As a Colorado Mountain Town that boasts one of the best ski resorts in America, Breckenridge has certainly become a tourist hot-spot and local favorite. Whether you make an annual pilgrimage or come every weekend to ski/snowboard, Breckenridge will always leave you wanting to stay longer.
Its charm is matched by some of the best accommodations, and nothing beats experiencing a community that just loves to get outside and invites the world to enjoy their backyard too.
If you’ve ever wondered just what makes Breckenridge so famous, we’ve compiled a list of the mountain town’s best “things to do” and ideas to inspire your next vacation.
Here’s the top 10 things Breckenridge is famous for:
Skiing and Snowboarding
Breckenridge is world renowned for its skiing and snowboarding and is one of Colorado’s favorite ski/snowboard locations. There is always something happening on the slopes of the Breckenridge ski resort. From the Dew Tour, to a spring concert series, or the X Games, you’re bound to experience more than the amazing powder.
Skiing or snowboarding in Breckenridge is on many bucket lists, and for good reason. There are five peaks that make up the ski resort, providing an endless amount and variety of terrain to experience.
From easy rolling hills, to steep powder-packed woodland trails, riding in Breckenridge is never a dull day.
There are classes offered for all ages and activities daily, as well as an extensive rental gear arsenal. Breckenridge is huge on events and entertainment on the mountain, so you are bound to see experience a little more than you expected. There are often concerts, competitions, or big events like the Dew Tour happening throughout the season.
Interested in a unique mountain town experience? Good Times Adventure Tours in Breckenridge offers dog sledding tours! Good Times Adventure Tours’ lodge is an easy and short drive from downtown Breckenridge, giving you no excuse to say no!
An activity like dog sledding is the perfect rest-day activity if you are spending a long weekend hitting the slopes as hard as you can.
Stunning Mountain Top Views
Who doesn’t want a good photo or two when visiting one of Colorado’s most popular locations? The high mountains, deep valleys, and flowing rivers of Breckenridge create endless opportunity for that perfect mountain view shot.
You can go to the usual spots, by taking the gondola into the mountains and getting views from the ski resort, or from within town, or you can dig deeper and get some pretty special shots.
Here is a short list of some great photogenic lookouts:
- Boreas Road – From town, get on Boreas Road and follow for .2 miles. Take the first right, where you will head up a large hill. There is a small parking lot here with an expansive view of the Tenmile Mountains and endless aspen groves below. Because of the dense forest around here, this spot is perfect for those changing autumn-leaves photos.
- Boreas Road Overlook – Instead of turning right, continue going up Boreas Road until you reach a pull off. This pull off is one of the highest lookouts and you’ll get great views of all the peaks and town.
- Ski Hill Overlook – While driving to the base of Peak 8, you’ll pass a small parking lot on Ski Hill Road off to the left. This location offers great views of this historic town.
- Peak 6 – Peak 6 is Breckenridge’s newest peak and this addition will not disappoint. The views just off the Kensho chairlift open your eyes to the winter wonderland that is Summit County. If you hike up from the chairlift, you’ll find unobstructed views of the Tenmile Range.
Gold & Silver Mine Tours
Breckenridge was established as a mining town during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. Today, you can still see the remnants of old mining cabins, outposts, and operations.
Country Boy Mine is one of Breckenridge’s best mining tour guides. Their themed actors will take you 1000 feet deep into the town’s most famous mine and even teach you how to pan for gold.
The Breckenridge Troll
There’s a troll in those woods! The Breckenridge troll is known as Isak Heartstone and he is a 15-foot tall wooden sculpture of a troll. Isak was built by Danish artist Thomas Dambo for the annual Breckenridge International Festival of the Arts and was loved so much that the town decided to keep Isak around.
You can find this wooden troll on Trollstigen Trail. There is no parking for this trailhead but walking or biking from town is easy. The Breck Free Ride, or your lodging shuttle can take you there for free.
Trollstigen Trail is not groomed in the winter months, so do come prepared for the elements. While this troll is a popular attraction, the area is still a natural trail that is a part of the town. Please follow Leave No Trace Principles and pack out all trash. Be respectful of this sculpture as it is still a work of art. Don’t climb on or harm Isak in anyway.
Hundreds of Miles of Hiking & Biking Trails
The ski resort might be the main attraction for winter fun, but there are hundreds of miles of trails surrounding Breckenridge that do well to keep you away from the crowds.
To experience some Breckenridge charm, check out the Fairy Forest Hike. The Fairy Forest Hike is one of the best “things to do” in Breckenridge if you are traveling with the family.
Aside from this unique attraction, there are endless trails that are used for hiking/backpacking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing all around Breckenridge. No matter what you come to Breckenridge for, I highly recommend spending a day exploring some of the natural areas around.
White River National Forest, Arapahoe National Forest, and Kingdow Park are all popular hiking and mountain biking destinations. For more information on specific trails, you can find your best fit on AllTrails or MTB Project for mountain biking-specific information.
The Arts District
Downtown, Breckenridge has created an Arts District that contributes to the mountain town-charm of Breckenridge. This hub of creativity is made up of an arts campus that hosts workshops and studio spaces for locals and visitors.
If you are into the arts scene, the Breckenridge Arts District is absolutely worth checking out. Explore this active addition to downtown and go to a workshop, then enjoy warming up in some of the coziest cafes and restaurants.
After a long day of hitting the slopes, how better to spend the night out on the town? Breckenridge’s Main Street has you covered with small shops, unique and renowned restaurants, cafes, and historic mountain town ambiance.
Get in a good breakfast before a snow-packed day at the creperie called Crepes A La Cart! Fresh Crepes certainly beat a hotel’s continental breakfast.
Downtown, you can enjoy other activities such as Ghost Tours, having fun and learning at the Edwin Carter Discovery Center, and walking through the Summit Ski Museum.
Despite its fame, Breckenridge has a relatively small downtown area, and parking is very limited. Parking is all pay-to-park (by credit card only) in the area.
Free Gondola Ride
If you haven’t noticed, Breckenridge is all about free transportation. Even transportation up to the slopes! During the winter, you can take advantage of this free gondola ride up into the mountains. The BreckConnect Gondola can fit up to 8 people; large enough for just about any party.
The best part? You can bring your dog! Furry friends are always welcome on the gondola as long as they are on leash. While you don’t need a ski pass to get up to Peak 8, you will need one to get on the ski resort chair lifts to actually ski or snowboard. There are surrounding cross-country or backcountry trails that can be used for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing that do not require a ski pass.
Dogs are also welcome on these trails. You can also mountain bike on these trails, and you with a small fee you can bring your bike up on the gondola. You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy the views and entertainment found on the ski resort.
To add to this attraction, you can take the Breck Free Ride to the gondola from just about anywhere in town. Many hotels will have their own free shuttle to the gondola as well.
Nordic Center (1,400+ acres of groomed terrain)
The Breckenridge Nordic Center is a local favorite since the crowds usually swarm the Breckenridge ski resort. There are endless trails ideal for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The lodge has an extensive rental collection, and the 1,400 acres of groomed trails start just outside the door. The Nordic Center’s groomed trails and opportunity for lessons makes this a great spot for the whole family.
Aside from cross-country skiing or ski lessons, the Nordic Center offers guided snowshoe trips through their enchanting forest. These tours provide you with an epic snowshoeing experience, and your guide with also teach you all about the history of the Breckenridge area. You can even find Snowcat Adventure Tours here at the Nordic Center!
After all the fun outside, cozy up in their beautiful log cabin lodge. The lodge offers food and drink specials, and has a happy hour every Saturday in December that includes live music.
How did Breckenridge get its name?
Breckenridge has one of the most unlikely namesakes for a Colorado mountain town. General George E. Spencer named the town after John C. Breckinridge when he formally established the town in 1859. You’d be the winner of Jeopardy if you knew who John C. Breckinridge was.
He was a Kentucky man, and the 14th Vice President of the United States. Spencer was hoping to win over the government when establishing the town in hopes of gaining a post office. The flattery proved itself and Breckinridge received the only post office between the Continental Divide and Salt Lake City.
The “i” was changed to an “e” in the name when the Civil War broke out in 1861, and the town’s namesake sided with the Confederates. The pro-union citizens of the town decided to make Breck”e”nridge their own.
What mountain is Breckenridge Ski Resort on?
The Breckenridge Ski Resort is spread across five peaks that are a part of the Tenmile Mountain Range. Currently, these peaks are all numbered simply, “Peak 6 to Peak 10.” Peak 8 is considered the central location and is typically where everyone’s day on the slopes begins. There are wonderful beginner/groomed trails, and some intermediate-advanced trails mixed in.
The Freeway Park, Park Lake Terrain Park, learning area, and the Alpine Slide also make up Peak 8. The gondola takes you to the base of Peak 8, and from there you can find a chair lift to take you to any one of the surrounding peaks. The Colorado SuperChair lift will take you to the Vista Haus outpost, and the back bowls of Peak 8 and Peak 9.
By taking the Rocky Mountain SuperChair, you can reach the northern Peak 8, the infamous T-bar, Peak 7 and further reach Peak 6 via the Zendo chair.
Is Breckenridge a town?
Breckenridge is a town! It does share its name with the popular ski resort owned by Vail Resorts, but Breckenridge is the name of the city the slopes call home. As previously mentioned, Breckenridge was established as a buzzing mining town during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush in 1859.
Since then, the small town has exploded and makes up much of Summit County. There is everything from the historic downtown, to movie theaters, and an outlet mall.
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Daniell is a certified outdoor climbing guide with professional experience climbing throughout Colorado’s Western Slope region. She is based out of Fort Collins, CO and enjoys trail running, desert climbing and overnight canoe trips.