We first came to Breckenridge under unusual circumstances. Previously, Winter Park had been our preferred Colorado ski destination, but poor snow there one December left us wanting a return trip in the spring. In the airport on our way back to Florida we discussed where we might want to try next time.

Later that week, the phone rang.

We had entered some sort of on-line contest to win a free trip to Breckenridge where we were required to include our phone number and not long after returning home from Winter Park, we received a call from Breckenridge Grand Vacations informing us that, while we didn’t win the sweepstakes, they would love to offer us a $99 room at Grand Timber Lodge if we’d be willing to listen to a presentation about fractional home ownership – time shares. That’s another story for another day.

Since we’d been talking about returning to Colorado before we left the last time, we were all about it. Little did we know then what Breckenridge would come to mean to us.

Many trips later, Breckenridge feels as much like home as a vacation.

Here is our favorite Breckenridge.

Time to visit – winter

We don’t like crowds. We don’t like paying premium prices. When we travel, we like to travel “off” season.

Breckenridge in winter

Breckenridge in winter. (Photo Credit Chadd Scott / TRAVELING WITHOUT KIDS)

Because Breckenridge sits at such a high elevation – town is at almost 10,000 feet – skiing continues well into spring. Late March and early April provide skiing plenty good enough for Kristi; I don’t ski and she isn’t interested in shredding fresh powder four or five hours a day.

At this time of year, she can ski for a couple hours in the morning, I can work or go to the gym, and we can meet in town for lunch when the temperatures are often in the 50s instead of the 20s like January or February.

Crowds at the lifts, bars and restaurants are also greatly reduced during this “shoulder” season.

A word to the wise: wherever you go in Colorado, especially the first time, prepare yourself for the elevation which will take its toll. The first time I went to Winter Park, I could feel my bones starting to ache the higher we climbed. This sensation remained for much of the trip, as did a mild elevation headache. I have not experienced these symptoms on numerous subsequent trips.

Drink lots of water and rub Vaseline inside your nose day and night in order to prevent your sinuses from drying out due to the lack of humidity.

Time to visit – summer

“Come for the winter, stay for the summer.”

It won’t take you long to hear this saying when visiting Colorado in the warmer months. Many of the transplants now living in Colorado are proof-positive. Tens of thousands of people came to Colorado for the skiing, came back at some point in the summer, and never left.

As much as we like Breck in the winter, we like it more in the summer. Like it enough that we eventually hope to spend our summers there.

Without kids, we like to visit as late in August as we can when the weather is still warm – although it rarely ever gets warmer than 80-degrees there. With kids either already in school or parents scrambling to make last-minute preparations for the school year, the town is peaceful without being dead.

In order to attract more business from the fewer tourists, most bars and restaurants feature outstanding happy hour deals which Kristi and I have come to take great advantage of.

Place to watch the sunset

Less than a mile up Ski Hill Road from Main Street is a car pull-off purpose-built for sunset – and moonrise – photos.

Place to stay – winter

Grand Colorado on Peak 8 is the newest resort in town offering a true ski-in, ski-out experience. Grand Colorado has a first-rate spa on premises, along with numerous restaurants, bars, pools and hot tubs.

Blue River running through Breckenridge

Blue River running through Breckenridge. (Photo credit Chadd Scott / TRAVELING WITHOUT KIDS)

Place to stay – summer

Grand Timber Lodge offers fine amenities, activities, rooms, pools, hot tubs, etc. with its greatest advantage over Grand Colorado being its easy walking distance from town. Leave the car parked and enjoy the perfect summer weather.

Happy hour

Briar Rose Chophouse and Saloon located in a beautiful Victorian less than one block from Main Street offers two-for-one cocktails, beer and house wine along with half-priced small plates during happy hour. The bar is gorgeous and the atmosphere cozy and authentic.

You won’t be disappointed if you stay for dinner.

Spa – Infinity Spa at Grand Colorado on Peak 8

Mexican

For quesadillas, nachos, carnitas, tacos, tamales and more, try Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant and Cantina right downtown. Be aware, fajitas are available only on the dinner menu.

Tacos

The best tacos I’ve ever had can be found at Breckenridge Tap House. Kristi would agree. I go with the Buffalo Trace bourbon-braised Colorado Buffalo specialty taco while Kristi prefers the Bulleit bourbon-braised Barbacoa. Pick the Brussel sprouts for your side.

Breckenridge Tap House.

Breckenridge Tap House. (Photo credit Kristi Dosh / TRAVELING WITHOUT KIDS)

Beer

Broken Compass Brewing Company is our favorite craft brewery anywhere. The Chili Pepper Pale Ale will change the way you think about beer forever. With no food service in the brewery, it welcomes carry-in food. Our favorite dining experience in Breck is taking our Tap House tacos to Broken Compass – we look forward to it all year.

Broken Compass serves a variety of its beers on tap, all of which are good.

If you can, visit on a “Wacky One Off Wednesday” when the Broken Compass brew-masters take a few risks and come up with combinations like peanut butter banana Hefeweizen or a coconut porter aged in rum barrels. These are brewed in very limited qualities and only available while supplies last, so try to get there early.

Bar

The bars at Broken Compass for the best beer and locals’ conversation, Breckenridge Tap House for a wide selection of craft beers and bourbons plus food, and Briar Rose for atmosphere and food stand out.

Sandwich

Peak 8 Meatball sandwich at the Lodgepole Bar and Grill at Grand Timber Lodge.

Art gallery

We’re grandfathering Breckenridge Fine Art Uncrated into our listing. It’s no longer there, having moved to Eagle, just west of Vail. If you have a serious interest in fine art paintings, do yourself a favor and make the trip – there’s simply nothing else like it.

While Breckenridge has a handful of galleries we enjoy visiting every trip, the now-Vail Fine Art Uncrated takes your breath away and could end up being the highlight of your entire visit, as it has been for us.

Russian impressionist master artworks on display at Vail Fine Art Uncrated.

Russian impressionist master artworks on display at Vail Fine Art Uncrated. (Photo credit Kristi Dosh / TRAVEL WITHOUT KIDS)

Surprise

Just off the interstate before you get to Breck, you’ll pass Frisco, Colorado. Don’t pass it all together. It’s 10 minutes by car from Breck and has a lively restaurant, bar and boutique scene all it’s own.

Quandary Peak, Colorado hiking, first 14er

We made it!!!

Spirits

Breckenridge Distillery.

Story to tell Kristi will never do again

Climbing Quandary Peak, our first fourteener.

Gym

Day rates at the Breckenridge Recreation Center – I know, “recreation center,” you’re rolling your eyes -aren’t cheap, but this is a good gym with serious equipment. You’ll find squat racks, Olympic lifting platforms, good bars, benches and dumbbells, even a reverse-hyper machine.

Photo op of town

Head up Boreas Pass Road which has a number of pull-offs where you can see all of town and the ski hills.

Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge, CO. (Photo credit Kristi Dosh / TRAVELING WITHOUT KIDS)