Disclosure: we were graciously hosted by Breckenridge Tourism Office during our stay. Thank you! All opinions here are my own.
Have you heard about Breckenridge, Colorado? When you think of fun things to do with your family, you might think of places like Disneyland, water parks, or maybe go-kart racing. However, my family of four went to Breckenridge, Colorado looking for some family adventure, and we had the best time ever! Breckenridge is a fun and vibrant mountain town in Colorado that offers so many great activities in the summer and in the winter – it is a famous ski area.
When we found an opportunity to take a break from the heat wave in California and visit Breck (as the locals call it), we were excited to learn about all the places we heard we could explore there in summer. Turns out, there are many people who come for a quick visit but end up staying for good, and now we know why. There is just so much to do, all year round!
Breckenridge is loaded with adventure, wildlife, nature, rivers, hikes, mountain biking, history, shopping for all kinds of retail therapy, incredible food, and so much more. We already can’t wait to go back to explore more. What you’ll find is a stunning natural scenery, very friendly locals, plenty of things to see and do, and an amazing and free public transportation that will take you pretty much anywhere, anytime.
We spent four days adventuring non-stop, without ever stepping into a car. There was something for everyone in the family. We learned all about the local trees and vegetation on a guided hike. We rode the gondola and visited the top of the mountain at Peak 8, went spelunking in a gold mine, and so much more…but I’ll go into detail a bit later.
As you know, I encourage slow travel, and what better way to get a real sense of a town than walking and using free public transportation? We could learn from Breckenridge. There is a strong sense of community, even with all the tourism. You can see this when people on the street wave hi to the bus driver and smile as they cross the street. It’s so gratifying to see such genuine warmth in a town.
We recommend taking a full week so you don’t rush and miss anything. One thing that will blow you away are the beautiful wildflowers in summertime. The temperature is just perfect for them to blossom away, majestic mountain peaks in the background, making you feel like you’re in a scene from The Sound of Music.
Although we felt we just scratched the surface of all you can do there, I’m going to share what we did to ensure you have as much fun as possible with your own family, in as few as four days:
Stroll Main Street
On our first day after arriving, we explored Main Street in the heart of town. The town is cradled by soaring mountains, which provide a dramatic backdrop as you meander around. Main Street has many colorful shops, adorned with colorful flower baskets and boxes. There’s no end of cafes, restaurants, ice cream shops, and watering holes to keep you powered up as you explore.
We enjoyed dinner at Ollie’s Pub and Grub, located on a historic dredge replica in downtown Breckenridge. We fed the fishes in the pond surrounding Ollie’s – there are fish food dispensers along the shore of the pond, and the fish are huge and hungry, the boys loved it. After feeding the fish, we grabbed a table on the second floor deck with a fantastic view of the pond and the mountains beyond. Their food was wonderful and they had live music, the band playing many classics from the 1960s through 2000s.
Relax and enjoy the view at Blue River plaza
This area has a beautiful bridge decorated with flowers everywhere. Kids can play in the river, jumping from boulder to boulder. We just relaxed, snapping photos, while kids entertained themselves on the rocky banks of the river.
This plaza has a really beautiful view, and we just sat and enjoyed watching the sunset while acclimating to the altitude. Honestly, the thin air didn’t seem to affect the kids at all. They splashed and hopped around the river and the playground in the plaza, full of energy and jazzed to be enjoying the stunning environs.
Hike the Blue River Trail
The next day we headed to meet our guide for a tour of the Blue River Trail with Summit Nature Hikes. This is a popular destination for mountain biking, but also a great place to discover the local flora. We encountered many mountain bikers during our hikes, but they were very courteous and didn’t detract from our enjoyment.
This is a relatively easy three mile hike with only modest gain in elevation. At the top, you will find some machinery from the mining industry that was the foundation of Breckenridge, but I’ll talk about that later.
The best time to visit this trail is May through October (unless you like tromping through snow). Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash. Remember, always leave no trace when visiting. This trail has the most beautiful wildflowers I’ve ever seen, and travels along and through private property (of some very happy homeowners!), so please stay on the trail.
It has a small parking lot at the trailhead, which is where you’ll also find the Sawmill Museum. The trail doesn’t feel too long but maybe we were distracted with so much beauty. Make sure to bring plenty of water, you’ll need it especially with the altitude. I was the one leading up the rear on the trail, but maybe that’s because I was carrying the stuff (you know, mom always brings everything, just in case). We saw many trees, flowers, and animals (squirrels, chipmunks, and birds). If you want to go on a hike that isn’t that hard, I recommend this one to start. Also, if your love mountain biking, this is the spot!
The trail is part of the White River National Forest, the most-visited national forest in the United States (thanks to all the ski resorts which operate within it). We had fun learning facts about the trees and vegetation in this zone, thanks to our tour guide. We’ve been on guided nature walks on school field trips, but none were as awesome as this one. Coming to a totally new area, it was really worth it to learn so much from an expert.
To get there, we hopped the public bus and walked along Boreas Pass Road for a few minutes more to reach the Sawmill Museum and the trailhead. The Blue River Trail is one of the more popular trails in the White River National Forest, so please be respectful of the environment in order to keep this trail beautiful for all future visitors.
Try a super slice 24“ pizza
I am adding this to the list of fun things for the whole family. We haven’t found this before anywhere else, ever…or even anything close! You have to try this pizza – it’s big, funny and delicious. We found it at Breckenridge Ale House and Pizza. Located at 500 S Main Street in Breckenridge. My husband ordered it and thought it would all be for him – but a single slice fed us all.
Throw axes with your family
After having lunch we headed to MTNAXE, and tried something completely new to us: axe throwing! We all had a blast, especially the boys who of course love anything with an element of danger (but trust me, it’s safe). I’ve always been nervous about axe throwing (having watched it countless times on reality TV!) but the instructor was very helpful. He taught us how to throw, and how to hit the bullseye on the wooden target boards.
It was like playing darts, only with axes. And It felt safe, following the safety precautions and was super fun. It was really a great family activity and we will never forget the good time we had there.
MTNAXE is located at 105 S Main Street in Breckenridge.
Get some Gelato
After a tremendous sushi dinner (you can tell we are foodies), we found a great place for ice cream. There are several choices in Breck, and we tried a couple, but Ice Scream Gelato was definitely our favorite. You could taste the fruit in each bite!
Ice Scream Gelato is located at 105 S Main Street in Breckenridge.
Grab delicious coffee and pastries at The Crown
The next day, we grabbed breakfast at The Crown, which had been recommended to us by some locals we ran into. We found this coffee shop a fun spot to hang out at. It has a varied menu with delicious and well-priced food. Check it out and sit on the comfortable sofa by the fire. I loved it!
The Crown is located at 215 S Main Street in Breckenridge.
Visit Country Boy Gold Mine
Next, we visited the famous Country Boy Gold Mine and that did not disappoint. It is one of the best attractions in the summer, especially for kids.
Breckenridge was a huge mining town before becoming a popular ski area and summer adventure paradise. In fact, the Breckenridge area would be credited with production of more than a million ounces of gold during the mining years. All throughout the area, there were extensive placer mines and dredging operations, operating between 1860 and the 1930s.
Locals say that their Gold Rush started 10 years after the 49ers, referring at the California Gold Rush that had started in 1849. This mine was founded in 1887 and is located just two miles east of downtown Breckenridge, in the famous French Gulch area.
That year, two local miners, Tom Graves and Harry Lyton, found a 13.5-pound gold nugget, SO HUGE! They nicknamed it “Tom’s Baby”, but the nugget was lost for decades, before being rediscovered in a bank fault (only two pounds lighter). It is currently on display at the Colorado Museum of Natural History in Denver. The Country Boy mine, which generated millions of dollars in Gold, was the largest mine in the area and ran on and off until 1973.
What is so cool about this mine is that they have a tour which goes 1,000 feet deep into the mountain, giving a tour where you get a bit of a sense of what the miners used to do and how they used to live. We have gone to mines before, but this experience was by far the best experience of its kind we’ve ever had. Our guide did a great job with the history of mine, worth at least every flake of gold we found.
The tour provides helmets and jackets, but make sure to bring close-toed shoes since the mine is wet inside. This is the first time we actually went down into a mine, and it was super cool. Tours start at the top of every hour during summer, and 11 am-1 pm after Labor Day. Reservations are always required because the tour is so popular.
In addition to the mine tour, they have treasure hunts (like an outdoor escape room) where you can pan for REAL gold, with a set trail following clues. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to do it but it sounds so fun. My kids couldn’t stop panning gold, and they found four small gold flakes, happy times! A big hit for the boys was the slide down a 55-foot ore chute. There are many mining relics on display, and you can browse the general store.
During the winter, they add a Monster Truck Sleigh Tour, which is something for us to look forward to when we come back in the wintertime.
Hike the B&B To Reiling Dredge to Minnie Mine
We hiked this trail right before a rainstorm hit and came down the mountain soaking wet. This is another mountain biker’s dream! It’s quite a bit steeper than the Blue River Trail I mentioned earlier.
This trail will lead you to the top of the Reiling Gold Dredge boat, built in 1908. It extracted gold bearing ore and sank in French Gulch where it can be seen and view the rockpile landscapes it created. We didn’t make it all the way to the dredge, but we did get up pretty high on the mountain and the view was incredible!
How to get there: Take the Purple Route on the Free Ride shuttle to the last stop. Country Boy Mine is 400 yards up the dirt road from the drop off.
Take a Fat Bike Tour
After we came back from the hike and tour, we grabbed lunch and explored town in a fun way: riding fat tire bikes. We had a blast. We had a guide on the bike tour as well, so we learned and discovered more about Breckenridge with the help of our guide. The big fat tire bikes were really easy to ride – we were told they make the tires fat for riding in the snow, so we’ll have to take their word on that one.
On the tour, we learned that after the mines closed down, Breckenridge almost became a ghost town. We were told the population dwindled to only a few hundred souls, but it came back to life when the skiing boom hit Colorado. The Breckenridge Ski Area was opened for business in December 1961, and the Eisenhower Tunnel was completed in 1973 which shortened the drive from Denver.
It was perfect for everyone in my family, but you should know that everyone has to be a minimum of 4′ 10″ to ride these cool bikes.
Check out the Isak Heartstone Troll
Breckenridge is a very artistic town and one of the jewels of public art is Isak Heartstone, a 15-foot-tall wooden troll sculpture built by Thomas Dambo from Denmark. It is basically an up-cycling sculpture made out of recycled wood material. There are nine such trolls in North America and 39 in the world. It is located on the Trollstigen Trail in Breckenridge. Getting there is not hard at all since it is close to Main Street, near the Breckenridge Ice Rink and the Illinois Gulch Trailhead.
The sculpture is enormous, impressive and mystical, but at the same time whimsical. Our visit was perfect: short and sweet. The trail winds through the trees, and you can’t see the troll until the end which makes for a bit of a surprise. Be aware that this trail can be very busy because the troll is quite popular. If you go, please remember to leave to trace!
Our visit to the troll capped another full day of adventure, and we were ready to get warm and attack some snacks!
Stop at Trolley Crepes
The boys are big fans of sweet crepes, so we had to go check this place out. This was a delicious treat after a long day exploring. You shouldn’t miss this trolley, which is really a disguised food truck. It’s located at 505 S Main Street in Breckenridge.
Ride the Gondola to Peak 8
The next day we rode the free gondola up the mountain, which had been closed the day before due to the thunderstorms. The shuttle from our hotel took us right to the Gondola entrance. We waited in line for a short time and hopped on the gondola to swing on up the mountain. There are a couple of stops along the way, but we stayed in our car until the end.
At the top of the mountain, you’ll find restaurants and a number of different activities to do. It’s a really fun place to hang out for the afternoon. You’ll find the Alpine Slide, Climbing ropes, Mini golf, the gold Runner coaster, bungee trampoline, and an alpine challenge course.
To the left of the Gondola, there is the Scenic Chairlift – a ski/bike lift that takes you farther up the mountain. There is an overlook point where you find an interrupted view of the mountains and the Continental Divide. We loved the view and got as many pictures as we could. There are also plenty of bike and hiking trails, and the lift will carry you and your mountain bike both up super high for an exhilarating ride down.
All four of us went on the Alpine Slide, it was such a thrill! The kids tried the rope/obstacle course. We were only up there for 3-4 hours, if you go, I would for sure budget more time! The obstacle course was fun, challenging and safe. The Alpine Slide had plenty of twists and turns but felt totally safe yet exhilarating at the same time for the four minutes or so it takes to get down the hill. You have full control over your sled, so you can choose to hit the gas, or pump the brakes.
Explore Sawmill Reservoir
Before we sadly had to leave, we wanted to do one more hike and find out that the Sawmill Reservoir was close to our hotel. So, we hopped on the free shuttle from the hotel to the Snowflake chair trailhead, and from there we walked the 15-20 minutes to the Sawmill Reservoir, and we are very glad we did.
This is a popular and easy 1.3-mile loop hike. It’s a well-known area for fishing and kayaking with, of course, gorgeous views all around. On the way up, there’s a creek on the side of the trail which makes a joyous natural soundtrack for your walk.
Enjoy Beaver Run Resort pool and hot tub
After a busy day, we enjoyed playing in the pool and soaking in the hot tub back at the hotel. We stayed at the Beaver Run Resort, located at 620 Village Rd, Breckenridge, CO 80424. It has a fantastic indoor /outdoor pool, and 10 hot tubs. One thing I love about this place is the location – close to town, and close to the ski lifts in winter. I bet these hot tubs are awesome in winter too! We also really enjoyed Spencer’s restaurant in the hotel – the staff was excellent, and the food was a cut or two above what I’d normally expect to find in a hotel.
Phew, it seems like I’ve gone over a lot already! But this is by no means all there is to do in Breckenridge in the summer. While this covers most of what we did on our visit, there are several things I wish we’d had time to check out, which I’m passing on to you:
Walk along Main St. and the Blue River Rec Path
This is a scenic route and beautiful place to go for a stroll. You can walk on it for a short hop through town or well past the limit, or you can ride bikes. The Blue River Rec path stretches for 7.5 miles and is paved all the way. It runs between the towns of Breckenridge and the nearby town of Frisco! The view of the river is so dreamy in summer, I’m still thinking about it.
This is another easy hike that people recommend. Some people said it’s moderate, others said it’s just plain easy. It starts from Village Road, and you can access it using public transportation. However, the trailhead was close to our hotel Beaver Run Resort, so we just ran out of time to check it out.
This is a place we would have loved to explore. We were a bit excited with our hike which started here but didn’t have the opportunity to really check out the museum. The lumber industry is important because it allowed Breckenridge to grow large enough to support miners and their families. This free museum offers unique insights into the past, but keep in mind there are no public restrooms on-site.
Located on Monroe Road, Breckenridge, CO 80424
This park serves during the winter as a sledding area, free of charge. During the summer, you find many trails that we would have loved to explore. I’m told that some of them are moderate (less than easy), so plan ahead.
Carter Park Trail is located at the end of High Street in the southeastern corner of Breckenridge. There is limited parking at Carter Park, yet another reason to avail yourself of the excellent and free public transportation system.
Weather in Breckenridge in the Summer
Breckenridge is like Kauai: one minute it’s raining and the next you need to wear your shorts and flip-flops. The Rocky Mountains protect the area and the weather in the summer stays mostly in the 70s and 80s with periodic rain (and thunder) showers. To be honest, I kind of loved the crazy weather – it was really neat for my boys to experience (it seems like it never rains in California anymore). When it comes to exploring in the summer, be sure to schedule your adventures, especially higher climbs, for early in the morning as storms can tend to roll in in the afternoon. Reserve your indoor adventures for the afternoon to escape the rain!
What to bring to Breckenridge in the summer
Traveling with family, you need to be prepared. Here is what you should bring when you visit:
- Rain jacket
- Closed toed shoes for hiking, biking and walking around town and the mine
- Lip balm (we always use this in dry weather or at altitude)
- Hiking backpack and reusable water bottles
- Bug spray
- Bathing suits for the pool
- An adventurous heart and open mind to always learn❤️
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Beaver Run Resort and enjoyed the super-convenient location as well as the amenities it has. It seems like it has everything, from indoor mini golf, arcade, restaurant, bar, spa, mini store and pool and hot tubs. We didn’t try the spa but we were sure tempted!
Beaver Run Resort is located at 620 Village Rd, Breckenridge, CO 80424
Places to Eat
Breakfast and Brunch:
Cool River Coffee A Breckenridge favorite, highly recommended by locals. Located on the backside of the building at 325 S Main St, Breckenridge. It has gluten free products, sweet lattes, breakfast bowls and smoothies.
Cuppa Joe Café Located at 118 S Ridge St #7, Breckenridge. This spot roasts all the beans for the coffee shops in Breckenridge!
Mountain View Coffee Bar Good spot for an afternoon pick me up! Located at 222 S Main St, Breckenridge`
The Crown We loved this one! so many goodies and comfy too. Located at 215 S Main St, Breckenridge
Amazing Grace Cozy health-focused cafe serving breakfast, sandwiches & salads prepared from natural ingredients. Located at 213 Lincoln Ave, Breckenridge,
Kenosha Casual steakhouse that also specializes in house-smoked BBQ, with craft beers and a great variety of yard games. Located at 301 S Main St, Breckenridge
Flip Side Breckenridge A rustic hangout for burgers, salads & sandwiches paired with shakes & beer in chill digs. Located at 320 S Main St, Breckenridge
Empire Burger Laid-back stop for burgers, sandwiches & classic American sides paired with shakes & beer. We ate here after our fat bike tour and really enjoyed it. Located at La Cima Mall, 500 S Main St, Breckenridge
Cabin Juice Woodsy, lodge-style eatery offering hearty seasonal dishes, family-style fare & craft cocktails. Located at 605 South Park Avenue, Breckenridge
Sancho Taco Offers a relaxed ambiance with a terrace specializing in street-style tacos. Located at 520 S Main St, Breckenridge
The Blue Fish: we were told the sushi here was good, and found that to be true! Really high quality sushi with friendly staff.
Modis offers a rooftop patio and skylight where serve New American dishes with a Colorado touch. Located at 113 S Main St, Breckenridge
Piante Pizza vegans are lucky because they offer vegan pizzas here in a rustic-chic setting. Located at 520 South Main Street #3M, Breckenridge
Tin Plate Located in a beautiful ming cabin in the historic district, and offer delicious pizzas. Located at 110 S Ridge St, Breckenridge
Ollie’s Pub and Grub Our favorite for the view and the vibe. Located in the heart of downtown Breckenridge, Ollies Pub & Grub has been a local’s favorite for many years. With water and mountain views from inside and outside, it is the perfect place to enjoy the amazing scenery Breck has to offer. It was voted twice as the Best Sports Bar in Summit County. Located at 180 Jefferson Ave, Breckenridge, CO
Yo Mamas Delicious tacos and other Mexican fare. Located at 1900 Airport Rd
Bird and Cow Located at 113 S Ridge St
Mimo Fancy Tapas offers Spanish-inspired small plates and cocktails. Located at 216 S Main St, Unit 4
Crepes A La Cart Popular spot for various sweet, savory & build-your-own crepes with a small outdoor seating area. You’ll likely see a long line, but it’s worth the wait! Located at 307 S Main St, Breckenridge
Trolley Crepes Trolley Crepes is a mobile, gourmet crepe truck that is truly one of its kind – a classic trolley converted into a mobile Crepe Cart. Located at Main St. Station; 505 S. Main St
Higgles Ice Cream. Located at 100 N Main St #207, Breckenridge
Dynamite Cookies Offering delicious cookies made with local ingredients. Located at 110 S Ridge St, Breckenridge
I Scream Gelato We came back here few times because it was so good. It was always packed but worth it! Hand-crafted gelato and gourmet desserts. Located at 105 S Main St, Breckenridge
Mountain Top Cookie Shop. Located at 128 S Main St, Breckenridge
As you see, there’s no shortage of food options in Breckenridge. Pretty much everything we tried was good or even fantastic. If you’re a foodie, Breckenridge will not disappoint you!
Enjoy your time there and I hope this guide has been helpful. Just remember, when you use those beautiful trails, follow trail etiquette and leave no trace principles. Please pack out your trash, leave the wildflowers for others to enjoy, and give a friendly wave to the other users sharing the trail with you.
This was definitely one of the favorites “long weekend” trips that we’ve taken together so far. Save this for your summer plans!
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