Breckenridge, Colorado looks a like a movie set – Scene: Platonic Ski Town. I was lucky enough to spend a few days there in the spring of 2014 because I was speaking at a conference and I couldn’t get over how postcard-perfect the downtown area is and how diverse the terrain in the mountains that surround it. A late-season dump of snow during my visit meant a bluebird powder day and a main street that looked like a holiday card. I was completely charmed and would love to get back there with my two tween boys.
It therefore made me very happy when GoBreck signed on to sponsor Back to Ski Week for the second year in a row and it also got me thinking about how much my kids would have liked Breckenridge even when they were younger because it feels like a real place where people live and where there’s fun stuff to do – oh, and yeah, all that skiing that’s right there. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what kids of different ages might enjoy during a Breckenridge winter vacation.
The youngest among us are welcome at Breck
For starters, if you want to ski and your child is too young, Breckenridge Resort has not one, but three, great childcare centers located slopeside at different peaks. How do you know these centers are great? Just ask the locals who send their kids there too. Children ranging from 8 weeks to 5 years old will get care from trained professionals and will also enjoy a variety of activities including outdoor time for every child over a year old.
If you want your kids on the slopes, children as young as three (who are potty trained) can take ski and ride lessons at Breckenridge. Try a private family lesson or sign your child up for a small group Nugget lesson.
Looking for some off-mountain activities for your little one? If you’ve got a train lover be sure to visit the High Line Railroad Park and Playground where you can see the Number 9 – one of Colorado’s original narrow-gage engines with a huge snowplow in front that served Colorado’s mining communities in the nineteenth century. Hours change seasonally, so check the website for times.
Another great option for a cold day is indoor fun at the Breckenridge Recreation Center, which has an indoor pool with a splashing area for younger children (for older kids there’s a water slide and an indoor climbing wall). And even if your child is too young to ski or ride, you can still get them up high and take them for a fun ride on the BreckConnect Gondola, which is designed to link up the downtown area with the base lodges at Peaks 7 and 8.
Breckenridge is a winter playground for school-age kids
There’s of course lots of great skiing in Breckenridge – with five peaks and a variety of elevations there’s plenty to keep the whole family occupied no matter what your ability level is. And a great feature of all Vail Resorts properties, including Breck, is the EpicMix app, free to download and automatically included as part of your lift ticket. My boys absolutely love keeping track of how far they’ve skied and seeing who comes out ahead at the end of the day. The app also allows you to upload photos and connect with other skiers online. At Breckenridge EpicMix is even more fun than some other Vail Resorts ski areas because there are so many peaks to ski – if you spend a lot of time meandering across the range, you’ll find the badges and the vertical feet just piling up. (I’ll admit that I used it when I was there even though I didn’t have the boys with me and got a ping of satisfaction each time I added a new peak.)
This year EpicMix is adding an “Academy” feature, designed to integrate with your children’s ski school experience. So if you’ve got them signed up for group or individual lessons you can use the app to help them track their progress.
Looking for additional activities? If your kids still feel the need for speed after some time on the slopes, they’ll love the Gold Runner Coaster, which runs on a 2500-foot track on Peak 8. I also have it on very good authority from a number of other winter-loving parents that dogsledding in Breckenridge is one of the most fun things you can do off of your skis or board. The surrounding woods make a beautiful spot to enjoy this adrenaline-pumping activity and even younger kids can mush the team. Ice skating is also a fun outdoor option; the town runs two rinks in the winter.
Creative kids of all ages will enjoy the downtown Arts District. There’s a regular calendar of activities that includes everything from pinch pots to painting for children hosted in the Quandary Antiques Cabin. Or sign up for historic tours that include everything from gold panning to ghost town snowshoe hikes.
Is Breckenridge cool for tweens and teens? You bet
With so many different areas to roam, and the Epic Mix app letting you keep track of your entire family, you can certainly unleash experienced boarders and skiers on the variety of peaks at Breckenridge – it will take them days to explore all the terrain. And teens craving independence but who could still use a mountain guide or some skiing tips should really enjoy a small-group Ultimate 4 Lesson in the Breckenridge Ski School – it’s like a cross between ski instruction and hanging out on the mountain with their peers.
If your teen prefers motors to dogs, and you can stomach it, kids who are older than 15 can drive snowmobiles without a passenger. Got a history or music buff? Be sure to check out what’s going on with the Breck Create calendar for concerts and tours. Other artistic options include making your own pottery at Ready Paint Fire or jewelry workshops in the Arts District.
I’d definitely feel safe letting my teen road around Breckenridge independently, as it’s not that big and has a friendly, chill ski-town vibe. The Crown Coffee Shop is open in the evening and offers free wifi and board games. There’s also an arcade called Downstairs at Eric’s with skee ball and other teen-friendly options.
Food for all
There are loads of restaurants in Breckenridge, many of them crowd pleasers that kids will love. For breakfast I recommend Daylight Donuts, which in addition to serving a wide variety of donut flavors has a menu of breakfast sandwiches and burritos for reasonable prices. Another great option is the Motherloaded Tavern, which serves the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever tasted.
And remember: No matter what age your kids are, give everyone plenty of time to acclimate to the altitude. Don’t plan anything too strenuous for your first day in town (strolling around those cute shops is a great idea) and drink lots and lots of water.
More information about family stays in Breckenridge
The GoBreck site has tons of information and can help you plan every aspect of your trip; you can also visit their downtown visitor’s center (I can vouch personally for the friendliness of the staff) when you arrive in Breckenridge.
And don’t miss the other #backtoski Breckenridge posts: