Aspen is well known across the world for its world-class skiing. But the town also boasts a spirited nightlife scene, plenty of shopping opportunities for travelers on any budget, and an abundance of delicious restaurants to spoil your taste buds. In fact, there are so many things to do in Aspen you may have to visit more than once (and in different seasons no less!) to check them all off your list.
If you're already planning a getaway there and not sure what to do - I've got you covered. Here is a perfect 3-day itinerary to make the most of Aspen.
Where to stay in Aspen
First off, you're going to need a place to stay while in Aspen. While there are many gorgeous hotels that offer perfect accommodations while visiting, I would suggest making The Gant your home base. Not only does it provide the comforts of a condominium rental (full kitchens and gorgeous living spaces to stretch out in), but it also has all the services and amenities of a luxury hotel (a great gym, multiple heated pools/jacuzzis, and on-demand complimentary transportation). You won't regret it when you're relaxing in one of their hot tubs after a long eventful day in Aspen.
Getting to Aspen
Aspen has a small airport, Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (code: ASE), that services regional airlines. You can find direct flights from Chicago, but sadly not from New York.
Read on: Full Aspen Travel Guide
An easier on the wallet approach is the fly plus drive method. Book a flight into Denver International and then rent a car for the the 4ish hour drive to Aspen. There are two major routes if you're driving from Denver to Aspen. The first, Independence Pass, is only open in the summer months but provides spectacular views. The second is a bit slower and longer and drives through Glenwood Springs.
This guide assumes you came in the night before to Aspen. The altitude in Colorado is no joke, I got sick my first day there because I pushed myself too hard, so make sure you give yourself time to adjust.
More tips on planning a successful trip to Aspen here.
Morning | Day 1
Head to Spring Cafe for an early morning healthy (key word!) breakfast to fuel you for the long day ahead. They offer organic breakfasts, awesome juices, smoothies & coffees. Also, it's a nice introduction to how health driven the town of Aspen is. Make sure you fill up because you won't be eating until mid-afternoon.
After breakfast head over to Snowmass for your first day of skiing. Snowmass is the perfect ski area to start on because it actually has some green trails unlike Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain. By the way, if you're not sure what to pack/wear on a ski trip check out this article.
While on the mountain make sure to grab some lunch at Gwyns High Alpine. Order something that fills you up because next up are some cocktails. You see, it wouldn't be a successful visit to Aspen without a deep dive into this vibrant Après Ski scene.
Afternoon | Day 1
First, what exactly is Après Ski? The French phrase literally translates to "after ski," and refers to any social activities that you partake in after a long day hitting the slopes. Aspen has a particularly marvelous Après ski lifestyle and locals live by what you do after skiing is just as important as the sport itself.
Now that you know what it is, where should you go for your first day on the Aspen Après ski scene? First up, wander over to Woody Creek Distillery. Don't miss out on trying some of their excellent reserve Vodka. I was very skeptical at first - as in I was heavily peer pressured to try some. Between you and me, I can't drink vodka literally ever because I drank a bit too much of it in college. But, Woody Creek's vodka goes down ridiculously smooth. My favorite way to drink it was in a Moscow Mule.
Evening | Day 1
After a couple drinks head back to town (with your designated driver!) for a stop at the dispensary. Weed is legal in Colorado, and if you're into that you should definitely check out Silverpeak. The customer service, the dispays, the selection. All of it will blow your mind.
Finish off the night by heading to Mi Chola, an excellent Mexican restaurant in the middle of town. Head to the bar for some of their excellent cocktails before you eat a heavenly dinner. P.S. If you don't order the queso you are doing dinner wrong.
Morning | Day 2
Depending on how late you were out last night, you may want to just grab breakfast at Pepperjacks on The Gant property. If you're trying to cut costs, you can do what I did and pack some oatmeal and make breakfast in your condo. This is a huge reason why I loved staying at The Gant - you have the option to do what is best for you and your budget.
Read on: Full Review of my stay at The Gant Aspen
After fueling up, head to Aspen Highlands for a day on the mountain. You should take note that Aspen Highlands (and tomorrows Aspen Mountain) have no green trails. There are a couple of blues that are on the easier side but you should have a pretty good ski ability if you choose to go here.
Not an expert yet? Head to Buttermilk instead.
Afternoon | Day 2
Take advantage of Merry Go Round for lunch today. It's right in the middle of Highlands Mountain and has something for everyone. After refueling you can either keep riding the plethora of trails or take a long hike along the ridge to try your hand at Highland Bowl (experts only).
Après ski starts early today, and on the mountain. You have two options again: Laid back or full on party.
Laid back: BYOC (bring your own champagne) and ski over to picnic point on Highland Mountain for some truly glorious views. If the lone picnic table is empty grab it quickly, if not spike your skis into the snow and use them as a backrest while you sip your champagne.
Full on Party: How do I even describe Cloud Nine? Miami beach meets Colorado mountains...? A party where a poncho is required...? A lunch that is more expensive than your lift ticket...? All of those don't really capture the truly unique experience that is cloud nine. Check out the video below to get a feel and make sure you make reservations in advance.
Evening | Day 2
Don't drink too much, you still have to make it down the mountain. Once you do though, head over to Hotel Jerome for drinks in their Living Room - a bar designed to feel exactly as it sounds - an open, inviting space to sip drinks and munch on small plates. Pro Tip: Drink like a local and try the Aspen Crud, a bourbon milkshake cocktail that dates back to Prohibition.
After drinks, it's a short walk over to dinner. Tonight you should try La Crêperie du Village - another cozy spot that mixes Swiss and French vibes into an unforgettable dinner.
Morning | Day 3
Last day! Let's make the most of it!
Start the morning with early tracks on Aspen Mountain. If you're staying at The Gant they can reserve your spot. You can call the mountain directly (970-920-0755) or simply sign up in the Silver Queen Gondola Building. Your reservations can only be made 24 hours in advance (8 AM the day before). The morning of you will need to meet at gondola base by 8 AM.
After your (probably quite beautiful) morning runs, grab some much-needed food at Bonnie's. This excellent and quaint breakfast spot on the mountain has pancakes that are TO DIE FOR. Ok, maybe that's a bit much but they are really good. Breakfast ends around 10:30 so make sure you're in by then.
Afternoon | Day 3
If you aren't too sore, spend your day skiing as many of the unbelievable Aspen Mountain trails as possible. Or, if you're ready to be done head instead to the base of the mountain for Clicquot In The Snow. Starting at 11:30 am the self-proclaimed "Après ski and be seen" has a live DJ and a mobile bar serving, you guessed it, Veuve Clicquot.
Return your skis and then grab some delicious ice cream, basically across the street from Aspen Mountain, at Paradise Bakery & Cafe.
Evening | Day 3
Final nights are always tough. Some people want to go hard and deal with the trip being over tomorrow while others are winding down and relaxing before heading back to the real world.
I would suggest having a low key last meal at Limelight hotel with an option of dancing on the side. While at dinner you can start looking up plane tickets for your next trip to Aspen.
One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you. Here are some books I recommend...
And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).