Of all the towns in the widely renowned mountain cluster of Summit County, Colorado, none possess the complete package quite like Breckenridge. From rugged mountain adventures to world-class food, drink and socializing, Breckenridge has a little something for everyone. Assuming you have but one day to enjoy this majestic mountain town, the ideas below will ensure that you make the most of your time (regardless of season).
The early morning ski crowd gathers for fresh made goodness at Crepes A La Cart.
WAKE UP, CREPE UP
A full-mountain day requires a full-mountain belly, and there’s no better place to get your Breckenridge breakfast fix than Crêpes Á La Cart (307 South Main St., Breckenridge, CO 80424; 970-453-0622; crepesalacarts.com). Although no one likes waiting in line, this three-person operation will definitely come with a queue; but it’s well worth the wait. The menu features more than 50 different crêpes, with crowd favorites including the Monte Cristo - cheddar cheese, ham, chicken, honey Dijon, and raspberry jam - and the Funky French Monkey - milk chocolate chips, peanut butter, and bananas. Not to be overlooked are the Philly Cheesesteak, loaded with shreds of ribeye steak, or the Blueberry Muffin, packed with angel food cake (yes, really). And don’t forget to close out your order with a cup o’ joe, as you’ll need the caffeine boost.
Artists start chipping out their ice sculptures for the International Snow Sculpture Championship (left). The town of Breckenridge from above (right).
COLD WEATHER MOUNTAIN ACTIVITIES
For winter vacationers, the obvious choice is to hit the slopes. Breckenridge offers more than 2,900 acres, including four terrain parks, two half-pipes and just fewer than 200 trails across five peaks. Definitely make time for the recently opened Peak 6, which features a new 543-acre expansion. Pro tip: Don’t miss “Bliss”, the brand new, high-alpine, intermediate bowl run (a rare find for the area). A full-day lift ticket is going to set you back around $100 for adults and $60 for the young’uns (less for off-season, more for peak), but be sure to check Liftopia as soon as you know your intended ski-or-snowboard date for the best discounts.
For the adrenaline-averse crowd, consider cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at the Breckenridge Nordic Center (1200 Ski Hill Rd, Breckenridge, CO 80424; 970-453-6855; breckenridgenordic.com). The warm cabin-lodge sets the tone for the several miles of winter wonderland trails that lies ahead. The friendly staff will outfit you with the proper gear and will recommend trails to match your experience level (guided tours are also available). Be sure to wrap up your workout by nestling up with a cup of hot chocolate by the lodge’s inviting fireplace.
You don’t have to be as fit as this guy (2002 Olympian Matt Dayton) to cross-country ski at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. (But it doesn’t hurt.)
WARM WEATHER OPTIONS
Although Breckenridge sees much more action in the winter, there's no lack of great outdoor activities during the summer months. If hiking is your game, look no further than McCullough Gulch on the outskirts of town (about 7.5 miles south on Route 9). Your destination is a crystal clear glacial lake which follows a path alongside a series of breathtaking waterfalls. Budget yourself at least two hours from start to finish, and get an early start to avoid common summer afternoon thunderstorms.
If you’re looking for fun family thrills, the Gold Runner Alpine Coaster and Alpine Superslide (320 N. Park Breckenridge, Breckenridge, CO 80424; 970-453-5000) are not to be missed. Both provide thrill-seekers the ability to control their speed down the mountain - so zoom or coast at your heart’s desire. Don’t be fooled, although the coaster and superslide are aimed toward kids, these downhill rides will unearth your own inner-child.
Breckenridge Brewery, the first craft brewery to open in Summit County. If you burned calories x-country skiing, order the beer cheese fries without guilt.
LATE AFTERNOON BREWS
Nothing rounds out an afternoon of adventure and adrenaline quite like a tasty craft brew. Breckenridge’s go-to spot for brews is the very aptly named Breckenridge Brewery (600 S Main St, Breckenridge, CO 80424; 970-453-1550;breckbrew.com). Established in 1990, Breckenridge Brewery was the first craft brewery to open in all Summit County. Dark beer fans should try the Vanilla Porter, which is regarded as their most popular, and rightfully so (crazy delicious). The Agave Wheat serves as a tasty alternative for those who prefer sweeter suds (aka Blue Moon drinkers). Balance out the drinks by grabbing one of brewery’s tasty appetizers. For the spicy food aficionados, give the fried jalapenos a shot. Be forewarned: they are HOT. If you choose to not have your stomach double as a fireplace, the Beer Cheese Fries topped with candied bacon, cheddar jack cheese, and green onions are sure to please.
Admittedly much of the day has already centered on food, the perfect Breckenridge trip is not complete without a delicious dinner. For an upscale option, put on your fancy pants and head to the intimate Le Petit Paris Bistro (161 E Adams Ave Breckenridge, CO 80424; 970-547-5335; lepetitparisbistro.com). Consider the French Onion Soup a pre-meal mandatory. The Boeuf Bourguignon and Poulet are both succulent, cooked to perfection, and seasoned with the precision you expect from upscale French cuisine. Ask your very knowledgeable server for guidance if stuck between options.
You can top off the night with an intimate delicious dinner at Le Petite Paris Bistro.
STAY THE NIGHT
If late afternoon brews were followed by a glass (or bottle) of wine during dinner, then it’s best to be safe and postpone your return to Denver until the following morning (just be sure to return your Zipcar on time, to avoid any additional fees). The Bivvi (9511 Colorado 9, Breckenridge, CO 80424; 970-423-6553;thebivvi.com), a relatively new hostel-meets-luxury-hotel features stylish, cozy, clean accommodations with very affordable rates (starting at $45 for a bed). Co-owners Bond Camp and Worthy McCormick, lead the friendly staff, and the location, just off Breck’s Main Street, couldn’t be more central.
Sleeping over? Cozy up at the Bivvi. It’s kind of youth hostel meets luxury hotel.
Now that you know where to go, put on your long-johns and book your local ride. Or for a bigger journey - isn't there a long weekend coming up? - grab a Zipcar at the Denver airport and head to Breck.
Zach Davis is an author, Appalachian Trail thru-hiker and bearded adventurer living in Denver, Colorado. Visit his site at http://zrdavis.com and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and Google.