Breckenridge isn’t just a ski town, and the holidays are a great time to find out why. While everyone else makes turns at Breckenridge Ski Resort, try on one (or all) of these three different personalities of Breckenridge during Christmas.

An Old West Christmas

Most people think of Country Boy Mine as a summer activity, but the truth is, it’s actually warmer in the mine than it is outside during winter. (Still, wear a jacket; it’s 45 degrees year round.)

The 45-minute tour transports visitors back to the days where men risked their lives — and usually lost their hearing — to gain a little gold.

Country Boy Mine includes plenty of fun photo opportunities.

Country Boy Mine includes plenty of fun photo opportunities.

Country Boy Mine was a real, operating gold mine, and it still has plenty of gold deep within its veins, but the logistics of extracting it make it more practical just to give tours and make a few bucks.

You’ll walk 1,000 feet into the mountain and hear all about the rough-and-tumble days. Stick around afterward to pan for gold outside and take pictures with the burros and around the ruins.

The mine opens for winter tours Dec. 23, though it’s closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Tours run Monday through Fridays, at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. (970) 453-4405.

To continue your Old West experience, grab a bite to eat at Fatty’s Pizzeria, or belly up at the Gold Pan Saloon.

Before Fatty’s became Breckenridge’s oldest pizzeria, the Peabody’s used it as a boarding house in 1894. Townspeople shopped at the mercantile, while nine rooms housed miners, merchants and women. The boarding house was known to get a little rowdy; just visit the Briggle House to see a piano with a bullet hole in it — it came from Fatty’s.

The Gold Pan Saloon saw its share of rough-and-tumble characters.

The Gold Pan Saloon saw its share of rough-and-tumble characters.

The Gold Pan Saloon is Breckenridge’s oldest bar. It was built in 1879. Once you swagger into the swinging wooden doors, check out the mahogany Brunswick back bar with the enormous mirror; back in the day, patrons looked into the mirror to watch their backs — literally.

A Victorian Christmas

For a softer version of Breckenridge, turn to the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. These historians know how to show off their town in style.

Throughout the holidays, the alliance offers historical walking tours throughout town, highlighting the stories, characters and architecture. They also offer a saloon tour, complete with libations.

One of the highlights of a Breckenridge Victorian Christmas is the Katie Briggle tea and tour.

The Briggle House was one of the largest homes of its time. Its owner, William Briggle, was the town mayor in the early 1900s, and his wife, Katie taught piano and held concerts in her parlor. The home has been restored to its original Victorian style.

The Hearthstone restaurant is located in a restored Victorian home.

The Hearthstone restaurant is located in a restored Victorian home.

To extend your Victorian experience, dine at the Hearthstone Restaurant.

The home was built in the early 1880s, and though it has undergone many renovations since then, it still feels as opulent as ever. Large windows look out onto Breckenridge Ski Resort and the town.

Entrees include elk with a garlic granola crust and blackberry demi-glace; Colorado lamb, Colorado buffalo short ribs; Colorado striped bass; ginger sea scallops; steaks and more. In addition, the Hearthstone’s wine list features more than 220 wines from throughout the world.

An artsy holiday

The Breckenridge Arts District provides a playful way to experience the holidays in Breckenridge. If you like textiles, visit Mariene Gruetter at the Tin Shop as she creates felt art pieces through Dec. 31.

Quandary Antiques Cabin holds open studio time for ceramic lovers who have at least some clay experience. The drop-in fee is $12 (or $100 for a 10-punch pass), and a 1/3 of a bag of clay is $10.

Other Arts District classes include textiles Dec. 19 and drawing for kids Dec. 20.

If you’d rather sit back and watch art on stage, check out the perennial favorite “Oliver” at the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre through Dec. 28.

The Backstage delivers a new twist on the old classic musical, with a cast of 10, set in 1838 London. The story tells of an orphan who works through the underground London society to reclaim his heritage.

The Crown Café and Tavern is an artsy place to have a drink, sandwich or dessert and play a game in one of its nooks and crannies.

The Crown Café and Tavern is an artsy place to have a drink, sandwich or dessert and play a game in one of its nooks and crannies.

Before or after your artsy excursion, grab a drink, dessert or sandwich at The Crown Café and Tavern at 215 S. Main St. It’s a cozy place to wind down — or wind up.

No matter which way you choose to experience a Breckenridge Christmas, you can be sure it will hold plenty of memories, be it Old West, Victorian, artsy, or just a “plain, old-fashioned” ski vacation.

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About The Author

Kimberly Nicoletti always knew she was meant to escape gray Chicago winters and spend her days skiing the Colorado Rockies. So, two months after she turned 18, she moved to Breckenridge to be a ski bum "for a season," assuring her parent's she'd return to Illinois to finish college. But, the ski bum life stuck. After three years of full-time skiing in Summit County, she decided to finish her degree at CU-Boulder in Creative Writing (granted, she took a semester off to ski). Once free of classes, she took yet another year off to ski in Summit (do you see a pattern here?). Then, she moved back to Boulder to earn her master's degree in Somatic Psychology/Dance Therapy. Upon graduation, she spent a winter teaching skiing at Mammoth Mountain. (Surely you see the pattern now.) In 2002, she moved back to Summit full time, to work at the Summit Daily as the arts and entertainment editor. She stayed with the company for 10 years, enjoying Summit's great events and later working as the managing editor of magazines covering the High Country. She still revolves her life around adventure and creativity, taking time to travel, ski, paddleboard, dance, ice skate, play with her dogs, learn new things and generally enjoy life. She's highly addicted to powder skiing and keeps her winter mornings commitment-free so she can indulge in "deep play" when Mother Nature cooperates. Off the mountain, she's a freelance writer and editor and teaches fitness and mind/body classes throughout Summit County.

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