FUN AND FROLIC IN BRECKENRIDGE: JEWEL OF THE COLORADO ROCKIES

Text by Noreen Kompanik
Photos by Noreen Kompanik and Courtesy of GoBreck.com

When you think of Breckenridge, skiing is typically the first thing that comes to mind, right? But on a recent visit we realized just how much this spectacular destination has become an all seasons resort. No matter what time of year you come, you realize Mother Nature’s worked her extra special /magic in this historic town surrounded by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains.

credits: Colorado Historical Society
History of Breckenridge

Breckenridge was founded in 1859 during the Colorado Gold Rush. At an elevation of 9,600 feet, this 19th century Victorian mining town sports one of Colorado’s largest historic districts. Structures have been carefully preserved over the years, and today’s Breckenridge is a vibrant, artistic Bohemian village filled with charming colorfully painted boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

Getting Around Breckenridge

While the town is easily walkable, a free downtown shuttle makes it even more convenient for visitors to get around and explore this fun and fascinating alpine hamlet. Gondalas also run practically year-round from downtown taking visitors up the steep mountainside for some magnificent views. The great part is these rides are also free.

Connecting with Nature
Hiking

Breckenridge is an outdoor wellness-lovers dream and wellness is the way of life here. 50-plus miles of interconnected trails provide a myriad of hiking opportunities ranging from easy to difficult. And the panoramic views offer quite a reward at the top.

Biking

Mountain biking is very popular due to the vast number of trails. And there’s a new craze in Breckenridge called fat biking. These high-performance carbon fiber fat-bikes with oversize tires are designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft unstable terrains, such as snow, sand, bogs, and mud.

Our two-hour guided itinerary led by Breckenridge Bike Tours was the ideal way to learn more about the town’s fascinating history while taking a fun and leisurely ride through the picturesque village. But, one word of advice. Like us, you’ll want to stop often as photo opportunities along the paths are endless. Rushing mountain streams are everywhere.

Skiing, Snowboarding and More

For those who love to ski, Breckenridge is the perfect winter playground. Five huge peaks spanning over 2,900 acres provide ample trails for beginners to experienced skiers.

Because Breckenridge is blessed with a generous amount of snowfall (more than almost every other ski area in Colorado), ski season here lasts from early November to mid-to-late April. Add in snow shoeing and ice skating and no shortage of winter magic.

Getting Artsy with the Locals

Breckenridge features one of Colorado’s most vibrant art districts. It’s a small town 

filled with proud artists and entrepreneurs. You name it and you’ll find it here— galleries, wearable art, nature stores, and lots of fun and funky bohemian boutiques to explore. 

Celebrating the history and culture of the region, Hot Shop, known for its creative metal smithing gives visitors the chance to create their own unique piece of Colorado art in a fascinating hands-on workshop.

Tapping into Craft Libations

Colorado has long been known for its craft beer. And Breckenridge has been into this made-local trend since the 90s with its original Breckenridge Brewery. But the craft craze remains in full swing with a number of beer and distillery establishments appearing on the scene.

Broken Compass Brewery became a big hit with locals and visitors alike when it opened in the summer of  Its theme “Where it’s always 5 o’clock on the hill” caught on like wildfire in Breckenridge.

5 o’clock or not, Broken Compass Brewing Company is passionate about beer and we had the pleasure of a tour and tasting during our stay. If you’re not sure which of the award winners you’d like, bartenders are more than happy to give samples of their twelve superstars on tap. I loved the Coconut Porter and the Ginger Pale Ale. A nice built-in safety feature of the brewery is that they offer free shuttle service back to historic Breckenridge.

Breckenridge Distillery touts itself as the world’s highest distillery. And during a guided tour, we found out the secret

behind their stellar award winning bourbon, vodka, and spirits. It’s the infused purified waters from Rocky Mountain snow melt and as a result they’re making some incredibly creative libations like espresso flavored and chile vodkas.

Not only can visitors see how hand crafter designer skis are made but they can taste rotating craft beers and sip hallmark specialty cocktails at the eclectic Rocky Mountain Underground (known by the locals as RMU). Our favorite was the Sonnie Day, a delightful infusion of lavender gin, framboise, lemon juice, and cardamom honey simple syrup.

Dining in Breckenridge 

With 23 new culinary hot spots appearing on the foodie scene since 2017, there’s no shortage of dining choices here in Breckenridge. And the food is really, really good.

One winner this trip was the casually-sophisticated modern Blue River Bistro. Food here is gourmet-quality, and surprisingly prices were less than we expected for a restaurant of this high caliber.

Open for both lunch and dinner, the extensive menu can satisfy any palate. Salmon Oscar, a tasty tender seared Scottish salmon topped with lump crab, tarragon basil béarnaise over grilled asparagus and shaved roasted new potato was prepared to perfection and absolutely divine.

Pizza and Calzone lovers will find Giampietro the perfect place for casual dining. Menus are designed for family-style sharing and pizza here is top notch with your choice of New York Style or Sicilian Deep Dish.

Other menu entrees include cheese plates, salads, sandwiches, and pastas. And save room for a classic Cannoli or Tiramisu. You’ll be glad you did.

James Beard Foundation Two-Time Nominee David Burke has created one impressive menu at the Breckenridge Distillery Restaurant.

Shareables like Brussels Sprouts, Deviled Eggs and Hipster Fries are crafted with a delectable twist that has diners oohing and ahhing with each bite.

Modern American Plates like Kansas City Steak, Crispy Skin Chicken Breast and Korean Pork are just as impressive.

It’s no wonder Architectural Digest just named Breckenridge the prettiest town in all of Colorado. But it’s not just pretty. It’s pretty darn amazing and it just happens to be one of our favorite mountain destinations-ever.

Noreen Kompanik

Noreen Kompanik is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in San Diego, California and a retired nurse. Traveling with her husband, children and grandchildren is her favorite pastime. Her articles include inspirational writing, sustainable healthy living, family travel, history, wine and food. Her favorite place to be is on a beach somewhere. Noreen is a member of the International Travel Writers and Photographer’s Association, International Food and Wine Travel Writers Association, and San Diego Press Club. Her published articles can be found on her website.

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