The Town of Breckenridge, Colorado, is a stone’s throw away from one of the biggest ski resorts in the United States. This fact often leads people who are not familiar with the area into stereotyping Breckenridge as a gorgeous ski town with little else to offer. While Breckenridge is indeed a mecca for skiing and snowboarding (and rightfully so), that makes up only a small fraction of what this magical place nestled in the Rocky Mountains has to offer during the winter season. The reasons listed below illustrate why Breckenridge is a first-rate destination for non-skiers and snowboarders, and also offers tips and activities to put on your “don’t miss” list.
Why Breckenridge is More Than a Ski Town:
The Town Stands On Its Own
Breckenridge is an authentic mountain town (not a cookie-cutter village created by a ski resort) with a rich heritage and history dating back to the gold rush of the mid-1800s. The energetic and picturesque Main Street is fun to explore year-round with its extensive variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. At night, Main Street sparkles with colorful lights and an upbeat vibe. The town also hosts many signature festivals that punctuate the calendar throughout the year. From the International Snow Sculpture Championships to Oktoberfest to Mardi Gras to Ullr Fest (a party in honor of the Norse god of snow), Breckenridge events give visitors and locals many reasons to celebrate.
If you’re a history buff, Breckenridge is home to more than 10 local museums and historic sites that serve as a window into Breckenridge’s deep, gold mining past. Whether on a walking tour or browsing through local museums, you’ll meet Colorado’s original naturalist, an escaped slave-turned-prominent businessman, and the townsfolk that still haunt some of Breckenridge’s oldest saloons (visit BreckHeritage.com for a list of sites, museums, and tours).
The Arts District
The Arts District truly separates Breckenridge from many of its ski town contemporaries. Breckenridge Creative Arts, lovingly dubbed “Breckenridge Create,” was developed by the town to support and promote arts, culture, and creative experiences throughout Breckenridge. They offer a continuous and abundant slate of art workshops, classes, studio time, theater, walking tours, and musical events. Visitors have the opportunity to work with artists-in-residence, catch a performance by the award-winning theater company, or make your own earrings. Check out the Breckenridge Creative Arts Calendar for a schedule of off-the-slopes arts events.
There are a countless number of incredible eateries in Breckenridge. The food options in this town cater to every palate and taste bud, so no matter what you’re craving, you are bound to find a restaurant that satisfies. Breckenridge doesn’t play into the old ski town stereotype of only being home to burger and pizza joints. With a world-class destination comes a world-class culinary experience. A few highlights include: Ember (fine dining with modern American cuisine), Briar Rose Chophouse (mouth-watering steaks), Swiss Haven (fondue – you can’t go wrong), and La Francaise French Bakery (their chocolate beignets are to die for). In addition to Breckenridge’s scores of great restaurants (a rarity for a ski town), the local Colorado Mountain College also offers hands-on cooking classes for foodies looking to create their own wonderful meals. From basics such as knife skills to advanced techniques, classes include one-day and multi-day options. See upcoming culinary classes or check out Breckenridge Cheese and Chocolate for twice-weekly wine tasting events.
Unending Off-Mountain Recreation Activities
It truly is impossible to include all of the activities available for people to experience in Breckenridge in one article. Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, there are innumerable amounts of adventure to be had off the slopes. Explore miles of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails in the peaceful national forests that surround Breckenridge. The beautiful, new Nordic Center offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, both on your own or with a tour guide who will teach you all about the history, ecology, and wildlife of the area. Experience a dogsled tour or hear the sleigh bells jingle on a starlit dinner sleigh ride through Main Street. Adventure-seekers can fire up snowmobiles and kids can get parents giggling with a little sledding at Carter Park. Skate the day away at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena where there are two rinks, skate rentals, and a concession stand. This indoor arena is open year-round for hockey, ice skating practice and team training.
If you’re looking for a great way to play indoors on cold days, the 69,000-square-foot Breckenridge Recreation Center offers a wide variety of indoor recreation options including free weights, weight machines, cardio equipment, fitness classes, a racquetball court, basketball courts, two climbing walls, an aquatics center with a water slide, tennis courts, an indoor track and more. Meta Yoga, a dedicated yoga studio, offers daily drop-in classes for all levels. Punch passes and one-week visitor memberships offer the best deal for those who plan to take several classes during a trip to Breckenridge. Additionally, more than 13 spas and wellness centers offer a variety of treatments including massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and more.
Be sure to stop by and say hello at the Breckenridge Welcome Center (203 S. Main St., 877-864-0868). In addition to the free historic museum we have on site – during construction, builders uncovered a well-preserved log cabin hidden between newer additions – the Welcome Center can set up any of the above activities and give travelers many more ideas for winter activities off the slopes.