From Aspen to Vail, Colorado is known as the quintessential escape for outdoor enthusiasts and of course, world-class skiing and snowboarding. But the Centennial State has so much more to offer than the mountains and sunshine it’s known for. From sand dunes that we bet you had no idea existed in the midwest to a castle that looks like it’s a Gaudian/fairy tale hybrid, the state is filled with hidden gems that will quickly bump it up to the top of your bucket list.
The art scene is one of the best off-the-beaten-path (or at least, unexpected) aspects of Colorado, and one of the destinations that’s quickly establishing itself as more than just a ski town is Breckenridge. Breck, as locals call it, is filled with artists, creatives, musicians and writers, all of whom make up the vibrant community that has an extensive range of opportunities for self-expression and exploration.
Discovering the artists’ community in Breckenridge
From the moment you arrive in Breckenridge, it’s easy to get swept away in the picture-perfect views of the town’s colorful shops that are set against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. The quaint storefronts painted in pastel hues make it quickly apparent that you’re in the midst of an artists’ community, and visitors can stroll through more than 200 charming shops, many of which are housed in historic homes. For those looking to find eclectic boutiques filled with souvenirs from local artists and creatives, Main Street is your spot.
Wandering around the downtown area, it quickly becomes apparent that Breckenridge is rich in arts and history. With nearly two dozen art galleries and small museums in the area, Breckenridge boasts an impressive selection of visual inspiration. Many of the museums are in historic homes, and it’s incredible how much detail and historical context is packed into the small spaces. Take, for example, the Barney Ford Victorian Home, which tells the story of an escaped slave who became a prominent black civil rights leader and entrepreneur.
Embrace your inner artist
The downtown vibes are just the beginning. The Breckenridge creative community is diverse and dynamic, and offers travelers the opportunity to experience the art scene in a hands-on and immersive way.
Breckenridge has five major festivals each year that are organized by BreckCreate, a nonprofit established in 2014 to support and promote arts, culture and creative experiences in the town. Beginning with the Fire Arts Festival in January (a multi-day exhibition featuring fire-focused art and performances, which is run in tandem with the snow sculpture championships) and ending with a Dia de los Muertos celebration in October, Breckenridge’s festivals celebrate both the diversity and intimacy of the community. The town also hosts annual film and music festivals, both of which draw international crowds.
Of course, an artists’ adventure would be incomplete without the opportunity to actually create art, and Breckenridge pulls out all of the stops for both the amateur and seasoned professional.
The perfect place to unleash your inner creativity by trying something new, Breckenridge offers a wide range of daily classes, with topics ranging from forming, firing and finishing silver pendants down to wax carving.
For artists looking for something more in-depth, BreckCreate offers an artists’ residency program: curriculums that last two to four weeks and allow creatives to pursue artistic passions away from everyday distractions. Residents in the artist’s program are given the opportunity to stay in Breckenridge free of charge in exchange for providing public art services, like workshops or open studios for the community.
Get inspired on your drive in
And for those driving in from Denver (we’re willing to bet you are), there are several stops along the way that are worth pulling over for.
For anyone who’s fascinated by the art of glassblowing and are keen to try it yourself, make a pitstop in Frisco (just before Breckenridge) and visit Gatherhouse Studio. There are glassblowing demonstrations every Tuesday, a gallery-style shop in the front, and classes for all levels.
Be sure to stop in Silver Plume, Colorado, a quaint, historic town to visit the DRAM Lodge for a night. Located above the DRAM workshop (Colorado’s first wild-foraged herbal bitters, syrup and tea company), the Lodge was historically owned by the Knights of Pythias Secret Society circa 1885. Through the end of August, the Lodge has a pop up shop with bitters, houseware, art and more.
Offering travelers the perfect mix of an adventurous and creative lifestyle, Breckenridge’s growing artists’ community has a distinctive and multifaceted semblance. Through visual and performing arts, the town’s cultural heritage and history, and the opportunity for unique hands-on experiences, Breckenridge is an ideal artists’ retreat — combining the beauty of gorgeous scenic landscapes with experiences to nurture self-expression and creativity.
This post originally appeared on Millennial Magazine.
I attended a press trip for the research of this post,
as sponsored by the tourism board.
All opinions are my own.