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The wonderful thing about downtown Aspen is that everything is within walking distance, including the ski area gondola. The best way to see Aspen in one day during the winter is by foot and by skis (or snowboard), since the proximity of the ski area to downtown allows for plenty of exploration, both in the valley and at the summit, where the views from 11,212 feet above sea level make it easy to see as much as you might from a small airplane. In the summer months, trade out the skis for a bicycle and explore Aspen’s extensive network of bike trails. The trails offer plenty of open space, and they run all the way up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, 40 miles to Glenwood Springs. If you’re not the athletic type or unable to ride a bike, there is an excellent public bus system that will take you anywhere in town for free.
If you go to Aspen in the winter, the best way to see it in a day is to experience one of its mountains. If you only have one day, hit the slopes on Aspen Mountain, which is located right downtown. Be sure to take advantage of the First Track program, which affords guests of the Little Nell early access to the mountain. After spending the morning on the slopes, hit up Ajax Tavern for lunch and try their famous burger and truffle fries. If you can tear yourself away from the skiing, spend the afternoon shopping in downtown Aspen or perusing one of the many art galleries. Enjoy dinner at Montagna Restaurant at the Little Nell, and then catch a concert or show. If you still have energy, round out the evening in the hot tub to soak your aching muscles, or indulge in an in-room massage.
In the summer, the best way to see Aspen is to get outside and into the mountains. After breakfast, head out on a hiking trail like the Ute or Hunter Creek trails, which are close to town but still offer spectacular views. Spend the afternoon enjoying downtown Aspen, which is usually bursting with activity in the warmer months. (On Saturdays, catch the Aspen Saturday Market for interesting Colorado-made wares and produce.) Don’t miss a performance by the Aspen Music Festival and School (many are free), and be sure to dine al fresco to take in the lovely summer air.