Breckenridge. Land of Colorado’s 14,000-foot rooftop, world-class skiing and its authentic Victorian storefronts that dot Main Street, a nod to its gold mining camp days. This bustling Colorado mountain town has long been a family favorite and we have stayed in a variety of properties that included a beautiful mountain home, B&Bs and condos. However, it wasn’t until I walked on the property of the Grand Colorado on Peak 8 that I felt like I had finally arrived. “Why have we never stayed here before?” I lamented.
We planned our back-to-school Breckenridge staycation to showcase the best of Colorado to our Swiss exchange student, Maelle and The Grand delivered. This Breckenridge property is one of the most family-friendly in all of Colorado (a bold claim, indeed) with pools, a fun center, an escape room and even movie theaters. Housed at the base of Peak 8 where, literally outside of your doorstep is Epic Discovery, a bevy of Breckenridge Mountain Resort’s activities that include the Gold Runner Coaster, Alpine Slide, an interpretive hiking loop and so much more. Scroll down for all the fun!
The Grand Colorado on Peak 8
If I’m being honest, we spent a few hours on Breckenridge’s lively Main Street and then did not leave our resort again. And why would we? The Grand Colorado on Peak 8 is the ultimate family-friendly resort in Breckenridge! Not only is The Grand’s location at the base of Peak 8 ideal, but kids love the Family Fun Center and arcade, 5 private movie theaters, 2 aquatics areas including 2 indoor/outdoor pools, 7 indoor/outdoor hot tubs and 2 kids pool/play features, the gold-mine-themed Gr8 Escape Room, summer Sport Court with life-size checkers and chess, cornhole, and other fun games and outdoor grilling spaces to hang out with family and grill up some dinner.
We stayed in a gorgeous lock-off residence that gave all five of us our own space to decompress (except my husband; he was stuck with me but unsurprisingly didn’t launch any complaints in our glorious master suite). Lodging choices range from suites that sleep 4 to four-bedroom residences that sleep 16. All residences are lock-offs, so they are perfect for big or multi-generational families. Their four bedrooms have a huge living room, dining seating for 16, and 3 suite lock-offs giving everyone a private space. Parent privacy + staying connected are a win-win at Grand Colorado.
When we visited Main Street, we simply jumped on the free shuttle at The Grand that took us anywhere in Breckenridge. Another option would have been the BreckConnect gondola which runs free of charge from the center of town to the base of Peak 8 in summer and winter. We have visited many resorts over the years and there have been a variety of ways to access the activities but we had a first at The Grand: innovative watch-like wristbands that gave my teens free access to roam the property at their leisure! And roam they did. My son Bode dominated in cornhole, foosball and the life-sized chess and checkers while Maelle won at shuffleboard (the rest of the losers are still plotting our revenge; spoiler alert it happened sooner than later).
Normally, we would have reserved one of the five FREE private movie theaters, each equipped with state-of-the-art video technology for up to 15 guests with over 150 movie options for all ages. And though those upscale recliners and oversized beanbags were tempting, we knew our language barrier with Maelle would be an issue. Note to self: See if they have silent movies during our next visit.
One afternoon, we had an impromptu pool party on the deck at Building 3 (considerably less chaotic than the more family-friendly children’s pools with play features and a small water slide in Building 1). We grilled brisket on the BBQ grills. Lounged by the pool soaking in the mountain views. Introduced Maelle to iconic games like “What Time is it, Mr. Shark.” Had underwater swimming competitions when Bode ran headfirst into the wall (one word: payback). Sometimes our best memories are those that just unfold naturally and, in our family, sometimes involve blood.
Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Mountain Resort
Peak 8, just steps outside of The Grand, is the launching pad for some of Breckenridge’s most epic adventures at Epic Discovery. Mountain Biking. Bungee Trampolines. Gold Summit Climbing Wall. Mini Golf. Gemstone Panning. Alpineer Challenge Course & Alpine Camp. And for the little littles: The Lil’ Climber Ropes Course, Lil’ Flyer Zipline and Lil’ Nugget Tubing.
Someone recommended we start with the Alpine Slide early in the day before it got too busy (sound advice). We had a blast cruising down the mountain in our summer toboggan but if you prefer speed without the fear of crashing, the Gold Runner Coaster is for you. Our gravity-propelled sleds were sloooowly transported to the top of the track and the downhill is adrenaline-fueled! Each sled is individually controlled so riders can ideally control the speed at which they zoom. However, if you are timid or have a timid child, be considerate of the rider behind you and implore the staffers to leave a little bit of extra space so they can have a full-throttle experience. Be sure to secure any loose items because, according to the tally at the bottom, the staff has found everything from hats to cell phones to an air-fryer. Sounds legit.
We made a brief stop at the Gemstone Panning activity where the water runs through a series of troughs called a sluice. We received a bag of mining rough, dumped it into a screen tray, lowered it into the trough and sifted away. Thirty seconds later, we had a treasure trove of quartz, pyrite, onyx and garnet. We boasted to Maelle THAT is how gem-panning is done in the USA. She later went on to get a hole-in-one at mini-golf, showing us how it’s done in Switzerland.
We then soared up the Colorado Super Chair for a bird’s eye view of three of Colorado’s famous 14ers. Destination: The Alpineer Challenge Course. Unlike many ropes courses where you are forced in a singular line through the course, this one is in a choose-your-own-adventure format with 15 fun features that include a log walk, rope swings or the Challenge of Death (thus nicknamed by my husband). When we received our security briefing (participants must be between 72-220 pounds and of sound mind), my husband proved to be quite the opposite. As the staffer told us about the one incredibly difficult challenge that stumped most people, Jamie channeled his inner American Ninja Warrior, [barely] fought his way through it and his upper body was sore afterward. The Challenge of Death is not recommended for middle-aged men trying to relive their glory days.
Breckenridge Activities for Families
We started with a short walk to Isak Heartstone, a 15-foot tall wooden troll tucked away in the forest near the Stephen C. West Ice Arena. Some other family-favorite hikes in Breckenridge are the Burro Trail, Sawmill Creek or Carter Park, all just a stone’s throw away from Main Street.
We headed down to Main Street and indulged in Sancho Tacos’ unique Southern fried chicken tacos with honey chipotle mayo as well as many classics like barbacoa and pork carnitas. Another family favorite is building our own sweet or savory crêpes at Crêpes à la Cart, a cozy outdoor creperie/food truck that requires huddling around the small firepit in the winter for survival (it’s worth it).
As my children have grown, so have their interests but I still took them to some of their childhood favorites. We shopped Main Street (Magical Scraps Boutique & Studio, a vibrant shop with darling local finds) and for old time’s sake, I dragged them into their second childhood home Peak-A-Boo Toys…and couldn’t drag them out. Some things never change.
One of my favorite Breckenridge traditions is hanging out at Blue River Plaza where lazy summer days found us playing at the mini playground and sandbox. We’d cross the bridge to throw frisbees on Riverwalk Lawn, play in the Blue River while listening to the live music at the Riverwalk Center and leisurely stroll the bike path. I couldn’t convince them to do any of these things but as we passed the plaza, our interest was piqued by a colorful street magician. We lined up front and center for his delightful trickeries with ropes, balls, nails in his nose, card tricks and someone’s $20 that somehow ended up in a kiwi.
I watched my teens, delighted and awed, and realized that while our traditions may be changing, Breckenridge has so many opportunities to build new memories.