Has Breckenridge got you itching to see more of Colorado? This Rocky Mountain resort town is in a prime spot to explore Colorado by embarking on some of the best day trips from Breckenridge. On your journey, you’ll encounter natural wonders, rich history, and plenty of outdoor pursuits.
Stunning nature awaits you at every turn on a quick drive from Breckenridge. Soak in the hot pools of Glenwood Springs, conquer the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park, or go whitewater rafting in Buena Vista. Delve into the history of the Colorado gold rush in Leadville. Or head to the creative districts of Denver for edgy artwork and outstanding gastronomy.
Ready to take your itinerary up a notch? Get the complete Colorado experience with this guide to the top-rated Breckenridge side trips!
Top-rated Breckenridge side trips
Looking for a unique city trip? It’s only a one-hour and 45-minute drive from Breckenridge to the beautiful city of Boulder. No longer just a hippy hub, the beautiful Colorado mountain town has a thriving arts and culture scene. Pretty Victorian houses, street performers, and farmer’s markets make Boulder an idyllic place for a Breckenridge side trip.
Sprawling under the cliffs of the Flatirons, Boulder is known for its vibrant streets, independent businesses, and stunning natural surroundings.
Start your day in Boulder in the soul of the city. Pearl Street Mall is four blocks long but has over 200 boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Browse an eclectic mix of antiques, precious stone jewelry, and handmade gifts. Before continuing to tour the top Boulder attractions, stop for lunch at one of the street-side restaurants and watch the world go by.
Within easy reach of Boulder is plenty of outdoor beauty to explore. Spend a few hours relaxing and kayaking on the Boulder Reservoir, take the short waterfall hike to Boulder Falls, or explore Chautauqua Park. One of the most popular attractions in Boulder, this sprawling area features 40 miles of hiking trails, a restaurant inside a landmark building, and plenty of hidden history.
For one-of-a-kind outdoor adventures, head to Glenwood Springs. The town is famous for its natural resources, outdoor activities, and interesting history. It’s a one-hour and 40-minute drive from Breckenridge and packed full of things to see & do.
The hot springs are one of the top tourist attractions in Glenwood Springs. The geothermal area is home to Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, believed to be the largest mineral hot spring in the world. Soak in two large pools or indulge in a treatment at the award-winning spa.
Check out Iron Mountain Hot Springs for a series of 16 different soaking pools and a large freshwater family pool. Need even more pampering? Visit the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves, once used in rituals by the Ute Indians.
Now that you’re rejuvenated, it’s time to get active again. Cycle the Rio Grande, white water raft the Glenwood Canyon, or hike Red Mountain. Get underground and explore the caves of Glenwood Caverns or visit the mountain amusement park of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Back in town, you can delve into the history of Doc Gunslinger by visiting his gravesite and the Doc Holiday Museum. Finish with Rocky Mountain Oysters on one of the pretty riverside, courtyard, or rooftop restaurants.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Make sure to take a Breckenridge day trip to one of the best parks in the United States. Rocky Mountain National Park is around two hours and twenty minutes from Breckenridge. Sprawled across the Continental Divide are 147 lakes and over 60 mountains, reaching towering heights of over 3,658 meters.
In Rocky Mountain National Park, you can choose from 300 miles of hiking trails and spot wildlife like big horned sheep and moose on the way. Take pretty hikes in the Bear Lake Area, or check out Kawuneeche Valley. Here you’ll find the Coyote Valley Trail and the fascinating Holzwarth Historic Site.
If you’re up for more driving, take epic routes like Trail Ridge Road. At 12,000 feet, it’s the highest paved highway in the US. The head-spinning views on the wide overhangs offer endless perspectives of the surrounding peaks.
For a creepy experience, head to the town of Estes Park to check out Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining. Among the top things to see in Estes Park, The Stanley Hotel is still a fully operating hotel and offers tours of some of the film’s locations.
Hot Sulphur Springs
If you’re feeling stiff from all the outdoor activities, drive over to Hot Sulphur Springs. The small town is only an hour and 20-minute drive away from Breckenridge. Named after its many hot springs, it’s an idyllic place to switch off for the day.
Spend a luxurious afternoon at the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa. Soak in the 22 outdoor pools against the imposing backdrop of the Rockies. The warming sulfur pools are packed with minerals that will benefit your body and mind.
Not ready for a chill-out day yet? Spend some time at Pioneer Park. The lush green area offers 20 acres of wildlife. Take the easy one-mile hike or fish in the Colorado River. Or bring along a frisbee and join in with the locals for some disc golf.
Get a sense of Hot Sulphur Springs’ history at the Pioneer Museum. Here you’ll find recreations of 1900s cabins, schools, and a railway station. Find the pretty church with a small bell tower, or get lost in the corn maze. Check the events schedule for informative tours and live re-enactments.
Spend an afternoon exploring the quirky Idaho Springs. It’s around one hour from Breckenridge and just outside of Denver. Famous for kickstarting the Colorado Gold Rush, this town is dripping with unique heritage.
Discover the Idaho Springs’ mining history at the Argo Mill and Tunnel, the world’s largest preserved gold mine. Take a guided tour of the mills and tunnels, or try out some gold panning for yourself.
Challenge yourself with some white-water rafting on Clear Creek. Cruise down fir tree-lined valleys and tumble over thundering rapids. There are technical routes available for all levels and you can combine your trip with a ziplining tour.
Wrap up your day at the Indian Hot Springs. The healing powers of the springs were once used by the Ute and Arapaho tribes. Float in the mineral water swimming pool, laze in the outdoor whirlpools, or descend into the earth and soak in the geothermal cave baths.
Pack some extra snow in with a day trip to Vail. The world-class ski area is less than one hour away. It’s the largest ski area in the state, with over 5,000 acres of terrain to tear up.
Spend winters conquering the seven black bowls or spend summers in the beautiful mountain scenery. Ride the chair lifts to peak side hikes like Berrypicker Trail or bike the challenging bowls of the Two Elk Trail.
See the mountains in style on the Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster, one of the top tourist attractions in Vail. The epic rollercoaster takes you across 3,400 feet of alpine scenery. Go slow and take in the views, or ramp up the speed and feel the wind whipping your face.
Vail’s pretty fairy tale village is a charming way to finish your day. European-style architecture, an iconic clock tower, and pedestrianized streets will transport you to a Bavarian winter wonderland. Feast on a delicious gourmet meal or squeeze into a crowded bar for thumping live music.
Take in the relaxed mountain atmosphere of Buena Vista. This laid-back and beautiful Colorado mountain town sits between the Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas River. It’s around an hour and 15 minutes from Breckenridge and will serve up a day of epic Colorado adventures.
The 8,000 feet of elevation gives you a base to discover outstanding mountain scenery at every turn. Kickstart your day by renting an offroad jeep. Tumble over Buena Vista’s dirt roads and reach some of the highest peaks.
Want to ramp your adventure up a notch? Do it by mountain bike instead. Routes like St Elmo will take you to the mysterious remains of the Colorado Ghost Town of St Elmo and all the way up to Tin Cup Pass. From 12,100 feet, you can take in panoramic vistas of Mirror Lake or visit the rustic semi-ghost town of Tin Cup.
Spend your afternoons cooling off at The Buena Vista Whitewater Park. The largest whitewater park in Colorado offers opportunities to crash over the rapids via raft or river tube. You can also keep it mellow with some kayaking or paddleboarding. Or, if you’re ready for a break, lean back at one of the waterside restaurants and watch the action unfold.
Make your next Breckenridge side trip to “the main street of the Rockies.” People flock to Frisco thanks to its ideal location for recreational activities. It’s only a 20-minute drive away and perched beside the stunning Dillon Reservoir.
Frisco’s main street has quaint traces of the Colorado Silver Boom against the backdrop of vast mountain scenery. Wander the cute outdoor stores in colorful wooden cabins, curl up in a cozy coffee shop, or step back in time at The Frisco Historic Park & Museum. Here you can explore original buildings from the 1900s, including the Frisco Jail and the Frisco Schoolhouse.
As well as exhilarating mountain activities from the nearby Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin, you’ll have plenty of fun at the Dillon Reservoir. The vast blue waters have 27 miles of shoreline, overlooked by snow-capped peaks. Rent a sailboat and glide across the idyllic waters or go fishing and embrace the peaceful mountain air.
Soak up Colorado history in the Victorian town of Leadville. The former mining town is a unique day trip from Breckenridge. It’s only one hour away and well worth the drive for interesting history, pretty scenery, and outdoor fun.
History buffs will be in heaven in Leadville, with historic walking tours, mine tours, and a great selection of museums. Discover an underground world at The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. With over 250 great mining stories of the past and surface tours of the Matchless Mine, you’ll leave heartbroken, excited, and inspired.
The history doesn’t stop for your lunch break at Silver Dollar Saloon. Colorado’s oldest saloon has been in operation since 1879. Surrounded by wooden beams and quirky bar booths, you can tuck into hearty meals like elk meatballs and pork belly sliders.
If you’d rather keep your Leadville trip outdoors, spend your day at the Twin Lakes for kayaking, fishing, and paddleboarding in crisp alpine waters. Or hike the Turquoise Lake Trail. The easy trail gives you unbelievable viewpoints of the vivid lake below.
When planning your side trips from Breckenridge, make sure to add in time to explore Denver. The Mile High City is iconic for its outdoor scenery mixed with 19th-century architecture and trendy city districts. It’s only one hour and 30 minutes from Breckenridge, but if you’re only visiting Denver in one day, leave early so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the city.
Denver is a city packed to the brim with culture. Stir your creativity by browsing the Golden Triangle Creative District or with a trip to the Denver Art Museum. Make sure you make a stop at the Colorado State Capitol, one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Denver. Whether you’re an architecture buff, a history nerd, or just want a good holiday photo, this opulent building will deliver.
Denver’s walkable town center, great weather, and over 200 parks will maximize your time in the great outdoors. Check out the blooming Denver Botanical Gardens or take a detour to the iconic Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.
As Denver is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, you’ll find a dynamic music, arts, and gastronomy scene to sink your teeth into. The funky River North District is packed with graffiti-covered bars, restaurants, and galleries housed inside modern warehouse conversions. It’s the perfect neighborhood to end your 1-day Denver itinerary!
Embrace your free spirit at Manitou Springs. The sacred water here was drunk by the Native Americans long before settlers discovered it. Today it’s a bohemian paradise with colorful streets, a buzzing arts scene, and independent boutiques.
Manitou Springs is a two-hour drive away, but it’s one of the best day trips from Breckenridge. Take a walking tour of the springs and sample the healing power of the different mineral waters. Ride through spectacular Colorado scenery on Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the highest cog railway in the world.
A must-visit while in Manitou Springs is the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Venture into an immersive experience under a red sandstone overhang. Red brick replicas blend seamlessly into the space beneath. The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are restored from Ancient Puebloan architecture, and you can touch and linger in any part of them as you take a self-guided tour.