Breckenridge, Colo.: Rank 11 West, 1998

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Some resorts excel on the slopes. Others shine after the lifts close. But it's a rare resort that succeeds at both. Enter Breckenridge, where your thrill on the slopes is equaled by your après-ski buzz. "Good snow, good town, good food, good nightlife," sums up one reader. This year, the Victorian village resort made a leap from No. 22 to No. 11. "The two new high-speed quads help spread people out," observes one reader. That's a good thing because the intersections between the four peaks can get congested. Locals know that the best way to ski Breck is to pick a peak, hammer it for half the day, then head to another. (Experts should try Peak 10). Breck boasts 2,031 acres, so you can ski it for a week and still not explore everything. At the end of the day, roam the town's galleries and shops (Tom Girl is a must), then visit Cafe Alpine, with its impressive wine list and tapas, or Swiss Haven for authentic fondue. Still have energy? Main Street is lined with pubs that rock all night. For a mellower evening, locals head to The Olive, a jazz bar, and then finish the night downstairs at Cecilia's for martinis. No matter where you end up, you'll have fun. And that's what Breckenridge is all about. The ultimate testimonial? "I want tolive there," a reader concludes.

What's New The Ten Mile Station mid-mountain restaurant on Peak 9; improvements to the Vista Haus; renovation of the Great Divide Lodge; additional snowcats for grooming.
A Good Deal From Jan. 4 through Feb. 11, stay and ski for four days and you get a fifth night of lodging and a fifth day of skiing free. Call (800) 427-8308.
Medals Gold Après-Ski, Off-Hill Activities, Family; Silver Snow, Grooming, Terrain, Challenge, Lifts, Service, Weather, Access, Lodging, Dining, Scenery.
High/Low Rank Off-Hill Activities (5); Value (49).
Don't Miss Peak 10 is colder than the other peaks, and is no place for intermediates, but it's where the local hardcores head.
Reader Remarks à‚ˆ"Something for everyone¿on and off the mountain." "Needs more day-skier parking and better shuttle service."