Just the mention of Breckenridge, Colorado brings happy thoughts of skiing and snow. And while this incredibly beautiful Rocky Mountain jewel does have an immense amount of winter sports activities, Breck, as the locals call it, is a four-season resort community offering a myriad of fun, and fabulous things to do in Breckenridge year-round.
We’re not skiers, but no matter how many times my husband and I have been to Breckenridge, we find ourselves planning a future return trip. It’s really that amazing!
Breckenridge didn’t start out as a ski town. It was founded in 1859 during the massive Colorado Gold Rush. At an elevation of 9,600 feet, this alpine hamlet is located 80 miles west of Denver, and has all the elements of a perfect vacation destination. It’s an outdoor lover’s nirvana. History oozes from its pores. And Mother Nature has blessed this magnificent region with awe-inspiring treasures, one after another.
To experience Breckenridge’s magical vibe, here are our favorite ways to stay and play in this lofty paradise, in addition to skiing and winter sports.
Visiting other destinations in Colorado? Check out our other delicious guide:
- 13 Most Iconic Denver Restaurants
- 7 Must-Try Breckenridge Restaurants
- 7 Best Grand Lake Colorado Restaurants
- 10 Best Restaurants In Colorado Springs
- The 12 Best Things To Do In Breckenridge
- Stay at Gravity Haus
- Take a Historic Trolley Tour
- Tour Country Boy Mine
- Ride a Breckenridge Fat Bike
- Hop on a Gondola
- Hike Sawmill Reservoir
- Get Up to Boreas Pass
- Visit Breckenridge Distillery
- Grab a Brew at Broken Compass
- Epic Discovery
- Discover Breckenridge Arts District
- Visit High Line Railroad Park and Museum
- Which of these things to do in Breckenridge will you try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
The 12 Best Things To Do In Breckenridge
605 Park Ave. // (970) 453-5125
Breckenridge has an abundance of vacation rentals which we love, but on our last visit, we did something different and stayed at Gravity Haus. Nestled at the base of Peak 9 just steps from downtown Main Street, this wonderfully eclectic boutique inn is an ideal home base from which to explore Breckenridge.
This 60-room pup-friendly hotel is beautifully appointed, eco-friendly, and extremely comfortable; the perfect place to rest your head after a busy day of exploration and activities. The lobby features warm fur-covered antique ski lift chairs and other comfy seating. We’re in love with the local-farm-inspired cuisine and craft cocktails at their signature restaurant and bar, Cabin Juice.
One of the many things we love about Breckenridge is that the town offers a free trolley that starts out from the Breckenridge Welcome Center at Blue River Plaza, then loops Main Street, returning to the same trolley stop in thirty minutes. It’s the ideal way to get an introduction to the town and see many historic sites along the way.
You’ll see some of Breckenridge’s most beloved historic homes and buildings, including original log homes. While at the Visitor’s Center, be sure to peruse the fascinating displays detailing the town’s history from the original Native American settlement through its gold-mining days and Victorian era right up to the present.
0542 French Gulch Road // (970) 453-4405
Gold—the precious metal that put Breckenridge on the map! And while Country Boy Mine closed nearly 100 years later, visitors can still descend 1,000-feet and tour one of Colorado’s most famous shafts.
Donning hard hats and flashlights and led by a guide, we were treated to our underground tour through time. We trod the path of miners and reveled in the massive equipment and dynamite holes scattered throughout the tunnels. “If only walls could talk, the stories they’d tell” echoed through our minds as we journeyed deeper into the mine shaft.
An optional activity included in the mine tour is panning for gold. For those who haven’t ever done it, a guide is there to demonstrate. I can truly attest that it’s not just the little kids that loved being in that stream hoping to strike it rich!
529 S. Main Street // (970) 453-2055
Visitors can discover some of Breckenridge’s fascinating points of interest and get there fast by hopping on a fat bike tour. Or just rent a bike for a half or full day and ride along the picturesque streams and other stunning aspects of this magnificent Rocky Mountain town.
Breckenridge Bike Tours by Ridden rent wide-tired cycle rentals year-round. And they can, as this bike with oversized tires is specifically designed for off-road use, particularly soft terrains like snow or sand. But they can also manage the unstable and uneven paths of the mountains and unpaved roads. They’re safe and provide an easy ride. Plus, they’re a ton of fun!
170 Watson Avenue // (970) 453-5000
Breck-Connect Gondola is a favorite of skiers needing to access the ski resort from town. But off-season they give riders a bird’s eye view of the stunning mountains, valleys, forests, and streams surrounding Breckenridge.
The gondolas are fast—covering over 400 feet of vertical rise and 7,600-feet of distance in just ten minutes. Each of its enclosed cabins can hold up to eight passengers, and it’s free to ride the gondola for roundtrip transports from town to the ski base area.
On our last trip, we met up with professional photographer Liam Duran to visit the Cucumber Gulch Wildlife Preserve for an amazing photo experience in the great outdoors.
Breckenridge truly represents Rocky Mountain Mother Nature in all her finest. And one of the best ways to experience its immense beauty is by hiking.
Each time we visit Breckenridge, we choose a different hike. This isn’t hard given the hundreds of local trails ranging from fairly easy to difficult.
One of our favorites for starters is Sawmill Reservoir, a 1.3-mile loop trail near town. It’s good for all skill levels, especially when hiking with those who’ve never hiked in Colorado’s thin mountain air.
The area is incredibly scenic, offering stunning mountain vistas, shady pines, and seasonal wildflowers. It’s spectacular and a great way to start a Breckenridge hiking adventure before moving on to more challenging treks.
At an elevation of 11,482 feet, the Boreas Pass scenery is so breathtaking it’s almost hard to describe. Located on the lofty Continental Divide at the headwaters of two famous Colorado Rivers, this 22-mile pass offers innumerable “honey, stop the car” moments.
Other activities within the pass include hiking, biking, and camping. But no matter how you spend your time here, the experience will absolutely blow your mind. And in the fall, when the aspens quake and other trees begin to show off their colors, it’s impossible to stop taking photos.
137 Main St. // (970) 547-9759
Renowned as the world’s highest distillery, it’s not just the height that makes this unique distillery stand out. It’s the purity of the Rocky Mountain snowmelt infused into the distillery’s spirits that separates it from all others. Trust me, this place is awesome.
You can’t come to Breckenridge without a tour and tasting of these amazing spirits. You’ll learn the history of bourbon, fun facts about the products, and visit the facilities where these tantalizing libations are made, stored, and bottled.
The tasting, of course, is super fun. Not only does the experience include straight samples of bourbon, vodka, and gin, but also some unique blends like pear, chile chili, espresso vodkas, along with spiced whiskey and rum.
Hang around for a fabulous meal at Breckenridge Distillery Restaurant for an upscale, yet relaxed mountain dining affair. You’ll be so glad you did.
68 Continental Ct Unit 12B // (970)-368-2772
Colorado is known for its craft beer, and Breckenridge is loaded with great breweries. Though we’ve been to several, we’re giving it up for our favorite, Broken Compass Brewing.
Who isn’t fascinated by their motto “Where Lost Beer Souls are Found?” The staff here is delightful, knowledgeable, and treats guests like family. The beer menu changes seasonally with international bents, but their tap brews are always creative.
Some of our favorites include the Ginger Pale Ale, Strawberry Blonde, Mango Passionfruit Sour, and Coconut Porter. Pure beer drinkers will love their Kolsch, Czech Pilsner, Irish Red, and IPAs.
170 Watson Avenue // +18007897669
Situated within the Breckenridge Ski Resort, Epic Discovery is an adrenaline junkie’s adventure park. While the park is closed during the winter ski season, mid-June through mid-September brings a whole new level of outdoor fun.
The discovery park boasts zip lines, canopy tours, coasters, miniature golf, gold panning, and guided 4X4 Jeep tours. It’s a blast for the entire family providing adventures in the slopes, mountains, and valleys of Breckenridge.
The art scene is alive, vibrant, and growing by leaps and bounds in Breckenridge. Each time we visit, there are more places to experience local arts and crafts and enjoy the town’s creative treasures.
Just stroll Main Street and its side alleys, and you’ll see artists in residence working diligently in their studios and art galleries. Their works include paintings, metalsmithing, jewelry, pottery, glassworks, textiles, and more.
The district’s core attraction is a lively art campus housing workshops within historic renovated structures. For those who want to do more than browse and admire the creativity of Breckenridge’s talented artisans, the district also offers hands-on art and craft classes
Pick up a map at the Visitor’s Center on Main Street for more information on finding these artistic venues.
189 Boreas Pass Road // (970) 453-9767
When the first train arrived in Breckenridge in 1882, it altered the course of the town’s future. The railroad continuously brought supplies and amenities to this western Victorian town until its demise in 1937.
Train enthusiasts delight in visiting Engine No. 9, a genuine original locomotive designed for narrow-gauge mountain rail operations. The engine and rail cars are part of a small curated museum that relates the history of the railway through photos and artifacts. And the best part is the museum is free.
Photo opportunities here are phenomenal, especially in the fall when the forest backdrop is ablaze with color.
Renowned conservation and naturalist John Muir once said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”
It’s exactly how we feel each time we visit Breckenridge. And we gladly answer her beckoning call.
Which of these things to do in Breckenridge will you try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Noreen Kompanik is a Registered Nurse and San Diego-based travel writer and photographer. Over 400 of her published articles have appeared in 38 different digital and print publications. She especially loves writing about family travel, luxury travel, food, wine, coffee, history and travel writing and shares these articles on her travel website What’s In Your Suitcase.