Whether you are a seasoned skier or it’s your first time to weave down a bunny slope, the mountain at Breckenridge, Colo., has something for you. For many years, Breckenridge has been the ski location of choice (especially for those lucky enough to live less than two hours away in Denver). The great news for Houstonians is there are many direct flights to Denver each day – and it’s an easy drive to Breckenridge from there.
This sleepy mountain town is picturesque in an over-commercialized kind of way; so if you’re looking for the comforts of home, such as Subway, Pizza Hut and Starbucks, it’s all here. The quaint Victorian town boasts 249 historic structures, 79 restaurants and bars, and 180 shops. There is a Main Street, and there are also many side streets with important places to see, making a car almost a necessity. And since you’ve got a car, you are merely miles from other ski resorts, such as Keystone (home to night skiing), Arapaho Basin and Vail.
With slopes for skiers of every skill level, the wide-open terrain makes this the perfect place to improve your skills and move up from green to blue slopes. There are four peaks here, each connected by lifts and accessible to most intermediate and advanced skiers.
New this season is the Imperial Express, connecting the top of Chair Six to the summit of Peak Eight – topping out at 12,840 feet. This addition opens up more than 400 acres of steep, treeless chutes and bowls. Now, Breckenridge is sure to top the list for advanced skiers.
Breakfast: The Blue Moose serves up substantial, quality comfort food in a very efficient manner. The granola is crunchy and homemade; and the green chili in the huevos rancheros gives it a welcome kick.
Dinner: Café Alpine dishes out American food, such as venison and beef tenderloin. It claims to have great tapas, but since it’s not a Spanish restaurant, we didn’t risk it. Looking for romance, the Hearthstone Restaurant delivers in full tilt with two levels of a restored Victorian home-turned high-end eatery. While in Colorado, try a local special, a granola-encrusted elk chop. The batter is a little thick (similar to chicken-fried steak), but it’s not fried – it’s pan-seared to perfection. Add a side of truffle oil mashed potatoes, and this is a meat lover’s paradise. The St. Bernard is a tiny establishment right on Main Street – be sure to make a reservation. The brie salad was so good they ran out; and the pasta actually had just a tad too much truffle oil – is that possible? So, just head straight for the osso bucco, and you won’t be disappointed.
Après ski: Après ski (skiers’ lingo for “happy hour”) is the reward for working hard on the slopes all day. Lifts close at 4 p.m., which means most après ski specials start before then. At the base of Lift Nine is Maggie’s. Specials abound here, and the live band is a welcome respite. Quandary Grille has both indoor and outdoor seating and is right at the foot of Main Street Station (lots of people stay here). If you’re lucky, you’ll see some ice skaters on Maggie Pond, or just enjoy watching skiers come in from a long day. The Breckenridge Brewery serves light appetizers and many flavors of homemade brew and is a great place to meet up with locals.
There are many independently owned condos and townhomes here, but if you’re looking for one-stop shopping for essentials, dining and skiing, you really have it made at the Main Street Station. Our rustic and homey condo came complete with its own garage and was just a few freezing steps to the Jacuzzi. Comfortable and roomy with all the modern luxuries, it’s a thrill to look out the window and see people skiing.
The Blue Moose 540 S. Main St.,
Café Alpine 106 E. Adams Ave.,
?(970) 453-8218, www.cafealpine.com
Hearthstone Restaurant 130 S. Ridge St.,
?(970) 453-1148, www.hearthstonerestaurant.biz
St. Bernard 103 S. Main St., (970) 453-2572, www.thestbernard.com
Maggie?s 605 S. Park Ave., (970) 453-2000
Quandary Grille 505 Main St., (970) 547-5969,
The Breckenridge Brewery 600 S. Main St.,
?(970) 453-1550, www.breckenridgebrewery.com
Main Street Station 505 S. Main St., (970) 547-2700,