This past weekend, I stepped into a scene straight out of an utterly picturesque ski village in a Hallmark holiday film. You know the kind I'm talking about: The opening scene unfolds with a powdery day on the slopes coming to a close. Skiers and boarders retreat to a charming, colorful Main Street lined with restaurants, boutiques, fire pits, and bars. But the kicker is, I was actually living this scene in real life. It was après ski time, after all; spiked hot cocoa and s’mores were calling my name as I enjoyed the view of snow-capped mountains and evergreen trees off in the distance. The cozy ski town in Colorado I visited is none other than Breckenridge, and I learned that paradise doesn't have to just be synonymous with summer.
I was lucky enough to experience Breckenridge in January, when it was still decked out for the holidays. The quaint streets and fairy lights wrapped around the glistening treetops set the best kind of backdrop for a brief but dreamy winter escape from reality. (Au revoir, planner, you won’t be missed.) The bars decorated in wreaths, big red bows, and colorful Christmas lights had an extra cozy feel to them. The atmosphere made me feel right at home.
To get to Breckenridge, you can fly into Denver and either take public transportation, rent a car, or do what I did, which was hop aboard the Epic Mountain Express. This door-to-door shuttle service is a millennial's dream come true — it's ridiculously convenient, affordable, and takes away the hassle of renting a car. All you have to do in advance is head to the website and fill out your flight details, in addition to where you're headed to and from. You'll then receive a quote unique to your trip. (From the Denver International Airport to Breckenridge, reserving a seat on a standard shuttle costs $65.)
Once you touch down in Colorado and snag a cozy seat on Epic Mountain Express, you'll likely make friends with fellow skiers and boarders who are just as eager to hit up the mountain as you are. The shuttle service allows you to kick back and relax after your flight, as you're being transported to your mountain resort. My drive from the Denver International Airport to Breckenridge was about two hours, so I had ample time to soak up the incredible views outside my window.
Here's everything I got up to in Breck, including where I stayed and the best places to eat.
I was so excited when I reached my final destination: Mountain Thunder Lodge.
The lodge offers the coziest selection of condos and townhomes. Every unit is complete with a moss rock gas fireplace, gourmet kitchen, private balcony or patio, multiple TVs, and complimentary high-speed WiFi. You can see the available rooms on Book.Breckenridge.com, and filter your results by searching exclusively for rooms at Mountain Thunder Lodge.
The property itself boasts numerous hot tubs to decompress with a warm drink after a long day spent on the slopes, and the comfy seating in the lobby is the perfect place to socialize with other travelers.
It's safe to say, the rustic-chic lodge welcomed me in every way possible.
I was invited on a three-day trip to Breckenridge to experience the very best of food, accommodation, spa services, and winter activities the quaint alpine town has to offer millennials and travelers alike.
Upon arrival, a crackling fire, wine, and snacks were waiting for me in my Mountain Thunder Lodge condo — along with a breathtaking view, complete with skiers just outside my balcony. The lodge is the perfect place for a girls' getaway, or a special time with bae. It's a two-minute walk from the bustling downtown scene, and just as quick a walk to the gondola.
A toast on my balcony to kick off what would be an epic, laid-back long weekend for this New York City girl was essential.
Colorado has always been at the top of my bucket list to visit. Aside from the obvious wintery activities — which are absolutely extraordinary — Breck has so much to offer the girl who's looking for a quick, attainable, but extremely memorable (maybe even life-changing) mountain experience.
Although I've been an avid skier since I was 7, this was my first time ever skiing out West.
This spot is more amazing than I ever could have imagined. The fresh, powdery slopes give the East Coast trails that I'm used to a run for their money.
Since day one, skiing in Vermont has been my go-to, but once I glided down my first trail in Breckenridge, I was forever ruined (in the best of ways). The fresh snow on the trails makes it easy to have a smooth cruise down the mountain, and really work your turns — which is a major contrast from the many icy slopes I've been down in Vermont, when the mountain had to make its own snow.
At Breckenridge, the trails are super wide, so I didn't have to continuously navigate my way through packs of skiers and boarders at every turn. I enjoyed every second of the ride. Breck's terrain includes a total of five incredible peaks and 187 trails to explore, all on a beautiful 2,908 acres. As a matter of fact, the town boasts the "highest lift-served terrain" in all of North America.
Regardless of your level of expertise when it comes to skiing or boarding, I would highly recommend spending time with an instructor.
The prices of course vary based on which level or kind of class you'd like to sign up for (the average rate is around $200 for a day), but it's totally worth the tidbits of information about the mountain and perfecting your skills in general — aka, which trails will best suit your level of expertise, tricks to do on your skis when you feel like you're losing control, how to step up to the next level, and more. You may even make a new friend in the process like I did! Breckenridge Mountain even offers a "women and wine" half-day lesson ($79), complete with skiing, sipping, and socializing with other gals.
In addition to shredding up the mountain, aprés ski and other activities will make your time there so complete.
From the spiked hot chocolate, wine, and treats at Pioneer Crossing (a ski-in/ski-out restaurant and bar), to the Insta-worthy cocktails at The Canteen, (Yes, the cocktails are actually served in canteens.) the foodie scene in Breck is out of this world.
A real game changer for me was dinner at Aurum. It made my trip complete. From the "hamachi crudo and ahi tartare" shared plate, to the "warm chocolate chip cookies" with milk jam and a side of cookie dough for dessert, I was in heaven.
You can spend an entire week there and never run out of delicious food or drink options during your stay. Be sure to check out the "milk braised lamb ragu" and "Colorado hot toddy" for a nightcap at Twist, because when in Breckenridge...
I mean, who wouldn't love to curl up by a fire pit on a snowy afternoon with a good book, even better company, and enjoy s'mores and s'more wine?
I enjoyed some aprés ski s'mores and goodies at One Ski Hill Place, which is conveniently located at the bottom of Breckenridge Ski Resort's Peak 8. I also took some time to take advantage of the nearby spa services.
Heading to the Rejuvenation Center at One Ski Hill Place for much-needed relaxation after a day on the slopes is always a good idea.
Pampering is a priority, am I right? You can't sleep on self-care, and getting a massage or facial before returning back home to feel completely refreshed, as far as I'm concerned. The mini-spa at Breck's One Ski Hill Place offers a variety of incredible treatments, from blueberry soy body wraps, to clarifying mineral facials and so many more divine services.
I had the opportunity of enjoying the "rejuvenation massage," which felt downright amazing. Before heading into the room, you're able to select the kind of pressure you want, from light to firm. (I selected light/medium.) The massage completely eased the tension in my back from using my ski poles all day long, and I honestly felt so relaxed — this was a true treat. The treatment was finished with a relaxing salt foot bath and a flute of champagne. (Take me back, please!)
Even if you're totally not a fan of winter and prefer the aprés ski vibes only, Breckenridge works as a compromise where everyone can have something to do. I left for this trip feeling committed to the beach and city life, but left my heart on the slopes in Breckenridge — with a canteen cocktail in one hand... and a s'more in the other.