Sometimes you take a trip you’ll never forget. For my family, that was an entire July spent in Breckenridge, Colorado. Local transplants tell you they came for the skiing, but they stayed for the many things to do in Breckenridge in summer.
After visiting Breck in the summer, I totally get that statement, and you will too once you visit. Read on to find out all the best summer activities in Breckenridge and start making your list for the best vacation ever.
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.
Relax by the 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.
Visit a Real-Life Gold Mine
Country Boy Mine is a must-do activity from May – October. In addition to going down in a real-life gold mine, you can also pan for gold in the chilly rivers. For tips and more information, visit our post on Country Boy.
Look for Fox
Breckenridge still feels like an old Western town, and one reason is the resident foxes. Right next door to commercial buildings and a parking lot, we saw them.
In fact, Breckenridge is home to many furry residents. To keep them – and you – safe, you shouldn’t approach and always observe from a distance.
Ride the Free Breck Connect Gondola
Take the Breck Connect Gondola up to Breckenridge Ski Resort. The free ride offers a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains and you can hike down, or play at the Epic Discovery Fun Park at the base of Peak 8. You can also bring your bike up with you and then bike down the mountain. Best of all, the Gondola is free!
Visit Breckenridge’s (sort of) Theme Park
The Breckenridge Ski Resort isn’t just for wintertime fun. In summer the mountain turns into a small theme park called Epic Discovery with a gold coaster, zip line, challenge course, climbing wall, and our all-time absolute favorite, the alpine slide.
(Note: for Summer 2020 the zip line, ropes course, and climbing wall are NOT open. However, the BreckConnect Gondola, scenic chairlift rides on the Colorado SuperChair with access to hiking, the alpine slides and the Gold Runner Coaster ARE open as of this writing.)
Pump It Up
The Town of Breckenridge maintains a kid-friendly pump track and bike park in a nearby neighborhood on the Breck FreeRide bus route. Bring your bike and see if you can make it all the way around without pedaling.
There is another pump track at the top of Peak 8 too. The pump tracks are a fun activity on their own, but also a great place to prepare for a mountain bike adventure.
Learn to Mountain Bike
When the snow melts in Colorado ski country, it’s time to hang up the skis and get out the mountain bike. In Breckenridge, mountain biking is as popular in the summer as skiing is in the winter.
But just like skiing, mountain biking in the high country can take some practice. Read our post about taking our three boys (ages 14, 12 and 8 years-old) to Mountain Bike School.
No Matter What Be Sure to Go Hiking
One of our favorite summertime activities is exploring the many world-class hiking trails in and around Breckenridge and Summit County. 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.
Visit Breck’s Funky Shops
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.
Wander Through Breck’s Art Galleries
The town of Breckenridge has several art galleries. I enjoyed perusing the artwork, and at one even watched as a painter created a piece.
Amazing 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.
Sadly, Breck Bike Week is no more, but there is the Gold Panning Championships or WAVE, an interactive art event. Get the latest on summer festivals here.
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.
Go Fly Fishing
The rivers around Breckenridge don’t freeze over, so whether it’s winter or summer, fly fishing is a popular past-time.
The Breckenridge Rec Center for Visitors
The Breckenridge Rec Center is a hidden gem the received a 17 million dollar renovation in 2019. 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, or get a punch card for multiple visits.
During our summer in Breck, we purchased a monthly pass to the rec center. The boys loved the aqua wall and rope swing and the older ones were excited to use the rock climbing wall.
Skate or Watch at the Skateboarding Park
Just outside the Breckenridge Rec Center is a free skateboarding park. Whether you board or not, it’s fun to watch.
Go Ice Skating in Summer
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.
Enjoy Happy Hour on the Blue River
There are so many amazing restaurants in Breckenridge, but taking the family can put a dent in your budget. Thankfully many of the best restaurants also have incredible happy hours. Bonus, folks coming from the East Coast are ready to eat early anyway! Check out our list of the best happy hours in Breck.
Take a Tour from the 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 of 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 gunfights and finished by sampling the wares from the current Breckenridge Distillery.
Afterward, 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!
Wander through a Museum
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.
Take in a Show at the Backstage Theatre
The Backstage Theatre has shows year-round. Check out their latest season and take a break from more strenuous activities to take in a show. (Note: The Backstage Theatre is not open for summer 2020)
Lean into your creative side with a class at Breck Create. Check their website for an updated list of classes.
Golf The Bear or The Elk
Breckenridge has three championship nine-hole courses, the BEAR the BEAVER and the ELK. All three nines are Jack Nicklaus designed courses with panoramic views of the snowcapped Colorado Rockies from every hole.
Ride into the Sunset at Breckenridge Stables
Riding through the mountains on horseback was at the top of my list of things to do during our summer visit.
Our family enjoys riding horses, but we are not skilled riders, so Breckenridge Stables 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.
Tips for your Breckenridge Trip
Try to make as many reservations in advance as possible (Epic Discovery, rentals, activities and dining experiences). Breckenridge’s popular activities do fill up during peak times.
Breckenridge is a casual mountain town where comfort and function take priority during the day, and jeans are acceptable for the nicest dinners.
Breckenridge is a straw-free community, BYOS (bring your own straw) if you can’t live without.
The best way to explore Breckenridge’s quaint historic streets is with boots and bikes, leave the car at home.
Hop on the Breck Free Ride. The Breck Free Ride is a community-wide free transit system complete with an easy app and routes designed to get you to where you want to go.
The greater Breckenridge area has hundreds of miles of trails, 66 miles of which are managed by the Town of Breckenridge. By staying on the trails you’re helping natural areas stay natural.