Our entire family loves Breckenridge Ski Resort no matter the season. Our love of this mountain town about 90 minutes from Denver, started on a summer vacation. It was the type of trip you never forget, an entire July in Breckenridge, CO. The whole family still talks about our adventures, rafting, hiking, mountain biking, and just being together.
Four years later, we decided to make a return trip, this time in the winter for Thanksgiving week. My boys have off the ENTIRE week of Thanksgiving, so we booked early in the week, coming back on Thanksgiving Day before everything from flights to hotels to rental equipment spikes.
Here’s what we’ve discovered about visiting Breckenridge Ski Resort, in the winter and the summer. Know of something we forgot? Tell us, we’ll be going back just as soon as we can.
Breckenridge Lodging and Breckenridge Hotels | Ski Breckenridge | Breckenridge Ski School | Breckenridge Mountain Bike School | Winter and Summer at Peak 8 Fun Park | 20+ Things to do Year Round in Breckenridge | Country Boy Mine | 5 Favorite Breckenridge Hikes | 9 Favorite Breck Restaurants | 7 Great Happy Hour Deals in Breckenridge for Families | 6 Common Mistakes When Visiting Breckenridge
Breckenridge Lodging and Breckenridge Hotels
When we looked at going out to Colorado, we wanted to visit one of the ski resorts near Denver. Denver is easy to fly into and you can get some good deals if you watch. For our summer trip, Breck was an easy drive to my husband’s clients in the Denver area.
During our summer visit, we stayed in a townhome called the Claim Jumper. It was a perfect base for a summer adventure in Breck. It was right across from the Breckenridge Rec Center and close to the Breckenridge bike paths along the Blue River.
The Ski Hill Condos was the right location for our winter escape. We were two blocks from Downtown, an easy walk. And the free shuttle to skiing on Peak 8 was at the end of our driveway (thankfully not far to walk in those clunky ski boots).
Go Breck, Breckenridge’s tourism office, booked our Ski Hill Condos, but we found our place at the Claim Jumper on VRBO. Another great site is Vacatia. Resorts and owners list their unused residences for rent and the folks at Vacatia inspect each property, taking some of the guesswork out of it. They have places for rent at the popular One Ski Hill Place (perfect for winter), as well as in-town properties like Main Street Junction (perfect for summer).
There are thousands of rentals in Breckenridge. You may want to start your search for Breckenridge lodging on the Go Breck site.
Deals on Breckenridge Lodging and Breckenridge Hotels
Whatever you decide, for the best deal on any of the ski resorts in Colorado, the key is book early during the season. For winter vacations, you’ll want to book in August. Not only will you have more choice, but once the ski season begins, rates go up.
Shoulder season, like our Thanksgiving trip are also a good bet if you want to save some money. Many area Denver Ski Resorts like Breckenridge have snow through April, so spring skiing is also a time to save some money.
Regardless of time of year, the best part about Colorado skiing is the wide, long trails. You spend less time on in the lifts and more time on the slopes than eastern skiing. Plus when you hit a powder day, it’s a little slice of heaven.
Once you have lodging situated, another big expense is your lift ticket. Purchase your Breckenridge ski pass BEFORE you get to Breckenridge Ski Resort, it will save you money. Also be sure to read the fine print. Breckenridge ski passes are only valid at the Breck resort, however, you can exchange them for lift tickets to other Vail Resorts.
If you know you are going to ski several places, you might want to invest in an Epic Pass. In addition to season passes, they also have 4- and 7-day passes. The Epic Pass is good at several ski resorts in Colorado.
If you are just using the Breckenridge ski pass, know that any additional days you add will be charged the higher window rate – so think about what you plan to do before you go.
If you love skiing in Breckenridge, try the winter time fun in nearby Beaver Creek, CO.
We’ve always rented our equipment from the ski resort. When you do that, make sure to go the night BEFORE you want to ski. Getting equipment can take a while, and you don’t want to eat up your ski day getting fitted.
During our trip to Breckenridge, rentals came to us. We used a company called Ski Butlers. They came to our condo, fitted everyone right there and we just left everything afterward for them to pick up. It was great and I could unpack while the kids tried on their gear.
Fun on the Slopes at Breckenridge Ski Resort
Whether it’s summer or winter, before you grab a Breckenridge trail map and hit the mountain slopes, consider going back to school for a lesson. And then take a break from skiing and mountain biking for a little fun on Peak 8.
Breckenridge Ski Resort: Ski School
Remember pizza and French fries I told my 18-year-old as we eased him down a slight slope. Pizza is the wedge you make to stop, French fries, the straight skis to go.
He looked at me and rolled his eyes. Maybe I wasn’t the best one to teach him how to ski. Good thing I signed all the boys up for lessons at the Breckenridge Ski School.
During the lessons, they evaluated their abilities and separated them out appropriately. Each child had fun and thought they received the right amount of instruction at the right level.
Experts say three days of ski school is the right amount to get anyone confident on skis. We only did one day, but it was enough to make the rest of our trip enjoyable and get everyone up and down the mountain in one piece and having fun. In retrospect, the 18-year-old probably could have used one more day though.
When the snow melts in Colorado ski country, it’s time to hang up the skis and get out the mountain bike.
To give guests the skills they need for a great day on the mountain bike trail, several Vail Resorts offer mountain biking school. Similar to ski school, these classes are taught by ability level and include a guided run down the mountain.
I would never have considered mountain bike school before our trip, after all, my family knows how to ride a bike. However, after spending a few hours with Eric Zerowin, Ski & Ride Supervisor and Instructor at Breckenridge Ski Resort, I can’t imagine heading up the mountain without a lesson.
Why Go to Mountain Bike School at Breckenridge Ski Resort?
You may be thinking, I don’t need bike lessons, my family knows how to ride a bike. But for those of us who aren’t regularly on a bike, much less a mountain bike and kids who are used to riding on asphalt roads or sidewalks, looking over the handlebars down a 12,000+ ft. mountain can be scary. If you fall, it’s a rocky landing.
That said, a trip to Colorado wouldn’t be complete without doing a bit of mountain biking, especially when you can get a lift UP the mountain. Here’s why you should consider Mountain Bike School.
Mountain Bike School Training Park
The mountain bike school at Breckenridge Resorts starts at a training park. Instructors check everyone’s gear, making sure helmets fit correctly and if you are bringing your own bikes, checking them out for a safe a comfortable ride. Once the gear is set, instructors watch as students attempt a series of elements present on the mountain such as rock paths, tight spaces and bridges.
Students learn how to steer through often rocky switchback turns both up and down the mountain. Once basic skills are mastered, students run through two different courses, in the open and through the trees.
Why Hire a Mountain Bike Guide at Breckenridge Ski Resort?
If students are ready, it’s time to head up the mountain where instructors lead the way to set the pace and guide the group through the trail. Even if you skip the training school, consider a guide for the first couple trips down the mountain. The guide knows the trail, so bikers can concentrate on obstacles rather than way finding. Plus, by setting the pace, the guide ensures no one gets out of control or goes too fast.
My three children are at very different ability levels on a bike. Normally the instructor would have split us into two groups, but we opted to stay together. My youngest isn’t overly confident on flat ground yet, the middle is a good biker, but has never attempted mountain biking and the oldest is familiar with mountain biking having done Beaver Creek Mountain a few years ago.
Why Mountain Bike School is good for all levels
All three got something out of the school. My youngest improved by leaps and bounds. Although he didn’t attempt riding down the mountain – yet, he rides with a lot more confidence and I feel a lot better just watching him on the steep mountain paths around town.
My middle son thought the paths were going to be a smooth, fast ride on dirt. He wasn’t expecting the rocky loose terrain and the need to go slower to stay in control and was surprised to find his arms hurt at the end of the run. The oldest felt the school gave him more confidence and made the ride more enjoyable. My husband echoed that sentiment too.
6 Tips for Mountain Biking with Kids in Breckenridge
- The Breckenridge mountain bike training park is located just past the Gold Coaster ride and is open to the public. Visit whenever you need a refresher or as a warm up to heading up for a ride down Peak 8. The resort is adding a pump track soon. A pump track is a series of hills that allow students to get used to riding up and down and learn how to let the hill propel them
- If you are bringing your own bikes, make sure they have front suspension. Just because you are riding a ‘mountain bike’ doesn’t mean it’s suitable for the rugged and rocky terrain of a mountain like Peak 8.
- Reservations are recommended, but they will take walk-ups if space allows. Breckenridge has two lessons a day – 10 am and 1:30 pm. The morning session is best as afternoon weather in Breckenridge can be a problem.
- Ratios for mountain bike school are 4 to 1. Exceptions can be made for families or groups. If a group has different abilities, they’ll split them up.
- You don’t have to go up the mountain, if you’d rather use your 2.5 hours in the training park learning skills, that’s fine. The bike haul pass is good for the rest of the day, so after instruction students can take a break and attempt the mountain later on their own.
- Instructors tailor the lesson to student abilities. They’ll spend more or less time on skills and head up the mountain when students feel ready. It may be that you spend 10 minutes in the training park and then do several guided rides down the mountain.
Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort
New in 2017, Breckenridge Ski Resort is debuting the Epic Discovery, a collection of summer outdoor adventures you’ll love, along with the favorites from the previously-named Breckenridge Fun Park.
Peak 8 Summer Favorites
Speeding down a cement track on a plastic sled with a simple lever for a break was the best part of Summer at the Breckenridge Fun Park (now called Peak 8 Base Camp as part of Epic Discovery) according to my kids. It was the sense of controlling your own destiny and the ever present danger of wiping out that made them want to go again and again. Years later, the Alpine slide is still the topic of family lore.
The Peak 8 Base Camp is located at the top of the FREE BreckConnect Gondola from town and feels like an alpine amusement park with activities for young and young at heart. A full day Adventure Pass includes unlimited rides access to the bungee trampoline, the Mineshaft Maze, Ripperoo’s bounce house, mini golf, scenic chairlift, gemstone panning, rock wall, Gold Runner Coaster and Alpine SuperSlide. If you plan to spend some time here, the unlimited pass is worth it. We found it paid for itself just in Gold Runner Coaster rides.
For littler guests, (30-100lbs) there are activies just for them, including the Lil’ Climber Ropes Course, tubing and the Little Flyer Zipline, as well as day camp. There are also guided hikes, 4×4 tours and bike haul up the mountain for an additional fee.
The Alpine SuperSlide (our family favorite) sled holds one or two people, so smaller kids can go down with a parent. If you’re a speed demon, make sure to leave room in front as sleds can get backed up. Lane three is only single rider, so presumably it’s faster, however, all the lanes offer a fun ride.
Lines for the attractions can get long on holidays and weekends. To get the most of your visit, go early. The gondola from town begins at 9:30 am, the same time the fun park opens. You can drive up the mountain or if staying on property, head out early and beat the crowds from town. Breckenridge is known for afternoon showers and the slide and coaster shut down during bad weather, so visit them first to ensure a ride.
NEW Epic Discovery Activities (will open mid-July)
We haven’t tried these out yet, but they sound like great additions.
Expedition Zip Line Tour on Peak 7
Guests will spend two hours exploring the Peak 7 Ore Bucket area of Breckenridge Ski Resort by air; navigating over a mile on eight zip lines between 10 towers and a 200 foot long aerial bridge walk with stunning views of Summit County.
Alpineer Challenge Course
Just steps away from the top of the Colorado SuperChair area at the base of Horseshoe Bowl, teens and adults will be able to pick their own paths through 16 different challenges from lightly swinging logs to shoe-to-rope balancing maneuvers. The one-of-a-kind course blends in with the surrounding environment of the new Alpine Camp and offers shade for those who want to observe the fun.
Interpretive Trail with Animal Abilities and Story Stakes
Even your youngest traveler can enjoy this hike. Beckenridge Ski resort is introducing a new 0.75 mile hiking loop takes guests on a journey of learning about Breck’s high-alpine environment, including animals, flora and fauna, mountain wetlands, impacts of the gold rush and additional history of the area. Story Stakes along the loop will provide photos, fun facts and interesting written descriptions to encourage a connection to the area while learning in a unique way.
Gold Summit Climbing Wall
My boys loved testing their skills on the rock wall at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. Now, summer travelers of all ability levels can test their skills on the different routes on the new permanent rock climbing wall at the top of the Colorado SuperChair at the Breckenridge Ski Resort. The 35 foot tall climbing wall, with 13 distinct routes is perfect for beginners to advanced climbers.
Peak 8 Fun Park in Winter
The Epic Discovery is open from June through September, but the fun doesn’t end then. The Gold Coaster is available summer and winter. It’s a great break from skiing too, you can ride in ski boots or tennis shoes, whatever you choose and you control your speed with hand breaks, so even little ones can enjoy the ride.
Tickets to Epic Discovery (or just the Gold Coaster in Winter) at the Breckenridge Ski Resort can be purchased individually per attraction or as a full day fun pass. The literature is a bit confusing on ticket prices, as there are other activities available on the mountain, so if you are unsure, ask.
20+ Ways to Play Off the Slopes at Breckenridge Ski Resort
Although Breckenridge is arguably one of the best ski resorts in Colorado, one of the many reasons I love Breck is that it’s not just a contrived ski resort, but a real working, breathing town with a history beyond snow. There’s a lot to do in the town of Breckenridge beyond just playing on the mountain at the Breckenridge Ski Resort. Here are 20+ Things to do in Breckenridge in winter and summer off the ski slopes.
Year Round Fun in Breckenridge, CO
Breckenridge Welcome Center. The best place to start a visit to the town of Breckenridge is at the Breckenridge Welcome Center. In addition to information about all the things going on in Breck, they have an awesome free museum.
Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. I love history and the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance members know all about Breck’s colorful past. In addition to managing several historic residences in town that are free to visit, they also offer guided hikes and historic tours. Here are three of our favorites.
- Haunted Tour of Breckenridge. Life in 1800’s Breckenridge was hard, and several folks met with untimely deaths, although according to locals, not everyone has departed. The Haunted Tour of Breckenridge is more historical than scary, but there are a few stories that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The ghost stories also give a glimpse at real life in a western mining town and what it took to survive. Stories of prostitution, cannibalism and gruesome mining accidents are part of this tour, although guides leave any detail to your imagination. We took my 8-year-old and it was fine, he focused more on the ghosts than the story of their mortal counterpart.
- Preston Mill Ghost Town Tour. Visiting a ghost town was on my list when we came to Colorado, so I was super excited about this hike that includes a picnic lunch. The hike itself has some steeper inclines that might take younger kids a bit longer, but it’s not difficult and the guide goes at a leisurely pace. Along the way to the former town of Preston Mill, you pass abandon gold mines and equipment, a nice diversion if your child is like my youngest and balks at the mention of “hike.” The town itself is almost gone. There are few buildings that remain standing, but the stories give you a feel for what was once a prosperous mining town.
- Swinging Doors Saloon Tour. Who could resist exploring western saloons? My husband and I left the kids at home for this 21 and over tour. I enjoyed learning about the evolution of saloon architecture including the reason behind the famous false fronts and recessed doorways. We heard stories of robbery and gun fights, and finished by sampling the wares from the current Breckenridge Distillery. Afterwards, we backtracked to enjoy a libation at the Gold Pan Saloon. Although not always the Gold Pan, there has been a saloon on this site since 1865. The bar itself dates back to the 1800’s.
Blue River Plaza. Outside the Welcome Center is the Blue River Plaza, which has a play area for toddlers and small children. The Plaza sits next to the River Walk where kids and adults can’t help hopping the rocks to cross the Blue River. This is also the gathering spot for the town of Breckenridge.
Shopping. Breck has lots of fun and unique shops. My favorite is Marigold’s Farmhouse Funk and Junk. You never know what you’ll find there, or at Ole Man Berkin’s Bookstore. This local used bookstore is a bit off the beaten path, and a bit off in general, which is what I love. If you need a card to send to your ex who just broke up with you, this is the place to find it.
Art Galleries. The town of Breckenridge has several art galleries. I enjoyed purusing the artwork, and at one even watched as a painter created a piece.
Special Events. Summer or winter, plan a trip to take advantage of one of the many special events hosted by the town of Breckenridge. During our summer stay, we were there for Breck Bike Week and the Fourth of July. During bike week my older boys and husband explored the town by bike on a Poker Ride. The little guy and I did a Go Fish ride that was fun and a bit challenging. Everyone enjoyed the Fourth of July parade down Main Street.
I have on my list to visit Breck during the snow sculpture championships in January. My son who loves Vikings, would probably enjoy the Ullr Fest too.
Fly Fishing. The rivers around Breckenridge don’t freeze over, so whether it’s winter or summer, fly fishing is a popular past-time.
Breckenridge Rec Center. The Breckenridge Rec Center is a hidden gem. There is an indoor pool with a zero entry for little ones and a lap pool for swimmers. In addition there is a water slide, lazy river, rope swing, basketball nets and a climbing wall.
To ease the aches from being so active, there are two hot tubs. The Rec Center also has tennis, a rock wall, and complete workout facilities. Visitors can come for the day, get a punch card for multiple visits.
During our summer in Breck, we purchased a monthly pass. The boys loved the aqua wall and rope swing and the older ones are excited to use the rock climbing wall.
Skateboarding Park. Just outside the Breckenridge Rec Center is a free skateboarding park. Whether you board or not, it’s fun to watch.
Ice Skating. The Stephen C West Ice Arena is on the southside of town. You can take a lesson, or visit during the public sessions. If you’d rather watch than skate, you can also take in a Breckenridge Bucs hockey game.
Museums. In addition to the free Welcome Center Museum, the town of Breckenridge has several other museums including the Barney Ford House Museum and Edwin Carter Museum. If you have kids, the Mountain Top Children’s Museum is a must visit.
Theatre. The Backstage Theatre has shows year round. Check out their latest season and take a break from the skiing to take in a show.
Wintertime fun off the Slopes at Breckenridge Ski Resort
Carter Park Free Sledding Hill. Looking for some in-expensive wintertime fun, head to the Carter Park free sledding hill in the town of Breckenridge CO. Ask your rental company if they have sleds you can use, or if all else fails, purchase a few saucers at the City Market Downtown.
During our sledding adventure, we met a family from Dallas, TX on the hill. They were just as excited to see snow as we were. As a full moon appeared creating a blue filter on the hill, and we packed our sleds to leave, a family of foxes came out to play. It was a storybook ending to a great day.
Snowshoeing. Breckenridge has some amazing hiking trails. Visit them during the winter for a different perspective with snowshoes. We did a snowshoe guided hike with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance that was fabulous.
Snowmobiling. My family lived near Buffalo, NY when I was little and we had snowmobiles. There is something totally awesome about flying through the woods on a snowmobile.
Fat Bike Riding. We did a lot of mountain bike riding during the summer months in Breckenridge. They have some amazing trails. In the winter, change out the tires to a Fat Bike and take in those same trails in a new way.
Dog Sledding. This is HIGH on my bucket list. I cannot wait to try dog sledding.
Summer Time Fun at Breckenridge Ski Resort
Visit a Gold Mine. Country Boy Mine is a must do activity from May – October. We’ll tell you more about our experience below.
Pump It Up. The Town of Breckenridge maintains a pump track at the Ice Arena. Bring your bike and see if you can make it all the way around without pedaling.
Breckenridge Stables. Riding through the mountains on horseback was at the top of my list of things to do during our summer visit, I’d love to go back for a sleigh ride in the winter.
Our family enjoys riding horses, but we are not skilled riders, so this nose-to-tail ride was perfect for us. The route we took through the mountains was pretty and crossed varied terrain.
The rides go out rain or shine, as we found out, so you may want to bring a slicker just in case. Anyone who has spent a summer in Breckenridge knows the weather can change quickly. In August Breck Stables brings the PRCA Pro Rodeo to town.
Hiking. One of our favorite summertime activities was hiking the many trails in and around Breckenridge. We did a combination of finding our own trails, as well as going on guided hikes through the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance and the Town of Breckenridge. See below for our favorites.
And if you love Breckridge in the summer, you might also want to check out nearby Vail, CO.
The town of Breckenridge was built on the quest for gold and a great way to learn about that history, especially with kids, is through a tour of the Country Boy Mine. The Country Boy Mine lets visitors go down into a real mine shaft and learn what it was like for the hard rock miners. Country Boy Mine is a great summer or fall option, the mine is only open May – October.
What to Expect on the Country Boy Mine Tour
I’d rather be a rancher than a miner. The tunnels are dark, especially when it’s just candlelight. It’s cold, the mine is a constant 45 degrees year round. It’s damp, miners worked with their feet in freezing underground waterways that originated in the snowcapped mountains. Then there were the rats. Miners introduced rats to the tunnels because the rats would warn the miners of trouble, guiding them out of the mine with their red eyes.
Guest to the Country Boy Mine in Breckenridge, CO can see first hand the working conditions of the miners and get a glimpse of life in a turn of the century mining town. My children, at 8, 12 and 14 were surprised to learn they would have worked as blast monkeys, handling the dynamite and making sure all the blasts went off.
Even in summer, it’s still cold in the mine, so dress appropriately. The good news, guests to the Country Boy Mine walk on boards, so you don’t have to worry about wet feet, and thankfully the only rat we saw was a plastic one.
Life as a Breckenridge Gold Miner
It was definitely a tough way to make a living, but I can see how the fraternity of the hard rock miners would be preferable to the solitary life of the early gold panners.
Miners clocked in and out with a brass token. If the token was missing at the end of a shift, they knew which miner to look for in the mine.
Miners were given clothes to wear during their shift. The mine operators wanted to make sure workers didn’t sneak any gold home with them. Miners would sometimes keep the dynamite warm inside their shirts because extreme temperatures could ignite the sticks. Talk about a hazardous job.
Country Boy Mine Grounds
After the underground tour, we spent some time panning in the river for gold, just like the original gold panners. It’s amazing they didn’t freeze their fingers off, that water was very cold and we were panning in July, not December.
We also enjoyed toured the grounds looking at the memorabilia; my favorite, a dynamite warming tray so the miners (or more often the blast monkey) didn’t have to keep the dynamite inside their shirt to keep it warm and stable.
I enjoyed the Ore Chute slide just as much as my kids. It’s not graceful getting started, but the trip down the slide is like a gold nugget flying down the ore chute.
While you are Country Boy mine, say hi to the resident donkeys or my buddy Blizzard, the owner’s Newfoundland who is more often than not cooling off on the concrete floor inside the gift shop.
If you enjoy learning about mining at the Country Boy Mine, take the Iowa Hill Mine Hike, through the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, or visit on your own. The trailhead is right off Airport Rd. in Breckenridge, so it’s easy to find.
The hike itself is short and has lots of old mine equipment on display to break up the walking. The Iowa Hill Mine Trail was my 8 –year-old’s favorite hike. If you are in Denver, the Colorado History Museum has a mining display that is very well done and interactive.
One of our favorite summertime things to do in Breckenridge was hiking. In the winter, you can still visit many of the trails with snowshoes.
Iowa Mine Trail. One of my favorite hikes with kids was the Iowa Mine Trail because it had old mining equipment along the way that kept the little one interested and moving. In the summer it is an easy 1.5 mile loop. We revisited that same hike in the winter, only with snowshoes and a guide from the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
Rick is a retired plant manager from New Jersey, and a history buff. He told us stories of the area and the miners that worked the land, and let us into a miner’s boarding house, showing us how the men lived before skiing was even a thought.
He also reminded me of what I adore about Breckenridge, the laid back vibe. Rick forgot the waivers we needed to sign, so he just pulled out a piece of paper and had us sign it. I had to laugh thinking of all the lawyers I know in Atlanta who would have probably made him go back and get ‘official’ waivers with all the legal mumbo jumbo.
After the hike, he gave us a ride back to our condo. A day later we ran into each other in the lift line and had a nice chat heading to the top. We only just met, but it felt like we were old friends.
McCollough Gulch Trail. My oldest’s favorite hike was a bit longer and more strenuous 2.8 mile out and back hike on the McCollough Gulch Trail. According to him, all hikes from here on out will be compared to this one that leads past sculpted mountains to a glacier lake and waterfall. We saw marmots and pikas within the rocks and what we determined was an active miners cabin along the route.
The pictures of this hike don’t do it justice. The mountains all around made you feel small and insignificant and coming upon the waterfalls and lake was like discovering a paradise lost. My middle son took more than 100 pictures wearing out the battery in my iPhone. This is one hike we are determined to revisit again.
Sawmill Trail. We did several hikes while we were in Breckenridge. Some were self guided, and others were guided hikes, like the Sawmill Trail through the Town of Breckenridge. There are several groups that do guided hikes and each has their own angle.
The Town of Breckenridge focuses on flora and fauna. Our leaders were very knowledgeable about the area and we learned several new plants including fireweed, a pretty purple flower that loves the disruption in the soil. It’s the first to bloom after fire – hence the name.
We also learned how to tell the difference between spruce, pines and fir trees. Our guide, a retired science teacher, asked us to “shake hands with the trees.” The “friendly” fir is soft and you can’t roll the needles. The “spikey” spruce’s needles roll. The pine tree needles come in pairs. More than five years later, my boys still comment on the ‘friendly fir.’
Boreas Pass. This trail used to be a railroad line, although I don’t see how they could get a rail car through the pass in winter. As it is, the trail is closed to road traffic in winter and becomes a back-country ski destination.
Boreas Pass is a great family hike as you can drive up to the ranger station for great views and hike as high as you like. The pass sits along the Continental Divide. We waited out a storm before our hike and when we got out of the car, my son watched the puddles running both east and west. Pretty cool. In order to get the trains through in winter, drift fences were built along the track to keep the snow away.
You can still see the tree stumps from the trees they cut to make the fence. It looks like the Oncler came through cutting Truffela trees. I fully expected to see the Lorax pop out of the many trucks dotting the landscape. This is an easy to moderate hike that is 6.6 miles, but you can drive most of it.
Gold Run Trail (Preston Ghost Town). The problem with Colorado hikes is there are several spurs and it’s hard to stay on the intended path. This hike can take you from the trailhead into Brekenridge, or you can circle back to the parking lot. We opted to be safe and go on a guided hike with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
Not only did we hear great historical information about the mines and the Preston Mill Ghost Town, but we had a delicious lunch and didn’t have to worry at all whether we were on the right trail or not. My kind of hike.
The 10.5 mile trail starts as a jeep trail and is also a favorite for mountain bikers. However, there is plenty of room for hikers as well and it’s fun to explore the mill and town remains.
9 Favorite Breck Restaurants
To keep expenses in check during our month long summer visit, we ate in for most meals. King Sooper Market is an affiliate of Kroger and took our Kroger Plus card. We were excited to find the prices similar to those at home. We were expecting resort prices.
We did go out a few times during our visits to Breck and here is what we found.
Canteen Tap House. We visited here based on positive Yelp reviews (and a decent happy hour). It didn’t disappoint, and it had enough kid friendly choices that everyone found something they liked.
Downstairs at Eric’s. This is a popular establishment on Main Street with locals and tourists. Waiting for a table isn’t a big deal because you can play skeeball for 50 cents while you wait on your table.
Empire Burger. Burgers are good. Fresh cut fries are great, and the handmade margaritas are awesome. Even my Bud Light drinking husband was impressed and commented that we should learn how to make these.
Kenoshau. If it’s not too cold, sit out on the back deck. They have a decent happy hour with a good hummus plate. We didn’t eat dinner here because the wait was too long, but the food looked good.
Hearthstone. Visit this fine dining restaurant for happy hour and get $5 small plates. The brie quesadilla was fantastic.
Crepes a la Cart. There was a line down the street every night for this food truck style eatery. I finally stopped for a savory crepe and my son had one of the sweet variety. Quite tasty. Bring cash, they don’t accept credit or debit cards.
Daylight Donuts. I was a bit disappointed to learn this was a chain, but good donuts all the same. Bring friends and enjoy the extra large, bigger than your hand cinnamon rolls.
Fatty’s Pizza. It’s a bit of a hike up the hill from Main Street, but the pizza is worth it.
Breckenridge Brewery. This microbrewery has good craft beer and a nice pub menu.
7 Great Happy Hour Deals for Families in Breckenridge, CO
All the outdoor activity in a place like Breckenridge, Co, can build up quite a hunger, but taking five people out to eat in a resort town can kill your budget pretty quick, unless you know where to go and when.
Since we travel to Breckenridge from Atlanta, we can take advantage of the time difference (Mountain Time is two hours earlier than Eastern Time) and have an early dinner.
Summer or winter, happy hour is a great deal in Breckenridge. I asked the experts at Go Breck what are the best happy hour deals for families in Breckenridge, because it’s not only about the booze. Here are seven of the best happy hour deals for families in Breckenridge.
Check the website or call before you go to confirm the deals still stand, but this gives you a good place to start.
Mi Casa, 3-6 daily
Three tacos for $5, and they usually put out free nachos at 5 pm, plus cheap beer/pitchers, etc. Happy hour is in the bar and deck area, not the restaurant. Bonus – they offer a dedicated gluten free menu if you’ve got someone w/restrictions (though I’m not sure if you can get GF tacos at happy hour prices). Popular spot for good reason.
Quandary Grill, 2-5 daily
Two-for-one apps (that are each big enough to call dinner) and great discounts on well, drafts, house wine. They have a bar but the restaurant part really feels like a sit-down casual pub dinner, so I like this one a lot for families w/younger kids.
Motherloaded, 3-6 daily.
They don’t have their happy hour menu online, but they do a happy hour $5 food menu and $2 off infusions. Fun and funky spot, Americana kitschy. Also comfortable for families w/younger kids as happy hour is offered in the restaurant area.
Breck Brewery, 3-6 daily – but only Sun-Thur for the half priced apps
$3 craft beer pints (all the beer served at this original location is made in-house), house wines and wells – I’d do Sun-Thur for ½ price apps, get a bunch and share to make it dinner. They always have a $5 kids menu, I’d do burger or fish and chips if ordering from that. Also good with little ones.
If you have older kids or kids w/more adventurous palates, these spots are great for a taste of finer dining, plus a nice glass of wine for mom and dad!
Twist – 4-6 daily
$5 and $6 plates, order a few and make it dinner, it’s modern comfort food and delicious. $5 select seasonal cocktails and wines, cheap beer, all offered at tables.
Blue River Bistro 3-6 and 9-midnight daily, bar area only (they do have tables in the bar area) – this one is best if you have older kids, not a great fit for younger ones. Two-for-one apps and martinis.
Relish 4-5:30 daily
I’d probably save this spot for a quick date, best if the teens want to skip out for coffee or a walk along Main Street 🙂 Two for $10 or $12 (includes drink and app) – I usually do wine here, normal size apps, not a meal, but really, really good.
There are a few common mistakes guests make when visiting Breckenridge Ski Resort, whether in summer or winter. Here are six things to keep in mind when visiting Breckinridge or any of the Colorado resorts in the mountains.
Altitude Sickness is Real. Be prepared for the altitude change. Altitude sickness is due to the lower amounts of oxygen in the air at high altitudes. Altitude sickness can manifest itself in breathlessness, throbbing headaches and fatigue to name a few.
To avoid the effects of altitude sickness, especially if you are coming to Breckenridge CO (or any mountain town) from sea level, is to gradually increase the altitude. If you are visiting Breck’s beautiful mountains, spend one night in Denver first. This will give your body an adjustment period at 5,000 ft. prior to going up to Breckenridge elevation of 10,000 ft.
Be prepared for the weather. Skiing in Colorado can be cold. In winter bring hat, goggles, gloves/mittens, plenty of warm layers and avoid cotton base-layers as they don’t wick moisture away from your body.
Layers are also good in the summer months, so you can peel them off as the day warms up. And be prepared for abrupt weather changes. We were caught more than once in a hail storm during our summer stay.
The saying goes, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear”. Dressing appropriately will keep you comfortable and enable you to enjoy your experience.
Likewise, use modern equipment. Ski, snowboard, boot and binding technology has made leaps and bounds over the last decade and learning the sport is now much easier than it once was. Take advantage of this by ensuring you are renting equipment that is no more than three years old. Same holds true for mountain bikes. To navigate Breck’s mountain trails, you need a front suspension bike. Just because your bike is labeled ‘mountain bike’ doesn’t mean it’s up to the Breckenridge Colorado terrain. If you do bring your own equipment, make sure it’s in good shape and has been tuned recently.
Ease into it. Beyond just the altitude, remember that you are pushing your body in ways it is not accustomed to. Drink plenty of water, take breaks, and don’t try to tackle that double-diamond or steep mountain trail on the last run of the day when your legs are gassed.
Pick up a free Breckenridge trail map and use it. If you’re still a beginner skier, don’t hop on a lift that only services intermediate and above terrain- no matter what your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/sister/cousin/etc. suggests you should do. Same goes for mountain biking or hiking. Pick up a map of the Breckenridge hiking trails at the Welcome Center to determine the right level.
Embrace the Adventure. Don’t forget that skiing/snowboarding, hiking/mountain biking is a wonderful adventure. Embrace it. You’re going to get cold/hot, tired, scared, and you’re going to fall down. No matter; you’re exploring a beautiful mountainside – have fun!