What’s the best time to visit Aspen?

Winter is the time for skiers and snowboarders to visit Aspen — that much is obvious. But what isn’t as commonly known is that Aspen probably has more to offer in the summer months, in terms of activities and happenings, than it does in the winter. You can hike, bike, go white-water rafting, Jeeping and even zipline through Independence Pass, and the mild climate and sunny weather make it one of the best places to be when it’s hotter at lower elevations. Fall is also a wonderful time of year to plan your trip, when fall foliage and beautiful weather take the scenery to another level. It’s also important to note that fall is considered “off season,” when some of the best deals for lodging can be found around town.

  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best kid-friendly restaurants in Aspen?

    Only recently has comfort food and kid-friendly fare made a comeback in Aspen. Before that, super-expensive, ultra-gourmet restaurants made the dining scene decidedly unfriendly for families. Here are our picks for the five best restaurants in town for the short set:

    1.Boogie’s. Boogie’s has always been a family favorite, with its ’50s diner décor and kid-centric menu that offers everything from burgers and fries to matzo ball soup.
    2.New York Pizza. You won’t have to chastise your child to eat his dinner at this funky-cool restaurant - he’ll devour a fat slice of New York Pizza’s cheese pie.
    3.CP Burger. A newcomer to the scene is CP Burger, a fun, fast-paced burger and salad joint. It just happens to be located on a skating rink, which is converted into a mini-golf course in the summer. Better yet, with healthy menu items such as kale salad and tuna burgers, parents like it, too .
    4.Little Annies is known for its comfort food, red-and-white-checkered table cloths and super laid-back vibe. So you won’t have to worry about your fussy kids disturbing other diners. Kids love the Tootsie Rolls that come as a special treat with the bill.
    5.Hickory House. You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate the world-famous barbecue at the Hickory House, or to enjoy getting down and dirty with some finger-licking good ribs. But kids do love making a mess of the delicious grub.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What’s the best time to visit Aspen?

    Winter is the time for skiers and snowboarders to visit Aspen - that much is obvious. But what isn’t as commonly known is that Aspen probably has more to offer in the summer months, in terms of activities and happenings, than it does in the winter. You can hike, bike, go white-water rafting, Jeeping and even zipline through Independence Pass, and the mild climate and sunny weather make it one of the best places to be when it’s hotter at lower elevations. Fall is also a wonderful time of year to plan your trip, when fall foliage and beautiful weather take the scenery to another level. It’s also important to note that fall is considered “off season,” when some of the best deals for lodging can be found around town.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is Aspen’s cultural scene like?

    Aspen is a little town with a cosmopolitan spirit, and its cultural scene can be traced back to one man: Walter Paepcke. He founded the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Skiing Company in the early 1950s, which transformed the town into an international resort destination and helped to popularize skiing in the United States. Paepcke came up with “the Aspen Idea,” the concept of creating a place for the mind, body and spirit to thrive. That philosophy has expanded over the years to encompass many of Aspen’s cultural organizations, from Theatre Aspen , an independent theater that puts on original productions, and the Aspen Art Museum, which focuses on contemporary art. Tap into your inner Hemmingway and check out author readings and writing retreats thanks to the Aspen Writers Foundation , or performances at the Aspen Music Festival and School. These organizations are collectively responsible for hosting a bevy of events that keeps the calendar jam-packed with cultural happenings all summer long. It really is enough to rival living in any major city, especially when you consider the quality of art, fashion, food, and wine that is also accessible here.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Aspen?

    While you can’t beat the beautiful Aspen winters, summers provide endless opportunities for families with kids to enjoy all kinds of activities.

    1.Go on an adventure. Those with a thirst for adventure might try white-water rafting, horseback riding, hiking, or mountain biking . Aspen Expeditions organizes outings where you can zipline from the ground up at Independence Pass, hike up to the Pyramid amphitheater or climb to one of Aspen’s 14,000-foot peaks for some incredible views.
    2.Aspen Mountain. Ride the Aspen Mountain gondola to the summit, where kids can enjoy a rock-climbing wall, Eurobungy trampolines - a hybrid of a trampoline and a small bungee jump - obstacle courses and scavenger for silver nugget digs .
    3.Ski Schools of Aspen Snowmass. During winter, the Ski Schools of Aspen Snowmass is one of the best in the country with programs for kids of all ages and abilities. Whether it’s a group lesson or an individual session, your youngster will be cruising the slopes in no time.
    4.Ice skating. Kids also love the ice skating rink downtown by CP Burger, which is converted into a mini-golf course in the summer .
    5.Ride a gondola. The year-round gondolas on Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are similar to amusement park rides for kids. For families who don’t ski, foot passes are available at a reduced rate.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is Aspen’s restaurant scene like?

    For a small Colorado mountain town, Aspen offers a world-renowned restaurant scene, giving top eateries in major cities a run for their money. It’s just as competitive as any metro area, almost to a fault. It’s not uncommon to receive directions to “where such-and-such used to be,” because the turnover of restaurants is so fast. That said, only the best survive and the number of options is surprising for such a remote area. Fresh food is flown in from both coasts, and chefs swear by the quality, since the airport is only three miles away. European, Japanese and American contemporary cuisines dominate the culinary scene. You’ll notice a glaring absence of ethnic food; there’s no Indian, Thai, Greek or anything Middle Eastern anywhere in town, other than a few inspired dishes. Despite the lack of ethnic eateries, you’ll find lots of great spots for a meal. If you’re ever unsure of what to order at an Aspen restaurant, heed our advice: When doing dinner in Colorado, you can never go wrong with beef.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best Aspen museums?

    At the end of the day, Aspen is still just a small mountain town, so the best museums are the only museums because there are only a few. The Aspen Art Museum has a distinct contemporary slant and hosts openings and parties year-round, though it’s about to move out of the very funky and cool old train depot building and into a new downtown location sometime in 2012. The Wheeler/Stallard Museum is run by the Aspen Historical Society and has a great selection of interesting programs for people of all ages to learn more about Aspen’s rich past (literally rich, since we’re talking Gold Rush and Silver Boom, here). The Marolt Mining Museum, located a mile or so outside of town at the base of the Castle Creek Valley, is a rustic old barn on an unspoiled site. It’s a journey into what Aspen might have felt like at the turn of the 19th century and its beginnings as a small mountain town.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What should I pack for a trip to Aspen?

    When you are packing for trip to Aspen, you have to load up on cold-weather essentials. Don’t worry: It’s not all function over fashion. The nice thing about Aspen is you can get as dolled up as you want, but it’s not mandatory. When it comes to fashion, anything goes. When it comes to function, the mountain climate demands you be prepared.
    1.Layers. The weather in Colorado is about as easy to predict as the future, so packing layers - preferably waterproof/breathable ones - is key: A Gore-Tex shell and a fleece jacket are necessary year round.
    2.Comfy shoes. You’ll need a pair of sturdy, comfortable shoes to walk around town, especially in winter, when the sidewalks are buried in ice and snow.
    3.Sun protection. Because of Aspen’s high altitude and proximity to the sun, sunscreen is a must and so are sunglasses. If you ski without eye protection, you run the risk of suffering from cornea burn, which will certainly put a damper on your vacation.
    4.Designer duds. For nighttime fun, follow the locals’ dress code: Ladies love their designer jeans paired with dressy shoes and a blouse.
    5.A dressy shirt. When dressing for a night out, men go for the designer duds, too, and a nice shirt is appropriate. But there’s also a surplus of baseball-hat-wearing dudes in T-shirts with three-day stubble. As we said, anything goes.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best free things to do in Aspen?

    Even though Aspen has a stigma for charging an arm and a leg for just about anything, there are actually a wide variety of events and unique experience that won’t break the bank. These are our picks for the five best free things to do in the city:

    1.Summer concerts. During the summer months, catch a free concert on the slopes at Snowmass every Thursday night - but don’t expect to see Jay-Z or Rihanna perform, the performers tend to be locals. Everyone breaks out their blankets to picnic here and enjoy the music.
    2.Hear more music. Snag a spot on the lawn outside the music tent and you can listen (even if you can’t see) to wonderful classical music performances by students of the Aspen Music Festival and School.
    3.Visit the farmers’ market. Walk around the farmers’ market every Saturday from mid-June to early October. The intoxicating smell of kettle corn and roasting peppers wafts through the streets and will make your stomach rumble. But you’ll quickly fill up on the free samples of produce, baked goods and more that are handed out to passersby.
    4.Check out the X Games. In winter, the best free show of all is the X Games , where the buzzing activity throughout the town proves almost as good as paying for a real ticket to see the extreme athletes.
    5.Dance in the streets. During the week of the X Games, the city of Aspen puts on a free concert in the downtown streets. Bands such as Offspring have dispelled any impressions of Aspen being uptight or conservative, with people literally dancing in the streets.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best things to see and do in Aspen?

    Aspen is a snowy wintertime playground, but the city offers a flurry of things to do all year round. Though if you are planning a trip here, the available activities depend on the season. Here are our suggestions for the five best things to see and do:

    1.Skiing and snowboarding. In winter, the answer is obvious: Skiing or snowboarding at one of four ski areas tops the list. While locals prefer the steeps and deeps of Highlands Bowl, visitors are drawn to the gentle slopes of Snowmass, or the convenience of Aspen Mountain to all the happenings downtown. If you’re traveling with the kids, Buttermilk is best for families with youngsters because of its easy slopes.
    2.Pine Creek Cookhouse. A visit to the Pine Creek Cookhouse, a luxury backcountry lodge up the Castle Creek Valley, can be accessed by horse-drawn sleigh or cross-country skiing. It is a must for anyone with a taste for adventure and wild game and mountain-inspired food.
    3.X Games. The annual X Games bring a young, hip vibe into town. With this massive live television production, the circus-esque atmosphere all over Aspen is both exciting and bursting with activity.
    4.The festivals. Summer is all about culture, and can’t-miss events include the annual Food & Wine Classic in early June; the Ideas Festival at the Aspen Institute in late June; and the ongoing Aspen Music Festival and school concerts at the Music Tent.
    5. Fall foliage. Starting in mid-September, the Aspen leaves turn yellow and fall foliage abounds, adding a mosaic of color to the majestic scenery. This time of year is idyllic for biking, hiking and taking a scenic drive. It’s considered “off season,” so the rates for airfare and lodging are cheaper, too.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best Aspen shopping?

    Aspen is famous for its shopping, with enough designer boutiques to rival Madison Avenue. Uptown girls will find themselves right at home among the racks at Gucci, Christian Dior, Prada, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren and a whole slew of other international brands on Galena Street. Aspen’s best-kept secret, though, is its consignment shops - where people dump designer clothes after one or two seasons - and they can be purchased for a fraction of their original price. Try Suzy’s Consignment at East Hopkins and Spring Street. The best place of all to dig for haute treasures is the Aspen Thrift Store, on East Hopkins and Galena. Trust us, even luxury shoppers can’t resist the knock-your-socks-off savings to be found while perusing the vintage boutiques. If you’re in the market for a new pair of jeans, however, don’t miss Boogie’s Retail for wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling designer denim.