Did you know that Breckenridge’s ski lifts are open in the summer? That’s right, there doesn’t have to be snow on the ground to take advantage of the mountain town experience. Float up the mountain on the lift with your bike, then bomb down the trails on two wheels. Mountain biking, hiking, camping and summer festivals will all but guarantee something fun during the nicer months of the year.
But wait, what about winter?
Winter in Breckenridge also means more than ski boots and lift tickets. Here is what you need to know to create the full experience when planning your epic trip to Breck.
When to Go
If you prefer to have the mountain to yourself, go during the week and avoid peak periods like the holidays and spring break. If you’re looking for a more social experience, then maybe March/April is your perfect time to book!
Festivals: This is the backbone of mountain town life since there will almost always be a festival taking place. Colorado.com has an excellent festival finder so you don’t miss the fun while you’re in town.
How to Experience a Mountain Town Like a Local
Know the Lingo
Après ski: This French term literally translates to "after ski." It refers to when you roll into the restaurants and shops at the base of the ski lifts and hang out with other skiwear-clad snow lovers after your last run of the day. (I like to think of it as mountain town happy hour.) With Breckenridge’s great après ski atmosphere – where you can always expect live music, food and drink specials, and a lively crowd – I highly recommend lingering a while before heading back to the condo (or wherever you’re staying). I also highly recommend singing along with the live performers.
Zero days: The uninitiated will arrive and attempt to ski or snowboard every day to maximize their vacation time. This typically leaves them sore and exhausted both physically and mentally. Do justice to your vacation and take a "zero day" to just hang out, relax, and live the small mountain town lifestyle. Spend some time exploring town; the coffee shops are relaxing and plenty of unique shops line Main Street.
What to Do Besides Skiing/Snowboarding
Breckenridge has plenty to offer if you’re not a skier/snowboarder and just tagging along, or if you want an active alternative to shopping on your zero day. All the options listed below are available for rent or easily found in Breck:
- Skinning: You don’t have to use your skis to only go downhill; slap some skins on and head uphill instead for a crazy intense workout.
- Nordic Skiing: Don’t like the downhill? Try Nordic skiing for a relaxed, horizontal version of its gravity-laden, downhill cousin.
- Snowshoeing: Rent a pair of snowshoes and head out. Shoes vary based on snow conditions, i.e., powder vs packed snow.
- Fat Biking: This is not your bike from childhood; these have fat, minimally inflated tires that literally float you along on the snow-covered trails.
- Dog Sledding: Why rent a snowmobile when you can have a team of furry friends whisk you through the mountain scenery?
- Ice Skating: If there’s no fresh snow, rent some skates and hit the local lake!
- Winter Running: Gear up with removable running spikes for your shoes and get out there. Keep your H2O pack under your shell to keep it from freezing and definitely wear lip balm.
- Ice Fishing: No better way to spend time with family or friends than in a heated hut.
- Bowling: Get your roll on. Perfect for less than ideal snow conditions, sore joints, or zero days.
- Yoga: Hot yoga on a 10° day? Yes, please!
Many of the activities listed above have a specific etiquette and safety precautions. Know where you can go, who has the right of way, and how to identify proper trails before you head out for the day.
If you use travel insurance, which I always recommend, know that some of the above activities require the RoamRight Adventure travel insurance option. Always verify beforehand that your policy adequately covers your travel plans, whatever the adventure you may have in mind.
For the Family
Breckenridge is not the town it was even 15 years ago. While there is still nightlife, it is not nearly as raucous as I remember it being back in 2001. Vail Properties have gone to great lengths to make the town and resort even more family-friendly than it already was.
Zero Days with the Kids
Go to the pool for an activity day off the slopes. If you’re not staying in a location that has one, the Breckenridge community center pool is open seven days a week.
Make your activities educational, too. Hiking or snowshoeing can be an opportunity to learn together while burning off that young energy. Make a game of finding and identifying animal tracks or types of trees or flowers while out on hikes.
How to Keep Track of the Pack
The EpicMix smartphone app by Vail Properties provides tracking and group messaging; it’s great for keeping tabs on the family and coordinating a lunchtime or end of day rendezvous. There are plenty of other apps out there use cell phones to track family members whether they’re on the hill or at home; I recommend trying a few to see which best fits your needs.
Walkie-talkies: Great for instant communication anywhere on the hill.
Cell phones: I typically have great reception, even from the top of the runs.
Breckenridge, like most mountain towns, has its own personality, flavor, and festivals. It’s one of the busiest resorts along the I-70 corridor, and for good reason: Breck is the quintessential mountain town with plenty to do no matter the season. Life at 9,600 feet is more than just snow days and bombing down trails. Take some down time, do as the locals do, and leave room to immerse yourself for a truly unique experience.
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