Aspen is among one of the most popular skiing locations and is definitely a top Colorado winter destination. This cute, historic brick building filled mountain town is well known for celebrity appearances, hosting the X Games, and countless skiing and snowboarding routes.
Jaegger and I decided to take Aspen on in one day. A feat I definitely do not recommend but was still a blast! It is a three and a half hour drive (took us about four and a half in the ice and snow) from Denver. The drive there alone is worth the trip. We passed quite a few major destinations including Dillon, Silverthorne, Vail, Glenwood Springs, and Glenwood Canyon.
Once in Aspen, we found parking and hit the streets to explore. We checked out so many shops, cafes, restaurants, historic buildings, and even checked out the slopes for future trips! Afterwards, we drove around to explore the outer areas including the Buttermilk Ski Area.
After our day of exploring and much research for future trips to come, here are my top winter activities and sites to see in Aspen, CO.
1. Go Skiing/Snowboarding
Obviously, this is the top activity in Aspen. The town was made for it. Well not originally… but you get my point. There are countless slopes and numerous gondolas. Many of the areas surrounding the ski lifts are skier friendly. There are many areas to drop off your skis/snowboards if you want to hop into a cafe for a quick bite to eat and many shops just at the bottom of the slopes (in town).
2. Watch a Competition
There are countless events throughout the year in Aspen including the X Games, concerts, lectures, and social events! When we were there, they were setting up for the X Games and the jumps they have are much larger in person! Hopefully, we will be able to go back soon to watch some kind of competition!
3. Window Shop
In addition to being built for skiing, Aspen is a town that is incredibly shopper-friendly. Right at the base of Aspen Mountain are dozens of stores. From big names such as Louis Vuitton and Prada to smaller boutiques, this place really has it all. It is actually just fun walking from shop to shop to see all the things!
Of course, being a geologist, my favorite shop was the mineral shop but there is plenty to see for everyone.
4. Go Ice Skating
On the corner of East Durant Avenue and South Galena Street is a fun outdoor ice skating rink. It is a pretty good sized rink with a burger shop next door.
5. Go Snowshoeing or Cross Country Skiing
If you’re looking for a break between skiing and snowboarding but still want a winter adventure, there are plenty of great snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails in and around Aspen. These trails include Owl Creek, James E. Moore Trail, and the Rio Grande Trail.
6. Check out the Mansions
Well, you can’t go to Aspen without at least attempting to see a celebrity, right? If not see one, perhaps see their house? If you just drive up to Red Mountain Road and the surrounding areas, you are bound to see some giant mountain getaways!
7. Go on a Historic Town Tour
Like most Colorado mountain towns, Aspen was originally built as a small mining town in the late 1800’s. Some of the original buildings still stand today!
There are two major ways to learn the history. First, you can use an app such as Triposo (unsponsored, just our favorite go-to) to create a self-guided walking tour. If you choose this option, be sure to download all of the information and maps when you have wifi! Second, you could go on one of the many guided historical and other walking tours groups such as the Aspen Historical Society offer.
8. Listen to Live Music
Concerts are a frequent occurrence in Aspen year round. There are many different locations and artists who perform. One of the most popular locations is Belly Up but many other restaurants and bars offer live music as well as concert halls such as the Wheeler Opera House. The Chamber of Commerce is great about keeping all of the concerts listed on their website.
- If you don’t want to drive, take a plane! It is a quick plane ride from Denver International Airport to the Aspen Airport. Unfortunately, the tickets can be pricey so definitely book these in advance!
- If you do drive, check the weather and road conditions on the way there, especially Loveland Pass. Pack chains, blankets, and snacks just in case!
- There are several public parking locations that are cheap to free, we parked at the Rio Grande Parking, we paid less than $5 for the day and only had to walk two blocks to the shopping center near the slopes.
- Plan your stay according to your activities! Visit during a weekday if you plan on hitting the slopes. The crowds are much smaller! However, more shops and restaurants are open during the day on the weekends if you plan on spending more time in town.
What are your favorite winter activities?