Home to luxurious hotels and one of Colorado’s best ski resorts, Aspen is often thought of as a playground for the rich and famous. While it is, there are plenty of Aspen attractions for those of us who aren’t movie stars as well!
As a Colorado local, I’m here to share the best things to do in Aspen for all types of travelers. I was just in Aspen with my family not too long ago, and have insights into kid-friendly activities, outdoor recreation, and more. There’s something for everyone, regardless of the season!
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27 Best Things to Do in Aspen
Ski in one of the nation’s most iconic mountain towns
When you think of things to do in Aspen, skiing probably tops the list! Aspen has four Colorado ski resorts that are perfectly suited for a variety of skiers.
Aspen Mountain, also known as Ajax Mountain, is known for its black diamond runs. Buttermilk Mountain, on the other hand, is the best choice for beginners. In summer, you can hike, listen to live music, or do mountaintop yoga at several of these resorts.
John Denver Sanctuary
Stroll an area dedicated to one of Aspen’s biggest fans
The John Denver Sanctuary is a quiet, pretty spot for walking, picnicking, or splashing in the river. Native flowers bloom, and you’ll find boulders scattered throughout the area with the lyrics to John Denver songs on them.
Marvel at the most photographed spot in Colorado
The reflection of the Maroon Bells in Maroon Lake is one of the quintessential Colorado photos! It’s hard to overstate exactly how gorgeous this spot is. Even though I’d seen pictures, seeing it in person was a thrill.
👉 Pro Tip: From mid-May through October 31, visitors need to make either parking or shuttle reservations. If you drive, you must arrive before 8 am, while shuttles run all day.
Aspen Art Museum
Enjoy contemporary art and immersive experiences
Aspen is a big arts community! The Aspen Art Museum focuses on contemporary art and has changing exhibitions and immersive experiences. There’s also a rooftop cafe, so you can enjoy the beauty both inside and out!
Play on the family-friendly mountain, best for beginner skiers
Buttermilk Mountain is a more family-friendly ski area, with many more beginner runs and a terrain park. In the summer, you can hike parts of Buttermilk as well.
Things to Do in Aspen in Winter
Enjoy an evening on the ice at the Limelight Hotel
An ice rink in front of the Limelight Hotel Snowmass offers free rentals during ski season. Outdoor fireplaces around the rink make great spots to take a break and warm up. You can also pop into the Limelight Lounge for some food or a drink to warm you from the inside!
Try an exciting (and adorable) outing!
A dogsled tour is one of those unique experiences you’ll remember for years! Tour the Snowmass backcountry on a dogsled, where you’ll be accompanied by an experienced musher and 8-10 huskies. You can top off your trip with a visit to the on-site restaurant.
Hurtle down a thrilling hill at Aspen Snowmass
If skiing and snowboarding aren’t your thing, try flying down the hill on a snow tube! The tube run at Aspen Snowmass features several lanes, and there’s a lift so you don’t have to cart your tube back up to the top. On certain winter nights, the facility is lit up for nighttime runs.
Glide silently through stunning landscapes
There are more than 60 miles of free cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails in Aspen, Snowmass, and Basalt, with terrain for every level. Ute Mountaineer rents gear and even offers lessons.
Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center
Combine ski school and playtime in one
Families with little kids will appreciate the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center. The center is a childcare facility, but also has a ski school and rentals in the same building, so families can get everything taken care of in one place. The kids can have a great time with age-appropriate ski classes, and some time to play… and mama can go shred on her own for a bit.
Chill out on this locals’ mountain
This mountain has fewer crowds, and feels more like a local hangout than a place to see and be seen. It’s known for The Highland Bowl backcountry skiing and amazing views of the Maroon Bells. Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro is a great spot for a snack when you’re winding down.
Things to Do in Aspen in Summer
Rio Grande Trail
Walk or bike this scenic paved path beside the Roaring Fork River
The Rio Grande Trail is a mostly paved trail that follows the Roaring Fork River from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. You can pick it up at any point along the way, although many people enjoy biking to Woody Creek Tavern, where they can reward themselves with a cold beer.
Silver Queen Gondola
Ride the gondola to summer activities on the mountain
Of course, you can take the Silver Queen gondola in winter for some great skiing. However, it also runs during summer. Ride the Silver Queen gondola up the mountain to play disc golf, do yoga, listen to live music, or grab some lunch. There are also plenty of hiking trails and biking to do as well.
Crater Lake Trail
Take a hike in the Maroon Bells Scenic Area, leading to rewarding views
Unless you’re planning to summit the Bells themselves (which shouldn’t be done without a lot of prep, as these are some of the most difficult Colorado 14ers), you may be looking for more to explore in the area.
The hike to Crater Lake is perfect. It’s a 3 ½ mile round-trip hike from Maroon Lake towards the base of the Bells, and there are beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains the entire way.
The Wheeler Opera House
Tour an iconic piece of Aspen history
The Wheeler Opera House is a historic venue in downtown Aspen where you can see talks and performances including, of course, opera. The Opera House also hosts tours once a day in the summer.
👉 Pro tip: To see more of Aspen’s highlights, book a historic tour featuring the Wheeler Opera House, Smuggler Mountain, and more.
Investigate ice caves on this short hike off Independence Pass
The Grottos Trail is found in the White River National Forest just a few minutes drive from Aspen. It’s located on Independence Pass, one of the most iconic road trips in Colorado.
There are lots of interesting things to see along the trail, including cascades and ice caves. The trail itself is short and easy. Be careful in spring when there can be high water as the snow melts.
See spectacular scenery and wildlife as you cross the Continental Divide
Independence Pass is an amazing scenic drive that connects Aspen with Twin Lakes, Colorado. The drive takes about an hour and a half, although with many worthwhile stops, it will probably take longer. I’ve seen bighorn sheep and moose while driving the pass, so keep your eyes peeled!
Float serenely down a peaceful section of the Roaring Fork River
As you approach Aspen from the south, you’ll pass the North Star Nature Preserve. The Roaring Fork River slows to a gentle pace here and it’s a great spot for paddleboarding. Note that you’ll need to arrange for someone to shuttle you to the unloading and loading zones at the start and end of your trip.
Paraglide off a mountain and soar high above Aspen
If you want a truly unique view of Aspen, paraglide off of Aspen or Snowmass Mountain! Aspen Paragliding offers tandem rides and you can add on a GoPro package to relive the experience.
👉 Pro Tip: It’s best to book your paragliding adventure early in your trip so you have time to reschedule if the weather is bad.
Ashcroft Ghost Town
Learn about Colorado history in a real ghost town
Ashcroft Ghost Town is a silver mining town where the saloon, post office, and hotel are still standing. During open hours, a docent with the Aspen Historical Society is on-hand to talk about the town’s storied history.
If you love exploring ghost towns, see our full list of the top Colorado ghost towns you can visit.
Fish while surrounded by spectacular views of the Colorado Rocky Mountains
Few things will put you in a more zen state of mind than standing in a river surrounded by mountains. Aspen has several fly fishing outfitters who can get you geared up for a day on the water. On this half-day tour, your guide will take you to some great spots, provide instruction, and ensure that even novices have a great experience.
Try the zipline, ropes course, and more at the top of Snowmass
The Lost Forest at the top of Snowmass Mountain has tons of summer activities for families. You can zipline, try the ropes course, climb the rock climbing wall, fish, and ride the alpine coaster for a day of family fun.
Aspen Year-Round Activities
Enjoy upscale shopping and fine dining, all with breathtaking scenery
It’s fun to simply stroll the streets of Aspen on a nice afternoon! You’ll find lots of designer shops, along with smaller boutiques. There are plenty of places to eat, including Element 47 inside the elegant Little Nell hotel and Matsuhisa for delicious sushi. On Saturdays in the summer, you can also browse the stalls at the local farmers market.
Aspen Brewing Company
Relax with a tasty, cold craft beer
Aspen Brewing Company makes a great stop after a day of skiing, snowboarding or hiking! Along with good craft beers, Aspen Brewing Company also has pizza and small bites if you’re feeling noshy.
Aspen Ghost Tour
Discover history with a side of thrills
As night begins to fall, gather with a group of fellow ghost hunters to tour some of Aspen’s most haunted spots. You’ll learn the truth, and sometimes gruesome, stories of some of Aspen’s residents who seem to have loved the town so much, that they refuse to leave.
Appreciate local wildlife at this spacious preserve
The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is located at Hallam Lake. Along with walking around the wildlife sanctuary year-round, you can see indoor animals including turtles and a python. You can also watch the Brook trout in the indoor trout stream, and meet the resident raptors.
Soak in the world’s largest hot springs pool
Glenwood Springs is less than an hour from Aspen. Head there for a day soaking and splashing in the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool. The huge pool is family-friendly, and there’s a splash zone for kids. However, there is also a spa with quieter spots to relax, making this one of the best hot springs in Colorado.
FAQs About Aspen
Is Aspen Colorado Worth Visiting?
Aspen Colorado is definitely worth visiting. In winter, four ski resorts accommodate everyone from beginners to pros. There is also tubing and ice skating. In summer, there are plenty of nearby hiking and mountain biking trails. You can also enjoy a meal at an award-winning restaurant, or shop at one of the many upscale boutiques in town.
What Is The Best Month To Go To Aspen?
February is the best month to go to Aspen, although December and January are also good options. If you’re going to Aspen for the snow, December through February is the peak season and your best chance at fresh powder. See our guide to the best time to visit Aspen for more.
Is Aspen Fun If You Don’t Ski?
Aspen is fun if you don’t ski. During summer, there are lots of hiking trails, a farmers market, and plenty of space to ride bikes or stroll. In winter, non-skiers can go snow tubing, ice skating or dog sledding. Everyone can also enjoy shopping and eating in downtown Aspen.
From driving Independence Pass to admiring the most photographed mountains in all of Colorado, there are plenty of things to do in Aspen! If you’re looking for ideas on other nearby places to explore, be sure to check out our Travel Guide to Colorado.
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