Top of the Rockies: Breckenridge and Summit County

Photo by Richard Friedland

A perfect summer or fall weekend in the Rockies

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Summertime in Breckenridge and Summit County at the top of the Rockies has a different vibe. Visitors eager to hike up mountainsides rather than slide downhill, ride in jeeps or ATVs to ghost towns and play in adventure parks designed for adults and kids.

If you’re heading to the high country, wrap your visit around a festival. The resorts — Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper — offer events almost every weekend in the summer and early fall. Plan a visit around Keystone’s annual Wine and Jazz Festival; Copper Mountain’s Mac and Cheese Fest; or the Breckenridge’s Breck Bike Week.

Breckenridge and Summit County: Day 1

If you’re staying in Breckenridge, grab a fruit smoothie and a ham and brie omelet at The Blue Moose. Fill up because you’ll spend the morning on a guide jeep tour — climbing a high mountain pass, driving past wildflower-filled meadows and ghost towns, and listening to tales of the region’s mining heritage.

Back in Breckenridge, there are a dozen good lunch restaurants on and off Main St. We like the casual vibe and Colorado ales at Breckenridge Brewery, and Burke & Riley’s Irish Pub.

Take a hike on a mountainside
Spend the afternoon hiking. There are gentle walks with scenic views, and steep, twisty trails leading to waterfalls (such as the Mohawk Lakes Continental Falls). Stop by the Breckenridge Welcome Center at 203 S. Main St. for a town trail map.

In the late afternoon, explore shops and galleries. The Fox Ridge Fine Art Glass Gallery (411 S. Main) and the Breckenridge Hat Gallery (411 S. Main) are two favorites. For bargains, head to the Outlets at Silverthorne.

Where to eat and drink
Happy hours with tasty appetizers are popular in Breckenridge. (You could make a meal out of happy hour appetizers at some restaurants.) It’s best to wander and check the menus.

Treat yourself to gourmet fare in an unpretentious setting at Relish (137 S. Main), which bills itself as Colorado inspired cuisine, although it’s cuisine is more complex than that. Try pan-seared Japanese scallops, or port wine braised beef short ribs. Reservations are a must. Or try the tiny Blue Ribbon Bistro and its shellfish cioppino or ruby red trout.

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Breckenridge and Summit County: Day 2

It’s worth the drive to eat a 2-2-2 or malted Belgium waffle at the Log Cabin Cafe (121 Main St.) in Frisco. If you’re staying in Breckenridge, head to La Francaise French Bakery (411 S. Main) for breakfast crepes.

Mine tour or zip lines?
There are two morning choices. Tour the Country Boy Mine to see a gold mine’s inner workings and get a sense of life underground in the 1800s. You can even try gold panning (and keep anything you find).

Or fly high on the Top of the Rockies Zip Line, about a 45-minute ride from Breckenridge. To turn it into a day trip, book the adventure that includes zip lining, lunch and riding on the Leadville Train, which chugs through wilderness at the top of the Rockies.

Stop at Copper Mountain on the way back and take a chairlift to the top for lunch.

Brewery bike ride, golf, ride or shop?
In the afternoon, adults can rent a bike and take the Brewery Bikeride. The easier version is 17 miles. After stopping at several breweries you can get a free ride on the Summit Stage back to where you started.

Or play a round at the Breckenridge Golf Club, a 27-hole public course designed by Jack Nicklaus, or one of the other golf courses in Summit county. There’s always fishing in gold-medal streams or horseback riding.

Or take a walking tour of the historic section of Breckenridge; pick up a self-guided map at the Visitor Welcome Center. Shopaholics gravitate toward the Outlets at Silverthorne, with its mix of fashion and sports stores.

During the late afternoon, stroll town for another happy hour. At dinnertime, head to Briar Rose Steakhouse or Hearthstone, set in an old house just off Main St.

Wrap up your visit with a “haunted” tour. Be sure to say “good bye” to Katie Briggle’s ghost as you leave the Van Briggle house. It’ll  keep you from having bad luck.

Where to overnight

It doesn’t matter if you stay in Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper, Frisco or Dillon because everything is close. When you don’t want to use your car, the free Summit Stage moves visitors around the main resort areas and towns.

Remember: you are in Colorado’s highest county. Here are some tips for easier breathing.

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