Pitkin County Courthouse

As we warmly welcome 2021 and begin pondering the possibilities of travel in the not-so-distant future, Aspen, Colorado, is high on the wish list. This mountain town is known for celeb-filled, après ski moments (and there are plenty of those), but it's also full of history with a laid-back approach to living and vacationing.

Aspen is quaint, and its humble beginnings are evident in the city’s historic architecture. It was founded in the 1880s during the Colorado Silver Boom, and while many of today’s ski resort towns were built for the purpose of tourism, Aspen is an evolving extension of that original homestead.

The streets are a blend of Victorian designs and modern architecture, and you can easily walk from end to end, an attractive feature for families with small kids or those avoiding unnecessary transportation. On these walks, you'll pass a year-round gondola, hiking trails right off the downtown area and some of the world’s most luxurious retailers and restaurants. This mixture of a small-town feel with high-end access gives Aspen its unique flair.

While it's most commonly known as a winter wonderland, Aspen is an ideal destination for all seasons. The town’s namesake, the Aspen tree, makes fall especially spectacular when foliage transitions from green to pure gold. The evergreen mountainside is dotted with this golden hue and the streets are covered in the tree’s amber leaves.

Summer has its own beauty. With temperatures rarely reaching 80 degrees, Aspen is a Southerner’s retreat. The mountains flourish in summer, and the famed Maroon Bells reach their maximal allure in July when the meadows are at full bloom. These two mountain peaks are among the most photographed landscapes in North America. The Maroon Bells are a 30-minute drive from Aspen and a bus runs multiple times each day, giving you no excuse not to visit.

Aspen’s offerings run year round and cater to every type of traveler. From top-notch slopes and lodgings to casual eateries and an abundance of trails, the city proves mountain life really is the best life.

Sleep

Hotel Jerome

Whether you sleep there, stop by for a drink at the famed J Bar or just stroll through to check out the eclectic mountain decor, a visit to Hotel Jerome should be considered mandatory. This Aspen landmark opened its doors in 1889 and is a beautiful tribute to the city’s history while offering the chicest scene in town.

Limelight

This hotel is in a great location and has an approachable vibe that is perfect for solo travelers or families. The Limelight is situated right across from Wagner Park, which is home to festivals and markets throughout the year and is a good place to let kids or pets play. Plus, their rates drop significantly in warmer months.

Eat

Bosq

Bosq

Bosq is everything you want in a restaurant and provides a few details you never knew you were missing. The dishes are thoughtful and beautifully plated while never disguising the actual food. Ingredients are foraged right off the surrounding mountains and meadows. The interior and overall mood is just the right level of cool and cozy, and the patio is a must in warm weather.

Meat & Cheese Restaurant & Farm Shop

This rustic restaurant creates beautiful boards that go far beyond your typical meat and cheese serving. Think: a biscuit board with shaved ham and a variety of mustards or a steak and potato board. The shop also offers a curated selection of specialty foods and housewares, which are perfect for a spontaneous picnic.

Do

Aspen Art Museum

Aspen Art Museum

An international contemporary art museum is nestled right in the heart of this mountain town. Before you even open the doors, the building itself treats you to an impressive work of modern art. In 2014, the admission-free museum relocated to the current location designed by Shigeru Ban and is a non-collecting museum, which keeps everything feeling fresh and relevant.

Belly Up

Having just turned 15, Belly Up is already considered iconic. This 450-seat music venue is known for booking artists that typically only play large arenas. Belly Up gives audiences the chance to hear some of the biggest acts and most well-known bands in a more intimate setting. They also have a tasty menu and a coat check, which is most helpful if you're there for a show in the winter.

St. Regis Remede Spa

This space is filled with the perfect glow. The walls are covered in rich wood that somehow feels serene, but is also a reminder of where you are – the dreamiest mountain spa. The real draw is the spa’s oxygen lounge. It's the perfect way to alleviate any altitude symptoms and is great for your skin and body.


Before You Go


Closures

Restaurants and shops do close during the off seasons, so make sure you double check before you book. The closures aren’t typically long, so you can usually avoid those times by moving your trip a week or two.

Altitude

Altitude sickness is real and not a fun way to spend your vacation. If you fly straight into Aspen, give yourself time to adjust before hiking or drinking alcohol. If you drive, spend a few hours in lower elevations before ascending. Start taking chlorophyll drops a few days before to keep any symptoms at bay.

Packing

Hiking boots are heavy, bulky and take up way too much room in a suitcase. Regular trail shoes or even running shoes will be fine for most hikes. Save space and skip the boots unless you're a serious hiker with ambitious goals on this trip.