Taking in Downtown Breckenridge

The Riverwalk pond at Breckenridge

The drive to Breckenridge is so beautiful through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The town itself has a quaint downtown feel with appealing buildings, unique gift shops, and a beautiful Riverwalk where outdoor concerts, music festivals and activities are held. There is a pond on the Riverwalk that has a floating restaurant that used to be an old dredge. When I stopped to feed the fish at the pond, I saw some river otters frolicking around in the water.  There are hanging flowers everywhere along the sidewalks that make this summer town look beautiful, peaceful and inviting.

 

“The Dredge” floating restaurant at Breckenridge

We  went strolling along the main street shops.  The sidewalks are clean and wide with easy access to all the storefronts.  There are inviting benches placed along the route and bus service convenient to all parts of town.  Parking is tight along the main street, but ample parking is available on both sides of town.

There are many unique shopping opportunities in Breckenridge. At Creatures Great and Small, there were chain-saw carved animals.  The detail was amazing and the workmanship very exquisite.

Another shop, Breckenridge Spice Merchants,  was full of every kind of spice you could imagine including some I never heard of.  The smells wafting from that spice shop enticed shoppers to come in.  I picked up a bag of Applewood Spice for meats.  I tried it as a rub on grilled steak and it was delicious!

If you love art work, the town boasts several shops with amazing local artists featured.  Beautiful sketches, paintings and photography line their walls.  Breckenridge Art Gallery has been in operation for 30 years!  The town also displays a quaint historical museum at the Breckenridge Welcome Center that shows off it’s proud history as a mining town to the up-and-coming resort town we know today.

With the view of the beautiful mountains surrounding the downtown and all the quaint shops and easy beautiful walking paths, Breckenridge is a top visit in the summer.  It will quickly become a favorite destination when it’s warm.

Travel Coach,

Linda

 

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Travel & Leisure’s Top Resorts: Which do we offer?

Osprey at Beaver Creek

Osprey at Beaver Creek

Mountain Reservations is proud to offer 12 of the top 50 resorts in the Continental U.S. We pride ourselves in offering our customers the highest quality vacation options for the best value.

Check out some of our amazing properties:

  1. Montage Deer Valley, Park City, UT
  2. Little Nell, Aspen, CO
  3. Four Seasons Resort, Vail, CO
  4. Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek, CO
  5. Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, CA
  6. St. Regis Deer Valley, Park City, UT
  7. Waldorf Astoria, Park City, UT
  8. Stein Eriksen Lodge, Park City, UT
  9. Amangani, Jackson Hole, WY
  10. Pines Lodge, Beaver Creek, CO
  11. The Sebastian, Vail, CO
  12. Osprey at Beaver Creek, Beaver Creek, CO

Destination Expert, Amy Ochoa

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Great Dining Options at Breckenridge

Empire Burger is a great sports bar.

There are over 93 different dining options in Breckenridge.  For a unique experience, you could try the Dredge, a 2,000,000 pound floating restaurant on the Riverwalk.  It was the last dredge operating on the pond in 1942 and converted to an interesting dining option.  Or try something as entertaining as Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant, a spin off the movie Forrest Gump starring Tom Hanks.  When you enter, they will ask you trivia questions about scenes in that famous movie.  Have your game on!

The Breckenridge locals are not hesitant to tell you their favorite restaurants. Here’s a list by catagory:

Breakfast-Columbine Cafe

Pizza-Giampietro’s

Bakery – Clint’s Bakery

Steakhouse-Steak & Rib

Sushi-Wasabi

Burger-Empire Burger

Beer-Breckenridge Brewery

Sports Bar-Fatty’s Pizzaria

I decided to try a couple of these out for myself.  I had an amazing Kona Burger at Empire Burger.  This sports bar has lots of television viewing options from the bar as well as the seats.  The service was fast and friendly.  And if you order french fries or onion rings, be prepared to choose from one of 15 specialty sauce choices.

Giampietro’s is worth the wait.

Giampietro’sItalian is difficult to get into. You have to expect a 45 minute wait during prime hours.  Once you get inside you understand why. There are only a few tables on one side of a small restaurant.  They are really known for their pizzas, which the locals will tell you are worth the wait.  If you’re not that patient, order carryout!

Breakfast at Columbine Cafe

Another local restaurant, Columbine Cafe, is great for its rustic atmosphere and known for its wonderful breakfast.  I tried the Columbine Benedikt with hashbrowns.  It was absolutely delicious.  My husband tried the Corned Beef Hash breakfast. It was so good he was insisting everyone at the table grab a fork and sample it.

I was not disappointed with Fatty’s Pizza.  The restaurant had a tempting, mouth-watering smell that lured you through the door to take a seat.  When the pizza arrived, we wolfed it down.  It was absolutely delicious!  The friendly staff and relaxing atmosphere were welcoming.  This is a great place to hang out.

With so many dining options in Breckenridge, foodies will not be disappointed.

Travel Coach, Linda Barsch

 

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Mountain Biking the Rim Trail at Snowmass Aspen

This summer, I was able to visit the wonderful resort of Snowmass in Colorado.  While I was already a big fan of the resort in the winter, I was thrilled to learn of all the activities and fun things for my family to do during warm, balmy days including hiking, mountain biking, mountain boarding, rafting, kid’s camp and more!

I decided to try out the Mountain Biking on one of the classic, cross-country rides at Snowmass – The Rim Trail.

Rim Trail, Snowmass Mountain Biking, Aspen

The Rim Trail – Snowmass Resort

I left from my conveniently located 3 bedroom vacation rental right on the slopes at Snowmass.  This unit at Woodrun Place had everything my family of 6 needed for a great summer home base – a pool and hot tub, bike locker room and, of course, the best slope-side location.  I pedaled out from Woodrun Place and across the Fanny Hill run and through the Village mall to the base of the Rim Trail.  From the trail head it is a steady climb up the switchbacks to the crest of the mountain.  It took me about 20 minutes to get to the top, where there is a beautiful view of Snowmass resort and a nice resting spot with a memorial.

Rim Trail, Snowmass Mountain Biking

View from the top of Climb 1

From there, the Rim trail starts to resemble its name.  The ride is nice and flowy, up and down across the mountain ridge with beautiful mountain and valley views on both sides.  The trails here are as luxuriously smooth as the expensive leather coats worn by the Aspen glitterati in town.  I don’t think I saw an out-of-place root or rock the entire ride!  After another climb to the next peak, it was a nice long and smooth downhill to the bus station at the base of Snowmass resort.

Rim Trail, Snowmass Mountain Biking

The view from the Rim – Beautiful Riding

From there, I followed the bike path along the golf course back to the base village and my condo.

All in all, it was a terrific ride, and one that I would recommend to any cross-country mountain bike rider.  The climbs are tough but predictable and well spaced.  The entire ride of 11 miles took me 2 hours and 15 minutes, but stronger riders could easily do it in 2 hours.  I managed to burn over 1300 of the calories I had consumed the night before at the outstanding seafood restaurant Pacifica in downtown Aspen.  (Try the Seafood Risotto, and the Butterscotch Pudding – Incredible!)

If you’d like to explore Snowmass in summer or winter, let the Destination Experts at Mountain Reservations help you reserve the perfect vacation condo for your trip!  Visit www.mountainreservations.com, or call 1-800-754-9378.

Julian

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Relaxing Lake Tahoe Lodging

North Side of Lake Tahoe

North Lake Tahoe – Hyatt Regency

We checked in around 6:30 pm on a Thursday evening, just before Memorial Day.  The complimentary champagne offered at check-in was a very nice touch.  Coming from a night of camping, it was refreshing to check into a hotel and be able to shower and relax.  Our valet was quite talkative and congenial and had a lot of recommendations for things we could do while we were staying at the hotel.  He escorted us to our upgraded king room which had LOTS of space and nice furnishings.  The nightstands on each side of the bed had motion sensor lights that came on when you stepped out of bed – very useful at night.  The bathroom had a rain shower head, which I love!

Our first night there we went over to the hotel’s private beach and although it was a little chilly, we had a good time sitting by the fire pit and chatting with other guests.  We walked out on the pier to watch the sunset.  We could feel our stress and tension quietly slipping away.  The next morning we went for a walk down the path that the valet had suggested when we checked in and then hung out on the private beach again.  Although the weather wasn’t warm enough for sunning or swimming, it was very beautiful and peaceful for hanging out.  The pool at the hotel was a great spot for laying out and had a small bar/grill poolside for guests.  We spent a few hours at the pool the two days we were there.

Everyone we came into contact with was very friendly and had recommendations for where we should eat and what we should do.  One place recommended for breakfast was The Log Cabin and it was so good we ate there twice!  Several hotel employees remembered our names, which was very nice.  There were a lot of little touches that made the experience very pleasant and memorable.

South Side of Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe – Aston Lakeland Village

Saturday we drove down the west side of Lake Tahoe and were mesmerized by the beauty of the lake, particularly Emerald Bay.  We got into South Lake Tahoe around 6:00 pm and checked into our condo at Aston Lakeland Village.  The place we were staying had a bedroom and bathroom on the main floor and two more beds upstairs in the loft.  The kitchen was nice and fully equipped and the living room had comfortable chairs and couches.  It was a great place to spend a couple of days.  The owners had a journal in the kitchen for guests to write in about themselves and their experiences in Lake Tahoe.  It was fun to read about some of the other people that had stayed where we were staying.  After we checked in we walked down to the beach to watch the sunset.  The view was spectacular!  It was fun walking in the sand and waiting for the sun to go down.

The next morning we were lucky enough to go on a short cruise of Lake Tahoe.  Again, the weather wasn’t particularly warm for being on a boat, but it was sunny and beautiful and a very fun experience.  There were a lot of activities to do in town as well as around the lake and I wished we had had more time to enjoy a hike or two.

Destination Expert, Andrew Bornstein

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Breckenridge Family Fun Park Activities

 

Alpine Slide at Breckenridge Fun Park

If you’re looking for a fun family activity, load up the car with the kids and drive over to Breckenridge, Colorado, for a sunny weekend.  Breckenridge has built an amazing family-friendly Fun Park that won’t disappoint you.  From your condo in town, the gondola takes you right up the mountain to the Fun Park.  It is a beautiful ride.  The gondola is a walk-on, glass-enclosed, 4 seater that glides over tree tops and beaver ponds where you might catch a glimpse of a furry swimmer with big teeth.  If you’re not into heights, there is also a free bus that circles regularly from the village to the park.  The Fun Park has something to offer everyone, including the family canine.  There’s an enclosed doggy park, a childcare area, a Starbucks to settle down with a warm cup of coffee and an eatery to tame the hungry beasts.

When you’re ready for some fun, the choices of activities meet all kinds of needs too.  You can start with the exciting mountain coaster.  Each coaster can seat a single rider or you can put a small guest in front of you.  The cart gets pulled up the mountain on its own.  It’s nice to look around while you’re getting towed up the mountain.  The flowers are in bloom and the air is crisp, with a hint of the chill yet to come.   When you reach the top and start down the rails, be sure to use the brake minimally.  Your coaster can get going excitingly fast!

The thrilling Roller Coaster ride at Breckenridge

Next get in line at the ski lift for a ride up to the alpine slide.  If you like speed, go for track C.  Track A and B can be used for racing a friend.  You do need to use your brake on this track or risk running off the course and getting a fast ride to the local hospital for a full day tour there!

Another fun activity is the Human Maze.  If you decide to try this challenging activity out, be sure to have lots of patience.  It isn’t as easy to find the exit as you would think.  I got turned around over a dozen times before I finally saw the end.  I have to admit I was pretty proud of myself for not giving up.

Patience is needed for this Challenge

There are some really fun activities for your younger ones.  Their kid-friendly activities include panning for gems in a running water trough, rubber duck racing down a watery slope, a bouncer to strap in to and flip around on and an easy miniature golf course to hit balls on.

I recommend getting the day pass for everyone.  It is such a fun area, your family will easily spend hours there having a blast.  Be sure to take lots of pictures!

Travel Coach, Linda Barsch

 

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5 Tips for a Healthy Vacation

Jenny Lake

Maintaining a healthy routine in your day-to-day life can be difficult. Maintaining a healthy routine while travelling is more than most people’s will power can manage. Even when travelling to a destination known for its active lifestyle, the temptation to trade whole food for fast food and exercise for entertainment can be irresistible. To stay on track, you need a game plan. Here are some tips my wife and I found helpful on our recent road trip to Jackson Hole.

Pack a Picnic Lunch – Even if you never eat them at home, a fast food burger seems to be the standard meal on a road trip. Instead, pack a cooler with cold cuts, a veggie tray, or anything else you’ll enjoy eating cold and plan to stop somewhere nice along the way. Rest stops and town parks usually have picnic tables, facilities, and a pleasant atmosphere. We stopped at a picnic area along the banks of the Logan River. Lodgepole pines and the rushing river provided a much nicer ambiance for our lunch than fluorescent lights and drive through traffic.,

Stay in a Condo Instead of a Hotel – In a condo with a full kitchen, you can keep your usual snacks in the fridge. With a healthy option close at hand, you’ll be less tempted to run to town for ice cream or a pastry. You can also cook your own breakfast instead of eating out.  Restaurant breakfasts often contain more than half your recommended daily calorie intake.  If you aren’t in the mood to cook one morning, order an omelet, but hold the sides. Skipping the fried potatoes and toast with jam will cut the calories dramatically.

Pack Your Gym Bag – Many hotels have an on-site fitness center. What’s less well known, however, is that renting a condo or home often comes with access to an off-site fitness center nearby. When renting in Teton Village, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to visit the Teton Sports Club, located in the Aspens neighborhood about halfway between Teton Village and the town of Jackson. In addition to an array of cardio and weight machines, the Teton Sports Club offers Pilates, spinning, and ski fit classes at no extra charge. You can also attend a Crossfit class for an extra fee. When you make your lodging reservation, be sure to verify that your specific vacation rental comes with fitness center access, as it’s up to individual owners and property managers to offer that amenity to their guests.

See the Sites on Two Wheels – This is easier to do in some destinations than others. In 2012, Jackson/Teton County was named one of only 16 Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists. The award recognizes the area’s system of bike paths as one of the best in the country. The pathways parallel many of the major roads in the area and can be used to travel from the town of Jackson, into Teton Village, or north into Grand Teton National Park.  We rented bikes from Dornan’s near the Moose entrance to the park and rode eight miles north to Jenny Lake. Despite the imposing mountains the park is known for, the terrain in the valley floor is very flat, making for an easy ride. The ride from Moose to Jenny Lake took about 40 minutes each way.

Ethan and Sarah riding to Jenny Lake

Kill Two Birds With One Stone – Get your entertainment and exercise together at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The museum offers free yoga outdoors on the sculpture trail every Thursday at 10:00 am during the summer. In addition to displaying enormous bronze statues of wildlife, the museum offers an excellent location for viewing the real thing in the wild. Spread across the valley floor in front of the museum is the National Elk Refuge. While the elk leave the refuge in search of higher altitude and cooler temperatures during the summer, Trumpeter swans, Great Blue herons, and song birds can still be spotted.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas for making sure your next vacation is a blast, without sacrificing your healthy lifestyle.

Destination Expert, Ethan Young

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Taos Ski Valley Celebrating 60 Years

Welcome Sign to Taos Ski Valley

The drive from the quaint town of Taos to the ski valley is a pleasant 19-mile trek through beautiful New Mexico mountain landscape. The elevation steadily climbs to 9,200 feet when you arrive at the remote Taos Ski Valley.

Ernie and Rhoda Blake, Founders of Taos Ski Valley

The Taos Ski Valley was founded by Ernie and Rhoda Blake in 1954.  Ernie grew up in Switzerland but immigrated with his family to America.  After he learned to fly single-engine aircraft, he used one to spot a great place to start a ski resort, the old mining town of Twining. It was the perfect location for his dream.  Taos Ski Valley was born.

This next season, Taos Ski Valley will be celebrating 60 years as a resort. They will be honoring all of the past skiers that have hit the slopes and taken in the ski valley’s grandeur and beauty and all of the future skiers who will experience this little charm of a resort for generations to come.

Snakedance Condominiums

After my recent visit to Taos Ski Valley, I had the pleasure of staying at the popular Snakedance Condominiums where I stayed in a spacious 2BR / 2BA unit.  The unit sleeps six comfortably with about 1100 sq ft of space. The full kitchen boasts granite countertops and a side-by-side fridge. The bathrooms are tiled and have beautiful granite countertops as well.  No worries on proximity to the slopes from this property.  You will find yourself less than 10 yards from the Lift One quad, the main access point to the mountain. This is a slope-side resort with shops and restaurants literally out the door and steps away!

Destination Expert, Susan Makkai

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Taos-the Place That Time Forgot

Taos, New Mexico

Taos is the kind of place that time forgot.  The town’s residents have been doing things their way for 30 years and will likely continue for another 30.  Taos Ski Valley is a bit up the road from the town but has a similar rustic vibe.  That’s not to say there aren’t modern amenities.  We stayed at the Snakedance condominiums and I was very impressed with our condo’s furnishings and appointments, everything was newer and nice.

Snakedance Condominiums 

There are a ton of great places to eat in and around Taos.  The Bavarian had a large german beer selection and wienerschnitzel the size of a manhole cover!  It was delicious!

The Taos Diner

The Taos Diner had a wonderful breakfast spread including grass fed beef and local ingredients.  Michael’s Kitchen is another breakfast spot and I ordered the “Christmas Tree breakfast burrito” whose name will make more sense when you see it!

Dining at Michael’s Kitchen

My favorite meal of the trip was at Aceq.  The lamb short ribs, caprese salad, Hamachi cones and fried chicken were all amazing.  They have a rotating menu, a great beer selection and super friendly waitstaff.  If you are looking for a foodie restaurant near Taos Ski Valley, Aceq is your place.

Earthship Made of Recycle Bottles

We did do some activities in between all the eating.  I recommend checking out the earthships, radically sustainable buildings just outside of town as well as the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge just down the road.  The Taos Pueblo is a unique place; people have been living there continuously for over 1000 years.  There are lots of great artists who have little shops in the pueblo and they were all very friendly to us. Taos is a great place to dine and explore!

Destination Expert, Andrew Bornstein

 

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Top Three Things to Do in Mammoth in the Summer

The Column Tops of Devil’s Postpile

If you’re planning a trip to Mammoth Lakes this summer, don’t miss out on these top three activities; hiking Devil’s Postpile, mountain biking on Mammoth Mountain, and getting spooked in the Ghost Town of Bodie.

To get to Devil’s Postpine, you will need to hop on the shuttle.   As the shuttle makes it’s way to your destination, be sure to sit on the driver’s side for some amazing views.  You will also notice a large area with fallen trees.  The damage was from a 200 mile wind that went through the area in the fall of 2012.  The amazing thing is that Mammoth Lakes had very little wind that same day.  After the shuttle stops, head to the trail head.  The hike is relatively easy with very little elevation gain.  Devil’s Postpine is a unique geologic formation and ranks as one of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt. I would recommend hiking to the top of the Devil’s Postpine to see the view from the tops of the columns. The columns are very slippery so watch your step. The view is stunning!

Options at Mammoth

I would next recommend mountain biking on Mammoth Mountain.  You can take the lift to the top of the mountain and ride all the way down to the bottom. I would recommend using body gear because the trails have a good deal of loose, shale rock that will keep you alert and give the ride an extra challenge.  The trails are single-track but they wide enough for two bikes to pass. When you look from the top of the tram you have several trail options to get to the bottom. Mammoth Mountain does have a bike trail map so you can choose the perfect trail for your ability.

Ghost Town near Mammoth Mountain

Finally, a must see would be the Ghost Town of Bodie. This is a very interesting ghost town that really isn’t that old. The last person to move from this town was in the 1940′s. When you look through the windows into the interior of private residences or stores you will see remains of items as they were left. The town of Bodie was a thriving gold mining town in the late 1800′s and residences left when the mining started to slow down. The town had several brothels, saloons and gambling halls for the residences to spend their earnings.  All of them are interesting enough to peek at.  Make sure to bring sunscreen when visiting this town because you will want to be here for several hours.  I would recommend paying the $5.00 for a tour of the town with the ranger that lives there full time.  He can regale you with all the local stories and legends.

Destination Expert, Brenda Whitlock

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