Bob Winsett
Bob Winsett

Exploring Rocky Mountain heights in the charming Colorado ski town

By Christina Orlovsky Page

When you think of walking in a winter wonderland, you likely conjure up images of snow-capped mountains, quaint villages and a wardrobe full of warm and woolen fashion. All this and so much more is waiting in Breckenridge, Colorado, making the picture-perfect Rocky Mountain ski resort one of the most popular destinations for a winter getaway.

Located 80 miles slightly southwest of Denver, “Breck” as it’s nicknamed, is a hotspot for skiing, shopping and simply taking in the spectacular scenery. The largest historic district in Colorado—its Gold Rush roots date back to the 1850s—the quintessentially quaint downtown boasts a postcard-worthy Main Street, filled with Victorian-style buildings, museums, galleries, boutiques and mom-and-pop shops selling everything from souvenirs and locally made handicrafts to clothes, toys and winter sports gear.

Breckenridge Ski Resort
Breckenridge Ski Resort

Ready, Set, Ski

If your goal for a winter getaway is to spend time on the slopes, Breckenridge has you covered with nearly 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. With five mountain peaks, 187 trails and a summit elevation of 12,998 feet, there are runs for skiers of all ages and skill levels. The resort offers a wide variety of lessons for children and adults, including unique programs tailored specifically for girls and women. Ski Girls Rock is a one- or three-day ski camp for girls ages 7–14 run by Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Vonn; Breckenridge Ski and Snowboard School’s women-only programs include Women & Wine, a half-day lesson followed by a glass of wine for après ski, and a three-day Women’s Ski Camp, taught by women, for women. Prefer other winter sport options? Snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tubing and even dogsledding and sleigh rides are also popular ways to enjoy the powder.

Liam Doran
Liam Doran

Not a Skier? Not a Problem!

If your idea of a vacation is more about relaxation than exertion, there’s still plenty to do in Breck. From historic tours and gold-panning excursions that take you back in time to Gold Rush days to year-round hot air balloon rides that give you a birds-eye view of the spectacular valley, there are unique ways to see the sights without setting foot on skis. Or you can simply opt to take in a spa treatment at one of the lodges, stroll the shops, try your luck at a local casino or drink and dine in one of the town’s 100-plus bars and restaurants. Popular dining choices include Hearthstone Restaurant, an upscale dining experience in a historic Victorian building, Relish and Ember, two hip American eateries in the heart of downtown. Arts and culture lovers can take in a theatrical performance at Breckenridge Backstage Theatre or enjoy live music through the Breckenridge Music Festival or National Repertory Orchestra.

No matter what your interest, if you’re looking for wintry fun just a short flight away, storybook Breckenridge is a sure thing.

Carl Scofeild
Carl Scofeild

Upcoming Events

Breckenridge may be a small town, but it’s big on fun. Check out the following winter events:

January 10–13: ULLR Fest
A celebration of the Old Norse god of snowshoes, this winter festival marks its 55th anniversary in 2018 with games, parties and wintry fun.

January 22–29: Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships
The 28th annual competition showcases creative masterpieces designed by snow sculptors from around the world.

February 13: Mardi Gras
Snowy Breck heats up with New Orleans-style fun and an annual Mardi Gras parade.

For a full calendar of events, visit gobreck.com.

Liam Doran
Liam Doran

If You Go

Getting there: Several major airlines offer nonstop flights from San Diego to Denver, often for approximately $100 round-trip. The town of Breckenridge is an 80-mile drive on I-70 from the capital, and requires navigation through several mountain passes that can be tricky during the snowy winter months. Prepare for at least a two-hour trek. Several shuttle companies offer service from Denver International Airport to the mountains if you’d prefer to leave the driving to a professional.

Where to stay: A town designed for tourism, Breck offers a wide variety of accommodations to suit all tastes—from luxury lodges to quaint B&Bs. For skiers looking for the ski-in/ski-out lodge experience, Breck has you covered with a selection of upscale ski lodges, including Valdoro Mountain Lodge, Grand Lodge on Peak 7, Wedgewood Lodge and Grand Timber Lodge. For group getaways, it’s fun to live like a local and rent a mountain cabin or townhouse through AirBnB.

Side trips: If time permits and you’d like to explore other popular Colorado sites outside Breckenridge, Vail is just over 30 miles away; shuttles are available to transport you between the two resort towns. You can also opt to take in a hot spring at Glenwood Springs, less than a two-hour drive west.

Pro tip: The town offers a free shuttle to get from the lodge areas to downtown—useful in the snowy months or anytime you’d rather not search for a parking spot in the busy shopping district.