Breckenridge is a town at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. This former mining town has a Victorian core preserved as the Breckenridge National Historic District, and the city is linked with Gold Rush history. Breckenridge is now known primarily as a ski resort, and tourists flock to this destination to enjoy a range of alpine activities. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities or prefer visiting the cultural and historic attractions, you will find plenty of things to see and do in this location. So that you can plan your vacation itinerary, here are the 20 best things to do in Breckenridge, CO for first-timers.
20. Visit the Edwin Carter Discovery Center
Edwin Carter came to Colorado in the 1800s to search for gold, and the Edward Carter Discovery Center is his former home. During his time in this state, Carter was deeply affected by the harmful impact mining had on the land, and this led to him becoming interested in the wildlife of the Rocky Mountains. In turn, this led to him becoming a taxidermist, and he built up a collection of more than three thousand wildlife specimens during his life. Although there are still examples at his former home, many specimens are part of the exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. At the Edwin Carter Discovery Center, there are exhibits relating to Carter’s life, a taxidermy workbench, a children’s room, and a theater.
19. Hike the Peaks Trail
If you are an experienced hiker, then the best trail in this area is the Peaks Trail. This challenging trail covers 15.5 miles and has an elevation gain of 1,971 feet. It is an out-and-back trail that you can access from either Breckenridge or Frisco. Along the trail, there are wildflowers, creeks, rock formations, scenic views, and wildlife, including moose. The trail is used for hiking, biking, trail running, and cross-country skiing. Those who cannot manage the full trail often choose to complete only the lower part before turning back.
18. Enjoy a Performance at the Backstage Theater
Those who want to enjoy a performance during their visit to Colorado should see a show at the Backstage Theater. The theater has a jam-packed schedule throughout the year, including Broadway musicals, children’s shows, musical performances, and classic plays. It is best to check what is on before you visit Breckenridge and book your tickets in advance.
17. Go to the Barney Ford Victorian House
An attractive historic building to visit is the Barney Ford Victorian House. Barney L. Ford was an escaped slave, and this museum honors his life. While he was a slave, Ford was taught to read by his mother, which helped him to become successful when he escaped from slavery. He was a successful businessman and civil rights activist and leader. His former home has a Victorian style, and it has been restored to its original condition. The home is open all year round for visitors to tour and see the exhibits. Every room has something different and interesting to see that relates to different stages in Ford’s life.
16. Explore Sawmill Reservoir
Those who enjoy spending time outdoors and getting close to nature should spend some time exploring Sawmill Reservoir, which is a scenic lake with a trail around its perimeter. The trail is relatively easy and level, and there are benches along the way so that you can sit down and admire the scenery around you. Part of the trail runs alongside a pretty stream, and it is possible to go fishing along both the stream and the lake. However, there is a catch-and-release system in place. The head of the trail is located by the Snowflake Lift.
15. Visit the Summit Ski Museum
Skiing has played an important role in Breckenridge's history and economy, and a great place to learn about this is at the Summit Ski Museum. Breckenridge was the first ski town in Colorado, and this is celebrated at this museum. The museum, which is open from Tuesday to Sunday, looks at the last 100 years of skiing history in Summit County. This is fascinating for anybody interested in skiing or those who are keen to learn more about the local history.
14. Take a Gold Mine Tour
Mining is a significant aspect of the history of Breckenridge, and the town was a significant part of the gold rush. There are many mines in Breckenridge and the surrounding area, but two of the best that host tours are Washington Gold Mine Tours and Country Boy Mine. At these attractions, you can learn a little about the mining history of the area, and then take a guided tour of the mines.
13. Have Some Fun on an Ice Rink
If you are not brave enough to take to the slopes, another activity that you might like to try is ice skating. There are two main ice rinks in this town: the Stephen C. West Ice Arena is an indoor rink that is open to the public, while the Gold Run Nordic Center has an outdoor rink. In the latter, there are many more fun activities to enjoy.
12. Go on a Sleigh Ride
A fun activity that you might like to include in your vacation itinerary is taking a sleigh ride, and there are several companies that offer these fun rides. When you book a sleigh ride, you will enjoy horses pulling you on a sleigh through the woods and over the hills. There are both daytime and evening sleigh rides available, and the latter includes dinner and hot cocoa after the ride.
11. Enjoy Wine Tasting at the Continental Divide Winery
Wine lovers should sample some wine at the Continental Divide Winery, says Carpe Travel. There, you can enjoy tasting some delicious wines that are produced in Colorado and other areas of the United States. This winery also offers a unique experience that you will not find at other wineries that offer tasting sessions. They offer two-hour sessions where you learn about the wines and then mix them yourself to create a unique blend that suits your tastes.
10. Try Snowshoeing, Sledding, and Tubing
Although skiing is the most popular outdoor activity that locals and tourists enjoy in Breckenridge, it is not the only outdoor activity to try. You might also like to try tubing or snowshoeing if you have not tried these activities before. Another fun activity to try is dog sledding. There are several companies in the town and surrounding areas that offer dog sledding experiences. The trips available vary in length, and some packages include stops for food and drink.
9. Eat and Drink at Downstairs at Eric’s
There are some fantastic places to eat and drink in Breckenridge, but one that is highly recommended is Downstairs at Eric’s. Not only does this casual venue capture the fun vibe of the area, but it also serves food that is warming after a long day on the slopes. This restaurant and bar are known for its generous portions, its long list of beers on tap, and for having a sports bar and arcade.
8. See the Breckenridge Troll
Hashtag Colorado Life recommends that you keep your eye out for the Breckenridge Troll during your visit to this town. Also known as the Breck Troll, this is a 15-foot sculpture made from upcycled items by Danish artist Thomas Dambo. The sculpture, which you will find on Trollstigen Trail, is called Isak Heartstone, and you should have your photo taken with him to commemorate your visit.
7. Visit the Mountain Top Children’s Museum
One of the best attractions to visit if you are in the area with children is the Mountain Top Children’s Museum. This museum is a fun, educational, and interactive attraction that will appeal to people of all ages. Most of the exhibits in this museum are designed for children aged ten or under, and they offer lots of hands-on experiences for children to enjoy. One of the highlights of the museum is the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Exhibit, which teaches visitors about Colorado’s native animals. There is also a planetarium and the Kidstruction Zone.
6. Learn About the Area’s History at the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance
If you want to learn more about the history of the area, then one of the best places to do this is at the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. It is a non-profit organization that preserves the history and heritage of Breckenridge. The alliance owns many historical sites in the area, and they offer a variety of walking tours around the area to see different sites and learn about the area’s history. There are many different tours available, so you can choose the one that best suits your interests.
5. Go Mountain Biking on Boreas Pass Road
Although skiing and hiking are two of the most popular outdoor activities to enjoy in Breckenridge, this is also a popular area for mountain biking. If you have not brought your own bicycle along with you on your vacation, it is possible to hire a bike and safety equipment to spend a day enjoying the area. One of the best spots for mountain biking is the Boreas Pass Road, which is a high mountain pass 11,481 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains. In the past, the route was used by prospectors during Colorado’s gold rush, and then as a narrow-gauge railroad and wagon pass. Now, it is predominantly used for recreational purposes. The pass road boasts stunning views to enjoy as you cycle.
4. Have Fun at Peak 8 Fun Park
Visitors ride in a gondola to access the Peak 8 Fun Park. As the name suggests, this attraction is located on Peak 8. It is an amusement park that has something for all the family to enjoy with attractions, including the largest human maze in Colorado, a bungee trampoline, an elevated roller coaster track, a climbing wall, a bounce house, and three alpine slide courses. There is also a scenic miniature golf course and a zip-line course for kids.
3. Hike the McCullough Gulch Trail
Located near the Blue River, the McCullough Gulch Trail is a 2.9-mile trail in the White River National Forest. It is a linear trail, so you walk the same trail there and back. The trail is moderately difficult as although it is short, there is some challenging terrain and an elevation change of 951 feet. This pet-friendly trail passes by a lake, and you will see waterfalls, alpine forests, and various species of birds and wildlife. In the winter months, this hiking trail is also used by Nordic skiers and snowshoers.
2. Enjoy Skiing at the Ski Resort
Breckenridge is famous as a ski resort, and this is what attracts most of the tourists to the town. Located just to the west of the Continental Divide, Breckenridge Ski Resort spreads across five peaks in the southern Tenmile Range. There are slopes for experienced skiers and less challenging areas where novices can take lessons. To access the slopes and ski terrain, there are 31 lifts. Experienced skiers and snowboarders can join the guided cross-country tours.
1. Spend Time on Main Street
According to Vacation Idea, one of the best things to do in Breckenridge, CO for first-timers is to spend time on Main Street. This street runs through the heart of the Breckenridge Historic Downtown, and it looks the same as it did hundreds of years ago as it is filled with historic buildings to see. This is also the best area for shopping, as there are more than 200 shops along this street, some of which sell hand-made products. There are also places to buy skiing gear and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn