The state of CO holds a lot of fond memories for me. Fortunately, the Murphy clan decided on Breckenridge this year as our a family vacation of choice. Consider Breckenridge the chill cool older brother of the Vail-Breck-Keystone-Bachelor Gulch region. Laid back, casual, and super fun.
How to Get There
And no, I wouldn’t suggest the pictured truck from below 🙂
Flying into Denver International, I had one of two choices. Okay, three choices. Rent a car, take a shuttle or get an uber (and only if you miss the shuttle cut-off times). If I’m traveling alone, I opt for the shuttle route so I don’t have to worry about those winding mountain roads. There are loads of shuttle options depending on which town you are headed, but I usually go with one of the three below and have had great experiences with each.
Colorado Mountain Express
Probably the most popular option for travelers (and well known for regular CO visitors), the Colorado Mountain Express (or CME) has an extensive schedule and travels to the major mountain hubs (Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, Copper Mountain, Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, Aspen, and Snowmass). Tickets are typically around $75 one way and the shuttles easily accommodate snow gear.
My fam was happily introduced to Fast Tracks this trip (via a wedding discount as we were there for a friend’s gorgeous ceremony). Pleasantly surprised by how personable the staff was, it was all around an easy experience. The shuttles are a bit smaller (than CME), but still clean and not too crowded. Fast Tracks shuttled from the airport go to Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Frisco, and Dillon. However, they offer resort to resort shuttles between Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain, and Breckenridge. The schedules rival CME times with shuttles leaving about every hour between 6am and 9:30pm.
Many larger mountain resorts have shuttles available to schedule ahead of time, so be certain to check with your concierge for options.
Where to Stay
To preface, Breckenridge is not Vail, Aspen, or Beaver Creek. You won’t find a Ritz or Four Seasons luxury estate; however, if you love small mountain town charm like I do, then you won’t mind one bit. Breckenridge is a ski town for the adventure seekers and lovers of quaint quiet cottage-lined streets.
Breckenridge has a couple of good resorts, but I would suggest looking into a home or condo rental through VRBO. Personally, I love having my own space in Breckenridge since it’s such an active town. I’m usually away strolling through town, hiking, or skiing during the day, so a simple rental location works perfectly. This is especially convenient if you’re traveling with a large group as big cabins usually house multiple beds and baths, such as ours from the photo above!
One Ski Hill Place
One Ski Hill Place Breckenridge is a ski-in/ski-out property situated on Peak 8. Incredibly convenient for those hitting the slopes, the resort is also friendly towards those not slope-savvy. The property includes two bowling lanes, a billiards room, jacuzzi’s a-plenty, and a fitness center/spa. Score. In order to get to town, you can hop right on the gondola for a trip down the hill.
Mountain Thunder Lodge
Another convenient ski-in/ski-out resort, Mountain Thunder Lodge is a great location for those who enjoy a quiet walk into town during primetime. The resort provides shuttles to town and lifts, making it easy to go anywhere in Breckenridge without the need for a rental car. During the summer months, Mountain Thunder Lodge also offers bike rentals and easy access to hiking trails.
What to Do in Breckenridge, Summer Ed.
Though most travelers would probably consider Breckenridge a winter ski trip destination, I’m here to tell you I might like it better in the summer. GASP. With the abundance of wildflowers, hiking trails, and nearby rivers, Breckenridge is an active vacationer’s dream. It’s no secret that hiking is a passion of mine, so I relished the opportunity to dust off my hiking boots.
Cucumber Gulch Trail: This trail was an insanely easy 5 minute walk from our rental house and easy to find as the trail head started at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. Clocking in at about 2.5 miles, the trail loop takes you through gorgeous spreads of wildflowers, and offers a view of the Cucumber Gulch Wildlife Preserve. Our last day on the trail we even saw a giant moose…A MOOSE…cross our path, which was equally terrifying and completely awesome. Those things are much bigger in real life than on a computer screen or wildlife pamphlet. Sightings are a somewhat common occurrence so keep an eye out (but according to Google they do not charge unless threatened, phew!). The hike itself is ideal for beginners with a couple steep upward climbs for the glutes. 🙂
Mayflower Gulch Trail: About a 30 minute drive from Breckenridge, the Mayflower Gulch Trail is a super picturesque beauty of a hike situated near Copper Mountain. A little over six miles, the hike can take a few hours, especially if you’re into photography like moi. It honestly isn’t too difficult for beginners, but keep in mind that the altitude is killer in Breckenridge. The trails wind to Sound of Music style scenery like fields of wildflowers and old dilapidated miner cabins that almost give off a gothic vibe.
Meta Yoga Studio is located in the heart of downtown Breckenridge near shops and restaurants. Meta offers a variety of classes, from power flow to vinyasa to Stand Up Paddle yoga during the summer. The options are endless, and the studio also hosts off-site classes in nearby parks and resorts.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Alpine Sports is the place to go during the summer to rent Stand Up Paddle Boards to cruise around on nearby Maggie Pond. The shop also offers demos every Sunday if you’re new to the sport, as well as SUP Yoga every Tuesday through August.
Free activity FTW! Cheap thrills get me every time, what can I say? On our last morning, we walked from our rental to the BreckConnect Gondola off Main Street for a joy ride. During ski season, visitors can access the gondola from downtown and get to the base of Peak 8, Peak 7 and Shock Hill in a few short minutes.
Take a Stroll Down Main Street
Breckenridge’s historic Main Street is as adorable as it is fun. Featuring buildings that date back close to 100 years old, the historic area is home to many great restaurants, bars, and local shops. From charming book stores to artisan gift shops that sit alongside gorgeous gardens and parks, Main Street is a must see during the summer.
Old Man Berkin Used Bookstore – Ya don’t come across these too often, so when ya do, creaking open slightly worn pages of old tales will be worth your while. I could’ve stayed in this bookstore for hours but opted for a story about a plane crash survivor pretty quickly. It’s called Crazy for the Storm, and I started reading it while on a plane…oops.
Amazing Grace: Another quaint eatery, Amazing Grace is a go-to lunch spot operated out of a tiny yellow house. The menu is all natural organic dishes, specializing in breakfast and lunch. Their sandwiches and salads are SO GOOD. I could eat there for lunch every day, honestly. Heads up, there tends to be a bit of a wait, but trust, it’s worth it. And get the Opus for brekkie. You won’t regret it.
Mountain Top Cookie Shop: Oh Mountain Top Cookie Shop, how do I put into words how much I love you? For starters, I ate one (who are we kidding, two) of your cookies every day I was in town. You cannot walk down Main Street and pass this shop without smelling the most amazing cookie aroma you’ll ever experience. Go inside. Ogle at the LITERAL mountains of cookies behind the counter. Can’t choose just one (because who can decide between peanut butter pretzel, cookie dough delight, or a birthday cake cookie sandwich) so go ahead and get a sampling, or go back the next night… and the next.
Hearthstone Restaurant: We popped into this refurbished old Victorian house the first night in town and were not disappointed. The menu features seasonal and local dishes (i.e. their famous elk), and the staff is super knowledgable and attentive. Some may find the decor outdated, but I lived for it. Vintage classic wallpaper, white trimming, the works. My favorite dish? The charred octopus appetizer. Incredible.
If You Need to Recharge
It can take a solid couple of days to acclimate to the altitude, with side effects including headaches, shortness of breath, and dehydration. Because you’re high up in the mountains with thinner air (i.e. a lack of oxygen), your body can become rapidly dehydrated if you aren’t careful. Pro tip: Start hydrating before you even arrive in Breckenridge (and any other mountain town) to try and avoid some dehydration. Bring lots of Advil. Maybe grab an aisle seat on the airplane for frequent bathrooms breaks…cause you’ll need ’em! Be wary of how much alcohol you’re drinking, and chug glasses of water between drinks. Buy these nifty portable oxygen inhalers. Maybe take a stroll one of the local dispensaries for a little cannabis therapy… 😉 Yes, it’s legal here.
In the event you just can’t shake altitude sickness, head to one of the two spots below to get your groove back.
Harmony Spa: Located right off Main Street, Harmony offers massage therapy, facials, aromatherapy, and waxing. I would suggest arriving a half hour early to take a breather (literally.) in the oxygen room, where guests can relax in massage chairs while inhaling pure oxygen. The combo of oxygen therapy and deep tissue massage worked WONDERS for my fatigue.
Vida Flo: Specializing in vitamin IVs, oxygen therapy, B-12 shots, and everything rehydration, it’s definitely worth a trip to Vida Flo in order to bounce back from altitude sickness (or a hangover, tbh). Getting an influx of vitamins and fluids straight to the bloodstream is incredibly rejuvenating, and you won’t have to wait around to feel it working.