Breckenridge Colorado: A Local's Guide
An Outdoor Heaven
BRECKENRIDGE, COLORADO -- After living in Breckenridge for five years and the state of Colorado for seven, I can show you the ins and outs when planning a vacation to my home. Here you'll find everything you can possibly do while traveling to this historic mountain town, as well as some tips and advice on standard etiquette and how to avoid looking like an unaware tourist.
Breckenridge is an authentic Colorado mountain town that greets you with its laid-back vibe and modern amenities. The town started as a mining town when gold was discovered in the summer of 1859 along the Blue River. While none of the base camp remains today, Breckenridge does contain more that 350 historic structures, making it the largest historic district in the state of Colorado.
Nowadays, it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the western United States. There’s plenty of activities for any budget; all year long!
1. Skiing or Snowboarding: What attracts people to Breckenridge is the wide array of terrain at the ski resort. With over 30 lifts, 155 runs, and a vertical rise of 3,398 feet (1,036m), there is bound to be something for everyone. Breckenridge is also world-renown for their freestyle terrain park, that attracts professional athletes from every corner of the globe on a yearly basis.
2. Dog Sledding: If you’re looking for something different, check out Good Times Dog Sledding located off Tiger Run Road on the outskirts of town. Good Times will pick you up directly from your hotel or condo. http://www.goodtimesadventures.com/
3. Snowmobiling: Rent snowmobiles from several places in town and explore some of the best back country Summit County has to offer. Prices are reasonable, and there is an infinite number of areas you may go.
4. Ullr Fest: Every January, the locals pay homage to the mythical Norse God of snow, Ullr in hopes that a great ski season will bestow us. There is a parade in which people dress up as vikings barring legs and skin in thirty degree weather. Other activities include live entertainment, the Ullympics, and an ice skating party.
5. International Ice Sculptures: Budweiser hosts the International Snow Sculpting Championships at the Riverwalk Center every year in late January/early February. Blank canvasses of snow become works of art as 16 teams from around the world are chosen to create beautiful, temporary creations. From a whimsical bouquet of enormous flowers, to thought provoking abstract shapes, sculptors form these masterpieces before thousands of spectators over the course of five days in the heart of town.
6. Sledding & Tubing: While the Breckenridge Ski Resort does not offer snow tubing on its slopes, you can make the 20-minute drive (or hop on the free bus) to Keystone Resort. The tubing at Adventure Point has multiple tubing runs that cater to all ability levels. A conveyor lift will bring you back to the top.
7. Food & Drink: Some local hot spots include: Happy Hour at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant (3-6 pm daily). The best burgers in town can be found at Empire Burger. Clint’s, located on Main Street offers the best authentic coffee house feel in town, they also serve breakfast and lunch daily, and have free Wi-Fi. The best spot for dancing can be found at Celica’s Nightclub, Martini, and Cigar Bar. The best bar for playing pool is the Park Ave Pub located at the Village.
8. Competitions: Breckenridge Ski Resort hosts a variety of ski and snowboard competitions including The Dew Tour and Spring Massive. This year, the world's top snowboarders and skiers for freeskiing and snowboarding events came to compete for cash prizes in slope style, superpipe, and a rail jam.
1. Mountain biking: Ride one of the many single-tracks located throughout the mountains. Most are accessible from town, and will take you past old abandoned mines so you can see the historical side of Breckenridge. One can also hitch a ride up the chairlift, and bike down from over 12,000 feet high.
2. Hiking: There is an abundance of trails located throughout Summit County. Some of the tallest mountains in the U.S. reside right here in Colorado, including Mount Quandary that rises to 14,265 feet.
3. Camping: Experience the thrills of being one with nature in the many campsites and areas throughout the county. Sleep under the brightest stars in the country, as you gaze upon the Milky Way
4. Alpine Slides: Ride the slalom courses, or for the more experienced rider, try the giant slalom track with multiple dips. The sleds will seat an adult or small child, and are run through the ski resort.
5. Boating: Rent a sailboat or pontoon boat on Lake Dillon at the Frisco or Dillon Marinas. Wakeboarding and waterskiing are available at the Green Mountain Reservoir located ½ hour drive North of Silverthorne. Here you may also camp, and cliff jump.
6. Horseback Riding: At the Breck Stables, you can explore the Ten Mile Range as it was explored a hundred years ago. Operating since 1976, Breckenridge Stables is dedicated to offering safe horseback riding for the entire family. With over 100 horses to choose from, we're sure to have one for your ability. (http://www.breckstables.com/)
7. Gold Mine Tours: Venture over 1,000 feet into a Mountain! Explore the original workings of the Country Boy Mine as you feel, hear, & smell what it was like to be a Colorado Miner over 100 years ago.
- Tipping Guide: Guide to the Who and What of Tipping in Hotels
Read the official online website to tipping in America, so you too can become a smart tourist!
Advice for Tourists
Everyone wants to look natural while they're exploring new parts of a country, right? Well here are a few tips that will ensure you fit right in, and are gladly welcomed back at the end of your vacation!
1. Don’t forget to Tip: Please remember that locals earn their living from service-based jobs, and it’s important to tip them for any services bestowed because most workers earn very little base wage. Servers and bartenders earn $3.50 per hour, while other service-based workers earn under $8 per hour.
- In Restaurants: It’s customary to tip 15-20% of the total bill depending on quality of service. Anything less will be considered an insult. Anything more is graciously accepted.
- For Bartenders: Usually between $1-2 per round is sufficient (but realize that if you tip more, you will get served faster, and your drinks tend to be stronger).
- Shuttle Drivers: Should get around $1-2 per person (tipping bus drivers is not customary).
- Taxi Drivers: 15-20% of total fare.
- Concierge: If a bellman brings your luggage up to your room, or carries it down to the curb, you should give him $1-2 per piece of luggage.
- Baristas: It’s customary to tip $1 per latte drink, or a few bucks for a large order.
2. Remember Etiquette while Skiing or Snowboarding: This one is equally as important. If you don’t want to butt-heads with the locals, know mountain etiquette before you even attempt to ski or snowboard.
- Look Uphill: For starters, before cutting clear across a run, look uphill to make sure that you aren’t cutting someone off. Think of skiing like driving a car – you wouldn’t just change lanes without looking into your rear-view mirrors, right?
- Ski / Snowboard Straight on Cat Walks: A cat walk is not the place to learn how to ski. These types of runs are often very narrow and flat and accumulate a ton of traffic. If you aren’t capable of skiing straight down one, then I suggest sticking with the bunny hill. There just isn’t enough room to be playing dodge ball with beginners.
- Be Aware of Who’s Around You: Again, if you don’t want to upset the locals and want to avoid getting injured, you need to always be conscious of one’s surroundings. This means, always look around while skiing. Know who’s in front of you, behind you, and to the side of you. If you’re coming out of the trees, look up hill before you enter the run.
3. Be Eco-Friendly: Please know that Breckenridge is a very eco-friendly environment. If you come into town driving your gas-guzzling, ozone depleting SUV, you’re bound to get some flack (or just stares). Also know that most people recycle. If you are in a store, try to conserve the need for plastic bags, and paper waste. By doing this, you’re bound to score some points with the locals!
**Please don't let these tips scare you away. They serve just a guidance so that you can be a smart tourist. The locals are very friendly, and enjoy the business vacationers bring to their economy!