When the members of my family proposed that we take a ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado, I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited. Not that I don’t love ski vacations. I do. I don’t ski but I love everything about hanging out with skiers in the mountains, hot tubbing, checking out the cute towns, going for, gasp, gasp, walks in the high altitudes and taking lots of photos. I’m always eager t o go.
But I wasn’t too enthused about Breckenridge because I had heard that it is only two hours from Denver and as a result it is a packed and crowded area. I’m visualizing the Disneyworld of downhill skiing. I tend to like more out of the way places.
I was not expecting cute and quaint.
Well, I was wrong. Breckenridge is darling. Yes, more than 12 million skiers hit these slopes and the streets of this old mining town every year but much of this business is during the high traffic vacation weeks and on weekends. Our trip planner was smart. He scheduled us to arrive on Sunday and depart on Friday morning. This was perfect. We avoided the mobs.
So, what did I like about the area? Can’t comment on the sking except to say the skiers in my group loved it. They all seemed very happy to don their bulky duds and clomp their way off to the lifts every day.
Left behind, I found a lot to enjoy.
First, I loved the history. This town began in the 1859 gold rush. Rough. Rustic. Mostly mining camps.
But….ta da….in the 1880s, the rail road and the women arrived. Things changed. The money made in the mines was used to build charming homes and establish all manner of culture and good life for the pioneering and hardy residents. The town boomed for many years but when the mining industry waned it turned into an “almost” ghost town with less than 300 residents in the 1930s.
So, when recreational skiing took off, the town reinvented itself and times are good again.
The town now is so proud of its history that the local bookstore is filled with volumes of materials about the history. I picked up an interesting DVD packed with informative interviews with local historians. If one had time, there’s a walking tour of the historical buildings using your phone to call up audio descriptions of the buildings.
I didn’t have time to do this because I was too busy with my grand daughter at the children’s museum—a wonderful component of this town. We played fish, did crafts, zoomed little trains around tracks, scooped dry pasta and all in all had a wonderful time every day we were in Breckenridge. The museum offers free admission to grandparents accompanied with a small child ($7) and I found myself enjoying this good time with other non skiing “Nanas and Pappas” in this delightful and creative spot.
I also loved the creative way the retailers painted their old buildings. They seemed to be trying to outdo each other with vibrant hues. It was almost hard at times to figure out what was old and what was new. The bright colors against the snowy mountains was a visual treat.
I also enjoyed the creativity in the shops. There are lots and lots of ski equipment and clothing shops to enjoy but here are a few unusual ones that caught my eye.