Although I grew up as a quintessential Florida beach girl, I have a true appreciation for the natural beauty of snowcapped mountains and the mountain lifestyle. When the opportunity arose to join our friends on their annual trip, we were all in! Keep reading for the ultimate ski trip guide to Breckenridge.
Before You Go To Breckenridge
In addition to our flights and hotel of course, these are the things we booked in advance:
- Airport Shuttle
- From the Denver Airport to Breckenridge is about a 2-hour drive without traffic. Unless you rent a car and drive, or have a local pick you up, the most popular way to get there is via shuttle. There are many companies offering this service from the airport, which you will immediately notice at Arrivals given there is a specific lane and stops for each shuttle company. We chose Peak 1 Express and had a positive experience! We also used them for the return trip. They make multiple stops, so depending on how full your shuttle is, it may take longer than two hours. For a good deal, check Groupon and their sites for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales!
- Ski Equipment Rentals from Christy Sports – Breckenridge Village
- Ski Lessons
- Unless you’re with someone who is willing and able to teach you, I highly recommend booking a lesson if you’ve never skied before or haven’t skied in a while. Many ski-in/ski-out resorts offer lessons, but I ended up booking the 1-Day Women and Wine Lesson for $79 per person at another peak. They group you with people of a similar level, so my friend and I ended up getting split up for the lesson itself, but we all reunited at the end for two glasses of wine (included in the lesson price) and snacks by the fireplace. I loved that my lesson was very hands-on, with only one other lady in my group, and started with the very basics. However, I think it would have been more fun to do the lesson with my friend or someone I knew. I also found that it wasn’t long enough to get me ready to go on the ski lift. Typically that would be included in the lesson – having an instructor go with you on the lift to try out the green, but we did not have a chance to. Fortunately by day 2 of skiing, my boyfriend was willing to come with me to the practice area, where I definitely improved. I quickly learned that learning to ski is a LOT of repetition and hard work. You’ll be surprised how much you feel it!
- Epic Pass for Lifts
- This is the lift pass that is required if you are going to ski or snowboard in Breckenridge. Epic Pass is in many other regions of Colorado and other states, as well as the other most popular Ikon Pass. I got the 3-day pass, but there are many more options from a local pass to a 1-day pass to an entire season pass.
What To Pack For Any Ski Trip
While I had some winter wear from my time living in NYC, I didn’t own any ski-specific attire. I browsed online for recommendations and to learn more about the options, but I felt I had to shop for some of it in person. In Orlando, I went to REI in Winter Park and a local shop called Ski World Orlando. Here is what I ended up buying and packing, from top to bottom:
- Beanies and ear muffs – I already owned these. I tend to prefer ear muffs because it keeps my ears the warmest, and wears better under my fur lined hood of my down puffer coat than my beanies with a poof at the top, ha!
- Headband – I also bought a fleece headband to wear while skiing.
- Neck Warmer/Gaiter – I didn’t end up needing this neck gaiter, which I intended to wear while skiing, because I didn’t end up going up the mountains to ski where the temperature really drops. I’m keeping it for next time!
- Scarves – A brought a few scarves in different colors and weights. Scarves to me are the fun part about getting dressed in the winter!
- Down Coat (similar) – There are many different styles and names for a winter coat. Mine is the Lauren Ralph Lauren brand in black and has held up pretty well over the years considering it’s on the lower cost as far as down coats go. I love that it has a faux fur lining so it’s both softer and warmer than a standard puffer coat. I wore it every day on this trip!
- Ski Jacket – I found a great Killtec Jacket from the local ski shop. It’s the Thadea style. Unfortunately, I can’t find the same one I got online available anywhere in the U.S. but I linked the style.
- Thermal Zip-Up Jacket – I bought a similar fleece zip-up thermal jacket as a thin but very warm layer. I only ended up wearing it once or twice. My ski jacket ended up being really warm!
- Lots of sweaters! I love anything with cashmere like this one from Everlane, but wool sweaters are also very warm if you wear a thin lining underneath to not feel itchy. This Tippi one from J.Crew is a classic. I recommend packing a variety of weights of sweaters for the varying temperatures and for layering.
- Uniqlo Heat Tech – I have sung the praises of the Uniqlo Heat Tech line since first discovering them my first winter in NYC. I own and packed everything from their long sleeve shirts to camisoles to leggings to socks. They are thin, soft, stretchy and most of all, warm.
- Gloves – I brought fleece tech gloves for when we were out and about, and ski gloves (that include the lining). Both are a must!
- Ski Pants – I hated shopping for ski pants so much! They are not flattering and all fit quite strange compared to my usual skinny-style pants. I was lucky to find a pair in petite that fit me well – The North Face Freedom Insulated Pants. It was truly my only option! It was an investment at full-price but it has an adjustable waist so hopefully I won’t have to buy ski pants again for a while. Funny enough, my boyfriend also bought the men’s version of this same style.
- Jeans – If I wasn’t skiing or lounging at the hotel, I was wearing jeans alone or layered with my Heat Tech leggings. I’m not a huge fan of the feeling of doubling up, but I needed it – my legs/knees were freezing! For this reason, I ended up getting the most use out of my Rag & Bone jeans (similar) that are a little bit bigger on me.
- Fleece-lined Leggings – If I wasn’t wearing my Heat Tech leggings under my ski pants, I was wearing fleece lined leggings. I had a few different pairs from different places. Anything works!
- Socks – For skiing, I highly recommend tall and thick wool socks! I also had my Heat Tech socks and some cozy fuzzy socks.
- Snow Boots – I have owned the Sorel Snow Boots since winter in NYC 5 years ago, and will probably have them for the rest of my life! The exact style I have is the Tofino.
I ended up buying an eye mask for skiing at a shop in the hotel!
But of course, if you forget anything, you can always buy it there! I bought my ski goggles at a shop in the hotel and a cozy sweater at the cute boutique pictured below, Ruby Jane.
Where To Stay in Breckenridge
We stayed at Beaver Run Resort, which was recommended to us by the other couple we went on the trip with who had stayed there before. It’s a ski-in/ski-out hotel that sits at the bottom of Peak 9. If you’re new to the ski world like I was, ski-in/ski-out means that you can put on all your gear and walk outside of your hotel and immediately ski. No shuttles or extra transportation required to get you to where you need to go to start skiing for the day. I quickly learned how convenient this is – wearing ski boots and lugging around your skis and poles is very tiring! Beaver Run Resort also has free lockers where you can store your gear next to the lift so you don’t have to carry it to and from your hotel room.
Beaver Run Resort is very large and therefore offers a wide variety of amenities. These include an arcade, 9 outdoor hot tubs, 2 pools, a sauna/steam room, a fitness center, tennis courts, a spa, plus a restaurant, a cafe and bars. There’s also a business center with meeting space, pet-friendly rooms, child care, a convenience store, a ski shop, a ski school and free hotel shuttles. Lift tickets are available at the hotel too.
At Beaver Run Resort, the standard rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and coffeemakers. Studios add pull-out sofas and kitchenettes. Suites include fireplaces, balconies and kitchens. We chose the Colorado Suite accommodation so we could have a little more space. I’m so glad we did! There were a couple times when I stayed in while they were out skiing together, so I was able to sit on a couch by the fireplace. The dining table also quickly became a “catch-all” for our equipment and backpacks.
How To Get Around Breckenridge
Once you’ve arrived in Breckenridge, there are many ways to get around. The heart of Main Street would only take about 15 minutes to walk from one side to another, but at night or on cold, blistery days, the bus is the next best option. It’s completely free, hence the name Free Ride, and easy to navigate via a few color-coded routes. We found the drivers to be very laid back and all walks of life on the same bus. Most people on the bus have their ski gear, as I can personally attest it’s not fun to carry around! Free Ride also has an app. If you’re staying at a hotel like Beaver Run, you can also take the hotel shuttle free of charge to anywhere you need to go. I do believe they have Uber and Lyft, but we didn’t feel the need to use it once.
Where To Eat & Drink in Breckenridge
Since I had never been to a ski resort or ski town, I could only dream about what it would be like. Fortunately, Breckenridge was as charming and quaint as I hoped! I was really impressed by the number of appealing restaurants, fun bars and cute boutiques on, or a block off of, the main street to keep us busy when we were off the slopes.
Starting off with the farthest place, that wasn’t actually very far. Breckenridge Distillery is a 20-minute bus ride away or 8-minute drive from Beaver Run, so even closer if you are going from the heart of Main Street. They have a bar, plenty of open seating, a large store, and offer tours of the distillery too. Try their pear vodka! It was delicious in my Permafrost Pear cocktail. I regret not bringing a bottle home. They’re also known for their whiskey.
Breckenridge Pour House
If you’re with a group of people who all want something different, this is your spot! The Breckenridge Pour House, aptly named, offers a self-pour wall with up to 64 different beers, wines, meads, ciders and hard seltzers on tap at one time. You can pour as much or as little as you want because they charge you by the ounce. Plus, they also offer a full bar and food!
Breckenridge Brewery & Pub
We sat in a wooden booth next to the window as the snow fell outside of Breckenridge Brewery. It was the coziest feeling ever over a plate of their home-y meatloaf, spicy shrimp and chorizo appetizer and a flight of their very own beers. It was a very popular spot, likely due to its central location and local flare. It’s worth a try if you’re a craft beer fan. Favorites of mine included the Vanilla Porter, Nancy’s Sherbet Sour, and Ice Cream Man IPA.
Beef Jerky Outlet
I admittedly wouldn’t have given Beef Jerky Outlet a chance walking by it in a plaza if it weren’t for my friends who wanted to stop in. To my surprise, I was delighted by the endless amount of samples…like Costco x 20! Consider me in heaven, since I’m eager to try everything. I ended up finding so many delicious jerky flavors, even leaving with a few bags for our days to come on the slopes. My favorite was the cherry maple flavored smoked turkey jerky. Say that five times fast!
Mountain Top Cookie Shop
The best stop for sweets in Breckenridge, hands down, is Mountain Top Cookie Shop. They serve a wide variety of freshly baked cookies and cookie sandwiches in creative, fun, and indulgent flavors. The chocolate chip cookie sandwich with cookie dough inside was beyond gratifying. As long as you work for it on the slopes, right?
While I wouldn’t suggest going out of your way for Empire Burger, it did hit the spot for our burger craving. They had a menu of fun sauces to choose from to accompany your burger and fried side. I opted for the crispy tater tots with their BBQ ranch sauce and the Guac Bacon Burger, even though it was really messy!
A longstanding Breckenridge staple since 1963, Giampietro Pizzeria draws crowds with their housemade pies, giant calzones and other Italian favorites. We ordered some of their baked pastas and house Italian red wine to warm us up on our first and coldest night of the trip. I would suggest going early or avoiding peak nights. It’s very small inside so you’re almost guaranteed a wait.
Northside Pizza is an unassuming pizza joint that ended up serving us one of the best, most creative pizzas we’ve ever had! The “Magic Carpet” pizza was described as a sweet and spicy Thai chili base with green onion, grilled chicken, peanuts, jalapeños, cilantro and pineapple. It was one of our favorite meals of the trip! I paired mine with a Raspberry Blonde beer from Colorado favorite, 4 Noses Brewing Company.
Angel’s Hollow – NOW CLOSED
Another simple, casual, hole in the wall spot is Angel’s Hollow. They serve strong, cheap margaritas and generous portions of Mexican/bar fare. When it’s not too cold out, they also have second floor deck where you can enjoy the previously mentioned items with views of the mountains.
Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
On our last night, we made it to Mi Casa Restaurant – the place that everyone talked about that we hadn’t been to yet. It gets packed! I ordered the avocado pineapple margarita, which I didn’t love, but I did obsess over the elk tacos, and duck tacos. It’s a great spot for celebrations or group outings.
Short for Rocky Mountain Underground, RMU Tavern is a ski shop and bar in one. After not seeing much about it in my research prior to the trip, we walked past it a few times. Then, on our last afternoon, we decided to give it a shot. It was trendier than I was expecting! It’s a local, young but nice bar with great cocktails. Don’t judge a book by its cover!
At the top of my list was local hotspot, Modis. They have happy hour from 3-5:30 p.m., with dinner service starting at 5pm. We lucked out with two seats at the bar because it was very busy. We absolutely loved the crispy duck wings, though the deviled eggs were nice too. Can’t go wrong with those! The bartenders were friendly and knowledgable. We opted for classics like the Moscow Mule pictured, and they did it justice.
For a slightly older crowd than at a RMU Tavern, check out Aurum. It’s in a charming house with a rustic-chic interior – think long wooden family-style bar table, all white walls and eclectic light fixtures. They also have a popular happy hour, but I ended up being the person to get something off the HH menu because it sounded so good – the Bobbing for Apples cocktail. It was in my top 3 along with Breckenridge Distillery and Après!
Downstairs at Eric’s
For a more lively, fun and casual spot perfect for groups or families, Downstairs at Eric’s has a large restaurant, pub-style bar, and an arcade. We didn’t eat here, but we had a few drinks and played games on two separate occasions.
Après Handcrafted Libations
The best for last. Our favorite bar that we went to almost every night was Après! They had a fantastic cocktail list where we, more often than not, ordered from their winter warmers menu. The hot mulled cider with whiskey was my favorite, but I’ll never say no to a hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps either. We liked the cozy, intimate vibe, the friendly bartenders, and that they had board games. We never had trouble getting a seat either, which was a plus.