Hotspots in Breckenridge, CO
Though Keystone is about 14 miles from Breckenridge, two restaurants atop its mountain make it well worth the drive. Be sure to dress warm for the two night-time gondola rides (a total of 40 minutes), which soar above night skiing and closed runs, through a quiet forest and to the top of North Peak at 11,444 feet. Der Fondue Chessel is a family-friendly dinner fondue experience that covers the entire span of fondue, from savory cheese (with apples, bread and more), meat and seafood entrees, and, of course, the mouth-watering, endorphin-producing melted chocolate, with strawberries, bananas, pound cake and other goodies to swirl. Alpenglow Stube offers a sophisticated dining experience. The Old-World culinary masterpieces include a six-course meal, complete with a caviar course, a sorbet palette cleanser, appetizers such as pheasant confit or ragout of blue crab, main courses of fish, lamb, duck and beef and rich deserts like custard with berries or pear tartlets.
The BreckConnect gondola connects the Victorian town of Breckenridge to the base of Peaks 7 and 8. Dogs are welcome on the 8-minute gondola ride, which starts from a large parking lot (free in the summer and after 3 p.m. in the winter). The gondola rises almost 400 vertical feet above protected wetlands and wildlife habitat, so you may even a spot a moose or other wildlife during your ride. The eight-passenger cabins run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (but may be closed during shoulder seasons of May, June and October). Just make sure your pooch isn’t afraid of heights or freaked out by an aluminum floor — the windows start at the floor, so your dog will be able to see how high he or she is flying.
Race down the slopes of Breckenridge Ski Resort on this coaster-type sled attached to 2,500 feet of elevated roller coaster track. You can ride by yourself or with one of your kids in a two-seater car. The hairpin curves make it a thrilling adventure that you’ll want to do again and again with a single day pass! Open summer and winter, the alpine coaster is one of the newest activities at the ski area’s Peak 8 Fun Park that’s open in summer and at the base of Peak 8 in winter.
Suspended high in the air above the mountains and valleys of the Colorado Rockies with a bird's eye view of wildlife and 36 peaks of the 54 Fourteeners (peaks that are 14,000 feet or higher) is a treat you must share with your kids at least once. Even if you don't like waking before sunrise, it will be worth it as you watch the pilot and his crew inflate the balloon and then you climb into the basket. You'll see how the heat from the flame keeps the balloon aloft as you move ever so slowly across the amazing landscape.
Ride the BreckConnect Gondola from town to the base of Peak 8 for an adventure-filled day on the slopes—winter or summer. Breckenridge Ski Resort offers some of the best learning terrain anywhere and the Ski & Ride School is known for its top-notch children's lessons and specialty classes for you (women-only clinics) and your hubby (bump clinics). Peak 7's rolling terrain is great for family skiing and boarding. When the kids get really good, take them to the expert areas full of wide-open bowls, bumps, chutes and tree runs off the Imperial Express, North America's highest chairlift, to nearly 13,000 feet.
Alfonso Natarelli, owner of The Swiss Haven Restaurant, loves what he does: He hangs out in the Swiss Haven, welcoming all guests with his warm smile and enthusiasm. Raised in Belgium and trained in the customer-service, upbeat world of Club Med, he opened The Swiss Haven because he couldn’t find quality European mountain food, particularly in the form of fondue. Having managed fondue restaurants for Club Med in Switzerland, Alfonso knows exactly what to look for when purchasing the finest cheeses and chocolates. Starters include French baguettes soaked in white wine and topped with prosciutto, Vacherin and Gruyere cheeses, beef carpaccio, ahi tuna and French onion soup. Choose from eight unique salads before melting into a variety of cheese fondues, ranging from mild to pungent. Main courses include seafood fondues, meat fondue and pasta, grilled steaks, wild game and traditional Swiss specialties.
The most unique aspect of the Spa at Beaver Run is its watsu treatment. Watsu is done in a warm, outdoor salt-water pool, where a trained practitioner cradles you so that intrinsic muscles relax and release in a way they can’t without a zero-gravity environment. As you float, the therapist provides support and works specific joints and points on the body. The spa also offers world-inspired full-body treatments, such as the Organic Peruvian Chocolate Wrap, a detoxifying Thai bodywrap, a Balinese Body Polish (complete with an organic, fair-trade coffee exfoliation that increases circulation and impacts fatty deposits that cause cellulite) and a Cranberry Yuzu Sugar Scrub. Spa packages include 30-minute oxygen therapy followed by a 60-minute Swedish Massage to help visitors adjust to the high elevation. Or try a Deluxe Mountain Escape — a four-and-a-half hour pampering experience.
Summit County is known for its love of dogs, so the biking and hiking trails throughout Breckenridge, Frisco, Keystone, Dillon, Silverthorne and Copper Mountain welcome dogs as well. Whether you’re looking for a technical climb along the Continental Divide on the Pettingell Peak Trail near Dillon or a quick two-hour hike to the Upper Blue Reservoir and falls on McCullough Gulch Trail, Summit County’s extensive trail system offers something for every biped and quad-ped. Hiking guides like local resident Maryann Gaug’s “Hiking Colorado’s Summit County Area” or Mary Ellen Gilliland’s “The New Summit Hiker and Ski Touring Guide” will tell you exactly where to go and what sights — be it mine ruins, falls or aspen groves — you can expect along the way. The ski areas also allow dogs to hike their trails in the summer.
Canary in a Clothes Mine is a boutique located in a historic building on Main Street, Breckenridge. It hails itself as the highest boutique in the nation, and it can also boast about being one of the few boutiques that allow dogs to wander in with their owners — as long as the dogs are well behaved and get along with the owner, Jayme Miner’s dog who hangs out among all the fine clothing, bedding, pictures and accessories. Inside, you’ll find a store full of unique items, including its own design of baby shirts called Wee Tees and designer names that are as fun as the clothing they create, such as Young, Fabulous and Broke.&a
Rasta Pasta is the kind of local place a ski town should have: It’s funky, funny and solidly portioned, reasonably priced food with some spice. Rasta Pasta oozes a colorful Caribbean vibe, complete with wall murals of dreadlocked Rastafarians. The original owner sold the joint to Dave Barger and Scott Lias — a sandwich maker and an adrenaline-fueled ski bum, respectively. After a year, only one owner kept interest in the unique pasta experience: ski-bum Scott. Now, he serves some of the most interesting and creative pasta dishes, such as seafood marinara; a fruit-bearing, ricotta cheese tortellini with pineapples, bananas and grapes; a spicy shrimp dish; a chicken pasta dish served in a pineapple curry sauce, and, the namesake, Rasta Pasta — made with spicy jerk chicken, green onions, basil and diced tomatoes sautéed in garlic tomato sauce and served over penne. Lunch costs $6.95 for Rasta’s version of spaghetti and primavera and $7.95 to $9.95.