Known for their cosmopolitan vibe in the laid-back setting of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the towns of Aspen and Snowmass Village have long been synonymous with blending the best of both worlds.
Because of this, it is also easy to stretch your dollar and find plenty of fun, engaging and enriching things to do on a budget. Here are a handful of ideas to help you plan your winter vacation for less.
THINGS TO DO
Aspen Art Museum – For more than 35 years, the Aspen Art Museum has been the cultural vanguard in town. In fact, many major metropolitan cities in North America would envy the quality of this innovative and immersive institution. While the museum has a new building on the way to house its exhibitions and educational programs (opening in the summer of 2014 at South Springs St. and Hyman Avenue), the AAM has been a champion of permeating art across the community, with installations around town, and even on Aspen-Snowmass’ lift tickets.
Location: 590 Mill St., Aspen, CO. Admission is free.
Cross-Country Ski to Maroon Lake – If you are keen for a strenuous — and impossibly scenic — workout, rent a pair of cross-country skis and head 10-miles up Maroon Creek Road to Maroon Lake at the foot of the majestic Maroon Bells. Staring at the purple-striped, snow-clad peaks in complete winter solitude is a memory that will stay with you forever.
If that’s too much of a haul, the Roaring Fork Valley and the area surrounding Snowmass Village is covered with several trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoers to delight in. Gear rentals are available in town.
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) – One of Aspen’s most beloved local institutions, ACES offers up several ways for visitors to engage with nature and learn about the precious Rocky Mountain ecosystems that surround us. Stop by their 25-acre preserve at Hallam Lake where you can view an indoor trout stream and meet a golden eagle, or visit their Rock Bottom Ranch facility for a farmyard tour. ACES also offers snowshoe naturalist tours on Snowmass Mountain everyday.
Locations: Hallam Lake (100 Puppy Smith St., Aspen, CO): Free. Rock Bottom Ranch (2001 Hook Spur Road, Basalt, CO): Suggested donation of $10. Snowshoe tour (top of Elk Camp Gondola): $63/adults, $56/youth, $43/child.
Winter Recreation – Beyond cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, you can also ice skate at a variety of facilities around Aspen, including the popular, open-air SK8 (fka Silver Circle Rink) in front of the Hyatt Grand downtown.
If you are looking to stay active, but want to find an indoor space for the whole family to enjoy, head to the Aspen Recreation Center for an indoor swim (or float on the lazy river), rock climbing, ice skating or a pick-up game of ice hockey.
Location: 0861 Maroon Creek Rd., Aspen, CO. Admission: $17.20/adults; $15.20/youth; $7.60/seniors
Shopping – Sure, you’ll find a few noteworthy fashion houses in downtown Aspen, selling the latest fashions fresh from the runways of Paris and Milan. But you’ll also find a handful of exceptional consignment shops, offering high-quality second-hand goods at great prices.
Locations: Check out Suzy’s Limited Consignments (600 E. Main St.), Aspen Home Consignment (200 E. Main St.), Twinkle (533 E. Hopkins Ave., Suite B) or The Thrift Shop (422 E. Hopkins Ave.).
WHERE TO STAY
Lodging deals abound in Aspen and Snowmass, and they’re not just limited to the shoulder season. Check out Aspen-Snowmass’ deals section for hard-to-pass-up packages, or visit StayAspenSnowmass.com to peruse individual lodging rates and last-minute deals.
WHERE TO EAT
All around town, you can save significant cash at restaurants by stopping in for happy hour and après ski specials. Even many of Aspen’s buzz-worthy, upscale restaurants offer deals between 4pm and 7pm. You can also do as the locals do, and save some coin by dining at the bar.