Before our family trip to Breckenridge last weekend, it had been 16 years since I’d skied at the resort — the same Valentine’s Day weekend in 1997, when my then-friend/now-husband and I kissed for the very first time. Needless to say, Breckenridge holds a special place in my heart. I’d spent time in the historic mountain town in the summer and fall months (highly recommended), and I went dogsledding with Breck’s Good Times Adventures a few years ago (also highly recommended), but I hadn’t actually strapped on skis there for a very long time. My family and I enjoyed exploring the mountain and the town together in a very quick 48 hours. Here the highlights:
One Ski Hill Place Accommodations
We were hosted at this RockResorts property on a Labor Day Weekend just after it opened in 2010, and at the time we were psyched to overnight so close to Peak 8′s Fun Park, with its bungee trampoline, mini-golf course, alpine coaster and other fun attractions and rides for the whole family. In the winter months, it’s doubly awesome to stay at this condominium-style, luxury hotel, because you are literally a stone’s throw from the slopes.
We arrived at One Ski Hill Place in the evening, so we didn’t realize actually how close we were to the chairlifts until the sun rose the next morning. I enjoyed sipping my coffee on our balcony, watching all the “lifties” put together the fences that corral skiers into appropriate lines in front of the Colorado Super Chair. I didn’t realize that they actually take the fences down each night, to allow snowcats to make their way up the mountain. (One caveat: my husband did hear the snowcats in the late night/early morning hours just outside our window; I sleep with earplugs, so I never heard them!)
Our two-bedroom residence with a master suite was spacious. The kids didn’t want to share a queen-sized bed in the second bedroom, so we had the sofa sleeper made up for my son. We used the full kitchen each morning, since we’d packed our usual eggs and bagels for breakfast. A coffeemaker and Starbucks coffee is provided in each condo, but I liked going down to the lobby for freshly made hot coffee that’s free to owners/guest every day from 6 am to 10 am.
One Ski Hill Place Amenities
In addition to the free coffee, tea, hot chocolate and hot cider offered each morning, One Ski Hill Place gives guests a number of additional perks, namely the awesome ski locker in a large locker room manned by a friendly ski valet (or two). The lockers easily fit four sets of skis, poles and boots.
The awesome indoor pool area with a couple of water features is ideal for young children, with its zero-depth entry. Even my “big kids” spent an inordinate amount of time in the pool, as well as the indoor and outdoor hot tubs. The pool area also includes a steam room and sauna. One morning I worked out in the fitness center, and massages can be booked in the small Rejuvination Center with its couple of treatment rooms.
Of course a big hit with families is the on-site bowling alley. That’s right – two lanes dubbed the Mine Shaft are free for guests to use, you just need to book your hour slot. The popular hours between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. book quickly, so if you know you want to bowl at that time, reserve your time before you arrive. The full-size lanes — designed to look like an old mine shaft, thus the name — include enough lightweight balls and you can order food and drinks from hotel’s Living Room restaurant to enjoy while you bowl.
Speaking of the Living Room, it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the ski season. We actually enjoyed lunch here in the middle of our ski day — which was a brilliant way to avoid the hordes of crowds at the cafeteria-style, on-mountain restaurants. At One Ski Hill Place’s Living Room, the buffet lunch is a civilized affair, eaten at tablecloth-covered tables and with white linen napkins.
The spread included two hot entrees — chicken and beef with rice and vegetables – and hearty salads and soups. You could also opt for a freshly made, custom-ordered panini sandwich, and they have grilled cheeses already made for children. My kids loved the brownies with peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Yes, delish. It isn’t cheap to enjoy the fine food and serene scene — the lunch buffet (which includes sodas or non-alcoholic drinks) is $27 for adults, $15 for kids when we were there. Arrive hungry.
Dining in Breckenridge with Kids
I’ve enjoyed so many good meals in Breckenridge, with and without children. One great spot for a grown-ups’ night out is Relish; we’ve also had some great apps and wine at Hearthstone Restaurant. When kids are in tow, Downstairs at Eric’s is a must, with its casual vibe and plethora of arcade games.
On this most recent trip, we sampled Empire Burger, a longtime locals’ favorite on downtown Main Street. Indeed, the burgers are delicious here, namely because of the fresh, homemade buns. And the lightly friend, breaded onion rings are amazing. This restaurant absolutely welcomes children of all ages, with a menu to color and crayons, plus high chairs and booster seats. Children’s food items include a kid-size burger, grilled cheese, chicken fingers and hot dog.
Across the pedestrian walkway from Empire Burger is Park & Main, a new favorite. This modern, hip spot offers gourmet American food — with worldly influences — to go or to eat in. For adults: the wine list is divine; you can sample wines for as little as $3 per 100 ml (3.5 oz). Young children can order off a reasonably priced kids’ menu. In fact, the entire menu is reasonably priced, with “snacks” and “sides” — small sampler plates — for as little as $2 or $3.
Finally, The Warming Hut is a cozy restaurant in a restored Victorian on the north end of Main Street. The menu is decidedly comfort food, with items like macaroni and cheese, chili, elk medallions and shepherd’s pie offered in the winter months. I definitely book a two-top for date night, but families are welcomed here, too. Big groups can sit at an oversized table with bench seating. A children’s menu is offered, too. For more scoop on Park & Main and The Warming Hut, check out my more detailed report on Epic Moms, Vail Resorts’ family-travel website.
Skiing at Breckenridge
We had a leisurely morning on our ski day during our weekend and Breckenridge, and in hindsight, I think we should have hightailed it out of bed to get first tracks when the lifts opened at 8:30 a.m. Breckenridge is a popular resort, just two hours from Denver (so there are some “day skiers” on the mountain), and we encountered some pretty long lines at the base of Peaks 7, 8 and 9. If you can, take the whole family to Breckenridge midweek. I’d try to avoid holiday weekends and spring break, too!
Though the mountain was crowded, we really only felt the volume of people waiting in lift lines. While cruising down some beautifully groomed, intermediate trails on Peak 7 we had plenty of elbow room. The rolling cruisers were ideal for family skiing (i.e. the children could speed ahead and wait for their mellow mom without getting lost). We checked out the small Trygve’s Terrain Park, but my 11-year-old deemed it a little too mild for his abilities. Its ideal for novice jumpers, for sure.
The Gold Runner Alpine Coaster is open year-round on the mountain, and it’s really easy to just hop over to it (running alongside the Rip’s Ride lift) for a ride in the middle of your ski day. There are racks to store skis (and helmets if you are comfortable leaving them with your skis), and you can ride the coaster with your ski boots on. It’s a short ride to the top, then you get to whiz through the trees on a curvy track to the bottom. Good times, for sure. The value comes from purchasing a an all-day pass for unlimited rides: $29 for adults, $12 for children ages 3 to 7.
More Breckenridge Activities for Families
I like browsing the shops on Breck’s Main Street. The wacky wigs and sunglasses at Breckenridge Hat Company are fun to try on; when my children were a bit younger, Peek-a-Boo Toys was a big hit. Parents love the play area in the back of the store, where children can climb, play on a train table, draw and engage with other toys — there’s a bench for tired moms and dads to just sit and watch! These days, the many clothing boutiques and sports shops are more relevant to my tweens.
The Breck Welcome Center, also on Main Street, is a great place to talk to knowledgeable folks about restaurants and things to do, plus it doubles as a fascinating history museum with hands-on, interactive exhibits. For more history, book a tour at the Country Boy Mine, open year round.
I was hosted by Breckenridge in relation to my work for EpicMoms.com.