Breckenridge is known for its famous outdoor activities from historic tours and gold panning to biking, hiking and paddling. If a rainy day dampens your plans, don’t let your spirits get you down. There are still plenty of fun things to do in Breckenridge on a rainy day with activities for the whole family.
The gold miners didn’t mind a rainy day because they were busy underground searching for gold. You can explore the inner workings of a gold mine at Breckenridge Heritage Alliance’s Washington Gold and Silver Mine Tour. With an experienced guide, don a hard hat and explore 200’ of reconstructed mine tunnels and miners’ cabins and view artifacts of historic equipment. Learn what it means to get hit by the ‘ugly stick.’ When the weather clears, try your hand at gold panning and keep what you find.
Hit the Books
Breckenridge’s South Branch Library is a cozy place to hang out on a rainy day, and take in a history lesson at the same time. The spacious library occupies the old gymnasium at the original Breckenridge High School, built in two phases in the early 1900’s. Now the handsome brick building offers a separate children’s library, youth room, and teen room. All ages can enjoy the comfortable seating in front of the fireplace or the best views in town from the magnificent rounded windows with old wavy glass.
Historic features include the descriptive mural with a time line of the building and vintage photos, and a handmade quilt honoring the community’s past. Breckenridge’s Mather Archives are also in this building - make an appointment to peruse old maps, photos, and manuscripts.
Tour Town on the Trolley
The free Main Street Trolley passes some of Breckenridge’s most iconic and interesting historic buildings. A half-hour loop will take you on miles through downtown Breckenridge with nary a drop of rain on your umbrella. Get on and off at the same stop for the full experience.
This narrative starts and ends at the Breckenridge Welcome Center and describes the view on the sidewalk side of the bus.
From the Welcome Center, the bus heads south on Main Street. Modern shopping malls soon make way to historic homes. Away from the original downtown business section of Breckenridge, residences lined Main Street, like the squat yellow home surrounded by cottonwood trees, now housing Starbucks.
The trolley soon turns east onto Boreas Pass Road, the original route of the narrow-gauge railroad that served Breckenridge from 1882 to 1937. If the weather is cooperating, disembark at the Ice Arena for two interesting side trips: the High Line Railroad Museum and Isak Heartstone, the Breckenridge Troll. Or bookmark these locations for a future visit on a pleasant day.
At the Ice Arena, the trolley will turn around and begin its journey back north through downtown Breckenridge and into the Historic District. At the corner of Main Street and Washington Avenue, Barney Ford’s stately home is tucked off the roadway, because his restaurant occupied the commercial frontage. Visit Barney Ford Victorian Home and learn more about this early crusader for human rights and universal suffrage.
The trolley crosses Washington Avenue and suddenly the architectural style changes. Instead of old houses, now we see false front buildings typical of a business district in early mining towns. Intended to give substance to an otherwise simple building, false fronts made a business look larger and more successful, while providing plenty of wall space for signage and descriptions of the services offered inside.
The trolley turns around at City Market, built in 1987. Now the trolley is heading south again back toward the Welcome Center.
The 100 Block of South Main street was Breckenridge’s most rollicking district, boasting 19 saloons in the mining hey-day. For a fun and in-depth look at Breckenridge’s saloons, dance halls and early night life, take the Behind Swinging Doors Saloon tour, perfect for a rainy evening in town.
After the Blue River Plaza, the trolley returns to the Welcome Center where you can disembark after the full half-hour loop. If your interest in historic homes and buildings is piqued, sign up for the Walk Through History Tour. And if the weather is still uncooperative, this is the perfect place to start a visit to one of our many excellent museums.
Visit a Museum
Breckenridge boasts several history museums with topics to satisfy a wide variety of interests. The Welcome Center Museum is a perfect introduction to Breckenridge history, from the first gold strike through modern-day living. The Summit Ski Museum tells the story of the evolution of skiing and snowboarding. The Barney Ford Victorian Home explains the life and times of this fascinating historical figure who escaped enslavement to become a successful businessman, entrepreneur and crusader in early Colorado. The Edwin Carter Discovery Center includes an excellent children’s interactive exhibit and the opportunity to learn about this early naturalist. The Red, White, and Blue Fire Museum tells the history of fighting the "fire demon" here in Breckenridge and display original equipment and uniforms from the later 1800s.
Looking for more ideas for rainy day activities in Breckenridge? Check out this article from the Tourism Office. With so many interesting and enticing things to do on a rainy day in Breckenridge, you might wish for stormy weather day (or two!) while you are here.
written by Leigh Girvin