Shopping, Dining and Spa-Going Small in Breckenridge

Breckenridge by Night

I love the idea of Small Business Saturday, the latest shopping initiative added to the Thanksgiving weekend holiday shopping kickoff. Thank you American Express. I’ll take that any day over Black Friday and grey Thursday (which sadly looks as though it’s here to stay). It should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of boutique-y places. Where would we be without our small businesses? We’d certainly live in a charmless world. I love places with personality and soul. I think you most often find those characteristics in something small.

In Colorado, we are well served, especially in mountain towns such as Aspen, Telluride, Crested Butte, Vail and more. This past summer I discovered Breckenridge, Colorado for the first time, yet another Colorado mountain town that offers picture-postcard views at every turn. Even their Starbucks is adorable! Breck’s main street is filled chock-a-block with a plethora of small boutiques and restaurants. I also discovered a spa that won me over by its intimate, relaxing feel.

Starbucks in Breckenridge

Breckenridge, like most of Colorado’s other mountain towns, offers a beguiling experience punctuated with Victorian architecture, western facades, mountain views and a river walk and alpine garden that skirts a meandering river (or frozen stream depending on the season). Whether it’s snowing or brilliantly bright, this setting conjures up warm and fuzzy feelings the likes of which you’d find in a Norman Rockwell painting. Add to that folks padding about in everything from flip flops to ski boots (sometimes both on the same day) and you have a town that seizes the senses of residents and visitors alike.

Shopping at Sol Impressions

Don’t let all the quaint facades of Breck’s establishments fool you though because not all are worthy of discerning travelers’ attention. Indeed, the main thoroughfare boasts a jumble of brightly-colored buildings—some historic, some not—that house everything from hippie emporiums to T-shirt shops to outdoor outfitters to one-of-a-kind boutiques that feature handpicked gift ideas for people (and pets) of every stripe. If you’re like me, you’ll bypass the onesies that say “iPooped” and head straight to the goods and experiences of quality.

Not surprisingly, Breck’s dining scene varies as much as its shopping. Skip the turn-and-burn restaurants that cater to the tourists (I actually fell prey to one) and instead, consider my recommendations outlined below. I suggest you allocate the better part of the day for shopping, lunch and a massage or spa treatment, then head back out in the evening for drinks and dinner. Let my suggestions serve as your guide, however, I’m sure you’ll unearth other good addresses on your own. Please post them here as a comment when you do.

The Perfect Antidote to Too Much Shopping: A Massage at Sol Impressions

Sol Impressions Massage Studio, 117 S. Main Street, 970-453-2085

I love going to beauty boutiques and massage studios in Telluride and on the road. (See Telluride’s Beauty Boutiques.) I’ve found that these small establishments provide a restful, soothing experience unlike what you encounter at the larger spas. These are the places frequented by locals and wherever I go, I like going local. (Note that many of the therapists in these smaller places also work in the larger facilities where you’ll pay more for the same treatment.) Sol Impressions began as a massage studio and now offers a range of other spa treatments, private yoga instruction and shopping for beauty products and other zen-inspired needs. Julie, the owner, gives an excellent facial replete with lots of hot, steamy towels and a supply of serums and creams that leave your skin super hydrated. Between this and the grass green walls and billowed ceilings, you’ll leave here feeling like you emerged from a lush garden of Eden.

French Kiss

French Kiss, 226 S. Main Street, 970-485-4992

French Kiss Linens

Owned by Anita and Russ Halpern, this newly-opened, European-styled boutique will please Europhiles and other discriminating shoppers with its choice selection of fine linens from France and other lovely gift ideas. There’s nothing like French linens and here Anita has done a fine job of sourcing out some of the most heartwarming for the bed, bath and table. Cozy pajamas and unisex robes are also showcased here—all at equally alluring prices. Have fun poking around this darling shop for other interesting items such as Eiffel Tower wine glasses, lavender laundry spray and even torches for making your own crème brûlée. And since there’s no longer a bookstore in Breckenridge, Anita has honed a selection of books on everything from French design to Astérix. She’s also selling my new book, “A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France.” Anita is a woman of impeccable taste and shopping here is a delight, a real breath of French air.

Holly and Ron Stein, 226 S. Main Street, 970-389-5301

Stop into this gallery/boutique just behind French Kiss to behold a flourishing collection of handcrafted jewelry and objets. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and you’re sure to be inspired by their uniqueness, many of which feature talismanic words, striking stones and recycled materials.

A Holly Stein Creation

Magical Scraps Boutique & Studio, 310 A. Main Street, 970-453-6023

This is one of those feel-good stores where you can easily scoop up a bundle of brightly-colored gift items for yourself and others. Hats, bags, belts, togs and more fashioned from fabrics reminiscent of Marimekko bedeck the interior of this little Victorian house like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Craft-oriented shoppers can rejoice in buying these joyful fabrics from the bolts in the back.

Magical Scraps

Wandering Daisy, 326 S. Main St. B, 970-547-8044

Set in off Main Street in a courtyard, this small shop flourishes with a garden-full of random gift ideas including hand-knit hats, cards and yes, a daisy barrette.

Valleygirl, 125 S. Main Street, 970-748-5008

Mountain chic, fashion forward clothing and accessories and fun, funky womenswear mark this ladies’ boutique as one of the valley’s favorites. With locations in Avon (near Vail), Aspen and here in Breckenridge, you can bet that Valleygirl embodies the best of Rocky Mountain style.

Fresh Soap Company, Town Square Mall, 970-423-7194

Fresh Soap Company: One More Niche Boutique in Breckenridge

Step into this little shop to peruse (and buy) a lush collection of vegetable-based soaps, all handmade on the premises. They look good enough to eat which is not surprising since they’re made from olive and coconut oil, shea and avocado butter, goat’s milk and more. Just what we need for the dry, Rocky Mountain climate.

Samadhi Healing Arts Studio, 201 S. Ridge Street, 970-445-8450

Call ahead to this wellness spa to book an appointment for a Swedish or Thai massage. You won’t be disappointed and they will set you on your way to better inner peace and holistic health.

The Lovely Andrea from Samadhi Healing

Fruit Tarte from La Française French Bakery

La Française French Bakery, 411 S. Main Street #3, 970-547-7173

Enjoy real French sandwiches, breads, pastries and crêpes at this lovely bakery that also features many spots to sit and enjoy their delectable goods. In the summer, you can even eat outside by the river. Breakfasts here are the talk of the town, most likely because their omelets are served with a huge piece of crunchy baguette.

The Motherloaded Tavern, 103 S. Main Street, 970-453-2572

Here’s a good place for lunch, happy hour, dinner—just about anytime you’re hankering for some of mom’s home cookin’ in a fun, kitsch-y décor. Food offerings such as deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes and juicy burgers served with matchstick fries are as inspired as the Campbells soup can-stowed silverware found on the tables. Be sure to scope out their main dining room, their bar/lounge in the back and their rear patio.

The Gold Pan Saloon, 103 N. Main Street, 970-453-5499

This old watering hole has been wetting folks’ whistles since 1879. Situated in the most historic end of town, walking into this dark, no frills saloon surely makes you feel like you’ve landed in the Old West. Belly up to the oldest bar in Breckenridge, order a beer and breathe in the flavor of this mining/ski town outpost. If you’re lucky, there will even be a bit of acoustic guitar.

Giampietro’s Pizzaaaaaa

Giampietro Pasta & Pizzeria, 100 N. Main Street, 970-453-3838

If you read “Eat, Pray, Love” then this is perhaps how you envisioned the luscious pizza-eating scene in Naples. Pizza here tastes so delicious that you will want to pick it up with your hands and you won’t care if the juice rolls down your chin. Giampietro offers lots of terrific pasta dishes to choose from as well along with freshly made salads. I love the Old World feel of this trattoria where you dine on red-and-white checked tablecloths on tables that practically spill out-of-doors in the summer. Top your meal off with a tiramisu; like most everything else here, it’s homespun, memorable and reasonably priced. Be sure to put your name on the list and then plan to have a drink somewhere until you’re beeped. No sense in waiting in the line that typically forms at their door.

That’s it for now. Remember to send me yours in the form of a comment.


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