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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.