My husband had a work conference in Aspen recently, so Augusten and I decided to spontaneously tag along. I’ll preface this by saying that I am NOT a skier, and Augusten isn’t quite to the point of being able to sustain a half-day ski class in 20 degree temps. But if you’re thinking that Aspen is just for skiers, think again! Below are five things we did in Aspen that didn’t involve any complicated equipment.
Visit the Aspen Recreational Center
The Aspen Recreational Center is a true gem, especially if you have kids. It’s like a YMCA, only fancier. They have indoor rock climbing, indoor ice skating, a full gym, and a ginormous heated indoor water park, equipped with not just a pool, but lazy river, water slides, hot tubs, and plenty of toys for the little ones. However, we skipped all that in lieu of a $10 sled rental, which we promptly took out to the snowy hill BEHIND the rec center and had the best time speeding down! You have to walk your way back up though, so you’re in for quite the workout.
Ride the Silver Queen Gondola Up and Down the Mountain
The totally enclosed gondola is a perfect way to cruise 12,000 feet up and down the mountain in comfort and relative warmth. The ride takes about 15 minutes one way, so you have plenty of time to scope out the scenery (much slower, I may add, then skiing down the mountain!) We went up in the middle of what we New Yorkers would call a blizzard, so by the time we arrived at the top we literally couldn’t see a thing.
However, on sunny days I bet the view is stunning, and there’s also a restaurant at the top, so you can truly make an afternoon of it! Gondola tickets are $26 round trip for adults and free for children under 6, which are a lot cheaper than lift tickets, may I add.
Check Out The Aspen Art Museum
Not only is this a great little museum in downtown Aspen, but it’s also completely free! Aspen is definitely a city with prices equivalent to NYC, so this is nothing to scoff at. They have lockers on the first floor so you can tuck away all your snow gear while you’re perusing the museum, and an amazing rooftop cafe with stunning views of the mountains. Grab a hot cocoa and stay a while!
Stroll Around Downtown Aspen on Foot
Even in super chilly weather, downtown Aspen is totally walkable and so enjoyable. You’ll be met with shops you’re used to seeing on 5th Avenue (Hello Chanel), as well as cute pop-ups for the season (like GP’s Goop), and local favorites, such as thrift stores and book stores. There’s plenty of green space as well, and sweet little playgrounds for kids.
Food Glorious Food
Of course, you’ll want to get your eat on while you’re in Aspen! We loved hanging out by the fireplace in the lobby of the St. Regis for most of our lunches (plenty of couches and super comfy), the legendary pancakes at Poppycock’s Cafe and the Nutella crepes and hash browns at Aspen Over Easy Breakfast Club for breakfast, and Ajax Tavern (and room service, if I’m being honest) for dinner.
A Few Tips
- Public buses will get you basically anywhere you need to go for free! So, don’t shell out big bucks for Uber here…there’s just no reason.
- You may remember my life rule with kids: plan only one activity a day. This kept both Augusten and I sane with the time change, kept his bedtime on schedule, and left me plenty of time in the evenings to soak in a hot bath, read a book, and watch HGTV (my hotel guilty pleasure. I highly recommend you try this the next time you travel, with or without kids! You actually come back from the vacation (no matter how short) energized and recharged as opposed to exhausted and drained.
Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.
She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York…as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.