May can be a bit of a mixed bag in Breckenridge. While most places are in full-on spring, the Colorado high country is still transitioning out of winter. The good news is May is a great time to visit Breckenridge. You won’t fight the crowds like you do other times of year and generally, the weather is still pleasant – with a stray snowstorm thrown in from time to time. Here are some great things to do in Breckenridge during what locals affectionately call “mud season”.
Whether or not you consider yourself a museum-goer, visiting one of Breckenridge’s museums should be on your list. All of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance museums are free (donations appreciated of course). My favorite is the Edwin Carter Discovery Center in the heart of town. Carter was an 1800’s miner turned naturalist. In a world before the EPA and the Sierra Club, he practiced taxidermy as a way to preserve animals that he thought would go extinct from exposure to chemicals used in mining. He was a curious, mysterious man who never married and slept among his specimens. The museum was refurbished several years ago and now features a variety of hands-on exhibits. It’s a great interactive space for kids – with its own dedicated children’s room. There’s also an award-winning 20-minute film in the museum’s theater that’s worth watching if you have the time. For families with children, I recommend heading to the Prospector Park playground (adjacent to the museum) after visiting the Edwin Carter Museum.
I also suggest you check out the Barney Ford Victorian House Museum and Summit Ski Museum – both free and located downtown. Barney Ford was an escaped slave who prospered and became one of Colorado’s most wealthy and prominent 1800’s citizens. You’ll be blown away by his story of perseverance and fortitude. The Summit Ski Museum highlights the history of skiing in Breckenridge from the 1860s to today, including the history of the Breckenridge Ski Resort. Hard to believe but there was a week during Breckenridge’s first ski season in 1962 when there were only two paying customers! This is a great museum for everyone, but particularly those interested in skiing and snowboarding.
High Line Railroad Park & Playground
For those visiting Breckenridge with kids in May, I recommend stopping by High Line Railroad Park and playground. The park’s museum doesn’t open until June, but the railroad-themed playground is typically clear of snow by the end of April. Children love climbing on the giant locomotive play feature and blowing the Engine No. 9 whistle. Several picnic tables dot the park – it’s a great spot for a family picnic if the weather cooperates.
Iowa Hill Hike
Most trails in the Breckenridge area are still snow covered in May. The Iowa Hill trail loop is one of the earliest trails in the area to dry out. It’s only 1.5 miles long – a perfect walk for beginners and families. The trail is dotted with artifacts and interpretive signs from the former Iowa Hill Mine so it’s hard to get bored. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance offers a guided hike at Iowa Hill on Mondays. If Mondays don’t work for you, we can arrange a private hike for a small fee.
The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance offers a variety of guided walking tours in May. Depending on what you’re interested in, you can select from the historic district tour, saloon tour or haunted tour – all offered at different times. A great adults-only option is the saloon tour which will take you to some of Breckenridge’s earliest watering holes – and includes samples at the Breckenridge Distillery tasting room on Main Street. The historic district walking tour is a great way to see Breckenridge with a local expert. Most of our guides have lived in Breckenridge for more than 10 years – some are going on 30 or 40 years – so you’ll feel like a local by the time you’re done with this tour.
If you’re in Breckenridge on Memorial Day, we offer an hour-long commemoration to honor fallen members of the military. You do not need to live in Breckenridge to attend this event – it’s free and open to residents and visitors. The non-denominational program is held at Breckenridge’s historic Valley Brook Cemetery, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. If you stick around, one of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance guides will give a free tour of the historic cemetery at the end of the program.
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written by Larissa O'Neil