When school’s out for the summer, it doesn’t mean it’s time for your children to turn off their brains. Rich with history, Breckenridge offers a chance for kids to continue learning without the confines of a classroom.
Think history is boring, dusty stuff? Think again. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance brings history alive through its museums’ interactive areas and walking tours. From skiing to fire engines to trains to mines to animals, the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance has something to interest multiple age groups. Want to ensure the kids will be engaged? Cindy Hintgen, Operations Manager, suggests some of the family favorites: the Edwin Carter Museum, Highline Railroad Park, gold panning and mine tours, and the Tombstone Tour.
Edwin Carter came to Breckenridge seeking fortune but gained notoriety as a taxidermist. With almost 3,300 species of Rocky Mountain wildlife, Carter’s collection became the basis of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
“Most museums are considered boring and stuffy; ‘Don’t touch that’ and ‘Don’t sit there,’” Hintgen says. Not here. The Carter Museum features a hands-on taxidermy workbench as well as an interactive children’s room and a theatre.
Weather too beautiful to be inside? The High Line Railroad Park is an outdoor historic exhibit highlighting the role of trains in the mining and development of Breckenridge and includes a railroad-themed playground for tots. Local trails offer a glimpse into the area’s mining past — families can explore on their own or with a guided hike.
Older children (8 – 12) enjoy the Tombstone Tour. Don’t worry: this tour won’t keep you up tending to your children’s nightmares. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the lives of some of the town’s earliest inhabitants, including the popular story of Baby Eberline.
Both Washington Mine and Lomax Gulch feature gold-panning – a kids’ favorite – but if you want to delve deeper into the history of mining with your children, consider one of the organization’s three hiking tours. From 1.5 to 3-miles each, the hiking tours are not long or vigorous, but better suited for children 8-years-old and up, says Hintgen, and offer an up-close look at life some 100 to 150 years ago.
“All of our sites have tangible objects – buildings, structures and tools – so kids can really see what was used back then,” she says.
The privately-owned Country Boy Mine is a favorite with families for a chance to dive into life as a miner. Visitors don hard hats and walk more than 1,000 feet into the old, dark, drippy mine as they learn about the tools used and the dangers encountered by the miners who worked there. Children too young to appreciate the tour can entertain themselves panning for gold, petting the burros that wander the property, or browse the treasures in the general store.
Of course, history isn’t the only means to learning this summer.
The Mountain Top Children’s Museum is a favorite stop for fun-based learning for children 10 and under. With stations including a Rocky Mountain Wildlife Exhibit, a Wonder Lab & Planetarium, Kidstruction Zone, Creation Station and Studio Imagination, this small childrens’ museum is big on ideas and opportunities for children to explore their creative side, with painting and crafts, costumes and theatre; experiment with light and color; learn about constellations and stars, local wildlife, and human anatomy; and puzzle the complexities and mechanics of construction.
As Executive Director, Laura Horvath puts it: Mountain Top Children’s Museum offers a variety of means for your children to learn, all disguised as fun.