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Living the dream - a blog about Breckenridge local perspectives

Not surprisingly, here in Breck we’ve had some snow on a few different occasions in September. But most of the accumulation was up above about 11,000′. So we haven’t yet had some decent snow here in town at 9,600′. Well that could be changing tomorrow night! The Weather Channel’s first named winter storm of the season, Atlas, is taking aim on the northern Rockies. I was curious why the Weather Channel began naming storms last season. Though it definitely creates some self-serving drama for the media, I do agree that increased awareness and communications will result in better public safety.

While the brunt of the storm looks to be mostly in Wyoming, several weather sites have forecasted total snow accumulations of 4-8″ for the Breckenridge area from late Thursday evening through Friday night. Snowforecast is calling for the cold front to arrive tomorrow night, with snow levels eventually falling down to 7,000′. Since Breckenridge is between central and northern mountain areas, I am agreeing with Joel Gratzo of OpenSnow that we may see somewhere between the 3-6″ and 6-12″ forecasted for both areas.

snow October 3-4, 2013

Okay, Labor Day has come and gone, the aspens are changing, and this morning we are looking at a nice dusting of snow up on the highest peaks above town. We are now focused on winter bookings and helping our customers find the best Breckenridge vacation rental for the upcoming ski & ride season. With over 16 years experience helping guests find the best rental property, we have several tips below we’d like to share:

  1. Are your dates flexible? Typically, families must travel over the holidays or when the kids are out of school. Those times of year can be the most expensive. If you can avoid peak ski travel weeks, your trip will be less expensive, there will be more deals available, and the mountain will be less crowded. For additional savings, consider planning a trip for early or late ski season. Bargains will be plentiful at both ends of ski season.
  2. No time like the present! Yeah, we know this sounds self-serving. Sure there are good deals out there on last-minute distressed inventory, but often the price won’t be the only thing “distressed.” Since there is such a wide variety of properties in Breck, we highly recommend booking early to ensure you get the possible selection. Our nicest properties are often booked more than 5 months prior to arrival.
  3. Purchasing airfare. Start your search by checking a few of the major online travel providers, like Travelocity, aggregator sites like TripAdvisor Flights or Google Flights, or consolidators like CheapTickets. Airfarewatchdog is another good source of low fares. Checking these sites will give you an idea of which airlines fly your particular itinerary, what the going rate is and what restrictions might apply. Then you can head directly to the airline website to see if the same flights are any cheaper (some airlines guarantee to offer the lowest possible fares on their own websites).
  4. Book directly with a professional property management company. It may take a bit more research, but booking property-direct will provide you with the best service, as on-site staff are the most knowledgeable. They can answer all of your questions about the rental properties, the area, activities and much more. Property staff can more often honor guest requests as well. While it may seem easier to book a vacation condo through a large online travel agency (OTA) or wholesaler, the staff typically don’t live in the area, and really aren’t that familiar with the vacation rentals in your destination.  We also urge caution if you are booking your rental through VRBO. Often times, the owner is not in the immediate area, and any problems that may arise are often not dealt with in a timely & professional manner.
  5. Reserve your ski/snowboard rentals & lessons early. Handling these items in advance may not always provide great savings, but by doing so you will not have to stress about this in the weeks leading up to your trip. Then you can focus on the fun things, like which peaks to ski this year, the best apres-ski bars, and off-the-hill activities like snowmobiling and dog-sledding.
  6. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone! People today are trying to do more and more online. The internet allows us to shop & bank online, keep up with our social networks, and even book a winter vacation rental. However, many guests can get overwhelmed with the choices, or they may spend hours researching something which staff can answer in a few seconds. Pick up the phone, start a live chat session, or send us an email. We are here for you!


Wow August has been amazing! If you’re a cycling fan, just last week we were privileged to have the USA Pro Cycling Challenge roll through Breck as we hosted the stage 2 finish and the stage 3 start. Along with some spectacular professional road racing action, the local organizing committee also created some amazing ancillary events like the free Railroad Earth concert, the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 kids Strider Challenge, and the Funkadelic Pond Crossing.

So now that the last few days of August are upon us, we look towards an exciting Labor Day holiday weekend in Breckenridge. If you’ve never made it up before, town once again has an action-packed weekend planned out, including the famous Summit Foundation Great Rubber Duck Race, the Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival, the Breckenridge Wine Festival, the Breck Crest trail running races, the PRCA Rodeo, and many sidewalk sales. With many school districts already in full swing, the typical mid-summer weekend crowds are no longer a big issue. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the beginning of the changing aspens.

P9040199The most anticipated event undoubtedly is the 26th annual Summit Foundation Great Rubber Duck Race, which typically raises several thousand dollars for the local school district and many area non-profits. Events include a Kids Duck Dash, a Business Battle Duck Race, and the overall Great Rubber Duck Race itself. You can click here to adopt your winning duck, help support the Summit Foundation, and get a chance to win some great prizes.

Not far from our offices, the 38th annual Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival will take place in the Wellington parking lot, on the corner of Wellington & N. Main Street. This festival will feature over 100 artists with a wide range of mediums including photography, wood, glass, jewelry and pottery. Nothing like seeing some amazing pieces, talking with the artists themselves, and perhaps striking up a great deal!

If you like the “runner’s high,” check out the great lineup of trail running races available as part of the Breck Crest trail running weekend. A burly marathon (voted one of the toughest trail running marathons by Trail Runner magazine), a 1/2 marathon and also a 10K.

Enjoy one of the last few beautiful summer weekends in Breck. It won’t be long before the leaves are off the trees and the cool crisp fall days are here!

August in Breckenridge has become synonomous with cycling! We have an amazing lineup of cycling events this year, including the Breck Epic, Breck Bike Week, Circle the Summit and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

BEKicking things off on August 11th, the Breck Epic is a 6-day, high-altitude mountain bike stage race showcasing some of the most demanding and spectacular singletrack in and around Breck. Featuring over 220 miles and almost 40,000′ of total climbing, this multi-day race will bring racers all across the amazing singletrack network in Breck. Along with the epic scenery comes a well-organized event, featuring daily rider meetings, awards, well-stocked aid stations, and some of the best journalists in the cycling industry providing great coverage in the best mags and mountain bike websites.

Breck Bike Week returns each summer and allows visitors to race or partake in a diverse array of non-competitive events. Held Thursday, August 15th, through Sunday, August 18th, this festival includes high-end bike demos, BBWgroup rides, bike-in movie nights, trail building, lectures, clinics, bike fits and tunes, kids’ races and more. The bonus is that all Breck Bike Week activities are FREE and open to everyone. In addition, this week will showcase the town’s history as well as shopping, dining, lodging, other unique activities and temperate summer weather.

Circle the Summit is a great, small ride that takes place on Saturday, August 17th. Capped at just 750 riders, this non-competitive event will not have you jockeying for position to keep your line on climbs or descents. It will allow you to enjoy our beautiful scenery. Climb Ute Pass and the Gore Range is there in all its majesty; cycling along Ten Mile Creek to Copper or to the top of Vail Pass opens up even more vistas. Bike the Sapphire section of the Swan Mountain Recpath, funded in part through the efforts of Summit Biking, and you’ll be rewarded with an astonishing view of Lake Dillon and the surrounding mountains. Circle the Summit riders rave about our aid stations and our after-ride lunch from the Historic Mint Steakhouse is memorable. Register early to get one of the coveted spots.

David_Watson-Stage5_2011UPCFor the third year in a row, we are lucky to have the USA Pro Cycling Challenge making a stop here in Breckenridge. This 7-day professional cycling stage race takes the riders and the fans all across the state of Colorado, and we are excited to host the finish of stage 2 and the start of stage 3, on August 20th and 21st, respectively. Along with the energy brought in by the race itself, Breckenridge is taking it to another level with some exciting ancillary events, including daily live viewing on the jumbotron, a free Railroad Earth show, a handcycling race, a kids Strider bike race, a mountain bike race, a festival village with many vendors, a trials mountain bike stunt show, a pond crossing event, and of course a lot of great food and beer!

Although it’s still July, we are seeing more and more winter reservations each day. While it might seem early for some, many guests realize that booking far in advance will provide the best selection of rental properties. Finding that perfect 4 bedroom condo, close to ski school, walking distance to town, with pool access for the kids and free WiFi…that scenario is a common one, and there are not too many options that meet all of those criteria. Return customers know the area, and they are familiar with many of our lodging options, so the saavy ones are increasingly booking further and further in advance to get the best selection of rental properties. Additionally, if you are booking more than 6 months in advance, we only require $100 down to secure your reservation, with the remaining balance taken 3 months and then 45 days prior to arrival.

imagesSome people think they can wait til the 11th hour to reserve, in hopes of finding good deals on distressed inventory. That may be true for some times of year, but with Breckenridge being one of the most popular ski resorts in North America, coupled with the exciting new Peak 6 expansion, most often we are sold out during holidays and many popular weekends. And if you are able to find some last-minute availability in Breck during a weekend January-March, chances are it may not be the nicest or most recently remodeled unit in the property.

Don’t delay, check out our selection and book that 2013-14 ski season rental property now!

quandary-deckWith the beautiful weather so far this summer, I have been lucky enough to enjoy a lot of outdoor time with my friends and family. Although the Breckenridge summers are pretty short, they offer some comfortable temperatures with morning lows in the 40s and afternoon highs in the 70s. Having spent 18 summers now in Breck, I have patronized many of our fine restaurants and bars over the years. If you have never tried relaxing on one of the many fine decks around town, it is highly recommended! I have listed below my favorite decks, so stop on by and check ‘em out, and then you can also check out the amazing views all around Breckenridge.

  • Burke & Riley’s Irish Pub – Situated on the top floor of La Cima Mall in the south end of town, Burke & Riley’s has been a very popular outdoor spot for years. A great happy hour menu, black & tans, an outdoor fire pit, propane heaters, and amazing roof-top views of town and the mountains make this a great spot to enjoy the sun.
  • The Dredge – This unique 2-million-pound floating restaurant is a replica of one of the last operating dredges in Breckenridge. Great 360-degree views, pool and drink specials make this a popular locals hangout.
  • Kenosha Steakhouse – Having been voted “best deck in Breck” for many years, this large, west-facing deck offers spectacular ski area views and affords a lot of afternoon sun. Try out one of the 30 different beers on tap, including 20 Colorado craft beers. This is a popular afternoon location, and locals are often here playing horseshoes in the back. On the corner of Adams and S. Main, steps from the Riverwalk Center as well.
  • Empire Burger /Park & Main – In the heart of the popular La Cima Mall location, these two restaurants share deck space and offer great opportunities for people watching and enjoying ski area views.
  • Angel’s Hollow – Locals belly up to this popular establishment for burritos, fish tacos, margaritas, draft beer and much more. Their sunny back deck also provides great mountain views.
  • Quandary Grille – This popular restaurant is located right next to the Maggie Pond at the base of Peak 9, accessible from the courtyard of Main Street Station. Their sunny deck’s unique location affords beautiful views of the ski area and TenMile range. Also popular with locals, this is a cool spot if you like to play Cornhole.
  • Relish – This upscale restaurant features an intimate deck on the 2nd level, nestled among some aspen trees and overlooking the Blue River and the Blue River Plaza area. One of my favorite spots for an outdoor business lunch or enjoying a sunny happy hour. Great wine selection as well. Many like to have an early dinner here before walking over to catch an evening NRO performance at the adjacent Riverwalk Center.
  • Starbucks – Yes, this is a coffee shop. But their spacious deck faces west and also gets a lot of sun. Lounging options include tables & chairs, some with umbrellas, and some propane heaters for the shoulder seasons. Their recent remodel also added a nice indoor/outdoor fireplace.

While we were constantly getting snow in April & May, June came along and certainly Mother Nature evened things out. I don’t think Breck received more than .50″ of rain during the entire month of June. We went from seeing a more than usual amount of snow on the mountains over Memorial Day weekend, to things up high looking pretty dry right now. While the snowpack at the end of May was above average, the warmer- and drier-than-usual June certainly melted things off at an incredible rate.

The grass is green, beautiful gardens and flower baskets are all over town, and the summer tourism season is in full swing. Leading the charge amongst all popular summer events, Breck kicks off the Fourth of July this Thursday with an amazing lineup of free events around town, including a 10K trail run, 50mi mountain bike race, our famous Main Street parade, sidewalk sales, art shows, concerts and an evening patriotic pops concert.

And every weekend through August, the 2nd annual PRCA Pro Rodeo is on show just north of town off of Airport Road. The rodeo will again feature classic riding, roping and racing events, as well as mutton busting and clown appearances. The events start at 5:00p.m. every Saturday & Sunday, but arrive early for a cowboy dinner and check out the “behind the chutes” tours every weekend day at 4p.m.

Other great events during July include the Breckenridge Beer Festival on July 13th, the Breck 100 mountain bike race on July 14th, the Summit County Garden Tour on July 20th, the Side Door Trail Re-Alignment weekend July 27-28th, and of course the ongoing National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) performances and Breckenridge Heritage Alliance tours.

With the weather absolutely gorgeous as of late, I am seeing more and more people out riding bikes. That is awesome! What’s even better is that I am noticing more and more people commuting into their places of work. There are countless studies out there showing the mental and physical benefits of cycling. And certainly having fewer cars out on the highway is safer and more environmentally sound.

Each spring, many cities across the country celebrate their own Bike Months, and Bike to Work Days. Here in Colorado, June is Bike Month, and the fourth Wednesday each June is Colorado’s Bike To Work Day. The Colorado Department of Transportation offers several tips to further encourage more cyclists commuting to work.

So get on out, and if it’s only going to be once or twice a year that you ride to your place of work, let’s make it next Wednesday, June 26th. Often times, local communities will setup free pancake or doughnut stations, free minor maintenance, and more incentives to get everyone out on their bikes.



2012 Town party

Lots of fun activities over the weekend will help kick off the start to summer tourism season here in town. Tomorrow at 4:30pm, join in as locals, second homeowners and tourists alike all celebrate the end of winter (it snowed 2 weeks ago) and the beginning of our amazing summer at our annual Town Party on the Riverwalk Center lawn. Music, beer, catching up with old and new friends, watching the kids run around and much more. And keep the environment in mind and ride your bike down to the party, the Town’s Green Team is once again providing Free Bike Valet at the Sons of Norway lawn (directly south of and adjacent to the Breck Welcome Center). Although we’ve been to town parties during snowy cool weather, the forecast is looking pretty good for tomorrow!

Also starting up tomorrow is the summer service for the free BreckConnect gondola and the Fun Park up at the base of Peak 8. Take a free scenic ride on our gondola, enjoy the views of town and the TenMile Range, and if you’re lucky, you just might catch a glimpse of the wildlife in the Cucumber Gulch nature preserve. The Peak 8 Fun Park features the popular Alpine SuperSlide, the new Gold Runner Coaster, guided hikes, 4×4 off-road tours, climbing wall, mini golf, chairlift rides, mountain biking and more. The Fun Park will be open daily from 9:30am – 5:30pm through Sept. 2; then Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only through Sept. 15.

And last but not least, come and join the fun as Town pays homage to its mining heritage with the Kingdom Days celebration. The Outhouse Races are always a hit, and there will also be activities for kids, a free concert by the Luv Brothers, mine tours, gold panning demonstations, sidewalk sales, and a free concert by the National Repertory Orchestra.

As a parent of a 7-year-old who has just finished the school year, I know how hard it can be for two full-time working parents to find suitable daycare/camp options here in Summit County. Although the school year has its own challenges (who brings the child to the bus stop, which after-school activities are planned that day, etc), there seems to be more of a routine in place. But summer is more of a juggling act. Every May and June, my wife and I seem to rack our brains, creating new shared calendars on our phones so we can best coordinate where our child is going for a certain day or week. But as Cindy Bargell writes in her special to the daily, we are extremely lucky to have such a wealth and diversity of summer activities and camps available for our children.

psst! Enable your images!!Below is a list of the most popular summer camp and care options available in Breckenridge and the surrounding areas. These programs are typically more popular with local kids, but visitors too can enroll in most of these programs if they are in need of childcare for the day, or if they are here for the summer and would like a week-long camp experience for their child.