Here’s everything you need to know to plan a winter trip to Breckenridge in 2020 to 2021.
Breckenridge is Colorado’s original ski town. It’s a paradise for snowboarders and adventure junkies (and skiers, too), but there’s much more than skiing and snowboarding to keep visitors and locals busy in the winter.
There is a growing art scene, a nationally recognized historic district, and a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and shops. In fact, Breckenridge is home to more than 200 shops and close to 100 restaurants and bars all tucked within the 7-mile long by 2-mile wide town.
Where to Stay
The hotels don’t quite number in the 100s, but there is no shortage of comfortable places for a good night’s rest in Breckenridge. From historic bed and breakfasts to luxury boutique properties and ski-in/ski-out condos, Breckenridge has something for everyone and every budget.
Gravity Haus is new on the Breck scene, and it’s already making a splash at the base of Peak 9. Fun features include a trampoline (known as supertramp), a Japanese-inspired onsen, dry sauna, and cafe. The 60 rooms range from twin pods with shared bathrooms to king rooms and family suites with bunk beds.
Residence Inn By Marriott… is also a newer Breck hotel and boasts pools and hot tubs with the best views of the runs and the entire Tenmile Range. It’s right off Main Street and a short walk to the Peak 9 base. Rooms range from studios to two-bedroom suites, and all come with a complimentary hot breakfast.
One Ski Hill Place, A RockResort… offers studio to four bedroom condos and all the mountain amenities (like Rejuvenation Spa and restaurants) to elevate your vacay on Peak 8. Plus, it has an in-house bowling alley for included family fun. Nearby, Grand Colorado is ski-in/ski-out and has picturesque hot tubs for soaking away sore muscles.
If you don’t mind a short drive each ski day, you can save money by staying in one of the chain hotels in Frisco and Silverthorne. The towns are conveniently located right off I-70 and about 20 miles from Breckenridge. From the highway, all the properties can blend together. But, we recommend booking a room at the Hampton Inn & Suites. It has spacious rooms, offers a complimentary hot breakfast, and welcomes dogs.
Where to Grab Coffee and Tea
The early bird gets the fresh snow, and early wake-ups call for caffeine before hitting the lifts. Here’s where we recommend grabbing a cup of joe (or large latte) before first chair.
Cuppa Joe strikes the balance between quaint and edgy, and the coffee is straight up delish, as is the rotating art curated by the owner. Breck coffee roasters and Summit CBD coffee supplies the beans, but the oatmeal latte made with house oatmeal, spices and sugar in your choice of steamed milk poured over espresso is a must.
Come for Cool River Coffee House‘s mochas, lattes, and espressos and a delish homemade breakfast or lunch sammie. Coffee comes from Huckleberry Roasters. If you prefer your coffee as dessert, the speciality lattes (Nuttin’ Honey, Crème Brûlée, Blackberry Crumble, Cinnamon Roll, Lavender and Vanilla, and Honey Coconut Matcha) and mochas (Butter Pecan Mocha, Mexican Mocha, Peppermint White Mocha, Macaroon Mocha, and Chocolate Truffle) were made for sweet toothes.
Swing by Coffee Depot in the Village at the base of Peak 9 before hopping on the Quicksilver Super Chair. The Dazbog drip coffees and lattes will get you going, but don’t leave without a local fave breakfast burrito.
If you’re a creature of coffee habit and must have your Starbucks, there is one locally owned shop right on Main Street. You can’t miss the bright yellow house, and the menu is guaranteed to have your go-to order.
For post-activity coffee bevies (wink wink), head to The Crown Cafe. It’s upstairs on Main Street and brews Silver Canyon coffee plus cocoa and cocktails.
Where to Après (Best Drinks and Bars in Breckenridge)
Breckenridge has one of the best après scenes that spans 3 to 6 p.m. at most watering holes with an extra late-night round as some bars. There are cocktail bars, on-mountain refreshments, and craft breweries and plenty of friendly locals and fellow skiers and riders for mingling (socially distanced of course). Keep in mind, you’re drinking at 9,600 feet and you’ll feel the effects.
Breckenridge Brewery and Pub (600 S Main St.) started on Main Street in 1990. The founder, Richard Squire, went from ski bum to brewmaster and the rest is delicious history. Sitting down for a flight or a pint right next to the tanks makes après extra special. Always ask about the special tap, or you can’t go wrong with our favorite the Vanilla Porter.
Broken Compass Brewing Company (68 Continental Ct) opened in 2014 and has been all about creating community from day one. Create your own flight from a dozen suds on tap. They also offer beer to go in cans and growlers.
Modis (113 S Main St) has not one but two daily happy hours (3 to 6 p.m.) and 10 p.m. to midnight daily. Try the Powder-Hound Sour for a flavorful cocktail unlike anywhere else. Ember (106 E Adams Ave) ups the ante with “Euphoric Hour” specials including discounted drinks, $5 glasses of wine, and $5 appetizers.
If you’re craving something south of the border, scoot over to Mi Casa (600 S Park Ave) for Mexican cervezas and the largest tequila list in Summit County. Tequilas are best in the speciality margaritas and served with free chips and salsa and free nachos during happy hour.
Where to Eat a Delicious Meal in Breckenridge
The motherlode of flavor awaits in Breckenridge’s culinary scene after an active day around town or on the mountain. Refueling is fun with Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, French, Indian, or good ol’ fashioned American BBQ restaurants dotting the town.
Come to Breckenridge Brewery and Pub (600 S Main St) for happy hour, but stay for a hearty, casual dinner. Burgers as big as the nearby peaks, piles of fries, nachos, and more are all on the menu. If you’re in the mood for BBQ, pause at Whiskey Star Smokehouse (231 S Main St) or Kenosha (301 S Main St). The bison burger at Kenosha is one of the juiciest and flavorful we’ve had, while Whiskey Star’s chicken wings and brisket were truly finger-lickin’ good.
Hearthstone (130 S Ridge St) has heartwarming eats in a cozy atmosphere thanks to the historic Victorian dwelling dating back to the 1800s. Executive chef Michael Halpin highlights locally farmed and seasonal ingredients from the Rocky Mountain Region throughout the menu. From lobster ravioli to cauliflower cashew soup and blackberry elk or spaghetti squash pad thai, it’s a dining adventure.
The menu at Amazing Grace Natural Eatery (213 Lincoln Ave at French St) as bright as the yellow exterior. The healthier baked goods are a sweet way to start the morning or take a mid-day break with tasty salads.
If you’re in the mood for an upscale evening, head straight to Aurum (209 S Ridge St) or Relish (137 S Main St on the Riverwalk). Arrive early at Aurum for half-priced apps, half-priced wines by the glass, $3 draft beer, and $7 classic cocktails and stay for elevated American dishes like squash soup, prime steaks, and Rocky Mountain trout. And, a selection is available curbside for Au-To-Go.
At Relish, chef/owner Matt Fackler serves up a seasonal menu of Colorado inspired cuisine. The dishes can change daily to incorporate the freshest Colorado grown ingredients. It’s been a hit and a tough table to snag since it opened in 2006.
Worthwhile Attractions Off the Breckenridge Slopes
Breckenridge is a festive town, and there are many ways to celebrate and enjoy it like a local on your rest day or if you don’t ski or ride.
Hop on a sleigh ride… Cozy up under a blanket with hot cocoa in hand for a classic sleigh ride or upgrade to a dinner and sleigh ride combo.
Shop along Main Street… Grab a souvenir to remember your trip from a wide variety of locally owned shops. Browse around Magical Scraps for handmade whimsical scarves and kids clothing, Breckenridge Jewelers for collectible knives, Valleygirl boutique for cashmere, Breckenridge Spice Merchants for punchy flavor combos for cocktails and cuisine, and peruse fine art at Breckenridge Gallery or Raitman Art Galleries.
Kick off the holidays with lights and Santas... The first weekend in December, Breckenridge lights up and transforms into a Christmas town. The Lighting of Breckenridge & Race of the Santas is exactly what it sounds like. Hundreds of red-suited Santas race to light up the town and kick off the holiday season.
Party at Ullr Fest… Feeling thankful for all that fluffy powder on the slopes? Well, Breckenridge’s Ullr Fest offers a wacky opportunity to give thanks for every last flake. (Ullr is the god of winter in Norse mythology.) It’s a fun celebration of snow and tradition with Viking hats, a parade, and a bonfire. (Grab a hat of your own in a nearby boutique.)
View the Annual International Snow Sculpture Championships… What began as a chill, local pastime, has transformed into a frozen, alfresco art gallery the last week of January. Teams of snow artists come from around the world to sculpt 20-ton snow blocks. The competition spans five days and sculptors work for 65 hours. The sculptures remain on display near Main Street until they melt away. Or, get a head start and volunteer to help “stomp” the snow into blocks before the competitors arrive.
Take a Historic Tour… Wander through Breckenridge’s nationally recognized Historic District with a local expert who shares about historic businesses and families, tells tales of gold seekers, and shows off the oldest buildings in town.
Keep an eye out for more recent history. Little known fact: The movie Dumb and Dumber was actually filmed in Breckenridge. Plus, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was filmed 9 miles away in Frisco.
Mining is an important part of Breckenridge’s golden history. Tours of the mines just outside of town are available year-round. You can visit the Country Boy Mine, which is the only underground gold mine remaining in Breckenridge. Or, take a guided snowshoe tour through the Iowa Hill mine site with a local expert. Along the way see authentic mining artifacts and interpretive signs that tell the story of how gold was extracted from the surrounding hills. With visits through a restored miners’ boarding house dating back to 1868, you can get a taste of the 19th century mining life and Breckenridge’s early days.
Snowshoe or cross country ski… There are ample trails in the Breckenridge Nordic Center and Gold Run Nordic Center. Or take advantage of Boreas Pass Road winter closure to cars, when pedestrians and skiers take over. It’s a short drive out of town and offers some of the best views of Breckenridge Ski Resort on clear days or nights (Pro tip: schedule a night hike when the moon is full). Or, grab a sled and do laps on Carter Park adjacent to Breckenridge Elementary School. The challenging hill is pure, ol’ fashioned fun.
Get back on the slopes… Check out our extensive guide with the best powder stashes, runs for all levels, and on-mountain eats.
Getting To Breckenridge & Around Town
The town of Breckenridge is a 2-hour drive from Denver International Airport or about 75 minutes from regional Eagle Vail airport via Vail Pass. Breckenridge is one of several ski resorts along the busy I-70 corridor and travel times can vary significantly with weather and traffic. Expect slow driving and heavy congestion on weekends between Breck and Denver. There are often slow-downs or weather concerns near Floyd Hill, the Eisenhower Tunnel, and Georgetown, so check the Colorado Department of Transportation website and follow updates on social media for real-time conditions. You can book a seat on one of five different shuttle companies (Peak 1 Express, Fresh Tracks Transportation, Summit Express, Epic Mountain Express, and Breck Direct) coming from DIA.
Once you’ve arrived in Breckenridge, you can basically park your car and forget it. (And you should.) The town is walking-friendly and parking along Main Street is very difficult. There’s a free trolley that runs along Main Street as well as the Free Ride Breckenridge with multiple routes around town and to the lifts, and the Summit County Shuttles to travel between Breckenridge and other nearby towns and ski resorts.
History of Breckenridge
You can see much of the town’s colorful history right before your eyes on Main Street. It’s the largest Historic District in the state of Colorado with buildings that date back to the 1850s. A small group of prospectors found gold in the Blue River and founded Breckenridge (originally known as Colorado’s Kingdom) in 1859 and kicked off the town’s Gold Rush. Miners arrived seeking their fortunes in one of the nearby mines.
Mining continued until the 1940s, but determined locals kept the town alive with skiing. Camp Hale, where the original 10th Mountain Division trained both as soldiers and skiers beginning on Nov. 15, 1941, was founded as a cold-weather, mountain-specific division to fight for the U.S. and Allied forces in World War II in Alps. The division took Riva Ridge in Italy. In December 1961, Breckenridge Ski Area was founded and Breck became Colorado’s first ski town.