Aerial view of Breckenridge, Colo.

Best Things to Do in Breckenridge, Colo.

BY Matt Meltzer | April 5, 2024

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Breckenridge, Colo.?”

In the heart of the Rockies, Breckenridge (called Breck by locals and those in the know) is one of those quintessential Colorado mining towns turned ski resorts. Just an hour and a half from Denver, the Centennial State’s largest city, the alpine splendor of this winter playground is far from the only reason to visit. Breckenridge also has a buzzing craft beer and distilling scene, a thriving downtown arts district and a charming downtown core where former Victorian mansions house funky boutique shops. And if snow isn’t your thing, summer has its own abundance of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to panning for gold.  

Here are some of Breckenridge’s greatest hits to help you get to know one of Colorado’s most popular cities.

You're Here to Get Outside

Breckenridge Ski Resort
#1
Breckenridge Ski Resort

Hit the slopes at Breckenridge Ski Resort

Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge, CO, USA

Breckenridge is a haven for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. With over 2,900 acres of skiable terrain, including 187 groomed trails, powder-filled bowls and challenging terrain parks, there’s no shortage of excitement on the slopes. For advanced powder hounds, one of the biggest draws of this Vail Resorts-owned mountain is that it holds the highest lift-served terrain in the United States: its Peak 8 Imperial Express SuperChair reaches 12,998 feet. From there, it’s just a 100-foot trudge to the summit, where fresh powder and sweeping views of the Tenmile Range await (and, on clear days, neighboring ski resorts). 

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Main Street Breckenridge
#2
Main Street Breckenridge

Stroll Main Street

Main Street, Breckenridge, CO, USA

Take a stroll down Main Street, Breckenridge’s historic downtown area filled with charming shops, art galleries and cafes, many of which are found in colorful Victorian buildings. It’s also a good place to learn about the town’s rich mining heritage. The Breckenridge Welcome Center leads guided tours of the district, telling the story of the community’s past. To learn more about Breck’s history, The Barney Ford House Museum honors the legacy of Barney Ford, an escaped enslaved person who became a prominent entrepreneur and civil rights activist in Breckenridge during the 1800s.

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Mount Quandary
#3
Mount Quandary

Go for a hike

Mc Cullough Gulch Rd, Breckenridge, CO 80424, USA

In the warmer months, Breckenridge’s slope-filled mountain melts into miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. From leisurely nature walks to challenging high-alpine hikes, there’s a trail for every skill level. Be sure to check out the scenic Blue River Recreational Path, which meanders through dense forests and vast meadows, or the equally popular Mayflower Gulch, which is blanketed in riotously colorful wildflowers in early summer. For something more challenging, try Mount Quandary. It’s thought of as one of the “easiest” (a relative term) 14ers in Colorado at just 3,000 feet of elevation gain and just seven miles round-trip.

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#4

See the giant troll

Stephen C. West Ice Arena, Boreas Pass Road, Breckenridge, CO, USA

On the Trollstigen Trail in Breckenridge, a troll lurks. Called Isak Hearthstone, the friendly-looking, 15-foot-tall troll sculpture is constructed from recycled wood. The piece was crafted by famed Danish artist Thomas Dambo, who has built and hidden more than 130 giant trolls in 17 countries over the last decade. There are roughly three dozen other sculptures scattered throughout town. You can find them all using the free Breck Create app.

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Neighborhood to Know

Arts District
#5
Arts District. Photo via Shutterstock.

Arts District

125 Ridge St, Breckenridge, CO 80424, USA

A block-long stretch of downtown that houses Breck’s quickly growing arts scene, the Arts District is where you’ll find live-work spaces for artists, studios like Raitman Art Galleries and Gary Soles Gallery, shops (such as Rocket Fizz, a candy store, and Marigolds Farmhouse Funk and Junk, a women’s boutique) and theaters.

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What Else to Do

A scene from the Ullr Festival.
#6
A scene from the Ullr Festival.

Attend a festival…and maybe set a world record

Breckenridge, CO, USA

Like any good resort town, Breckenridge celebrates everything: music, wine, art, food and even pagan winter deities. Don’t miss iconic events like the Ullr Fest, a winter celebration honoring the Norse god of snow — and its annual attempt at the world’s longest shot ski record — or the annual International Snow Sculpture Championships. In the summer, check out the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, with immersive art installations set before the Rocky Mountains. Additionally, every year on Labor Day weekend, the city hosts the Great Rubber Duck Race, where more than 10,000 rubber ducks race down the Blue River.

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Lomax Placer Mine
#7
Lomax Placer Mine

Hunt for gold

301 Ski Hill Road, Breckenridge, CO 80424, USA

Breckenridge came to be shortly after gold was found in the Blue River in the summer of 1859. That’s one reason why the waterway bisects what is now the city. In 1945, however, the last commercial mine closed down. If it weren’t for the ski resort opening two decades later, the city would likely have become a ghost town. For those keen on trying their hand at prospecting, there’s still one place you can visit: Lomax Placer Mine. There, you can pan for gold and watch real sluices and flumes at work. A small miner’s cabin onsite makes for a fun stop, complete with a wood-burning stove, pack saddles and the other myriad items necessary for survival during the Gold Rush.

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Grab an après pint (or a cocktail)

Breckenridge has a handful of stellar watering holes for après-ski. Broken Compass Brewing has two dog-friendly taprooms in the city, one on Main Street and the OG outpost on the north end of town. There’s also Breckenridge Brewery, which serves a slew of award-winning beers (if the Sexy Motor Oil is on tap, do yourself a favor and get it) and a full pub menu. For something a little stronger, grab the free shuttle to Breckenridge Distillery. There, you can belly up to the bar for a flight of their signature bourbons, participate in a boozy distillery tour or take part in a whiskey blending lab, where you can mix a personal 750-ml bottle. Lastly, stop by The Gold Pan Saloon, which claims to have the longest uninterrupted liquor license west of the Mississippi, having served spirits since 1861 (originally under the name Long’s Saloon).

Where to Eat

A piece of steak at the Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon
#8
Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon

Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloo

Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon, Lincoln Avenue, Breckenridge, CO, USA

For dinner, consider Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon. Named after the prolific former gold mine on Peak 10, this is arguably one of the most atmospheric dining options in Breck. It’s also somewhere you can eat your fill after a long day in the mountains. Massive slabs of steak and pork chops are the restaurant’s calling card, but it also has a good selection of small plates, like rackets and mussels.

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Amazing Grace
#9
Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

213 Lincoln Ave, Breckenridge, CO 80424, USA

Found in a yellow cabin built sometime in the 1880s, Amazing Grace is one of the coziest breakfast joints in Breck. Sip your coffee around the wood-fire stove, nosh on homemade scones or grab one of the fortifying breakfast burritos for a chair lift snack.

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Rocky Mountain Underground
#10
Rocky Mountain Underground

Rocky Mountain Underground

114/112 S Main St, Breckenridge, CO 80424, USA

Another light mid-day option is Rocky Mountain Underground. It’s technically a local ski manufacturer, but it also has a patio area where the staff sling grilled cheeses and pour local craft beers in the afternoon.

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Aurum Food & Wine
#11
Aurum Food & Wine

Aurum Food & Wine

209 South Ridge Street, Breckenridge, CO, USA

Aurum Food & Wine, which feels every bit like a Scandinavian ski chalet, flexes with its white oak furnishings and vaulted ceilings. Here, visitors can opt for an à la carte experience (the dinner menu has everything from Korean fried chicken to balsamic-braised short rib) or indulge in the five-course tasting menu, which includes an amuse-bouche, an appetizer, a pasta, a choice of a meat and a dessert.

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Where to Stay

Gravity Haus
#12
Gravity Haus

Gravity Haus

Gravity Haus Breckenridge, South Park Avenue, Breckenridge, CO, USA

Steps from the base of Peak 9, Gravity Haus has some of the best ski-in, ski-out access in Breckenridge. But it’s more than just a place to lay your head and dream of powder days ahead: it’s also a social house. There’s a Japanese-style onsen, a bar, a restaurant, an in-house coffee shop and a co-working space for those who need to get a little work in between runs.

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#13

The Carlin

200 N Main St, Breckenridge, CO 80424, USA

The Carlin just opened in the summer of 2023 in the heart of downtown, walking distance to nearly everything. The intimate, European-style hotel has just four hotel suites, three of which have balconies with views of the mountains on the top floor, an 80-seat open-kitchen restaurant that makes good use of its wood-burning oven and a 45-seat subterranean bar called Tavern Underground.

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