Aspen, Colorado is a world-renowned ski resort town nestled in the Rocky Mountains, with a unique blend of culture, adventure, and natural beauty. Known for its luxurious amenities, top-notch skiing and snowboarding, and stunning views, Aspen has been a popular vacation destination for decades. Whether you’re looking for a winter wonderland or a summer escape, Aspen has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll provide an in-depth look at everything Aspen has to offer, from outdoor activities to dining and entertainment.
Outdoor Activities in Aspen
Aspen is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with endless opportunities for adventure in every season. Here are some of the top outdoor activities in Aspen:
Skiing and Snowboarding
Aspen is home to four ski resorts – Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass – which offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. Each resort has its own unique terrain and atmosphere, so be sure to explore them all.
Hiking and Biking: During the summer months, hiking and mountain biking are popular activities in Aspen. With over 300 miles of hiking and biking trails, there’s a trail for every skill level. Some popular trails include Maroon Bells, Hunter Creek Trail, and Rio Grande Trail.
Rafting and Kayaking: The Roaring Fork River is a popular spot for rafting and kayaking in Aspen. There are many local outfitters that offer guided trips, or you can rent your own equipment and explore the river on your own.
Golfing: Aspen is home to several world-class golf courses, including the Aspen Golf Club and the Snowmass Club Golf Course.
Dining and Nightlife in Aspen
Aspen is known for its luxurious amenities and dining options are no exception. From high-end restaurants to cozy cafes, there’s something for every taste and budget in Aspen. Here are some of the top dining and nightlife options in Aspen:
Matsuhisa: Matsuhisa is a world-renowned Japanese restaurant in downtown Aspen, known for its sushi and unique fusion dishes.
Ajax Tavern: Located at the base of Aspen Mountain, Ajax Tavern is a popular spot for apres-ski drinks and dining. The menu features American comfort food with a gourmet twist.
The Red Onion: The Red Onion is a historic Aspen bar and restaurant, dating back to 1892. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, with live music and a lively atmosphere.
Belly Up Aspen: Belly Up Aspen is a live music venue that features both local and national acts. It’s a popular spot for nightlife in Aspen.
Cultural Attractions in Aspen
Aspen is not just a destination for outdoor enthusiasts, it’s also a hub of cultural activity. From art galleries to museums, there’s plenty to explore in Aspen. Here are some of the top cultural attractions in Aspen:
Aspen Art Museum: The Aspen Art Museum features contemporary art exhibitions, lectures, and educational programs. Admission is free, making it accessible to everyone.
Wheeler Opera House: The Wheeler Opera House is a historic venue that hosts a variety of events, including concerts, film screenings, and theater productions.
Aspen Historical Society: The Aspen Historical Society preserves and shares the history of Aspen through exhibits, tours, and educational programs. The society operates four historic sites in Aspen, including the Wheeler/Stallard Museum and the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum.
Accommodations in Aspen
Aspen is known for its luxurious accommodations, but there are options for every budget. Here are some of the top accommodation options in Aspen:
Aspen offers a wide range of lodging options, from luxurious hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts. Here are some top picks for accommodations in Aspen:
- The Little Nell: Located at the base of Aspen Mountain, The Little Nell is a luxurious five-star hotel that offers ski-in/ski-out access, world-class dining, and an array of amenities. The hotel also features a rooftop pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and a spa.
- Regis Aspen: This elegant five-star hotel is located in the heart of Aspen and offers easy access to shopping, dining, and nightlife. The hotel features a heated outdoor pool, a full-service spa, and a restaurant that serves contemporary American cuisine.
- Limelight Hotel Aspen: This modern boutique hotel is located in downtown Aspen and offers easy access to shopping, dining, and entertainment. The hotel features a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and a restaurant that serves locally sourced cuisine.
- The Gant: Located on 5 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, The Gant offers a range of accommodations, from one-bedroom condos to four-bedroom luxury residences. The property also features three outdoor heated pools, hot tubs, a fitness center, and a restaurant that serves American cuisine.
- Hotel Jerome: This historic hotel was built in 1889 and has been a beloved Aspen landmark ever since. The hotel offers luxurious accommodations, a full-service spa, and several dining options, including a classic American bistro and a sophisticated lounge.
Where to Eat in Aspen
Aspen is home to a vibrant culinary scene, with a range of restaurants that serve everything from casual pub fare to gourmet cuisine. Here are some top picks for dining in Aspen:
- Matsuhisa: This Japanese restaurant, owned by famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa, offers an array of sushi and other Japanese-inspired dishes. The restaurant also features an extensive wine list and a sake selection.
- The White House Tavern: This cozy restaurant serves American comfort food, including burgers, sandwiches, and salads. The restaurant also features a popular outdoor patio.
- Ajax Tavern: Located at the base of Aspen Mountain, Ajax Tavern serves upscale American cuisine, including burgers, steaks, and seafood. The restaurant also features a lively après-ski scene.
- The Wild Fig: This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant offers a range of dishes, from wood-fired pizzas to seafood and pasta. The restaurant also features an extensive wine list.
- Element 47: Located in The Little Nell, Element 47 is a fine-dining restaurant that serves contemporary American cuisine. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list and a selection of craft cocktails.
What to Do in Aspen
Aspen offers a wealth of outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and shopping options. Here are some top picks for things to do in Aspen:
- Skiing and Snowboarding: Aspen is known for its world-class ski resorts, including Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, and Aspen Highlands. The resorts offer a range of terrain, from beginner slopes to expert runs.
- Hiking and Biking: In the warmer months, Aspen offers a range of hiking and biking trails, including the Maroon Bells and the Rio Grande Trail.
- Cultural Attractions: Aspen is home to several cultural attractions, including the Aspen Art Museum, the Wheeler Opera House, and the Aspen Music Festival and School.
- Shopping: Aspen is known for its high-end shopping, with a range of designer boutiques and art galleries. Some top shopping destinations include the Aspen Art Gallery, Gorsuch, and Pitkin County Dry Goods.
- Hot Air Balloon Rides: For a unique perspective on Aspen’s beautiful scenery, consider taking a hot air balloon
Aspen is a popular destination year-round, offering plenty of activities no matter the season. Some popular year-round activities in Aspen include:
- Skiing and snowboarding in the winter, with four ski areas to choose from.
- Hiking and mountain biking in the summer, with over 300 miles of trails in the area.
- Fly fishing on the Roaring Fork River.
- Golfing at one of the area’s scenic courses.
- Attending one of the many festivals and events that take place in Aspen throughout the year.
Getting to Aspen
Aspen is located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, about four hours from Denver by car. The closest airport is Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, which has direct flights from several major cities in the US.
Once you arrive in Aspen, getting around is easy thanks to the town’s free shuttle service. The shuttle runs between Aspen, Snowmass, and other nearby towns and ski areas.
Aspen, Colorado, is a year-round destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for world-class skiing, outdoor adventure, cultural events, or just a relaxing mountain getaway, Aspen has it all. With its stunning natural beauty, charming small-town feel, and endless activities and attractions, it’s no wonder that Aspen is one of the most popular destinations in the Rocky Mountains. So why not plan your next vacation to Aspen and experience all that this incredible destination has to offer?