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Best Things To Do in Aspen

If there's one thing Aspen's known for, it's skiing. This tiny mountain town is surrounded by four monumental ski areas: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk (a favorite among beginners) and the ever-popular Snowmass Ski Resort. The luster isn't lost when the snow melts, however. The Rockies offer some spectacular hiking spots  like the Maroon Bell peaks  with jaw-dropping vistas. If you're looking for a more relaxing getaway, treat yourself to a massage at an area spa or try a therapeutic soak in the Glenwood Springs natural hot springs.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated October 5, 2018

  • #1
    Maroon Bells
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    #1 in Aspen
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Rising more than 14,000 feet, these twin peaks are a favorite spot for hikers and wildlife-watchers, boasting beautiful vistas and breathtaking scenery. In fact, Maroon Bells' jagged peaks and multicolored slopes make it one of the most photographed sites in North America. The surrounding area features numerous trails and campsites, granting you a variety of viewing points from which you can capture the perfect shot.

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  • #2
    Independence Pass
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    #2 in Aspen
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If there's one reason to rent a car in Aspen, it's to take the 20-mile drive through Independence Pass. This scenic road is one of the highest in North America, meandering along the Continental Divide at a whopping 12,095 feet above sea level. Get ready to feel like a daredevil as you navigate tight turns along towering cliffs and through thick forests. When you're ready to stretch your legs, a paved hiking trail leads to a sightseeing platform where far-reaching views of the Continental Divide are sure to make your jaw drop.

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  • #3
    Snowmass
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    #3 in Aspen
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Aspen's largest and most popular ski area is the ultimate destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Comprising 3,332 acres of skiiable terrain, this massive complex features 150 miles of trails, multiple lifts and a charming village with a variety of shops and restaurants. Roughly half of the trails here are designed for intermediate-level skiers, but more advanced powder hounds will find plenty of challenging stretches of snow to try. Snowboarders should also note that Snowmass has one of the best snowboarding schools in the United States.

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  • #4
    Aspen Mountain
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    #4 in Aspen
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    It's this mountain – first opened to skiers in 1947– that put Aspen on the map. And with spectacular summit views and slopes that will make even the most advanced skier's heart race, it's no wonder why Aspen Mountain remains a favorite spot for winter sports-lovers. "Ajax," as it's fondly called, features approximately 675 skiable acres with 64 miles of runs (complete with a variety of bumps and steeps); you can also make your own tracks along the Aspen Mountain Powder Tour's backcountry terrain. And when you're ready to call it a day, you can satisfy your appetite at one of the nearby restaurants or bars.

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  • #5
    Glenwood Springs
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    #5 in Aspen
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    While you'll have no trouble finding ways to fill your time in Aspen proper, you would be remiss if you visited the Roaring Fork Valley and didn't make a stop in Glenwood Springs. Sitting about 40 miles northwest of Aspen along Route 82  near the junction of I-70  Glenwood Springs offers just as many spots to hike as its more popular neighbor, not to mention fishing and whitewater rafting opportunities. The town is also home to an intricate collection of caverns that are worth exploring

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  • #6
    Aspen Highlands
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    #6 in Aspen
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Aspen Highlands has been the preferred ski area among Aspen residents for more than 50 years. If you're looking for a challenge, this is the ski area for you: more than half of the trails here were carved with advanced and expert skiers in mind, with routes like Golden Horn, Highland Bowl and Olympic Bowl offering stomach-dropping descents.

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Silver Queen Gondola
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    #7 in Aspen
    Recreation, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Silver Queen Gondola travels 2.5 miles from the heart of Aspen to the 11,000-foot-high summit of Aspen Mountain. Once you reach the top, there are plenty of opportunities to hike, dine and even take in some live music. A sundeck and eatery greets visitors at the top of the mountain and makes for a great spot to relax, grab a drink or a bite and take photos of the surrounding landscape.

    ...Read More »
  • #8
    Buttermilk
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    #8 in Aspen
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    With 21 miles of open, stress-free trails, Buttermilk is the perfect spot to try your first run or to teach your kids to ski. According to visitors, all the beginner trails are groomed and the runs are wide so there's plenty of room for skiers to maneuver. You can also sign up for private ski and snowboard lessons if you need some guidance. Recent visitors described the instructors as friendly, positive and helpful.

    ...Read More »
  • #9
    Aspen Brewing Company
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    #9 in Aspen
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Aiming to bring the craft beer scene back to Aspen, Aspen Brewing Company was founded in 2008 and has been brewing and serving up beers ever since. The brewery offers a wide variety of beer, ranging from blonde and red ales to stouts and pilsners to seasonal brews. With seating indoors and on an adjacent patio, Aspen Brewing Company's tap room encourages visitors to grab a pint and #DrinkInTheView. There's live music most weekend nights during the summer and winter, and daily happy hour specials on pints, pitchers and growlers from 5 to 7 p.m.

    ...Read More »
  • #10
    Wheeler Opera House
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    #10 in Aspen
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Constructed in the late 1800s by business tycoon Jerome Wheeler, this opera house has been a major source of entertainment in the Roaring Fork Valley for more than a century. Today, this performance venue remains an Aspen gem, featuring Victorian architecture, beautiful decor and a stunning electric chandelier (Aspen was the first town west of the Continental Divide to enjoy electricity).

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  • #11
    John Denver Sanctuary
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    #11 in Aspen
    Monuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Anyone who's a fan of John Denver's music knows that the famous singer-songwriter was a big fan of Aspen; he immortalized the town's beauty and character in several of his songs, including his famous "Aspenglow." The town decided to pay tribute to its favorite musician (who died in 1997) with the John Denver Sanctuary, a memorial nestled near the Aspen Art Museum in Rio Grande Park. The memorial is composed of several stone slabs bearing the musician's name and some of his lyrics. Travelers strongly recommend a visit, even if you're not a diehard Denver fan, noting the area's beautiful flower garden and the impressive inscribed boulders.

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  • #12
    Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
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    #12 in Aspen
    Museums, Parks and Gardens, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Parks and Gardens, Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Sitting just north of Main Street, this research center and wildlife sanctuary works to educate visitors about Aspen's natural surroundings while preserving local flora and fauna. While here, you can attend wildlife workshops, tag along on a winter snowshoe walk and even come face-to-face with America’s favorite bird, the bald eagle. If you're visiting with children, consider signing them up for one of the kid-friendly arts and crafts classes or nature hikes.

    ...Read More »

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