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Breckenridge gets a bad rap as being a mecca for park rats and Front Range day-trippers, but that’s not the whole story. True, Breck is only an hour and a half from Denver and features five terrain parks, but there are also 2,908 acres of bowls, chutes, and hike-to terrain—some of the most interesting inbounds skiing in Summit and Eagle Counties.
Whereas many resorts in the area lack personality, Breck has plenty. Founded in 1859 as a mining outpost, downtown Breckenridge showcases the largest national historic district in Colorado. So it’s no surprise that Breck’s main drag is lined with Wild West–era buildings that are home to shops, swanky eateries, and dive bars.
The Bivvi Hostel makes the ideal base camp for a weekend in Breck. Within walking distance of town and situated on the free bus route to the mountain, the Bivvi features six private rooms and four dormitory-style bunkrooms, a hot tub, fire pit, and delish complimentary breakfast. All of this, plus the fact that beds start at $45 per night, make the Bivvi perfect for ski bums like us.
Spread over five peaks (all connected by trails and lifts) and featuring the Imperial Express, the highest chairlift in the United States, Breckenridge is a great mountain for everyone from beginners to expert skiers. Start the day with a few crowd-free laps off the Falcon SuperChair on Peak 10, an oasis of gladed tree runs like the Burn, which delivers perfectly spaced trees and powder stashes that last for days. Stay skier’s left for low-angle, wider-spaced trees; go right for steeper, tighter lines.
Come midmorning, traverse to the Peak 8 SuperConnect chair and continue on to the T Bar. From the top of the T Bar, warm up your steep-skiing skills with first tracks down Horseshoe Bowl. After a couple laps on the T Bar, hit the Imperial Express SuperChair, which tops out at 12,840 feet, for somewhat technical, big-mountain-style lines in Lake Chutes. Nine Lives, the second run as you ski toward the boundary rope, is littered with cliffs (airs, if you choose) and is the steepest run on the mountain.
Be sure to check out Peak 6, Breck’s newest terrain. Opened in late 2013, Peak 6 delivers 540 acres of expert and intermediate bowls, chutes, and hike-to terrain in the alpine.
You don’t have to travel far on Breck’s main drag to fill your belly with something scrumptious. Begin your day with a latte (the mocha-flavored is the bomb) and a green chili burrito at Cuppa Joe, a cozy breakfast joint favored by locals, just off Main Street. The burritos are huge—split one with a friend or save half for later.
For a lunch, hit the Snowdrifter, a food truck that’s an alpine take on the popular food truck movement. Currently parked in front of the Horizon hut on Peak 6, the Snow Drifter dishes up killer grab-and-go lunch options, like the Philly cheesesteak, which you can nibble on your way up the Kensho chair.
After a day of roughing it on the hill, you might crave a little city-style atmosphere. If that’s the case, head to the Blue River Bistro for happy hour, which means live music and buy one, get one martinis and appetizers. We suggest the Champagne Dream martini, fried calamari, and honey and cashew–encrusted brie.
When night falls, fuel up on comfort food staples and a wide selection of craft beer at the Breckenridge Brewery and Pub, one of Colorado’s original microbreweries. Pair the four-cheese mac with an Avalanche Ale, and you’ll be in heaven. If head brewmaster Jimmy Walker is around, ask for a tour of the vats and get the whole story of how the Breckenridge Brewery got its start in this teensy mountain town.
Breck’s drinking culture runs deep, and the town serves up everything from martini bars and nightclubs to breweries, pubs, and everything in between.
With a DJ spinning beats, Mexican-inspired apps (hello, dirty nachos), and tasty margaritas, the T-Bar is the perfect place to post up after a day on the hill. Located slopeside at the base of Peak 8, the T-Bar gets packed—arrive early if you want to score a table. Right next door, the gondola to town runs until 5 p.m., so once you’ve aprèsed up, go home, take a disco nap, and then head out on the town.
Après Handcrafted Libations features craft beer, spirits, and drinks—think small-batch whiskeys from Breckenridge Distillery, 30 unique beers on tap, and Colorado wines. It’s BYOF (bring your own food), so grab a slice of Fatty J’s pizza and settle in for a proper quaffing session.
Launched in summer 2014, Broken Compass Brewing is the latest addition to Breck’s thriving brew scene. Already a local favorite, this brewpub offers killer beer, music, and a lively scene. Try the eight-flight sampler—and make sure the coconut porter is one of the samples.
No trip to Breckenridge is complete without a visit to the Gold Pan Saloon, the oldest continuously operating bar west of the Mississippi. When the Gold Pan opened in 1870, it was a favorite haunt among the region’s crusty gold miners. Today, it’s a favorite haunt of crusty ski bums and tourists alike.
The Behind Swinging Doors Saloon Tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at the golden era of Breck’s pubs (the 1880s) and samples from today’s Breckenridge Distillery, an award-winning producer of small-batch bourbons (and more) made from alpine snow melt, the perfect souvenir.