The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Breckenridge, Colorado in 2022
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By: Kristi Dosh
It’s no secret to those who know me that I love Breckenridge, Colorado. I’m there several times a year, and I love Breckenridge in every season. The food, the beer, the spirits, the people…it’s all just as good as the scenery, the hiking, biking and skiing.
If you love the outdoors, Breckenridge is your ultimate playground year-round. Don’t consider yourself an outdoorsy person? I’ve converted many a person right here in Breckenridge! But even if you don’t buy into the notion of embracing the great outdoors, there’s plenty of other things to love about this oasis in the mountains.
This is my ultimate guide to the Breckenridge I love.
- What to Do in Breckenridge (By Season)
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat and Drink
- The Best Restaurants in Breckenridge (aka, My Favorites)
- Breckenridge Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries
- Hiking in Breckenridge
- How to Get Around
- Other Things to Know About Breckenridge
What to Do in Breckenridge (By Season)
There truly isn’t a wrong time of year to visit Breckenridge. While Winter is usually what brings people to Breckenridge for their first vacation, many return in the spring, summer or fall to find entirely new reasons to fall in love with this mountain town that truly has it all.
What to do in Breckenridge in Winter
Breckenridge Ski Resort is usually the reason people have heard of Breckenridge or visit it for the first time. Admittedly, it’s what brought us here initially.
With five peaks and nearly 3,000 skiable acres, there’s something for everyone here. Breckenridge is one of my favorite places to ski because it gets an average of 300 days of sunshine along with an annual snowfall of 366 inches. Even in early December and late April, I’ve had some great ski days here.
Downhill skiing isn’t the only outdoor activity which can be enjoyed in Breckenridge during the winter. Slow down and allow your senses to be filled with nature on a guided or self-guided snowshoe adventure from the Breckenridge Nordic Center. A peaceful trek through the woods doubles as meditative and great exercise.
Breck’s version of “spring break” occurs each December with the rowdy Ullr Fest. If your idea of a good time has more to do with shots than runs, Ullr Fest is for you.
Also available from the Breckenridge Nordic Center are snow cat excursions. Breckenridge Nordic Center’s state of the art Prinoth Snowcat – designed by Pinifarina in Italy, the same Pinifarina who has designed Ferrari sports cars – features a heated, all glass cabin where guests ride in comfort with a stop for s’mores and hot chocolate. The roughly 90 minute tour traverses over beautiful cross country ski trails and wildlife habitat with stunning views of Ten Mile Range and the Cucumber Gulch Wildlife.
I’ve also enjoyed the fat bike brewery and distillery tour. It’s a great way to check out all the local brews and spirits while getting just enough exercise to feel like you earned it!
What to do in Breckenridge in Spring
Spring skiing is my favorite as a solid blue skier. My husband and love visiting during “shoulder season” from late March into April. Heck, many years you can ski right up to Memorial Day thanks to the altitude here and plentiful snow.
If you plan on visiting Breckenridge in May, be aware that many of the local shops and restaurants close during this time – also known as “mud season” due to melting snow – in advance of the summer season.
There’s still plenty to do here in the spring! If catching the late season skiing isn’t your thing, check out the Country Boy Mine tour, where you can go 1,000 feet into the mine and even pan for gold. If you want to stay above ground, Breckenridge Distillery’s After Hours Experience or Founder’s Tour are both excellent choices. As a warning, I’d make sure you eat before that Founder’s Tour because they’re very generous with the spirits!
On the plus side, this is the least expensive time to visit Breck with hotels and restaurants offering deep discounts.
What to do in Breckenridge in Summer
“Come for the winter and stay for the summer” is the saying locals like to use when describing visitors initially attracted to Breckenridge for skiing who end up returning to see what summer has to offer and then becoming residents. It happens all the time. It happened to my husband and me who first came to Breck for skiing and upon a return trip in August to beat the Florida heat where we live, fell in love and determined ourselves to spend our summers there – some day.
Breckenridge summer’s are impossible to beat with bright blue skies, temperatures rarely surpassing 80 degrees and perfectly pleasant evenings for outdoor dining or hot-tubbing. Outdoor activities are endless from wildlife viewing to mountain biking and fly fishing, but hiking takes the cake. Hiking is a lifestyle in Breckenridge with countless miles of trails from the easy to the arduous.
What to do in Breckenridge in Fall
Hiking in Breckenridge continues into the fall, although additional caution must be taken when considering rapidly varying weather conditions. Wind, sleet, snow, rain and cold fronts can seemingly come out of nowhere, turning an enjoyable day in nature dangerous in a minute.
On the plus side, fall hiking provides for enjoyment of the stunning fall colors as aspen trees turn the mountainsides yellow. Pretty much any hike you do this time of year will be stunning, but if you want a sure winner for fall hiking in Breckenridge, it has to be Aspen Alley.
When is the best time to enjoy Breckenridge fall color? It varies from one year to the next, but you’re usually safe the second or third week of September. Remember, foliage peaks early here because of the altitude.
To skip the hike and still enjoy the leaf-peeping, drive up Boreas Pass being sure to pull over to enjoy the extraordinary views frequently.
September and October are sneaky-great times to visit Breckenridge for peace and quiet and outdoor activities before the onslaught of winter tourists.
Where to Stay
Breckenridge VRBOs We Recommend
I have personally stayed in all of the Breckenridge VRBOs featured on our site. Whether you’re looking to accommodate a large group or stay on the slopes for some ski-in/ski-out action, we’ve reviewed great options for any Breckenridge travel you’re planning.
The Bogart House: 5 Bedrooms/5 Bathrooms
The Bogart House has it all: luxury features like heated floors, picturesque views, and a location right off Main Street. With 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths, it’s perfect for a large family or a group of friends. You can go from sitting in an Adirondack chair drinking your coffee and enjoying the mountain views to being on the slopes in no time.
Mont Vista Chateau: 8 bedrooms/7 bathrooms
If you need an extra large home for your big group but still want luxury level accommodations, Mont Vista Chateau is the perfect choice. This nine-bedroom stunner has room galore and views that can’t be beat. From a well-outfitted chef’s kitchen to a pool table and hot tub, there’s so much to enjoy here, you might not even want to leave the house…although we encourage you to get out there and experience the rest of what Breckenridge has to offer!
Breck Town Lodge: 9 Bedrooms/9 Bathrooms
Want a large group rental that’s located right downtown where you can walk to everything? Breck Town Lodge is offers 9 bedrooms, three of which are their own apartment-style suites. We had a group of 10 travel writers in this house for a retreat, and there were times I forgot anyone else was there because it’s so spacious. The location really can’t be beat–my car never even left the driveway the entire four-night stay.
Grand Colorado on Peak 8: 1-4-Bedroom Ski-In/Ski-Out Condos
Both my co-founder Noreen and myself will tell you that timeshare (or fractional vacation) ownership gets a bad rap. We both own timeshares, and I owns her fractional ownership in Breckenridge at Grand Colorado on Peak 8.
The good news (if you’re not ready for a timeshare) is that you can check out a 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-bedroom Breckenridge timeshare rental without having to buy anything, as there’s a robust rental program at Grand Colorado on Peak 8 and Breckenridge Grand Vacations’ other timeshares in Breckenridge: Grand Lodge on Peak 7, Grand Timber Lodge and Gold Point Resort.
You can’t beat the location of Grand Colorado on Peak 8 right at the base of the peak with easy access to lifts, rental equipment, ski school, restaurants, bars and more. Even if you don’t ski, you can sit in a hot tub right along the slopes and watch your friends or family come down the mountain. It’s also a short walk over to the gondola to get into town, and there’s a free shuttle that will take you anywhere you need to get in town.
Want more options for large groups? Check out our favorite Breckenridge vacation rentals for large groups.
Breckenridge Hotels We Recommend
Although I normally stay at the property where I own in Breckenridge, I have had the opportunity to stay at Gravity Haus. Not only does it have modern, spacious rooms, there’s also a great coffee bar downstairs, Unravel, and a fantastic in-house restaurant, Cabin Juice. Gravity Haus even has its own co-working space, Starter Haus. The perfect choice for someone who needs to get in a few hours of work between skiing, hiking or other outdoor activities.
Gravity Haus is in the perfect location downtown to easily get to the slopes or walk to all the shopping and dining downtown Breck has to offer. Ready to get out and enjoy the great outdoors? Haus Quiver, located inside Gravity Haus, allows you to rent the latest outdoor gear, and you can book adventures through Gravity Haus like ice climbing, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing and more.
Marriott’s Mountain Valley Lodge
Who says location isn’t everything? Marriott’s Mountain Valley Lodge in Breckenridge features beautifully-appointed spacious studios and villas in a picture-perfect location right in the heart of downtown Breckenridge.
Proximity to the Colorado ski trails at Peak 9 and the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is ideal for hitting the slopes during winter. But no matter the season, Marriott’s vacation club makes it easy to explore the historic downtown or venture to Breck’s magnificent outdoor destinations for hiking, biking, and more.
We love the roomy heated outdoor pool and whirlpool spa and impressive fitness center. But mostly we love the picturesque setting overlooking the breathtaking Rocky Mountains and sparkling Breckenridge lake.
Use the map below to find a variety of hotels and vacation rentals available for your dates and easily choose by location and price.
Where to Eat and Drink
The Best Restaurants in Breckenridge (aka, My Favorites)
For Pizza in Breckenridge
The Breckenridge pizza game was forever changed in 2021 when Tin Plate opened. It quickly earned the distinction as my favorite pizza in Breckenridge!
The atmosphere is just as perfect as the pizza. Tin Plate occupies a 138-year-old mining cabin that was once where Colorado’s largest gold nugget, “Tom’s Baby,” was cleaned and weighed in at 13.5 pounds.
When I visited in August 2021, the Peach & Prosciutto pizza was the big crowd pleaser for our large group. Topped with roasted peaches (Palisade Peaches are big around here in the summer!), prosciutto, mozzarella, bleu cheese, chili, honey and basil, it was a universally beloved choice.
Tin Plate describes it’s pizza as “upscale,” but that’s referring to the variety of interesting flavors and combinations, not the atmosphere. Like most restaurants in Breckenridge, you’ll be totally comfortable here in anything (except ski boots—most of the restaurants prohibit those). It’s not stuff or pretentious, it’s just the best pizza in town.
Other oldies but goodies are Fatty’s—which has a sports bar atmosphere—and Giampetro’s. Both locals and longtime visitors recommended these to us over and over when we first started visiting and we’ve enjoyed both.
For Fine Dining in Breckenridge
Briar Rose Chophouse and Saloon is my personal favorite, and I never miss it when I’m in Breckenridge. The bar has a more casual atmosphere if you want fine dining level food without having to sit at a white tablecloth-clad table. That’s exactly how I like to do Briar Rose.
If, however, you want the full fine dining experience, Briar Rose has a lovely dining room too. Their filet mignon is always tender, they have a variety of delicious sauces (I’m always torn between the Port Wine Demiglace and the Brandy Green Peppercorn) and their garlic parmesan thin cut fries are some of the best fries I’ve had anywhere. The mac and cheese is another phenomenal shareable side I’d recommend.
Blue River Bistro is my co-founder Noreen’s favorite for fine dining in Breckenridge. Their season menu offers the freshest ingredients, and it’s the place to go if you want seafood during your mountain visit. They’re open for both lunch and dinner and also have a great brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Rootstalk is the new talk of the town. Noreen and I hosted a travel writer’s retreat in Breckenridge in August 2021 and took our group to check out the new kid in town. They haven’t stopped raving about it since!
Their menu is both inventive and delicious with items like Braised Rabbit Pot Pie and Cauliflower Schnitzel. Their homemade pastas were the star when our group dined there, and the charcuterie took up most of the table!
For Breakfast in Breckenridge
For years, we’ve loved BoLD for breakfast. They have great pancakes and a variety of eggs benedict options. I don’t think we’ve ever ordered anything here we didn’t like.
Crepes a la Cart is a huge favorite in Breck, and it’s pretty easy to find if you just look for the long line on the sidewalk on Main Street.
If you just need something quick, the bagels at Clint’s Bakery are great (if you can make it past all the sweet treats in their bakery upstairs).
Micasa Mexican Restaurant and Cantina has been a go-to in Breckenridge for over 40 years. My husband looks forward all year to re-enjoying the loaded chorizo nachos. I’m also a big fan of their fajitas and queso dip. We make a point to eat here every trip.
Breckenridge Tap House has a robust selection of craft beers and spirits, but I go for the tacos. I always order the Bulleit Bourbon Barbacoa, my husband the Colorado Bourbon Buffalo. Double-up on brussels sprouts with chorizo as your side.
Our favorite Breck tradition is to order our tacos as take out and eat them at Broken Compass Brewing (below) where food is BYO.
If you ask others who frequent Breckenridge or live in town, many of them will tell you the their favorite tacos are at Rita’s. I recently tried Yo Mommas with a local friend and enjoyed those as well.
For Grilled Cheese
This might sound like a silly category, but I love a good grilled cheese…and my favorite in all of the country is in Breckenridge at Canteen. It comes with a wonderful roasted red pepper bisque that’s a nice change from the typical tomato soup that comes with grilled cheese.
Also, if cheese is your thing—it’s mine!—they also have an incredible queso dip! It’s enormous, so I usually hit Canteen my first day in town so I can eat the leftovers when I need a snack later in the week.
It’s a great place to eat outside when the weather is nice enough, and everyone I’ve ever taken here has enjoyed it. You get large portions, whether it’s food or cocktails you’re looking for. Very casual and economical option that’s also delicious!
Whiskey Star Smokehouse is a more recent addition to the Breck dining scene and a welcome one at that. Authentic Texas-style barbecue served a la carte, cafeteria style, at 10,000-feet. The brisket and pulled pork stand out, but everything on the menu lives up to the storied traditions of Texas BBQ.
True to its name, Whiskey Star Smokehouse has a deep roster of whiskeys to sample.
No ski trip is complete without cheese fondue. The place for that in Breckenridge is Swiss Haven. All our fondue favorites are here, along with a great atmosphere that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a restaurant in the Swiss alps.
Breckenridge Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries
Breweries in Breckenridge
When people imagine a Colorado ski-town craft brewery, whether they know it or not, they’re imagining Broken Compass Brewing. Having visited dozens around the country, Broken Compass is my favorite craft brewery.
Flavorful, unpretentious, local, small batch, dogs welcome, Broken Compass makes visitors feel like family. Skip the Main Street taproom in favor of the home base on Continental Court (they have a free shuttle that will come pick you up and take you back!). No food is served, so BYO (see “tacos” above).
Pair those tacos with a chili pepper ale, a beer that changed my life. I never knew beer could have such a complex and wonderous flavor palette before trying Broken Compass’ chili pepper ale. It is the standard against which I measure all other beers. Sadly, it’s not always on tap, but everything I’ve tried at Broken Compass has been somewhere on the scale from good to great. Many people go for the Coconut Porter, which is made from 400 pounds of toasted organic coconut flakes.
Stop in early on Wednesdays for a brewery tradition—Wacky One-Off Wednesdays—where the brew master and his team go way out in experimenting with bizarre taste combinations such as Peanut Butter Banana Hefeweizen and Christmas Chai Ginger Pale Ale. One-Offs are made in limited quantities and once they’re gone, they may never return.
You’ve no doubt also heard of Breckenridge Brewery, which is now distributed nationally since being bought by Anheuser-Busch. They have a large restaurant and brewery on the south end of Main Street.
Breckenridge Distillery was founded in 2008 on a shoestring. In the early days, local ownership would trade bottles of the flagship Breckenridge Bourbon with volunteers from the community for assistance in adhering labels to bottles. In short order, Breckenridge Distillery has evolved to offer a full suite of spirits and become one of the most awarded and respected craft distillers in the western U.S.
Tastings and tours are available, as is an on-site restaurant equal in quality to the booze with chef-inspired seasonal dishes as delectable as any in town. The restaurant is spendy, but Epicurious travels will find the splurge worthwhile.
Breckenridge Distillery also has a free shuttle that will come pick you up and take you back, and it’s close enough to Broken Compass (see above) that we often take the shuttle to one, walk to the other, and then take a shuttle back from that one.
Wine in Breckenridge
I go to Carboy Winery in Breckenridge at least once every visit. Their wines are phenomenal (yes, they actually make great wine in Colorado!), the atmosphere is fun and their charcuterie is to die for. I love their wine so much that I have it shipped to me in Florida quarterly! My favorites are the Viognier and the Albarino.
Hiking in Breckenridge
Our Favorite Hiking Trails in Breckenridge
Easy: We love Cucumber Gulch Trail! It’s so quiet we rarely run across other people if we go on a weekday morning. It’s also a great place to see deer, moose, beavers and more. Super easy way to connect with nature if the word “hiking” isn’t really in your vocabulary.
Another easy one we love is the Lily Pad Lake Trail in nearby Silverthorne. We know some people hit it on the way into town or back out, but if we have a car with us, we don’t mind driving over in the middle of our trip. It has fabulous views of Dillon and Frisco at the start of the trail and ends at a scenic lake.
This one is a great hike if you’re taking kids along with you. There’s a bit of a steep walk up from the parking lot, but it’s pretty flat after that. Even if you can’t make the 3.3 mile full out and back, it’s worth going to do as much of the trail as you can handle. Note, however, the parking is very limited.
Moderate: Aspen Alley is my favorite hike in the fall. It obviously got its name from the abundant aspens you’ll find all around you. It’s rated as moderate and does climb 528 feet. It’s a 2.6 mile out and back trail, and people often drop into it from Boreas Pass and hike down if they have someone to drop them off. Bikers also get dropped off and ride down, so you do have to share the trail. It’s one I think is best on a weekday when it’s quieter.
Hard: Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lakes is an 8.4 mile out and back trail that has gorgeous views. We hiked it in August and tackled the extra leg to go up to the top of the waterfall, where there was still snow at the top. If you want to do the full hike to Continental Falls, continue on Spruce Creek Trail past where it joins up with the 4WD road and proceed past the dam to stay on Spruce Creek Trail. When the trail intersects with Mayflower Lakes Trail, head left (southwest) to Lower Mohawk Lake and Upper Mohawk Lake and on up to Continental Falls. Check out more detailed instructions and hiking map here.
Hiking a 14er: Quandry Peak
The toughest hike we’ve ever been on was Quandry Peak, just south of Breckenridge. Quandry is one of Colorado’s famed “14ers” – mountains exceeding 14,000 feet at the summit. That’s really high….especially when you’re climbing up 3,326 feet during your hike.
Don’t let the tough-guy hiking message board reviewers who scoff at the challenge of this hike fool you. While it is heavily trafficked – and as a result you’ll want to arrive at the parking lot as early as you can manage and sunrise allows – it’s 6.6 miles up a severe incline and 6.6 miles back down over scree – loose rock. Going up is more physically demanding. Coming down is more dangerous, particularly on jelly legs.
It took my husband and me 8 HOURS to complete this hike and we were physically shot for the rest of the trip. Reserve this hike for the end of your stay when you can recuperate on the way home and have had a few days to acclimate to the altitude.
Be honest with yourself about your ability to take on this challenge. Every year without fail, someone gets lost or in over their head on Quandry and needs rescue.
If you’re primarily interested in good views, pictures and wildlife, that can be found on numerous other hikes at a much less severe cost. If you want to experience the challenge of a 14er and are looking for a memory, Quandry is for you. I’ve now checked hiking a 14er off my bucket list!
Be sure to say “hello” to the mountain goats along the way (from a safe distance, of course – this is when a zoom lens comes in handy).
How to Get Around
How to Get from Denver to Breckenridge or Breckenridge to Denver
There are a number of shuttle services you can use to get to Breckenridge from Denver International Airport (DIA). I’ve personally used Epic Mountain Express and Summit Express, but I know people who’ve used each of the following and would recommend:
Prices generally run $49 (on Epic Mountain Express if you have an Epic Pass) to $65 each way for door-to-door service, but you can get in a little cheaper if you get dropped off at Breckenridge Station (where the gondola is in town) and then use local transportation to get to your final destination. There are also discounts for groups or private vehicles available.
The ride from DIA to Breckenridge (and back) is approximately 2 to 3 hours, depending on whether the shuttle is making multiple stops and traffic. It’s a beautiful drive through the mountains though—especially if you’re not the one driving and can really look!
For an even cheaper option, you can take the Bustang’s West Line from Denver’s Union Station to Frisco, which is the town between Breckenridge and I-70. That will only cost you $12 each way, but you’ll have to get yourself from DIA to Union Station via the A Line for $10.50 per person each way, then from Frisco to Breckenridge via the free Summit Stage, and then from Breckenridge Station to your final destination via the Breck Free Ride. More on getting around Summit County and Breckenridge below.
How to Get Around Breckenridge and Summit County
One of the best parts about Breckenridge is how easy it is to get around without a car. In the winter, I never bring a car up to Breckenridge. Instead, I hop one of the great shuttle services mentioned above and have them drop me off right at my door.
From there, I use a combination of the free gondola into town from my favorite ski-in/ski-out accommodation, Grand Colorado on Peak 8, and the shuttle the Grand Colorado offers its guests.
Although many of the resorts, condos and hotels have their own shuttles, you can take advantage of the Breck Free Ride to get all over Breckenridge easily.
Want to spend time outside of Breckenridge? The Summit Stage is a free bus that can take you all over Summit County. Download their app before you go for real-time updates on where buses are on their routes.
Check out the video below—that’s me talking about how easy it is to get around Breck without a car!
Other Things to Know About Breckenridge
Breckenridge checks in at 9,600 feet in town and peaks at 12,998 at Breckenridge Ski Resort’s highest summit.
That’s higher than a lot of people have ever been, but as someone who lives at sea level (seriously, I live on an island), I can tell you that although you need to properly prepare for—and respect—the elevation, it shouldn’t stop you from visiting Breckenridge.
My advice is simple…
Drink water. Drink some more water. Then drink even more until you’re afraid you’re going to float away.
Seriously though, water can be the make-or-break difference maker in your trip. I start trying to drink more water than usual the day before I fly, and then I really push myself to drink water constantly on my flight out and then on my drive up to Breckenridge. I can tell a big difference between how I feel when I’m properly hydrated and when I’m not.
Another key to staying hydrated is not to dehydrate yourself by consuming too many alcoholic beverages. I love all the great breweries and distilleries in Breckenridge as much as the next person, but I recognize that I can’t consume as much in Breckenridge as I can at home (especially since I live at sea level).