(Last Updated On: February 23, 2017)

The whole family together makes for magical moments in Breckenridge.

Of course you want your grandparents to come on your trip to Breckenridge. Maybe your vacation includes a family reunion or wedding and it just wouldn’t be the same without the senior members of the family.

With some advance planning, your older relatives can ease the transition to Breckenridge’s high altitude and have fun while they are here. Here are some tips – from health considerations to things to do – to help your grandparents make the most of their Breckenridge vacation.

Health Considerations

Breckenridge’s high altitude of almost 10,000 feet above sea level causes stress on the body, especially for sleeping and activities.  Local physician Dr. C.L. Perrinjaquet, fondly known as Doc PJ, cautions families about bringing seniors to Breckenridge. If a family member is not strong and resilient at home, that person is likely to have difficulty in Breckenridge. Even active seniors can experience health problems with the altitude. As an example, Doc PJ notes that mild symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) “can unmask an underlying heart issue.”  For more information about AMS and adjusting to altitude, see this article by Doc PJ.

Pre-Trip Planning and Transition

The free Gondola over Cucumber Creek wetlands. Photo courtesy checkconnect

Doc PJ encourages proper preparation. He recommends that grandparents schedule a pre-trip visit to their primary care physician for a health screening specific to travel to altitude. You may want to ask about a prescription for Diamox, which helps ease symptoms of AMS, but must be taken prior to coming to altitude.

Make sure your grandparents bring all their medications and prescriptions in their original bottles along with an updated medical history. If your senior relative needs to visit a doctor while you’re here, having this information will be critically helpful for the medical professionals.

Adjust to altitude gradually by staging your transition to Breckenridge. Many people will take an extra night in Denver or Boulder on their way to Breckenridge.This gives the body time to adjust to the lower levels of available oxygen at 10,000 feet, and can ease the symptoms of AMS.

Upon Arrival in Breckenridge

Another tip from Doc PJ is to pre-schedule a visit to a local physician when the grandparents arrive in Breckenridge.  The local doctors can check their blood oxygen levels, supply oxygen if needed, and offer more direct advice to help your family make the most of their time in Breckenridge.

To help the entire family adjust to altitude and enjoy every day of their vacation, Doc PJ’s suggestions include:

  • Increase fluid intake
  • Decrease salt intake
  • Moderate your physical activity
  • Eat high-carbohydrate, low-fat meals
  • Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Feeling worse? Seek help.

What To Do in Breckenridge with Your Grandparents

Take the gondola to the base of Peak 8 for a lively scene. Photo courtesy BTO.

There are many things to do in Breckenridge that are suited to the pace and energy level of any grandparent. Here are a few of our favorites.

Soak in the Scenery:

Take the free Gondola from town to the Base of Peak 8 at the Breckenridge Ski Area. You’ll soar over the beautiful Cucumber Creek wetlands and may even see a moose on the way.  As long as there have been ski areas, there are people who love to watch skiers and the base area is a perfect place to take in the scenes. Open summer and winter.

Scenic Drives:  There are three easy drives to the top of the Continental Divide from Breckenridge with stunning views and history along the way.

Views from the South Branch Library. Photo courtesy Yelp.

Hang out in the 1909 Breckenridge High School which now houses our library, movie theatre, and community center.  The views from the reading room are so gorgeous it’s hard to read your book.

Go to Church:
Breckenridge has many houses of religion, including three historic churches.  This article on celebrating Christmas in Breckenridge includes a list of local churches.

Visit Downtown:

Breckenridge Trolley on Main Street. Photo courtesy Summit Daily News.

Breckenridge’s Main Street is about as flat as it gets around here, so strolling from boutique to restaurant to coffee shop is easy and entertaining. And to make it even easier, the free Breckenridge Trolley rolls up and down Main Street all day long.

The Breckenridge Welcome Center on Main Street hosts a mini-museum of Breckenridge history. The staff can direct you to other historic sites and tours in town, like the Summit Ski Museum just down the street.

Massage/Spa Day:
Everyone loves a little pampering!  Check out this link for information on massage, acupuncture and other wellness treatments in Breckenridge, or this link for spas.

Arts and Culture:
Music, theatre, dance, art galleries, workshops, classes, and visual and performing arts are available in Breckenridge year ‘round.  This article summarizes the variety of artistic and cultural offerings in Breckenridge. And visit Breckenridge Creative Arts for a current list of happenings.

As Doc PJ says, “If Grandma isn’t having fun, no one is having fun.”  With advance planning and selection, the entire family can have a stress-free, memorable vacation in Breckenridge.

Photos by the author unless otherwise noted.




About The Author

Miners and hippies mixed in Breckenridge when Leigh Girvin arrived as a girl with her family in the early 1970’s. She grew up here and has seen Breckenridge blossom from a dusty town with wooden sidewalks to a world-ranked resort community with a burgeoning year-round renown. A long-time non-profit professional in Breckenridge and Summit County, Leigh has interests and background in the environment, education, land use and conservation, history, mining, and the arts. She serves on the Breckenridge Liquor and Marijuana Licensing Authority, and volunteers with Colorado Mountain College, Breckenridge Creative Arts, and the Summit Nordic Ski Club. Poking around the backcountry near Breckenridge is one of her favorite things to do, whether on foot, on skis, or on wheels. She lives in the incorporated boundaries of the Town of Breckenridge with her sweetheart, dog, two cats and a garden.

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