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A Weekend in Summit County: Breckenridge, Keystone & More

Spring and summer in Colorado send locals to the Summit County towns of Breckenridge, Keystone, Frisco and Silverthorn for a mountain getaway chock full of ways to enjoy the warm weather.

Lake Dillon, a Summit County, Colorado, recreation hot spot
Lake Dillon, a Summit County, Colorado, recreation hot spot

Consider a weekend in Summit County for yourself, appropriately nicknamed “Colorado’s Playground.”

Day 1

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.

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.

Then, head west to Frisco for an afternoon on Dillon Reservoir, where you can rent canoes, kayaks or paddleboats at the Dillon Marina. 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. 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 path for miles of road-bike spinning.

For something different stop into Frisco’s VIVE Float Studio, gravity- and sensory-free environment where you’ll passively rest in the restorative and curative powers of float therapy, which 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. 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.

Day 2

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 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.

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.

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. 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.