Breckenridge, as we know, is a popular Colorado ski town. But, I wanted to find out why so many are touting it a perfect summer destination.
After spending five glorious days there, much to my delight, I’m a true believer.
Once a thriving gold mining town nearly destroyed by river dredging, Breckenridge today is a vibrant, artistic Bohemian village. Surrounded by awe-inspiring mountain vistas and clear babbling brooks, this outdoor recreational wonderland makes for an ideal summer getaway.
Breckenridge is perched at an impressive 9600-foot elevation. As a result of this lofty altitude, summer temperatures are mild, averaging 70-degrees during the day. Evenings can dip into the high 30s, and snowcaps remain on the surrounding mountain tops.
With its bluebird-colored skies and long sunny days, summer is an idyllic time to visit Breckenridge. Just waking up to that fresh, clean mountain air every morning is paradise.
Outdoor Recreation Nirvana
The ski season may be over but gondolas still run in the summer taking visitors up the mountain for some spectacular panoramic views. The best part is the rides are free.
Breckenridge is an outdoor wellness-lovers dream. 50-plus miles of interconnected trails provide a myriad of hiking opportunities ranging from easy to difficult. If it’s rushing mountain streams or cascading waterfalls that tickle your fancy, the melting mountain snows this time of year cause the waters to literally tumble and roar.
Mountain biking is very popular due to the vast number of trails, but there’s a new craze in Breckenridge called fat biking. These high-performance carbon fiber fat-bikes with oversized tires are designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft unstable terrains, such as snow, sand, bogs, and mud.
Our two-hour guided itinerary led by Breckenridge Bike Tours was the perfect way to learn more about the town’s fascinating history while taking a fun and leisurely ride through the picturesque village. But, a word of advice. Like us, you’ll want to stop often as photo opportunities along the paths are endless.
Foodie Lover’s Dream
Breckenridge is emerging as one serious food mecca with farm-to-table eateries springing up everywhere. Since 2017, 23 new culinary hot spots have opened and the town is attracting a slew of incredibly talented chefs. Visitors can still get their burgers and pizzas, but there are a plethora of choices to satisfy the simple to the discerning palate.
Small plates are a big deal at Breckenridge Distillery Restaurant and are they ever amazing. We loved the creative names and choices like Hipster Fries served with shishito, peppadew, bacon, and parmesan. Barrel Char Rotini with smoked chicken, onion, spinach Chevre, and cherry tomato was incredible.
But leave room for dessert as the Chocolate Mousse made with Espresso Vodka and Bourbon Float with Breckenridge Bourbon are to die for. It is a distillery after all.
Blue River Bistro is a must-do dining experience. The casual but elegant modern American-Italian establishment not only serves up top-notch tantalizing entrees, but prices were much less than we expected for an award-winning restaurant of this caliber.
Salmon Oscar, a tender, tasty seared Scottish salmon topped with lump crab, tarragon basil béarnaise over grilled asparagus and shaved roasted new potato was prepared to perfection and just plain divine.
The bistro’s wine list is excellent, and servers are happy to assist with wine selections or specialty cocktails and of course, the menu, since there are so many outstanding choices.
Brews and Spirits of the West
Colorado is renowned for its breweries, and Breckenridge definitely has a vibrant craft beer scene.
We love Broken Compass Brewing’s theme “Where it’s always 5 O’clock on the Ski Hill.” 5 o’clock or not, this brewery is making some incredible quality craft beer, and we couldn’t wait to try them.
You can get superstars like the Belgian Blonde, IPA or Hefeweizen, but imagine trying creations like Coconut Porter or Ginger Pale Ale in a carefree fun environment where bearded brewmasters are delighted to show patrons around and answer questions. Not sure which you’d like? Bartenders are more than happy to let you sample before you buy.
The eclectic Rocky Mountain Underground makes handcrafted designer skis and other outdoor adventure products in their ski shop. But not to be outdone, they also sport an onsite tavern featuring rotating craft beers and their hallmark specialty, craft cocktails.
Libations like the Sonnie Day, a definite winner with lavender gin, framboise, lemon juice, and cardamom honey simple syrup can be enjoyed at either the bar, outdoor front deck, or backyard beer garden.
Touted as the world’s highest distillery, Breckenridge Distillery provided us quite an education with its production facility tour. And we loved tasting their magnificent award-winning bourbon, vodka, and spirits. It’s got to be the infused purified waters from Rocky Mountain snowmelt that’s the secret ingredient in one of our very favorites, the espresso flavored vodka.
The distillery’s libations go down easy. And then there are more surprises in store like the Chili Chile, Breckenridge vodka infused with Colorado-grown Pueblo Chile and Turkish Chili quickly bringing that spicy lingering smoky taste to the palate.
Hot Art and Creative Edge
Breckenridge features one of Colorado’s most vibrant art districts. It’s a small town filled with proud artists and entrepreneurs. You name it and you’ll find it here—galleries, wearable art, nature stores, and lots of fun and funky bohemian boutiques to explore.
One amazingly popular craft store celebrating the history and culture of the region is the Hot Shop, so named for its creative metalsmithing.
Local art instructors provide not only demonstrations but hands-on workshops where participants can create their own unique piece of art. Mine was a silver charm created from metal clay and then fired by a torch. Though I don’t consider myself a talented artist by any stretch of the imagination, even I left the class proud of my creation.
Summer brings even more artsy fun to the outdoors with upcoming events such as the Creative Street Art Festival held every July and the International Festival of Arts kicking off in August.
Colorado History at its Finest
Once gold was discovered here in 1859, it didn’t take long for word to get out to those hoping to strike it rich.
By 1890, the town had over 80 bars and saloons and a post office was soon established. The Civil War, however, pulled the men from the mines and eventually in 1943, the boom turned to bust and the mines closed.
But Breckenridge not only survived, today it’s thriving due to the discovery of “white gold” in 1961 when it opened its first ski resort. The streets of this charming laid-back village weren’t even paved until 1970.
Many historic buildings remain. Gold Pan Saloon, the most continuously operating bar west of the Mississippi is still serving drinks to patrons surrounded by fascinating artifacts from a bygone era.
A stop at the Breckenridge Welcome Center in the heart of town is a must. Not only did we pick up some incredibly helpful information but historians there regaled tales of the town’s storied past. Walls of the center are covered with photos, newspaper clippings, and vivid details about the Colorado gold rush days.
A famous quote by renowned naturalist and a founding father of our National Parks John Muir came to mind: “The mountains are calling and I must go.”
We can’t wait to return again to this alluring Rocky Mountain treasure trove called Breckenridge.
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