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I Break for Breckenridge

Breck1

Some people love Vail. Others love Aspen. Or Gstaad. Or Burke. But when it comes to Colorado ski/snowboard resorts, Breckenridge seems to be the one for me. A big part of that is because it's an intermediate skier's paradise with plenty of long but challenging enough blue runs. Advanced skiers won't get bored though — they can head to the Back Bowls. For snowboarders, the terrain park is a major draw (it has some jumps for skiers too).

The best time to be at Breckenridge is any time after a big snow storm, so you can sink knee-deep into the powder and feel yourself float right through it. Currently the conditions there are "packed snow" according to the official  website. I don't feel too bad for them — the temps have been in the 40s during the day. (But I will feel a little bad if the projected thunderstorm really does hit on Wednesday.) The last time I was there was late December 2007 and it was absolutely freezing — we would wait for it to warm up in the mornings to 0 F. That's right, zero degrees Fahrenheit was the actual temperature. I didn't even want to know what was with the wind chill. So while that may have been unusually cold for December, there's something to be said for spring skiing.

Of course, the slopes aren't the only reason why I love Breckenridge. Unlike a lot of Summit County resort towns that are purpose-built (e.g. the attractive Austrian-style Vail and the unattractively modern-ish Copper Mountain, Breckenridge is a real town with history. It was established in the 1850s as a mining town and now boasts Colorado's largest historic district. The little town is full of charm with lots of fun apres ski (and later) options like Downstairs at Eric's, Ullr's and The Mother Loaded Tavern, a kitschy spot where you can make your own s'mores. It also offers fancier restaurants like Blue River Bistro, Hearthstone and the trendy (for Breck) Modis.

Breckenridge was recently profiled in the New York Times but it doesn't really attract too many New Yorkers (except for this one, of course). That's probably because Breck lacks the glam factor of Vail, Beaver Creek and Aspen (and as a result is less expensive overall). It seems that you'll find more Texans, Midwesterners and even Southerners. But I think that's great — it makes it feel like a true getaway.

If you're at all enticed to visit Breckenridge for some skiing or snowboarding, you'd better hurry. The season ends on April 19th. Breck has been impacted by the recession and there are plenty of last-minute lodging deals to be had. USA Today reported that there's a 24% vacancy rate for spring break lodging, which was sold out last year at this time. So, get yourself on a flight to Denver and drive the 90 miles to Breckenridge. While you're there, you can easily spend a day at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Copper and Arapahoe Basin — if you can tear yourself from Breck, that is.

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