It’s not ski season and it’s not summertime, but with plenty to do — and even more to eat — there’s a great chance you’ll fall for autumn in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Let’s be honest: Fall routinely gets short shrift when it comes to discussing the seasonal joys of North America’s most popular ski towns, including Breckenridge. The secret reality, though, is fall is an ideal time to visit high country for many travelers. Most school-age children return to classes by September, and the aforementioned hardcore skiers and snowboarders won’t be showing up for another few weeks. (The ski resort usually opens in the second half of November.) In other words, aside from a weekend festival or two, crowds are scarce.
Things to do, however, are not. You’ll have no trouble filling your days with as much or as little recreation as you’d like. Read on for a few ideas about how to spend your time.
Mountain biking and road cycling are popular throughout the region. Routes range from the flat, wide 6.5-mile Tiger Road to the Dyersville mining settlement ride, which is a 16-mile loop with an elevation gain of 1,600 feet. There’s also the Blue River Recreation Path, which provides miles of paved pedaling between Breckenridge and Frisco. The hiking, of course, is also fantastic. And as long as you don’t mind crossing a snowfield or two at higher elevations, it can be done well into fall.
One activity you might not automatically consider, but certainly should, is fly-fishing. “The fish are active year-round, so we can fish every month of the year,” says Jackson Streit of Breckenridge-based Mountain Angler outfitters. “And actually, fall is a time when the big brown trout start moving up the rivers to spawn. So, while some of these big fish may have been sitting in deep holes all summer, now they’re on the move, and we can find them in places where you normally wouldn’t be able to.”
About 30 minutes south of Breckenridge in the South Park area, near Fairplay, large brown trout that have worked their way up from the Spinney Mountain Reservoir can be found in abundance, says Streit. Heading in the opposite direction about 20 minutes north of Breckenridge, another bustling population of brown trout can be found in Lake Dillon. “We get a good run out of there,” he says. “You’d definitely have a chance to catch a 20-plus-inch brown that time of year.”
If your idea of landing a prize catch requires more wandering from store to store and (much) less wading along the banks of a flowing stream, make haste for Breckenridge’s Main Street. Park near either the north or south end, and simply start walking — and gawking. There are more than 200 shops concentrated in this downtown district, an assortment that’s utterly impossible to comprehend until you’re actually strolling past all of them.
Looking for regional souvenirs? You’ll find all sorts of T-shirts and trinkets emblazoned with witty phrases about Colorado’s altitude alongside hats and other paraphernalia at numerous gift shops. Or you could choose a fine-art print depicting one of the nearby 14ers (mountains that top out above 14,000 feet high), an aspen grove or Main Street itself, from almost any of the local galleries. Don’t really know what you’re looking for? Yep, there are plenty of those shops, too: handcrafted clothing, jewelry, toys, sports gear — the list goes on and on.
As many ways as there are to spend your days in Breckenridge, there are even more choices when it comes to fueling up for your adventures. Food options range from soups and sandwiches to sushi and steaks, and seemingly everything in between.
Try Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina for tasty specialty tacos and burritos. For an extensive beer selection coupled with Buffalo wings, pizzas, hamburgers and other pub fare, slide into a booth at Downstairs at Eric’s, billed as “Breckenridge’s favorite family sports bar.” And definitely make time to visit the Breckenridge Brewery & Pub for their portobello mushroom sandwich and seasonal Autumn Ale.
For a nice night out, look no further than the Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon. It’s named after the Briar Rose silver mine and is located at the site of what once served as a boarding house for the men who originally worked there. “Our bar was built in 1883,” says David Lipka, the restaurant’s general manager. “There’s a lot of history, and we do a great casual saloon atmosphere. For people who come in and want the high-end meal, we have white-tablecloth dining in our main room.”
As for that high-end meal, Lipka says two dishes stand out: “The elk medallions and bone-in buffalo ribeye (shown at left) are easily my favorites,” he says.
Each year, typically beginning in October, the Briar Rose offers a seasonal prix fixe dinner as part of the Breckenridge Restaurant Association’s Dining Passport program, followed by two-for-one entrees in November.
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This article originally appeared in the summer 2015 issue of the North America edition of Interval World magazine, published by Interval International®, an indirect subsidiary of Marriott Vacations Worldwide. Any re-use of this content, or any portion of this content, is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.