Skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado

Peak Ten in Breckenridge, Colorado. (ThinkStock)

What to do in Breckenridge

Unlike some ski areas, Breckenridge began as a real community over 150 years ago. When gold was discovered in the Blue River in 1859, prospectors crowded into town. Merchants built saloons, dry goods stores, and other wooden structures to serve the hopeful. More than 100 of these buildings remain (now converted to modern uses), creating Colorado’s largest historic district. A walk—coupled with a good dose of imagination—conveys the sense of a 19th-century western mining town.

If that doesn’t do it, go 1,000 feet underground to hear the drills and find out about the hard labor it took to bring gold, silver, lead, and zinc out of the earth at the Country Boy Mine, a working facility from 1887 to 1945.

Instead of precious metals the mountains now yield splendid runs for skiers and snowboarders. Denverites and downhill enthusiasts from all over the U.S. are attracted to Breckenridge’s four interconnected mountains and great bowl skiing. Beginners aren’t left at the base as 14% of the runs target those who seek easy trails. Two good picks for families seeking undemanding terrain are Quicksilver Super 6 and part of Four O’Clock, Breckenridge’s longest trail at 3.5 miles. Youngsters maneuver through Ripperoo’s Enchanted Forest and ‘tweens and teens tear it up at five terrain parks. For those who prefer gliding on relatively flat surfaces, Breckenridge has two cross-country facilities.

Children’s centers care for infants from the ages of eight weeks to five years. Three- and four-year-olds have ski and play days. Kids start group ski classes at age five while junior knuckle draggers begin on boards at age seven. Like many ski resorts, Breckenridge keeps families busy off the slopes. You can float in a hot air balloon, ice skate outdoors at Maggie Pond or indoors at the ice rink, and mush a dog sled team through the woods.

Breckenridge shines in summer too. Hike along forested paths and through meadows blooming with wildflowers, fly fish for trout in the Blue River, and mountain bike along 100-plus miles of roads and trails. At the Peak 8 Fun Park, open mid June through Labor Day, climb a rock wall, bounce on a trampoline, glide on a zip line, figure your way out of a maze, and slide down the slope on a slalom sled.

And that’s just on the mountain. In summer the town hosts free music and theatrical performances on weekends in the Blue Ridge Plaza and the annual film festival takes place every June. Last year’s screened such hits as Being Julia and Shark Tale.

Tip: Breckenridge hosts special women’s-only ski clinics as well as mountain biking and rock climbing camps, great bonding for mothers and teenage daughters.

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