Breckenridge with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

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Breckenridge with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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Most ski towns have kid-friendly programming, but when the lifts close, 8 to 12 year olds are left to their own devices. This usually means television time or video games, but did you really come all the way to Colorado to have your kids sit around staring at a screen? I think not.

Believe it or not, Breckenridge family vacations can be full of activities that are intellectually stimulating for parents and fun for kids. This former Victorian mining town has maintained its historic integrity and preserved it in a manner that combines entertainment and education. Here are a few things to do in Breckenridge with tweens.

Morning

While you can enjoy many off-slope activities during ski season, summer is one of the best times for Breckenridge family vacations. The weather is cooler and less humid than most family-friendly vacation spots, and lodging is considerably less expensive. When in Breckenridge with tweens, I'd recommend staying at the Fireside Inn Bed & Breakfast and Hostel on historic French Street. The Organ Loft Family Room here is great for a big crew and features a double bed, six single beds and its own shower. Summer rates, according to 2010 prices, are $88 per night. That's per room, not per person.

In addition to the terrific price, this classic Victorian-style inn has quirks the kids will love. The décor has a unique ski-lodge vibe, amenities include a hot tub, and the owners have two standard poodles that bring a certain charm to the place. A delicious breakfast is provided daily for a small charge, as well. So, start your perfect family day here with homemade pancakes, French toast, oatmeal and eggs -- and perhaps a few tasty surprises.

Fireside Inn Bed & Breakfast and Hostel
114 N French St
Breckenridge, CO 80424
(970) 453-6456

After enjoying a hearty breakfast, take the kids across the street to visit Father Dyer United Methodist Church. This church is the life's work of Breckenridge legend, Father Dyer. During the mining era, he went from town to town delivering the mail and sharing his faith. There were no buses, trains or cars in the mid 1800s, so skis were his means of transport. The church has a stained glass window that depicts Dyer on his skis, but Dyer's small cabin, located next to the church, is the must-see when you're in Breckenridge (with tweens to please, there's got to be a twist). You'll have to go into the church office and ask for the cabin key, which they will gladly provide. Although it appears tiny from the outside, the cabin is surprisingly spacious on the inside. Your kids will likely find the bunk bed, stove and cooking utensils intriguing, especially if they imagine themselves setting up camp here. It holds all the appeal of a tree house or top-secret fort. Admission is free.

Father Dyer United Methodist Church
310 Wellington Rd
Breckenridge, CO 80424
(970) 453-2250


The Country Boy Mine is next on the list of things to do. This Breckenridge mine, founded in 1887, is the oldest in the Summit County area. Its history will engage mom and dad, but the experience of wearing a hard hat and descending 1,000 feet underground has an unparalleled coolness factor for tweens -- especially when they discover that the mine is possibly haunted. The young and young at heart can slide down a 55-foot mining chute, pet the local burros and pan for gold, all of which may mitigate the $18.95 adult and $12.95 child fee.

Country Boy Mine
0542 French Gulch Rd
Breckenridge, Colorado 80424
(970) 453-4405
Summer Hours (Mid May – Labor Day): Daily 10AM– 4PM
Fall Hours (after Labor Day – October): Monday – Friday (closed Sat & Sun) 11AM, 12noon, 1PM
Winter Hours (Wed before Thanksgiving – April 30): Wed – Sunday 11AM, 12noon, 1PM
Admission: Adults $18.95, Children (4-12) $12.95, School groups $7

Afternoon

Breckenridge family vacations simply must include a visit to Crepes A La Cart, so plan to lunch here. A favorite among locals and tourists alike, this restaurant's banana and Nutella crepe will put a smile on even the crankiest kid's face. The Grilled Chicken Delight, filled with chicken, broccoli and cheddar cheese, might even teach your kids to like broccoli. Crepes A La Cart is also conveniently close to the Barney Ford House Museum -- your next stop.

Crepes A La Carte
307 South Main Street
Breckenridge, CO 80424
(970) 453-4022
10AM–10PM
Crepes range from $7 - $8
(Credit cards are not accepted)

Most eight to 12 year olds have studied the Civil War. The Barney Ford House Museum experience puts their studies into a real-life context. Ford was the child of a plantation owner and a plantation slave, and the story of his escape from slavery is exciting, even for kids who have little interest in history. His mother was ambitious and her desire for her son to have an education prompted her to steal books. This allowed young Barney to teach himself to read. Later, while working on a steamship, Barney arranged to jump off and fake his death. Through a subsequent series of complex events, he ended up in Breckenridge where he became a highly successful restaurateur. In looking at his picture, you would swear that he was Caucasian, but Ford identified himself as Negro, which was the term used at the time. His story is inspiring for both kids and adults.

The house itself is beautifully decorated and features furniture typical of the era. Be sure to check out the phonograph in the music room. It's an Edison, which predates the classic RCA phonograph. Engage your kids by telling them that this was the 1800s equivalent of an iPod – an unexpected opportunity to connect Breckenridge history with a tween's modern-day consciousness. After exploring the interior of the home, venture outside and explore the grounds. The front lawn was once a pet cemetery, and you can still see the animal headstones.

Barney Ford House Museum
111 East Washington Ave
Breckenridge, CO 80424
(970) 453-5761
(970) 453-9767
Tues – Sun: 11AM–4PM
Admission is free

Evening

Top off your perfect, rather history-themed day with a stroll along the Blue River. If the kids are up for another history lesson, draw their attention to the abundance of rocks along the shoreline. These rocks are the remnants of dredge mining, the method used to gather gold from the bedrock from 1898 until 1942. While this method was much more efficient than gold panning, it was also more destructive. The huge dredge boats destroyed the local soil, as well as many of the buildings on the west side of the Blue River. Dredge mining was eventually discontinued, and the remnants of the boats were used for ammunition during World II.

This background information prepares you to visit the famous floating Dredge Restaurant & Bar. Located along the Blue River and housed by a replica of an original dredge boat, this establishment offers entrees the entire family can enjoy. If your tweens are picky eaters, staples like burgers, grilled cheese and fish sticks are available, usually for less than 10 dollars. Adult entrees range from $20 to $28 and include a delectable, pistachio-encrusted Rocky Mountain Trout sautéed in sweet amaretto butter – a local delicacy.

Dredge Restaurant & Bar
180 Jefferson Ave
Breckenridge, CO 80424
(970) 453-4877
Reservations recommended

After dinner, stroll along Main Street and window shop, or stop in one of the quaint boutiques for a souvenir. Then, head back to the inn and enjoy a good night's sleep. You'll need it because there are plenty of other fun things to do tomorrow! Breckenridge family vacations are filled with endless possibilities – that's for certain.

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