The Town

Think Sex and the City meets the Wild West and you have Aspen Colorado. Its size, location and history – it was a silver mining boom town in the 1800s before becoming a vacation haven for the rich and famous – give it a quaint and authentic Western feel. But because everyone from Kevin Costner to Donald Trump own vacation homes here, the town is also as cosmopolitan as New York. It’s extravagant, exclusive and yet laid-back. Forget high heels or suits. Aspen is designer casual.

Also uniquely Aspen is that the town offers just as many activities and events in the summer as it does during winter. Hiking, biking, and fishing are common warm-ups for annual draws like the Aspen Music Festival, an eight-week celebration of everything symphonic from chamber and classical to choral and opera, or the summer ballet. (More on summer activities later.) In winter, the area is home to four world-class ski-mountains.

Surrounded by the scenic Rocky Mountains, the town is filled with art galleries, luxury hotels and restaurants and flanked by golf courses. Enjoyably walkable, the town also offers free shuttles around town and to the Aspen airport. The nightlife is as active as anything you’ll do during the day.

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Nearest Ski Mountain

Aspen Colorado

Aspen’s four nearby resorts offer it all from fabulous Family Skiing at Snowmass, to the best Beginner skiing at Buttermilk, to challenging and less crowded Advanced and Expert terrain at Aspen and Aspen Highlands,

Durango Mountain Resort (where the chairlift-operated runs are still referred to as Purgatory by locals), with its wealth of intermediate skiing, strong children’s ski school and affordable pricing, has well earned its standing as a warm and friendly bring-the-kids and learn-to-ski mountain. – See more at: http://getoutskiing.com/colorado/ski-resorts/durango/#on-the-mountain
Durango Mountain Resort (where the chairlift-operated runs are still referred to as Purgatory by locals), with its wealth of intermediate skiing, strong children’s ski school and affordable pricing, has well earned its standing as a warm and friendly bring-the-kids and learn-to-ski mountain. – See more at: http://getoutskiing.com/colorado/ski-resorts/durango/#on-the-mountain

BEST ADVICE NIGHTLIFE AND EVENTS RESTAURANTS

Aspen Colorado Lodging

Convenience is key to any vacation so staying in the heart of Aspen is best. However, this is where prices tend to be the highest. Less expensive lodging can be found closer to Aspen’s ski mountain resorts or in Snowmass Village, which is also more family-friendly.

The Little Nell,  a five-star hotel, is the closest you can stay to the base of Aspen Mountain. Guest rooms or suites are available but they’re pricey – ranging from $450 to $2,200 a night – and popular. They  tend to book up months in advance  in both the winter and summer.

At the other end of the spectrum, St. Moritz Lodge is one of the most affordable places to stay in Aspen, with rates in the $100 to $200 range, depending on the season. Located near the airport, guests can chose from standard rooms, condominiums, and private or shared hostel spaces.

Use the “Explore Aspen’s Best Ski Lodging Deals” box above and right, to find Aspen lodging choices that best fit you.

OFF MOUNTAIN ACTIVITIES POPULAR EVENTS GETTING THERE

Best Advice

Aspen is best-suited to well-heeled couples, taking an active and romantic get-away. While you’ll certainly run across a few ski-bum types, who couch surf their way through the city, you’ll be far happier if you visit this elegant enclave for the rich and famous when you’re feeling flush and willing to partake in both the daytime and nighttime wonders. (Bring both your hiking and dancing shoes.)

Likewise, if you’re traveling with young kids, you’re likely to be happier in Snowmass. Aspen certainly accommodates kids, but even the kid’s activities are upscale. If your youngsters are rambunctious and would rather die than watch a play or ballet, you’re better off in another resort. That said, Snowmass is only a few miles away. So you can stay there and ski here, if you’re so inclined.

Also consider flying directly into Aspen airport. Flights are more expensive than those going directly to Denver, of course, but taking a shuttle from Denver is likely to cost more than $100 per person, each way.  If you fly into Aspen you won’t need a rental car or have to worry about transportation because there are free shuttles from the airport to the town.

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Restaurants/Nightlife

A large population of foodies contribute to Aspen’s extravagant dining selections. You’ll find many five-star restaurants that specialize in international cuisine.

Matsuhisa has some of the best sushi and Japanese cuisine in town. Located in a restored Victorian home, the style is casual but the food is extravagant. Reservations are highly recommended, as the restaurant is small and usually packed.

For a quick bite, visit the legendary Grateful Deli, where you can get an enormous sandwich, chips, and drink for only $9. Try the Shakedown sandwich—it’s large enough to share.

As for the nightlife, Aspen has quite the party town reputation. Up-scale bars are frequented by successful 20 to 30-somethings who want to throw down after a day of skiing or biking. Most of the clubs have entry-fees or cover charges when there is a DJ or live band.

Escobar is a must-visit for late-night partiers. Resembling a Vegas nightclub more than a hometown bar, it features DJs, neon lights, and plenty of top-shelf liquors. The crowd is young and sometimes wild.

WHY ASPEN IS DIFFERENT NEAREST SKI MOUNTAIN THE SKI TOWN

Aspen Lodging

Aspen ColoradoUse the “Explore Aspen’s Best Lodging Deals” box above and right to find Aspen’s best Lodging choices and deals. Lodging choices are pre-ordered by price, but you can enter your own search parameters.

 Popular Events

The Aspen Music Festival should be at the top of your list if you visit in the summer. From late June through mid August, the festival is internationally renowned with symphony artists and musicians of the highest caliber. Some of the concerts are free to the public while others are reasonably priced.

The Food & Wine Classic is great for a June weekend getaway. The Classic includes cooking demos, wine seminars, and private tastings. Many chefs from the Food Network conduct cooking demos, but sign up early.

Aspen’s April “shortfest” isn’t about Bermuda’s or little people – it’s a five-day festival for short films than run from one –to- 40 minutes. With guests from all over the world, the festival was ranked among the world’s best by indieWIRE.

May and June is when the town hosts cycling and outdoor gatherings that draw professional athletes; June and August draw the literati with the Writer’s Foundation weekend, featuring readings and writing workshops; and the Artist’s lecture series. But no matter when you visit, there’s likely to be something worth attending. Check in with the Aspen Chamber of Commerce for the options and schedule.

Ski AspenOff Mountain Activities

This city is well known for its outdoor sports – hiking, mountain biking, skiing, fishing, golf – but it’s equally well-known for a range of elegant indoor activities, from visiting the theater and opera to roaming art galleries.  Some of the options:

  • The Aspen Art Museum features contemporary exhibits and interactive learning workshops. Prices range depending on exhibit or activity.
  • Theater Aspen offers everything from Broadway musicals to children’s performances in Rio Grande Park, outside during the day or at night under the stars. Plan ahead, though. The theater is small, so tickets tend to sell out well before the day of the show.
  • If you’re looking for something a little more casual, cruise down the road a few miles to Snowmass, where the Snowmass Rodeo is held every Wednesday night in June through mid-August. Bull and bronco riding, campfires, barrel racing, and pony rides are just a few of the adventures to enjoy at the rodeo. This is a perfect summer event for families with younger kids. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for kids ages 11-15, and free for kids ten and under.

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