1. Where to Stay
Stay right on the slopes at the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 (from $200), opened last summer, where the chairlift outside the back door takes you to the summit of Breckenridge’s northernmost mountain. Relax post-slope in the grotto hot tub, then grab a drink at the lobby’s piano bar in front of a roaring, three-story fireplace.
Be close to town and mountain at BlueSky Breckenridge ($330), a collection of condominiums between Peaks 8 and 9—just three blocks from Main Street’s nightlife. Enjoy ski valet service and the view from your private outdoor hot tub.
Get the same amenities for less at Fireside Inn (from $84), a no-frills B&B and hostel that still offers a hot tub, fireplace, and room to store your ski equipment. Ask for a private room (from $130) in order to soak on your own; otherwise, make new friends in the hot tub.
2. Where to Eat
Mix and match globally inspired small plates at Ember, which opened in a former Victorian home in December 2009. Take advantage of half-price wines and $6 appetizers daily from 4 to 6 p.m.
Pair your locally sourced wild game and steaks at Hearthstone, with one of more than 200 varietals from the New World–centric wine list. About half the list is less than $50.
Carboload with snowboarders at Rasta Pasta, where spaghetti, ravioli, and penne get island-style toppings like jerk chicken, curry, and bananas.
3. What to Do
Breckenridge Ski Resort attracts young, party-minded riders who take on four distinct peaks with skis and boards. Ride the Imperial Express, the highest lift in North America, up Peak 8, to bomb down from an altitude of 12,840 feet, or mix it up on Peak 9’s diverse runs, which include moguls, tree skiing, and beginners’ trails. Solo boarders can avoid crowds on the quasi-isolated Peak 7, where long runs feed into an express lift with no annoying catwalks (flat areas between slopes). Breckenridge slopes close at 4 p.m., but your lift ticket ($92) is also valid at Keystone Resort, just 30 minutes northeast, until 8 p.m.
Don’t feel like hurtling down a slope? Rent cross-country skis or snowshoes from the Gold Run Nordic Center ($34) and trek across 22 kilometers of groomed trails in the historic Delaware Mining area, passing by abandoned gold mines and stunning backcountry vistas. Finish the day with a skate around the Stephen C. West Ice Arena on the outdoor NHL-sized ice rink—$10 gets you an hour of ice time and rentals that include a helmet.
Begin your après-ski pub crawl with $2 pints of Avalanche Ale at the Breckenridge Brewery, conveniently located at the foot of Peak 9. Then trade your poles for cues and tallboys of PBR at Gold Pan Saloon (103 N. Main St; 970-453-5499). Sample from 120 craft beers at Downstairs at Eric’s, a subterranean dive-cum-arcade with games that range from vintage pinball machines to Guitar Hero. Find a rowdy dance party at Cecilia’s, and order from a list of 30 martinis until 2 a.m. Soak up the booze with design-your-own burritos next door at Lucha, also open till 2 a.m., or pick up something sweet from Crêpes à la Cart, Main Street’s outdoor dessert stand.
4. Insider’s Tip
Due to the rising popularity of medical marijuana in Colorado, Breckenridge legalized possession of the drug in November 2009. It’s legal for anyone over 21 to possess up to an ounce of the green stuff. It’s not quite Amsterdam—there are no pot cafés and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any dealers on Main Street. Smoking on the slopes is banned, and toking behind the wheel of a rental car could lead to a DUI.
5. Oddball Day
Experience Breckinridge in the time before ski resorts. Catch gold fever in the shafts of the Country Boy Mine ($18.95), where you’ll venture 1,100 feet into solid rock with only a headlamp to guide you. Keep whatever gold you pan. Back in town, eat a cup of chili at the Coppertop Bar and Café, where picture windows offer stunning overlooks. In the afternoon, holler “Mush!” as you whisk across snow behind eight Siberian Huskies. Good Time Adventures’ hour-long dogsled trek runs along the Middle Fork of the Swan River in the snowy heart of the Tenmile Mountain Range. Return to modernity with the Mountain Recovery Package at Blue Sage Spa, where you can ease aching muscles with an hour-long Ashiatsu massage, detoxifying body, face, and sinus treatments, and a soak in their hydrotherapy tub (3.5 hours/$398).
The mountain’s official site has links to snow conditions, maps, mountain cams, and virtual tours of popular routes.
The “Breck This Week” calendar at gobreck.com lists activities and events to help you plan your stay.
Blogging Breckenridge, run by the Keystone Resort Quest lodgings, has news, snow sculpture videos, and tips for both guests and locals.