Living in Breckenridge: A Real Estate and Lifestyle Guide to Breckenridge, Colorado
A former mining town with four-season mountain altitude and laid-back attitude
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“Breck,” as Breckenridge is affectionately known, is recognized globally as one of Colorado’s largest and best ski destinations. Residents, however, appreciate the town’s year-around active lifestyle with rafting, biking, fly-fishing, hiking, you name it, right out the front door. The town takes great pride in feeling like, well, a town. Neighbors know each other and delight in the “Breck’s” scrappy history while celebrating the area’s natural beauty, abundant recreation and lifestyle of casual elegance.
Located just an hour and a half from Denver, and so ideal for remote working, the town’s main drag is a step back into the Old West. Founded in 1859, downtown is the largest national historic district in Colorado with its row of perfectly maintained Victorian-era buildings that now house everything from boutiques and swank eateries to donut shops and dive bars, giving Breckenridge its unique and diverse character. Luxury homes in the area, primarily elegant log architecture with soaring ceilings and equally dramatic fireplaces plus ski-in and ski-out access, are priced competitively compared to its posh neighbors.
A vibrant groundswell for art
Breckenridge is famous for skiing. But BreckCreate is a double-black-diamond-rated art campus reimagined from historic buildings right in downtown. The one-acre hub features studios, galleries, artists-in-residence, performance spaces, a sculpture garden, and cafés designed to create a community gathering space dedicated to creativity. Residents and visitors can sign up for workshops, aimed at both kids and adults, exploring mediums such as textiles, ceramics, painting, metal work, or candle making.
Get moving: The Breck lifestyle
- Skiing: One of the country’s largest snow meccas, Breckenridge features five terrain parks and also 2,908 acres of bowls, chutes, and hike-to terrain—some of the most interesting inbound skiing in Summit county. The resort’s slopes also include plenty of blue cruisers and beginner greens. Miles of Nordic trails will challenge the skinny skiers and gliders.
- Off-season trail network: Sprawling over 250 miles, the system welcomes trail runners, bikers, and hikers of all levels, including peak-baggers and multi-generational family strolls. The network is largely maintained by volunteers, creating an opportunity to invest sweat equity to meet neighbors while contributing to the community.
- Whitewater: The Arkansas River is nearby to the delight of big water rafters and kayakers. With rapids running Class II to Class V, The Ark (folks here seem fond of one syllable names) plunges 5,000 feet in its first 125 miles through boulder-strewn canyons, majestic valleys, and an impossibly deep gorge with wildlife such as bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and birds on magnificent display.
- Tamer waters: Bust out the paddleboard or kayak and head to Lake Dillon, with 25 miles of shoreline ringed by the glorious mountains. If waders are more to your liking, Breckenridge is near the headwaters of five major rivers. Within an hour of town, fly-fishing on the Blue, Eagle, Colorado, Arkansas, and South Platte Rivers awaits.
- Hiking: This is, after all, the heart of the Rockies; national parks, wilderness areas, endless trails, and campsites abound. Hard-core trekkers looking to conquer a “14-er,” or a 14,000-foot peak, would do well to start with the Mount Quandary Trail near Breckenridge. It is said to be the easiest of the 14-ers, all that being relative, but it is plenty challenging and there are some 53 other 14-ers to summit in Colorado.
- Summer adrenaline rush: Breckenridge was one of the first resorts to welcome snowboards. Its kid-friendly vibe continues in summer with an epic ropes course, zip lines, trampolines, and alpine slide whooshing through fields bursting with wildflowers.
Festivals and character galore
Breckenridge is anything but sleepy. Eager to embrace a full schedule of celebrations with themes ranging from pan mining to pairings of bacon and bourbon. No kidding. This from the event’s website: “Bacon is the most loved food in the universe and the route to all things swine and divine.” The town clearly doesn’t lack for a sense of humor, either. The most rousing festival, however, is January’s ode to Ullr, the Norse god of snow. Residents show up in all manners of garb, everything from Viking helmets with long braids to bikinis to watch the parade.
Breck, like many great ski towns, has a namesake brewery and distillery. A favorite local hangout is the Gold Pan Saloon. In one form or another, The Gold Pan Saloon has stood for over 140 years playing host to gunfights, outlasting Prohibition, and boasting the longest continuous liquor license west of the Mississippi.
Fun fact: Colorado’s largest chunk of gold found outside Breckenridge
Breckenridge holds the distinction of producing the state’s largest nugget, a 13-and-one-half-pound chunk famously known as “Tom’s Baby.” The rock was mined by Tom Groves who, fearing he would be robbed, swaddled his giant gold nugget in a blanket during the ride to Breckenridge’s assayer’s office. Upon arriving, he paraded his find, still covered in a blanket, to the cheering crowds who christened it “Tom’s Baby.”
The legendary nugget was last seen being put on a train for Denver in 1887. Eighty-five years later it was discovered in a wooden box labeled “Dinosaur Bones” and buried in the corner of a vault owned by the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where it is now on display.
One more fun fact: Origin of the town’s name
General George E. Spencer decided in November of 1859 to name the town after then vice-president John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, hoping to butter him up in order to get an official post office. The strategy worked. But years later, when Breckinridge announced his allegiance to the Confederacy, the pro-Union town demanded a name change and ultimately replaced the i with an e, creating the new town of Breckenridge with three e’s and no i.
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