While Breckenridge is known world-wide for its mountain as a superb skiing/snowboarding destination, there’s tons of things to do in Breckenridge winter in the town and surrounding areas that cater to non-skiers and families as well, or even summertime activities if you want to visit in the spring or summer. Even if you find yourself not wanting to strap into some bindings and hit the slopes, there’s sure to be something to do that can fill your time in beautiful Breckenridge.
To help you out, we’ve assembled a list of our favorite things to do in Breckenridge in the wintertime that aren’t skiing or snowboarding. If you aren’t that experienced in Colorado winters check out some tips on how to hike in cold weather including how to keep your water bottle from freezing and what to wear in winter.
Things to Do in Breckenridge Winter
1. Visit Downtown
Breckenridge has a historic downtown Main Street that full of art galleries, souvenir shops, restaurants, boutiques, and dessert places. The buildings are colorful and would have lots of stories to tell if they could talk. Stroll down Main Street on the heated sidewalks and visit a variety of boutiques and shops that are cute and exciting. You can take a historic tour or haunted ghost tour, or ride the trolley to save you some steps.
If you time your visit right, you could be there during one of the many winter festivals, with the largest one being Ullr Fest. It’s usually during the 2nd week of December, and there’s a weekend full of fun winter events, the Guinness Book of World Records Longest ski shot, a parade, and a massive bonfire. This is a celebration of Ullr, the Norse god of snow, asking him to bless the mountains with plenty of snow for a fun snowboarding season. Some other fun festivals are the Race of the Santas, the International Snow Sculpture Championships, and the Big Beers Festival.
If you’re walking Main Street, you could also ride the Gondola up to the base of Peak 7 or 8. Keep in mind that the gondola is free, but it does not take you up to the mountain. It’s simply a scenic ride from town to the base, where there’s lots of stuff to see, restaurants to eat at, and Ullr Cafe (which serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks).
Spend some time getting to know the local pups that run for Good Times Adventures by mushing your own team of Siberian Huskies through a beautiful snowy forest. Start by checking in at the office, then meet your dogsled team before heading off on an adventure. You’ll have a guide on a snowmobile who will help you coach your team and assist trading off mushers, riders, and observers.
We went dogsledding before we lived in Breckenridge full-time, and it was easily one of the most unique tourist experiences we’ve had. The dogs are incredible and will make you smile and giggle the whole way. Plus, you’re riding through beautiful forest – it’s like a winter wonderland.
Good Times Adventures also offer exciting snowmobile trips that guide you up to Georgia Pass and the Continental Divide, all the way up at 11,585 feet above sea level, which offers unparalleled views of Swan River Valley and beyond. They get new snowmobiles every year and keep the guide-to-guest ratio low, which allows them to provide superior customer service and personal experiences that will make memories that last forever.
If you haven’t been snowmobiling before, this is a must-do in Breckenridge. The route they take you on is engaging and fun, and it ends with a beautiful view of the valley below. As with most things, pictures will never do it justice.
4. Hike, Cross Country Ski, Snowshoe, Fat Bike
Winter hiking or snowshoeing is a great winter activity and is a fun way to get active while enjoying some fresh air. While you can just hike in your typical hiking boots, we recommend at least renting some tracks or microspikes for your shoes. The increased traction will make it much easier and you will overall enjoy the experience more. If you’re planning on going after a heavy snow, or are going to be hiking on less traveled terrain, you could rent snowshoes for even more support and wintertime fun.
You can find your own hikes, such as Sallie Barber Mine, Sapphire Point, or Peaks Trail, or you can visit one of the local Nordic centers for groomed trails and even lessons. If you plan on finding your own hikes, we highly recommend doing your research and finding trails that are commonly snowshoed all the time. The risk of avalanche is real in the mountains, and you should never just go winter hiking wherever. If you aren’t willing to put in the time and research of where to go, perhaps consider going on some of the groomed trails at one of the Nordic Centers below. The views will be just as great and you’ll be more safe.
Breckenridge Nordic Center
The Breck Nordic Center offers 20,000 acres of groomed trails accessible to both snowshoeing and cross country skiing. They offer cross-country ski lessons for people of all ages and they also have self-guided or group-guided snowshoe adventures to experience the forest and learn about local history.
We went cross country skiing with zero experience and we had a great day! The picture below is a warm, blue-bird winter day where we got to enjoy some wonderful sunshine and mountain views. They have several beginner friendly trails, or you can take a lesson and learn the ropes.
Gold Run Nordic Center
The Gold Run Nordic Center, which is also located in Breckenridge, also features snowshoe adventures and cross-country skiing. In addition, they offer Fat Bike rentals for on-site winter trail riding.
Scenic Snow Cat Tours
The Breckenridge Nordic Center also offers scenic snow cat tours where you can experience the magic of a winter forest from the comfort of a heated, all-glass cabin. This is a great option for getting outside while staying warm and comfy!
5. Ice Skating and Hockey
At the local Stephen C West Ice Arena, you can participate in daily open skate sessions as well as open hockey games. This was a great group-outing where we went skating for an hour then walked Main Street. Group lessons, private lessons, and equipment rentals are available on site. Got a sports fan in your group? Feel like a local and attend a game for the Breckenridge Vipers, the town’s local semi-professional ice hockey team.
6. Snow Tubing
The Frisco Tubing Hill and Keystone Tubing Hill offer the one-of-a-kind experience of tubing down groomed hills upwards of 1,000 feet high. Their hills offer a tube lift to save you the trouble of hiking uphill, making this activity something easy that the whole family can enjoy. We’ve done this several times throughout the years and it makes me giggle every single run down. Pro-tip: if you have ski goggles, wear them! While you’re shooting downhill, tiny little snow and ice particles float all around you, making it nearly impossible to see without them.
For free tubing (and no lift), rent a saucer from a local shop and tube down the hill at Carter Park, just a few blocks off Main Street. This is the #1 way to wear someone out, because the altitude plus the uphill hike will leave you super tired but happy.
7. Sleigh Rides
Experience a winter sleigh ride behind magnificent horses that take you to a heated tent in the woods for dinner and evening musical entertainment. There are three companies that offer slightly different experiences, so check them out and see which is right for you and your family: Two Below Zero, Nordic Sleigh Rides at the Gold Run Nordic Center, and Breck Sleigh Rides.
8. Gold Mine Tour
Venture 1,000 feet into Summit County’s only open gold mine and learn about life and death in the mine and mining history of the Breckenridge area. Country Boy Mine was voted Best in Breck in 2019 and on top of mine tours, and they also offer gold panning and axe throwing.
9. Escape Rooms
Mountain Time Escape Rooms and Escape Room Breckenridge both offer private escape rooms for your group and have multiple different rooms with varying scenarios and difficulty levels. With all activities being indoors, this is a great inside option for those cold wintery days in the mountains.
10. Sip & Sample: Distillery Tour, Winery Tour, Beer Flight
There are multiple places in Breckenridge for tasting fine alcohols and brews such as The Breckenridge Distillery, Carboy Winery, and Breckenridge Brewery.
The Breckenridge Distillery has a tasting room on Main Street in downtown Breck, but they also have a restaurant and bar on Airport Road just north of town. They make their own bourbon, vodka, spice whiskey, spice rum, gin, and more. The restaurant books up well in advance, so make sure you make reservations.
Carboy Winery has a restaurant and bar upstairs, but the magic happens down below in their 2,000 sq ft basement winery. Take a tour downstairs and finish the day upstairs with a flight of their house wines.
Breckenridge Brewery is a great restaurant and bar located on the south end of Main Street in Breckenridge. While most of their beers are now brewed in Denver, this original location (open since 1990) offers special brews at this location only on top of their popular favorites. Try one at a time, or sample their brews with a flight and a burger.
11. Axe Throwing
Try your hand at learning how to safely and effectively throw an axe and hit the bullseye with the axe guides at Mountain Axe Breckenridge. Safety is their #1 priority, so you can count on your instructor to teach you how to throw an axe and keep you safe while doing it.
12. Breckenridge Rec Center
Looking to hot tub, swim, or even work out? The newly-renovated Breckenridge Recreation Center offers day and week passes so you and your family can enjoy racquetball, rock-climbing, group fitness classes, swimming, hot tubbing, and their superior weight and cardio rooms.
It’s true that Breckenridge has world-renowned skiing that should be enjoyed (or at least attempted) while you’re visiting. But if you find that the mountain isn’t in the books for your whole trip, there’s no doubt that there’s still lots to do. Breckenridge is full of history and its status as a year-round travel destination means there’s something to do for everyone in your group.
13. Visit Nearby Towns
Breckenridge is just one of several towns in a beautiful valley tucked away in the Rocky Mountains. While there’s lots to do in Breckenridge, there’s even more to do when you think about all the surrounding towns and ski resorts that are within a 30 minute drive.
Keystone offers scenic gondola rides that actually take you to their top peak. It’s a beautiful view of the entire mountain range, and there’s several places to sit and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Purchase advance tickets online for a discount. This also gives you access to the world’s largest snow fort, which sits atop Dercum Mountain, as well as their Mountaintop snow tubing (must purchase additional tickets).
Keystone is also home to one of the cutest ski villages in the area, and it’s a really beautiful area to walk through. There’s two different areas to ice skate, and lots of shops and restaurants to hang out at.
Copper Mountain is a less traditional ski town, but it offers some really fun activities for people of all ages! They have their Rocky Mountain Coaster, which is a one-person coaster that takes you down 5,800 feet of track at speeds up to 25 mph. We’ve done this coaster and it’s one of the best winter adventures in the area. They also have their own tubing hill and ice skating rink. Perhaps one of the coolest places to visit in Copper Mountain is Woodward, which is a action sports playground chock full of foam pits, ramps/jumps, trampolines and much more.
The town and resort of Vail is a little farther away, but you can still make it there in only 45 minutes on a clear day (we would highly NOT recommend driving there during snowy conditions). Their base area is like walking through a Swiss town, and it’s a really fun, magical area. There’s a ton of shops and restaurants, or you can book a ticket on the scenic gondola ride.
This is what we jokingly call the nearby towns of Silverthorne, Dillon, and Frisco, as it combines all three town names into one. They are close together and offer more modern amenities like a outlet mall, an REI, and a bigger grocery store. You could easily spend a day over in this area, especially if the weather wasn’t cooperating and you wanted to be indoors.
About the Author
My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.