Spring and summer in Colorado send locals to the Summit County towns of Breckenridge, Keystone, Frisco and Silverthorne for a mountain getaway chock full of ways to enjoy the warm weather.
Consider a weekend in Summit County for yourself, appropriately nicknamed “Colorado’s Playground.”
Days 1 & 2
Start the day scoring deals and perusing nearly 70 name-brand stores, including the Gap, J. Crew, Banana Republic and Coach, at the Outlets at Silverthorne. Counter your shopping with a trip down to the water. Silverthorne’s Blue River Trail runs parallel to the outlet shops and provides access to the river’s Gold Medal trout-filled waters and scenic walkway.
Grab items for a picnic and head for the new Maryland Creek Park, with amazing views as your lunchtime companion.
Watch how far your ball flies through the thin mountain air while teeing off at one of Keystone’s two 18-hole championship courses, Keystone Ranch and the Keystone River Course. Or bring the family to Keystone Resort for the bike park, scenic chairlift ride, summer snow-tubing, horseback riding, mountain-top yoga and more.
Then, head west to Frisco for an afternoon on Dillon Reservoir, where you can rent canoes, kayaks or paddleboats at Frisco Bay Marina (or the Dillon Marina if you continue on to Dillon). After exploring some the lake’s 25 miles of shoreline, stop off at the Peninsula Recreation Area for a round of disc golf and loads of picnic sites perfect for spreading out with lunch from one of Main Street’s tempting delis, breweries (including the acclaimed Outer Range Brewing Co.) and chef-owned eateries. You’ll also find several maker spaces: a drop-in art studio, a glass-blowing shop, a millinery, a guitar maker and more.
The Frisco Bay Marina now rents Hobie Eclipse pedalboards (with handlebars and stair-step pedals), and also has a sandy beach and a lakeside watering hole that serves up delicious dark and stormy cocktails. The Frisco Bike Park has pump track, slope-style and dual-slalom courses, and the town has access points to more than 80 miles of paved recreation paths for miles of road-bike spinning.
The Frisco Adventure Center has expanded its offerings of bike park, disc golf and winter tubing hill to include a mammoth new skate park and a bouldering aarea for kids.
For something different stop into Frisco’s VIVE Float Studio, a gravity- and sensory-free environment where you’ll passively rest in the restorative and curative powers of float therapy. This is especially popular with high-performance athletes seeking healing and restoration.
Bring a blanket to the newly revamped Dillon Amphitheater for an evening lakeside concert, truly one of Colorado's best-kept secrets. Throughout the summer, the pavilion hosts performances, concerts and dance nights. The Dillon Theatre Company has a new home at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center if you’re up for more mountain culture.
Or head over to Copper Mountain, where a scenic chairlift can take you to a mountain-top barbecue restaurant or to the top of a downhill mountain-bike course or rugged hike. Run the kids blissfully ragged on the zipline, bumper boats, climbing wall, go-karts, hydro bikes, summer-snowpark sessions and more. The Friday Dillon Farmers Market is a must visit for delicious fare and entertainment — and probably one of the best farmers’ market views in the world.
Breckenridge boasts a vibrant “made-in-Breck” food and beverage scene. Grab breakfast at one of the more than 70 independently owned restaurants, or some caffeinated inspiration at The Crown coffee shop. Then, hop on your mountain bike and hit the trails; many of them are converted wagon routes and mining paths. If you prefer pavement, jump on the Ten Mile Recreational Pathway. Named for the adjacent mountain range, the 50-mile paved path connects the entire county.
For more heart-thumping amusement, race down the slopes on the Gold Runner Coaster, an elevated alpine track that’s part of the new summertime Epic Discovery program. You can also test yourself on the Alpineer Challenge Course, reach new heights on the Gold Summit Climbing Wall, embark on several hiking trails and much more.
In the afternoon, head to downtown Breckenridge, where locally owned boutiques will taunt you with everything from designer cupcakes to designer jeans and fancy, imported olive oils and vinegars to fancy, imported cigars. Explore the 200-structure historic district on foot; Breck is one of the state’s emerging art towns, hosting second-Saturday art walks and a growing number of studios, galleries and shops holding workshops on subjects like metal-smithing and green beauty.
And just south of town, pay a visit to Isak Hearstone, a friendly and gigantic wooden troll that’s captured hearts and social media posts throughout the land.
While Colorado rakes in praise for its craft-brewing culture (which you can experience at the Breckenridge Brewery), the distilled-spirits bandwagon has been taking on passengers. Breckenridge Distillery was one of the state’s pioneers, and you can drop by for tours or step into its tasting room to sample their award-winning bourbon whiskey or its sipping bitters made from locally harvested herbs; the distillery also operates a farm-to-table dining experience (with a killer cocktail menu, of course) that means you’ll never have to leave! Meanwhile, The Cheese Shop of Breckenridge is the perfect spot to pick up all the fixins for a picnic — cheese, cured meats, chocolates and more. Additionally, Après Handcrafted Libations has 30 craft brews on tap and a variety of spirits from Colorado distillers.
Breckenridge’s Free Ride Transit System makes it easy — and complimentary — to get around town, complete with its own app showing real-time bus locations and maps; the town is also quite walkable and very bike friendly. Use Summit Stage buses to venture to other parts of Summit County, also at no charge.
Visiting in Winter?
Keystone Resort, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin are four reasons Summit County is known worldwide as a top winter destination. Just a short trek up scenic I-70 from Denver, find all types of ski and snowboard terrain (including Breck’s 543-acre expansion on Peak 6), as well as other enchantments like snow tubing, sleigh and dogsledding rides, snowmobiling, Nordic trails and much more. Amtrak also operates its Winter Park Express route January through March, between Denver's Union Station and Winter Park Resort for skiers and boarders looking for a relaxed ride to the slopes. (Train service will resume for the 2021/2022 ski season after taking a break in 2020/2021.) Check out the Summit Huts Association’s new Sisters Cabin for a backcountry hut experience in Weber Gulch. An 8-mile groomed recreation path also links Breckenridge with the Frisco Adventure Park, perfect for cross-country skiing and winter fat biking.
Check out our Field Guide itineraries: 5 Days in Summit County: Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco, Breckenridge & Keystone, Summer in Frisco and Your Adventurous Summer in Breckenridge.