distilled spirits. Events include tastings, mixology seminars, and a spirited cooking class. Read more.
Breckenridge Brewery: Sample locally brewed beer at this popular brewery. Their tasting room offers a variety of styles, and you can grab a bite to eat at the attached pub. Read more.
Sledding at Carter Park: A fun and free winter activity, Carter Park boasts the best sledding hill in town. Bring your sled or rent one locally. Read more.
Climb Quandary Peak: This is one of Colorado’s 58 fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet). The trail is challenging, but reaching the summit provides a rewarding view. Be prepared for high-altitude hiking. Read more.
Ullr Fest: This winter festival celebrates Ullr, the Norse god of snow. With a parade, ice plunges, and ski competitions, it’s a fun event for the whole family. Read more.
High Line Railroad Park: A perfect place for train enthusiasts. It features a small museum, vintage train cars, and a playground with a mini train ride for children. Read more.
Ice Skating at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena: Open year-round, it offers public skating sessions, figure skating classes, and hockey leagues. Skate rentals are available on-site. Read more.
Breckenridge Music Festival: This summer festival presents a variety of concerts, from classical to contemporary music. Performances are held at the Riverwalk Center, a venue with superb acoustics and views of the mountains. Read more.
Day Trips Within 2 Hours of Breckenridge
Rocky Mountain National Park (Approximately 2 hours away): Known for its stunning alpine scenery, wildlife spotting opportunities, and extensive trail system, this national park is ideal for nature lovers. The Trail Ridge Road offers breathtaking views and the chance to see herds of elk and mule deer.
Georgetown (Approximately 1 hour away): A historic mining town that has preserved its Victorian-era charm. Don’t miss the Georgetown Loop Railroad, a restored narrow gauge train that offers scenic rides through the Rockies.
Guanella Pass (Approximately 1 hour away): This scenic byway climbs high into the Colorado Rockies and offers stunning vistas of Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans. It’s a good place for a picnic, a short hike, or wildlife viewing.
Mount Evans (Approximately 2 hours away): Home to the highest paved road in North America, Mount Evans offers a unique driving experience with panoramic mountain views. At the summit, you may spot mountain goats and bighorn sheep.
Vail (Approximately 1 hour away): This town is known for its world-class ski resort, but it’s also a great place to visit in the summer with many outdoor activities. The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, a beautifully maintained botanical garden, is worth a visit.
Dillon Reservoir (Approximately 20 minutes away): This large reservoir offers boating, fishing, camping, and beautiful mountain views. The surrounding town of Dillon offers a summer farmer’s market and a lakeside amphitheater with free concerts.
Fairplay (Approximately 1 hour away): Known as the “real South Park”, this town offers historic buildings, local restaurants, and mining history. Visit the South Park City Museum for an immersive trip back in time.
Leadville (Approximately 1 hour away): This former silver mining town is home to the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. At over 10,000 feet elevation, it’s one of the highest incorporated cities in the United States. The downtown area is packed with well-preserved Victorian buildings.
Best Dining in Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge attracts visitors from around the world and serves up a variety of cuisines to taste during your visit. We pulled together a mix of the best dining options in town, with several different styles and budget levels – there’s something for everyone.
- Breckenridge Brewery & Pub: A laid-back brewpub offering a variety of handcrafted beers and an American menu, featuring locally sourced ingredients when possible. It’s an ideal place for a casual meal.
- Giampietro Pasta & Pizzeria: A family-friendly eatery serving generous portions of classic Italian dishes. Their thin-crust pizzas and homemade pasta dishes are a local favorite.
- Blue River Bistro: Offering American cuisine with a European influence, this upscale restaurant is perfect for a special night out. Their martinis are highly recommended.
- Empire Burger: A bustling, budget-friendly spot serving arguably the best burgers in town. They also offer a variety of dipping sauces, salads, and milkshakes.
- The Canteen Tap House and Tavern: Known for its creative comfort food like the signature Canteen BBQ platter and green chile mac ‘n cheese, this spot also offers a variety of craft beers.
- Relish: A slightly upscale dining option that serves Colorado-inspired dishes. Their menu changes seasonally, and the views of the mountains are fantastic.
- Crepe a la Cart: A popular food cart for those on-the-go. They serve both sweet and savory crepes, and the line is often long but moves quickly.
- Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina: For those craving Mexican cuisine, Mi Casa offers an array of tasty dishes with a fun, festive atmosphere. Their margaritas are a crowd-pleaser.
- The Lost Cajun: Serving authentic Cajun cuisine like gumbo, crawfish étouffée, and beignets, this eatery is a flavorful option for seafood and spice lovers.
- Mountain Flying Fish: This upscale sushi bar sources its fish daily for the freshest possible sushi and sashimi. For those not into raw fish, they also offer a variety of cooked Japanese dishes.
Hotels & Lodging: Where to Stay in Breckenridge
Breckenridge Ski Resort is home to dozens of different hotels and accommodations for those visiting the mountain. However, there are also many independent hostels and hotels that provide their own unique charm and experience. Here are some of our favorite lodging options in Breckenridge.
- The Lodge at Breckenridge: An upscale lodge offering breathtaking views of the mountains, gourmet dining at Traverse Restaurant & Bar, and a luxurious spa. It’s an ideal choice for those seeking a luxurious retreat.
- Mountain Thunder Lodge: Located near downtown and also the BreckConnect Gondola, this lodge provides convenience and comfort. It offers condos with fully equipped kitchens and separate living areas, making it great for families or extended stays.
- Breckenridge Grand Vacations: This property offers a range of units from suites to 4-bedroom condos, ideal for larger groups or families. Amenities include hot tubs, pools, and a game room.
- The Bivvi Hostel: Perfect for budget-conscious travelers or solo adventurers, this chic hostel offers dormitory-style accommodations and a communal atmosphere. They also have private rooms for those wanting more privacy.
- Beaver Run Resort: Offering hotel rooms and condos, this ski-in/ski-out resort is conveniently located at the base of Peak 9. It features multiple hot tubs, indoor and outdoor pools, and several dining options.
- The Village at Breckenridge Resort: Another ski-in/ski-out option located near Main Street, offering both hotel rooms and condos. It has an outdoor heated pool and hot tubs with mountain views.
- BlueSky Breckenridge: Upscale condos with a great location – close to Snowflake lift and a short walk to Main Street. The property has an on-site ski rental shop, a heated pool, hot tubs, and even a bowling alley.
- Residence Inn by Marriott Breckenridge: A comfortable and modern hotel offering suites with kitchenettes. It’s pet-friendly and has an outdoor pool and hot tub with views of the mountains. A good choice for travelers who appreciate familiar brands and amenities.
Navigating Breckenridge: Essential Information
Reaching Breckenridge, nestled in the heart of Colorado’s majestic Rocky Mountains, is an experience of its own. Regardless of your starting point, you’ll traverse through scenic landscapes, dotted with towering mountains, alpine meadows, and sparkling rivers. Let’s dive into the different ways you can reach this high-altitude paradise and explore local transportation options for easy navigation around town once you’re here.
Getting to Breckenridge
By Air: Denver International Airport (DIA) is the nearest major airport to Breckenridge. It serves many national and international airlines, providing flexibility for travelers worldwide. From the airport, Breckenridge is a roughly two-hour drive. Many shuttle services like Epic Mountain Express or Colorado Mountain Express provide direct transfers from DIA to Breckenridge, making your journey seamless.
By Road: If you prefer the freedom of driving, renting a car from Denver or another nearby city is a viable option. The drive along Interstate 70 takes you through some truly awe-inspiring landscapes. However, bear in mind that mountain driving can be challenging, especially in winter, and having a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended.
Once in Breckenridge, you’ll find a variety of transportation options that make it easy to navigate the town and nearby attractions.
Free Ride Transit System: Breckenridge’s free town bus service is a fantastic way to get around. It operates multiple routes, serving key points in town, the base of the ski area, and a number of neighborhoods.
Breckenridge Trolley: For a touch of nostalgia, hop on the Breckenridge Trolley. It offers free service along Main Street, making it convenient for shopping, dining, and exploring downtown.
Bike Rental: If you’re visiting in the summer, consider renting a bike. Breckenridge has an extensive network of bike paths, and it’s a fun, active way to explore.
BreckConnect Gondola: This free gondola operates between the town and the Breckenridge Ski Resort. It’s not only a practical way to access the slopes but also a great opportunity to take in stunning mountain views.
Walking: Don’t underestimate the power of getting around on foot! Breckenridge is a pedestrian-friendly town, and many of its attractions are within easy walking distance.
By choosing the right transportation options, you can ensure a smooth, enjoyable journey to and within Breckenridge. So, pack your bags and prepare to explore all the wonders this charming mountain town has to offer!
Your Breckenridge Packing Checklist
Given Breckenridge’s seasonal weather fluctuations, it’s crucial to pack accordingly. Here’s a handy packing checklist to guide you. Remember, these lists are just guidelines, and the actual items you pack may vary based on your personal needs and the specific activities you plan to enjoy while in Breckenridge. Safe travels!
- Warm, waterproof jacket and pants
- Thermal layers for extra warmth
- Waterproof gloves or mittens
- Beanie or winter hat for head and ear protection
- Warm, waterproof boots
- Ski or snowboarding gear, if participating
- Moisturizer and lip balm to combat dry mountain air
- Light clothing for warm days
- Sweater or light jacket for cooler evenings
- Sturdy shoes for hiking or walking
- Swimsuit, if you plan to enjoy local water activities
- Sunscreen and sunglasses to protect against high-altitude sun
For Spring and Fall:
- Layered clothing to accommodate fluctuating temperatures
- Waterproof jacket or shell
- Warm hat and gloves for cooler days or nights
- Sturdy shoes for outdoor activities
- Personal toiletries and medications
- Camera or smartphone for capturing memories
- Reusable water bottle to stay hydrated
- Backpack or daypack for daily excursions
- The Ten Essentials (If you are planning any alpine hike or climbs)
Wrapping Up Your Breckenridge Journey
Breckenridge captures the energy and excitement of a Colorado ski resort, while preserving some of its historic charm from its early days as a mining camp. The result is a truly unique Colorado mountain town – well worth a visit anytime of year. I hope this Visitor Guide helps you plan your next trip and fill it with fun things to do in Breckenridge, Colorado. Safe travels on the trails!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A: Breckenridge is a charming town, known for its rich history, outdoor recreational activities (including the famous Breckenridge Ski Resort), and vibrant arts scene. The unique blend of historic charm, outdoor adventure, and modern amenities makes it special.
A: Breckenridge is a charming town, known for its rich history, outdoor recreational activities, and a vibrant arts scene. The unique blend of historic charm and modern amenities makes it special.
A: Absolutely! Breckenridge offers a wide array of fun activities for all ages, ranging from skiing and hiking to exploring museums, art galleries, and a lively culinary scene.
A: A trip of 3 to 5 days is typically sufficient to experience the highlights of Breckenridge, though you could easily extend your stay if you want a more relaxed pace or to delve deeper into the activities on offer.
A: Yes, Breckenridge offers a rich travel experience for history buffs, nature enthusiasts, art lovers, and foodies alike. The town’s picturesque setting and vibrant local culture make it a destination well worth visiting.
A: Breckenridge is indeed a walkable town with a compact downtown area. Many attractions, restaurants, and shops are within an easy walk of each other. However, to explore the surrounding areas, you may need a car or bike.
A: Breckenridge offers a range of activities, including hiking, skiing, mountain biking, fishing, exploring historical sites, dining at local restaurants, and enjoying the arts and culture scene.
A: Yes, beyond traditional modes of exploration, you can explore Breckenridge through activities like guided historic tours, scenic gondola rides, snowmobile tours in winter, and mountain biking in summer.
A: The best month to visit depends on the activities you’re interested in. December to February is perfect for skiing and snowboarding, while summer months, June through August, offer excellent hiking, biking, and fishing opportunities.
A: While the town itself is walkable, a car can be useful for reaching outlying attractions or if you’re planning to visit surrounding towns. However, Breckenridge also has good local transportation options.
A: Both towns offer unique experiences. Aspen is known for its luxury and high-end ski resorts, while Breckenridge has a rich history and a more family-friendly vibe. The choice would depend on your personal preferences and budget.