Let’s face it, we’re no longer just a ski resort. Yes, make no mistake about it, Breckenridge Ski Resort put our old mining town on the map, but as purveyors of a slope side hotel in Breckenridge we seem to be getting more and more requests for “What else can we do this winter besides skiing or snowboarding?” And, our answer to this question is naturally “You have a variety of other options to sink your teeth into, we’re so much more than just a ski town!” So, allow me to answer this question now in more detail with my top 18 other things to do in Breckenridge besides skiing/snowboarding. Let the fun begin!
1. Have Fun in the Snow on a Sled or Tube
Just a short walk or free bus ride from your hotel room lies Carter Park for your sledding pleasure. This family-friendly park offers a free sledding hill for kids young and old, heated restrooms and even an indoor heated gathering area (by reservation only). Carter Park is BYOS (Bring Your Own Sled), however, so make sure to purchase one at one of the ski rental shops in town or at our local grocery store before you hit the hill.
Tubing is an entirely different story as there isn’t currently anyone offering this as an activity in Breckenridge. However, just nine miles down the road in Frisco or 15 miles to Keystone, you can find some stellar tubing adventures at the Frisco Adventure Park and Keystone Resort. The Adventure Park features a 1,200-foot multi-lane tubing hill with lift service back up the hill, while Keystone’s Adventure Point¬ offers much of the same – plus a free kid’s tubing area for those under 42 inches tall.
2. Strap on Those Snow Shoes
Experience Colorado like the Native Americans did many years ago … on snowshoes. This was once the only method for hunting and trapping during the snow-filled winter months, but now is a very popular way to explore the miles of untamed wilderness right outside our front door. There are trails for all ability levels to embark on your own, or you may take a guided tour with one of the many experienced professional instructors.
The Breckenridge Nordic Center offers 1,400 acres of carefully groomed trails through our legendary forests that offer soaring mountain views. After your trail adventure, you can even unwind in a quintessential log lodge on Peak 8 while enjoying food and drink specials at the Black Forest Tavern Food and Beverage Bar.
The Gold Run Nordic Center, on the north side of town, provides over 2,000 acres of beginner, intermediate and expert terrain for your snowshoeing pleasure.
3. Step Back in Time with a Sleigh Ride
“Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh, O’er the hills we go, laughing all the way. Jingle Bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.”
There might not be a better way to experience the nostalgia of the Old West than by a horse-drawn sleigh through the majestic Rocky Mountain landscape. With a cup of hot cocoa in hand, meander your way through the snow-capped mountains before arriving at a cozy, lantern-lit heated tent for a three-course meal and live music. 2 Below Zero is wonderful for families, groups and is even available for special, intimate private rides.
Looking for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cross off your bucket list? We’ve got you covered with an exhilarating, exciting, rush-like-no-other dog-powered sledding adventure. Dog power has been a popular method in colder climates for hunting and traveling for over a thousand years, so why not be a part of this rich history with your entire family or group of friends as you take turns mushing, riding in the dogsled, and riding with your guide? This is a great way to see the surrounding forests and mountains while creating memories of a lifetime.
Avoid the lift lines while still strapped to a pair of skis. Sound interesting? Cross country skiing is not only a great way to explore the snow-covered wilderness, but is a wonderful way to get in some serious exercise. The aforementioned Nordic Centers (see “Strap on Those Snowshoes”) will rent equipment for all ability levels or many of the shops around town will sell you a set if you feel like becoming a serious Nordic skier.
6. Channel Your Inner Chazz Michael Michaels (… or not)
According to Wikipedia, ice skating “can be done for a variety of reasons, including exercise, leisure, traveling and various sports.” You choose the reason and Breckenridge will provide the surface(s). For indoor skating, head on over to the Stephen C. West Ice Arena on the south end of town for a public skating session, ice curling and/or broomball. Lessons and equipment rentals are available seven days a week. For a more authentic Rocky Mountain ice skating excursion try the outdoor rink at Maggie Pond at the base of Peak 9 or the rink at the Gold Run Nordic Center. Oh yeah, and if you didn’t know who Chazz Michael Michaels is, he is Will Ferrell’s character in the 2007 ice skating comedy Blades of Glory. Get the reference now?
Fact. The lakes around Breckenridge do freeze over during the winter. Fact. The lakes around Breckenridge do contain fish during the winter. Hence, one of the more surreal experiences to take part in during a Breckenridge winter is ice fishing. Imagine yourself surrounded by mountains in the midst of a snowstorm with a fishing pole in your hand. Okay, now imagine that you are holding a rare, elusive cold-water fish that is typically only found in places such as Alaska, Scandinavia, the Alps and for some reason Summit County, Colorado. That’s ice fishing in and around Breckenridge. Our scenic lakes not only contain the mysterious aforementioned Arctic Char, but you will also find salmon and various other species of trout. If you’ve never experienced ice fishing before, this is a must-do alternative to skiing/snowboarding. However, for those first timers, it is highly recommended that you book an ice fishing tour with either Big Ed’s Fishing Ventures or Alpine Fishing Adventures to get the lay of the land.
8. Zipping Through the Snow (or Above the Snow)
In the mountains of Colorado, winter does not stop us from having fun with activities that are typically reserved for summer. Enter snow zipping, or winter zip lining. I know, I know, your first question will be naturally “Isn’t it cold?” Well, in short yes, it’s cold. However, it’s no colder than any other Colorado winter activity and many parts of Top of the Rockies’ course are shielded from the wind so it can actually be warmer than skiing and snowboarding. How about that? And, snow zipping is not only for adrenaline junkies – though it should take care of that adrenaline fix – as families can take advantage as well. We don’t let winter slow us down in Colorado!
9. Zipping Over the Snow
One of the most tried and true Colorado winter activities is snowmobiling. If you haven’t tried it yet, this is a must do to put on your Breckenridge vacation list. Combining the exhilaration of speeding over the snow with the breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, you can choose whether you go with a guide or tackle the trails yourself. Either way you will have access to some of the most stunning scenery in Colorado. Once again, our friends at Good Times Adventures and Colorado Backcountry Rentals are some of your best bets for the ride of a lifetime!
10. Put a Coaster on Top of It
Again, we don’t let winter slow us down in Colorado (see above), so naturally we ride roller coasters in the frigid winter air. Who wouldn’t, right? In Breckenridge, we have the Gold Runner Alpine Coaster at Breckenridge Ski Resort where you whip your way down the mountain on 2,500 feet of coaster track above the ski runs. Disclaimer: You may wear your ski gear on the coaster (and you probably should). ‘Nuff said.
Biking and snow go together like toothpaste and orange juice, right? Not so much. At this point it almost seems like a theme … not in Colorado! Fat Bikes are the latest craze as an alternative snow sport to skiing and snowboarding. You are basically riding a normal bike, but one that has thicker tires to keep you stable on the snow, kind of like a floating sensation. Why not give it a try with our friends at the Gold Run Nordic Center and Breck Bike Guides?
12. Go Back in Time
With more than 10 museums and historic sites to give you a glimpse of Breckenridge’s rich gold mining history, just about anyone will enjoy these history lessons. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance (BHA) is your go-to spot for walking history tours, including an Historic Tour of Breckenridge, the Breckenridge Haunted Tour, and the Swinging Doors Saloon Tour, to name just a few.
If you want to double dip and go on an adventure while also learning some history, why not try the Ski through History Mountain Tour? Find out how the ski runs inherited their names and learn other interesting tidbits through this private event. Just make sure that you have a valid lift ticket and own your own gear.
Along those same lines, if you want to stay warm while exploring the history of skiing in Summit County, check out the Summit Ski Museum. Did you know that Breckenridge was the first ski town in Colorado? Find out more about that and other details of the first 100 years of skiing in Summit County with a colorful look at period clothing, vintage skis and more.
13. Add a Little Culture to Your Trip
Established in 1974, but renovated in 2015, the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre is the oldest year-round operating theatre company on the Western Slope of Colorado. Come experience the joy of live theatre in this freshly renovated 137-seat theater that hosts productions all year long.
14. Shop ‘Til You Drop
Take a step back in time and explore historic Main Street, a shopping mecca with buildings that have stood for over 100 years. From ski shops to trendy boutiques to art galleries there is a little something for everyone to find from the over 200 quaint establishments. Check out this list of Breckenridge Shops and be sure to try and hit up Main Street during the holidays for the quintessential winter shopping experience.
15. Escape “Real Life” and Be in Your Own Adventure Game
Don’t get me wrong, video games are great. But, have you ever wanted to be in a video game? Of course you have, so why not try your hand at a real-life video game in one of Breckenridge’s escape rooms? Picture yourself barricaded in a mountain cabin that has been shut in by a sudden avalanche and you and up to nine of your friends only have 60 minutes to find a way to escape the cabin and get back to civilization. How are you going to do it? Can you escape? Be in your own adventure game with Mountain Time Escape Rooms and Escape Room of Breckenridge.
16. Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
Want to get creative with a twist? Paint your own pottery, canvas or mosaic all the while allowing your creative juices to flow with a glass of wine or beer (or two). Ready, Paint, Fire on Main Street is a wonderful alternative to, or day off, from the slopes. Bring yourself or bring a group of friends for an evening out – 7pm ‘til late – for a Canvas Painting Party or Glass Fusing Workshop. Uniquely, there is no time limit, so spend the whole afternoon with ‘em if you feel like it! (2020 update: Sadly, Ready, Paint, Fire! has fallen victim to the pandemic and had to close their doors. We’re always on the hunt for activities like this so we’ll update when we find one!)
Check out their events calendar to see if there’s a special event happening when you’re in town.
17. Play Winemaker for a Day
Yea sure you can spend some time tasting award-winning wines from California and Colorado, but been there done that, right? The world’s highest altitude winery (10,361 ft.) – Continental Divide Winery – offers a unique twist on the wine tasting experience by letting you play winemaker for the day with its Wine Blending Experience. You and your friends spend two hours creating and perfecting your very own unique wine blend before bottling, labeling and corking it to take home with you. Did I mention that you can create multiple bottles and even several cases in addition to your one souvenir bottle? Pretty cool, huh? Reservations for this cool experience are highly recommended.
18. Après Ski … Just Another Word for Happy Hour
Last, but certainly not least – and one of my favorite parts of the Breckenridge ski culture – is one of the best après ski scenes in America. What better way to finish up your day – even if you are not skiing/riding – than with a hot toddy, cold beer, colorful cocktail or glass of wine in your hand surrounded by friends and family? And trust me, there is no shortage of spots to park your caboose as Breckenridge boasts over 30 bars, pubs and restaurants all within a one-mile radius. There is certainly somewhere and something for everyone when it comes to this glorified happy hour.
**Updated December 20, 2017 – Hot Air in the Cold Air & Soak Your Soul
19. Hot Air in the Cold Air
Become one with the wind on a winter hot air balloon ride. You might think to yourself, “it must be cold up there,” but according to Grand Adventure in the Winter Park valley, they get a temperature inversion which can sometimes increase temperatures 30 to 40 degrees warmer than on the ground. So, why not experience the amazing beauty of the Rocky Mountains illuminated by the clear morning light while feeling the tranquility and peacefulness of ballooning?
20. Soak Your Soul
Thousands of years ago hot springs served as sacred healing places for Native Americans. They were believed to be magical places – primarily for gods and spirits – where the healing waters were said to have helped the sick and the wounded. Today, you can still visit some of these sacred places within driving distance of our Breckenridge hotel and do your own healing … whatever that might entail. Try Hot Sulphur Springs near Kremmling, Mount Princeton Hot Springs near Buena Vista, Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs and Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs. Whichever you choose, prepare to soak your soul in one of these natural healing waters.