No skiing, no problem in summertime Breckenridge | Main

It’s hard to imagine the 1960s Breckenridge we heard described once. This was from the man who put Nordic skiing on the map here, Gene Dayton.

“The streets were dirt. Dogs slept in the middle of Main Street,” he recalled. “There were no stoplights. There were junk cars everywhere, turned-over trailers, houses that were falling in.”

So it was, about 100 years after gold was discovered along the Blue River, sending big waves of people to these mountains. Colorado’s largest-known gold nugget was unearthed around here, in 1887. It weighed 13½ pounds and became known as “Tom’s Baby,” for the man who cradled it into town like a precious newborn. Tom would’ve walked through a bustling Main Street.

Then came the bust, the decades of economic depression and degradation that Dayton found. Then came returned glory — largely thanks to his ilk on skis in the ’60s.

Fortunes reversed with Breckenridge Resort. It’s the town’s lifeblood today, a world-class destination in winter that transforms into something of a theme park in the summer.

There are many more diversions in town.

Main Street is paved now, complete with stoplights to control the traffic that sometimes looks heavier than those gold-rush days. Busy, busy. Dogs couldn’t sleep here if they tried.

And while a posh, apres scene has taken over many of the buildings lining Main Street, you’ll also get a sense of gritty history walking among them. The discoveries seem to be endless.

Stop in

One Main Street staple has lasted more than three decades, thanks to a simple joy. That’s the Joy of Socks, which also stocks jewelry, purses, scarves and gag gifts. Other unique favorites: books at Ole Man Berkins and Peak-A-Boo Toys.

Trendy clothing and gifts from several boutiques, such as Valleygirl, Beloved and Moxie Clothing. You’ll feel like you’re walking through an up-cycled barn roaming through Marigolds Farmhouse Funk and Junk, specializing in vintage styles and decor.

Several galleries celebrate local artists who, of course, gain inspiration from the scenery. Breckenridge Gallery calls itself Summit County’s longest-going fine art dealer; you might feel as if in a museum inside.

Also sharing space on Main Street is family-owned Raitman Art Galleries, another showcase of local talent. “Local, affordable and portable,” is the motto at Portfolio Gallery.

No shortage of ski shops in town, but Rocky Mountain Underground sets itself apart.

Imbibe from the tavern next door while watching skis being built.

Also plenty of recognizable retailer names, including Lululemon, Patagonia and Columbia.

Food and drink

Daylight Donuts on Main Street has been a go-to for 60-plus years, known also for the fast burritos. The family-run Blue Moose has been serving old-school breakfast since 1987. The Columbine Cafe is another Main Street classic, with morning specialties like trout and eggs.

Downstairs at Eric’s is the popular haunt for beer and bar food. Above ground is Breckenridge Brewery and Pub. Blue Stag Saloon elevates grub in a cozy, cabinlike atmosphere. But for the best, affordable burger, locals and visitors swear by Empire Burger, grounding all-natural beef and cutting fries and onion rings fresh daily.

Take your pick for trendy tacos along Main Street: Sancho Tacos and Agave Y Tacos. If Thai and sushi is your crave, Bangkok Happy Bowl has a location on Main Street, having grown its reputation in Hawaii and Aspen.

Blue River Bistro is one spot for the kind of culinary spoils that populate ski towns. Filet mignon meatballs, cashew and honey brie, Scottish salmon and buffalo short ribs were among the options at last check. Find fondue at Swiss Haven, paired with absinthe from the downstairs bar.

Nearly 40 brews on draft at Breckenridge Tap House. Main Street home to a tasting room for Breckenridge Distillery, beloved for whiskey. Continental Divide Winery in Main Street Station.

You’ll likely join a line for sweet and savory crepes at Crepes a la Cart. More sweet fixes at Mountain Top Cookie Shop and Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory.

Entertainment

The local arts district, BreckCreate, offers several workshops throughout the summer. One of the group’s hubs is the Riverwalk Center, right off Main Street, where you might catch a concert.

For easy exercise, fresh air and a break from the hubbub, The Blue River Recreation Path runs along downtown and continues to Frisco and Dillon. It makes renting a bike worthwhile.

If you haven’t tried ax throwing, Main Street’s Mtn Axe might be the place to get started. How about an escape room? There’s one a block off the main drag. More fun and games at the arcade situated at Downstairs at Eric’s.

You can start at the sprawling welcome center for a taste of history; the center partly functions as a museum with exhibits and short films. Off Main Street, Barney Ford House Museum preserves the former abode of a slave-turned-influential entrepreneur. Beyond downtown are mine tours and gold-panning opportunities.

Breckenridge is festival central. The food and wine festival is set for the weekend of July 29 and the bourbon and bacon fest for the last weekend of August.

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