By Theresa Smith, Examiner.com
Breckenridge culture revolves around mountain snow sports, but if tackling the slopes is not for you, there are some equally thrilling alternatives. In the way of daytime activities, Breckenridge is home to several companies that offer snowmobile and dog sled tours, as well as sleigh rides. In the warmer months these are often replaced with four wheelers and horse drawn carriage rides. Snowmobilers and four wheelers can explore hidden paths as they ascend the mountain. One can trail blaze at high speed or if he prefers, take it slowly. No matter one’s taste, tour guides will wait at impasses so no one ever gets lost. Moreover, on a clear day the views from atop the mountain are breathtaking. Even if this is not your cup of tea, the photos from the top make the experience well worth it. Though I have never personally taken a dog sled tour, I am sure they must be equally exciting and take patrons to the same spectacular views.
Few things say holiday and winter wonderland more definitively than a sleigh ride. There are private rides where families can enjoy the nighttime hills with one another, guided by beautiful Clydesdale horses. However, my favorite has been the Two Below Zero dinner rides. Patrons come together on an extra large sleigh and ride through until they reach a large heated barn, where they enjoy a delicious country dinner. Generally, I would not hope for high quality foods at something such as this, but I was pleasantly surprised. Patrons are greeted with hot cocoa and crème de menthe to warm themselves from the ride, followed by a savory southwestern style soup. The traditional steak and chicken dinner accompanied by mixed vegetables and baked potato was delicious, as well. Once inside the barn, patrons are entertained by a guitar-wielding country singer and though it may sound a bit kitschy, it was quite fun!
Another alternative to mountain sports is a visit to the town center. Breckenridge is home to some very tranquil day spas, many of which offer oxygen-based treatments, meant to help visitors adjust to the higher altitudes. If you are suffering from a bout of altitude sickness, check out one of Breckenridge’s oxygen bars, such as the O2 Lounge. Patrons enjoy oxygen therapies, breathing concentrated levels of oxygen, infused with aromatherapy scents. Even if you are not feeling the effects of the altitude, the oxygen treatments can be a fun treat to reinvigorate from a rough day on the mountain. For those who do hit the mountain, a day off, enjoying a deep tissue massage may be in order, to aid inevitable aching muscles.
I also suggest taking some time to explore the array of Colorado influenced art galleries in the town center. Moreover, one can find some fabulous shopping in the town center from souvenir shops to a North Face store to mountain-inspired jewelers. In fact, with so many things to do there, why not start the day early in the town center and enjoy one of the many breakfast bars? There are quite a few of these fun, casual eateries but I enjoy the breakfast burrito at Daylight Donuts.
In regard to evening drinking and dining, Breckenridge has no shortage of choices both casual and formal. At least one evening of a vacation must be spent at the Breckenridge Brewery. At this laid-back yet trendy gastropub, guests can sip on house-brewed beers that are distributed domestically throughout the country. The atmosphere is young and hip and the food is delicious, offering everything from hamburgers to Ahi tuna to buffalo short ribs. For something a bit more formal, try Blue River Bistro. This intimate restaurant offers an array of seafood, steaks, pastas and salads, paired with seasonal cocktails and a fair selection of wines. After dinner, be sure to visit some of the Breckenridge bars that stay open late, where you can mingle with locals and visitors alike and make some new friends.