Friday, January 10, 2020

Travel Guide to Breckenridge

Stephen and I had the best time on our couples' trip to Breckenridge! We went with our friends Sarah and Alex - Sarah is one of my best friends, and I've known Alex even longer so it's so fun to travel all together! Stephen and I have been wanting to go to Colorado for quite some time and one night in July, our friends came over and we booked the trip! We knew it would be the perfect way to close out 2019 and kick off 2020. 

None of us had ever been to Breck before, so while we did a ton of research on what to do, where to stay, and where to eat, we also had no idea what to expect so we went into the trip with fresh eyes. Now that we've been, we know what we would do if we go back, but we were also very happy with what we planned and what we spontaneously decided to do.

The Itinerary:

Travel to Denver, arrive by 10am MT
Pick up by Fresh Tracks shuttle to transport to Breckenridge
Check In to Los Pinos Townhouse
Late lunch at Empire Burger
Pick up Epic Lift Pass
Pick up ski rentals
Hike back to townhouse
Early bedtime! 

Up early - hello, jet lag!
Skiing via the Snowflake Lift
Lunch at the TBar Restaurant
Boys skied in afternoon, girls went up gondola, explored
Dinner at Briar Rose

Skiing at Beaver Run
Lunch at Coppertop Bar & Cafe at Beaver Run
Boys afternoon ski, girls relax
Dinner at Blue Stag Saloon

Guys ski big runs
Breakfast and coffee at Cool River
Lunch & Moscow Mules at Robbie's Tavern
Hot Chocolate at Ullr Cafe
Dinner at Mi Casa

Snowmobiling with White Mountain Tours
Gondola, lunch and exploring
Early night in

Fresh Tracks pickup from townhouse to go back to airport
Travel back to North Carolina

The Highlights:

One of my favorite parts of the trip was just seeing a winter wonderland right after Christmas! I love a good Hallmark movie and honestly it felt like we were on a movie set everywhere we turned. Breckenridge has this incredible charm and magic and I loved that all of the lights were still up from Christmas.
There are so many runs in Breckenridge that I don't think you'll get bored! I am a beginner skier and Sarah had never skied, while the boys have skied and snowboarded for years. There are plenty of options for all levels of skiers. I enjoyed my time skiing in Colorado so much more than here in the North Carolina mountains as I had more room to really get comfortable and I wasn't nearly as worried about someone running into me. 

We decided to purchase the Epic Pass, and if you love skiing, that's a great option for you. It gives you the option to ski at a variety of resorts, including Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler, Stowe and more. We picked up our passes our first day at Beaver Run Resort and we were all set!

I can't say enough good things about our snowmobiling adventure. Early on, we discussed going snowmobiling but never booked an excursion. On our first full day, Sarah and I spent awhile on the phone and while most places were booked, we were able to get on a tour with White Mountain Snowmobile Tours. We had originally planned to book snowmobiles so each couple could ride together but we ended up each having our own. To be completely honest, I was very nervous about it but it was one of our favorite parts of the trip! The guides give you time to practice with a large group before breaking off into smaller units. The four of us had a guide that led us up to 12,600 feet. It snowed most of the morning and really started to snow hard once we were up the mountain so while we couldn't see views as much as we would have on a clear day, it felt like we were in a snow globe! So magical. We wore our ski clothes and googles and then Sarah and I used boots they provided. They also require that you wear the provided helmets.
Pro tip: pack hand warmers!

Because we're from coastal North Carolina, it's rare to experience snow and mountains everywhere you look. On our downtime, it was so fun to check out the town, ride the gondola, and take in the beautiful lights! We especially loved the lighted trees right on Main Street. 

Where we stayed:

Choosing a stay location was tough for this trip. There are so many options between private rentals and resorts that it can be overwhelming. Being that there were only 4 of us, we didn't need a huge house but we also wanted the flexibility of having a common area to hang out if we weren't out doing activities. After much searching, we found the Los Pinos townhouses and decided to book that through VRBO. Our exact unit was D-24 which was an end unit at the entrance of the community, which made for easy access. The unit does have a headed garage, and while decided not to rent a car, it did offer a warm space to get our gear on and it's also where we stored our ski rentals when they weren't in use. 

The townhouse was 2 bedroom, 2 baths with full kitchen, living room, and dining area. This worked well for us as we ate breakfast at the house most every morning. 

The location worked relatively well for us. Many locations boast a ski-in/ski-out amenity, but it's always nice to know what exactly that means. For this unit, it was a 3 - 5 minute walk to the Snowflake lift or a 5-minute walk or less than a minute bus ride to Beaver Run. I'll elaborate more on transportation, but there was a bus station right by the entrance so we were able to catch buses to other lifts or to go down to Main Street. 

Would we stay there again? Potentially. It offered everything we needed for our stay and had a pretty central location. We did explore a few of the resort options and if we went back, that may be an option for us as to take advantage of amenities a resort has to offer.

Where we ate:

Empire Burger
This was our first restaurant stop for a late lunch after arriving in Breck! It was an Instagram recommendation from a follower and didn't disappoint.
What to order: Club Sandwich, Cheese Fries, Western Burger
Did we have a reservation?  No

Briar Rose
Stephen and Alex both had birthdays in December, with Stephen's being the night before we left! We used this as a fun birthday dinner to celebrate the guys and it was a fun first dinner in Breckenridge (we skipped dinner our first night because were all so exhausted). The sides were family style so we each opted for a protein and then picked a few sides to share.
What to order: Wedge Salad, Filet Mignon, Whipped Potatoes, Broccolini, Mac 'n Cheese
Did we have a reservation? Yes

Blue Stag Saloon
This is the perfect spot for drinks and dinner after a long day on the slopes! We sat at the bar while waiting on our table but the wait wasn't too terribly long.
What to order: Double Stag Burger, Moscow Mule
Did we have a reservation? No

Cool River 
While the boys went skiing early on Tuesday, Sarah and I took it easy and drank coffee on the couch before heading out for the day. We came across Cool River for breakfast and it was so yummy!
What to order: Monte Cristo croissant & caramel mocha

Mi Casa 
We had late dinner reservations planned for New Year's Eve at Hearthstone but after a long day, we decided to take it easy and go to dinner a little early. We came across Mi Casa which is actually owned by the same group as Hearthstone. We didn't have a reservation so we did have to wait a bit but it was worth it!
What to order: guacamole, chile con queso, enchiladas
Did we have a reservation?  No

Robbie's Tavern
Sarah and I took the gondola up to peak 8 and decided to just grab lunch at Robbie's Tavern, located slope side in the Grand Colorado. It was a beautiful day so we took in the views and then walked over to Ullr Café for hot chocolate to do a little people watching. We enjoyed it so much that when the guys tried out the gondola a couple of days later, we went back as we knew it had great views of the slopes as well as good food.
What to order: Cheese fries, pretzel bites, cheese steak, Spitfire burger - flatbreads and taco salad also looked great
Did we have a reservation? No

Mountain Top Cookies
After dinner one night, we were all feeling a little sweet treat so we walked down to Mountain Top Cookies on Main Street. It's a cute little cookie shop with so many great options. You can't go wrong with whatever you choose!

Other recommendations:

  • The Crepe Stand - this came highly recommended but each time we passed, either the line was long or we weren't quite ready for a meal or snack. My understanding is that the line is always long so if you're there, it sounds like it's worth the wait!
  • Hearthstone - as mentioned above, we made late night reservations for Hearthstone way in advance of traveling but on New Year's Eve, we were all a bit tired and wanted something a little more casual. However, if you want a nice dinner, this may be a great option and we've heard the views are great as well. 

Altitude Sickness

I have been frequently asked if any of us experienced any altitude sickness and the short answer is yes! The long answer is that it affected all of us differently. Here were some of the things we experienced:
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme fullness/sickness after meals 
The good news is that despite all of this, we still had a great time! Some people experience altitude sickness so badly that it gets in the way of enjoying a trip but thankfully we all were able to manage. While we didn't visit an oxygen bar or get any of those cans of oxygen, I think we all wish we had!  A few tips:
  • Drink lots of water before and during the trip
  • Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages go further than they do at sea level
  • Try visiting an oxygen bar

Things to do for non-skiers:

Not a skier? No worries! There are still some amazing things to see and do in Breck! While we never made it to some of these, they came highly recommended as activities!
  • Gondola to Peak 8 - on one of our afternoons off of skiing, Sarah and I took the gondola up to Peak 7 for drinks and then on to Peak 8 for lunch!
  • Ice Castle - we heard so many amazing things about the ice castles in Dillon!
  • Snow Tubing - if we had another day, we may have gone snow tubing! The videos looked like a blast.
  • Snowmobiling - the best time for those who love a little adventure!
  • Shopping on Main Street - there are a great collection of shops and eateries on Main Street!


We decided not to rent a car, and for the most part, that worked out really well. We took the Fresh Tracks shuttle to and from the airport, which seated 10 - 11 people. Both arriving and leaving, we shared the shuttle with others so that did result in extra time picking up and dropping off. As a whole, it was fairly convenient and nice not to worry about navigating on our own. The shuttle dropped us off at our townhouse and picked us up from there when it was time to leave.

Once in town, we utilized the free bus system! There is a free app you can download to keep track of all the stops, buses, and more. It is important to pay attention to which bus you get on as you may end up in the wrong place but we asked most of the time to alleviate confusion and to be on the safe side. 

While it would've been nice to have our own car for things like the ski rentals and for a quick ride into town, the reality is that we probably wouldn't have used it too much. 

What I Packed:

I'm a chronic over-packer and this trip was absolutely no different! Of course, my ski gear took up a lot of room but I utilized the Ziploc space bags and it helped compact my chunky jackets. While I took some options, it was so cold that I mostly wore fleece lined leggings, jeans and sweaters - no need for that fancy top! Breckenridge was also pretty casual so even at our most formal dinner, jeans and a sweater were perfectly acceptable. 

Packing List:
Shop the Post:

Blogger Template Created by pipdig