Aspen is known for being a premier ski resort town in Colorado. It turns out that the place makes a pretty great summer destination as well. Aspen has all the perks of a great resort town—enchanting restaurants, chic boutiques and historic landmarks. We can’t forget outdoor recreation as one of the main reasons people flock to this Rocky Mountain town all year round. It’s where visitors can enjoy classic activities or embark on adventures that are completely outside the box. For a place that gives off quintessential small-town community feels, Aspen makes the big leagues in terms of prime vacation destinations.
Aspen is in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, so there’s plenty of recreation where you can enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking and biking are no-fuss activities for anyone. There’s rafting, rock-climbing or fishing, which might require some equipment rental. In the winter, popular activities include skiing, snowboarding and sledding. If you’re looking for a spectacular Aspen experience, try horseback riding, hot-air ballooning or paragliding across the slopes of the Rockies. You can also spend some time touring the landmarks around town. The 1889 Wheeler Opera House is a local history museum set in a Queen Anne-style home. The venue screens movies and hosts performances throughout the year. The Aspen Art Museum is one of over a dozen museums in the area. It houses the work of contemporary artists. The Aspen Saturday Market, open since 1998, is where you can find goods that are produced, made or grown in Colorado. Belly Up Aspen is the town’s first contemporary music dance venue. You can catch world-class performances here all year round. The Aspen Institute, founded in 1950, also hosts signature programs including the Ideas Festival & Security Forum. Each summer, the best and the brightest flock to this world-class symposium to share thoughts and confer.
John Denver Park may be located in Aspen, but it’s a pleasant destination for a day trip in the summertime. Take a splash in the creek or have a picnic on the creek-side boulders. You can make a day of it by exploring the north side of Aspen, near the Rio Grande Ball Field. Drive along Independence Pass for some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. Keep driving far enough and you’ll end up at the Continental Divide.
Maroon Bells is another picture-perfect day trip, and just a short drive outside of Aspen. The lake and 14,000 food peaks are one of the most photographed mountain scenes of the state. Carbondale is an artsy hippie town just 40 minutes down the valley from Aspen. Some might call it a foodie village, with a surprisingly diverse range of restaurants from Salvadoran to Thai to Asian Fusion. It’s where the 3-day Mountain Fair extravaganza is held mid-summer, with music and arts and crafts from all across the United States. If you’re willing to drive 4 hours for a day trip into Denver, Colorado’s capital city won’t disappoint. It’s the largest city in Colorado, where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains and history meets modern. Check out one of the last remaining downtown amusement parks, or some of the best views a city can have. Other day trip itineraries near Aspen include Glenwood Springs, the home to largest hot spring pool in the USA and Colorado’s Wine Country, of pocket communities with indigenous vineyards.
Finding accommodations will be the least of your worries in Aspen. If anything, you might be boggled by the diverse options Aspen has to offer. Condominium lodgings are convenient if you prefer hotel-style services with home-style comforts. Many condo properties in Aspen offer concierge and maid service in addition to having private kitchens and living rooms in each unit. Home rentals are available for guests of any party size, from the solo traveler to the Von Trapp family. Options to rent short or long term make it easy for travelers to drop by or settle into Aspen life. Private residence clubs are a very Aspen-esque type of accommodation. It’s like belonging to a country club, but with vacation homes. Join a membership, and you’ll get access to exclusive vacation rentals not just in Aspen, but also around the world. Speaking of exclusive rentals, backcountry huts are another option while staying in Aspen. Before you start imagining mud huts or lean-tos, these are more like furnished cabins. Some of these private huts might get you closest access to the mountain passes for skiing or hiking. If all else fails, you’re bound to find a hotel, motel or B&B to your liking.
Aspen has free shuttle service that carts guests around town. You’ll be able to catch a ride to the ski lift, trailhead and other popular areas nearby. The Roaring Fork Transit Authority, or RFTA, provides transportation from the Aspen Airport to Downvalley and Snowmass Village. The RFTA is how you’ll get to areas’ mountains in the summer and Maroon Bells during peak hours. Transit services are also available within the Town of Snowmass Village and the City of Glenwood Springs. Hotel shuttles are available from most properties in the Aspen or Snowmass area. Cabs and limousine services are available from the airport or most hotels. You can also fly in to Denver and bring a rental car up to Aspen, or fly directly into Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. Be sure to note that Aspen-Pitkin is a smaller airport that may face delays in inclement weather.
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