The Aspen/Snowmass region in Colorado is often considered one of the playgrounds for the “rich and famous,” especially in the winter when snow covers the mountains and skiers and snowboarders traverse the slopes and cross country trails.  However, even “common folks” will find the area worth a visit after the snow has melted from the ski slopes. There’s a saying of the locals, “I came for the winters, but stayed for the summers.” Regardless of which warmer weather months you decide to make the trip, there are endless activities to engage all ages and interests.  So let’s start a wonderful three-day vacation in Aspen/Snowmass. First we need to get there and find a place to sleep.

Getting to the Colorado Ski Resort

It may surprise some to learn you can take a flight to Aspen.  Just three miles from Aspen and Main Street Aspen; Photo by Ben & Whitney Carey, Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Photo by Ben & Whitney Carey, Source: Wikimedia Commonssix from Snowmass Village, the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) serves flights from American Airlines and United Express.  In addition, Eagle County Regional Airport is only 70 miles away, while Grand Junction Regional Airport is 127 miles from the mountain resorts.  From the airports, transportation to the resorts is varied.  Shuttles and vans can be chartered; taxi service is available; and some lodgings offer free transport.  It is recommended arrangements are made in advance of the visit.

Amtrak provides service to Glenwood Springs; forty miles from Aspen.  In addition, there are several campgrounds accommodating RVs.   The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority provides free bus service within the town of Aspen; between the town and Snowmass Village and within the ski resort year-round.

Lodging in the Area

The available lodgings in the area are as varied as the income of the tourists.  Luxury hotels and condominiums are abundant as are moderately priced hotels and motels; several economy priced lodgings round out the list of available places for the nightly slumber.

Whitman Fine Properties specializes in condominium rentals to fit any budget.  Likewise, Frias Properties also provide assistance in finding the perfect lodging for your trip to the area. Most of the hotels provide a beautiful view and most have a hot tub or pool, many with both.  Many of the hotels provide a continental or full breakfast as part of their packages.

If Fido and Fluffy make the trip with you, be sure to check if the lodging allows pets.  Many do allow pets; however, most that do so are the higher priced facilities.  The majority of the hotels also have a fitness room accessible to guests.

Now that we’ve found a place to sleep and reservations to arrive and get to our lodgings, the true venture into paradise begins.  We can now settle into our three-day adventure.

Day One  

Waking up in the beautiful mountains of Colorado is exhilarating.  You immediately appreciate the mountain sun and the clean air.  Foregoing the continental breakfast, you decide to take the recommendation from a local and walk to the Main Street Bakery for breakfast. As you enjoy the short walk, you look around and notice there are a variety of specialty shops in the little compact town.  Instead of loads of vehicle traffic, you notice people walking and riding bicycles.  An information kiosk tells you there is much to do in the little town.  Upcoming The Dancing Fountains; Photo by Zereshk, Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Photo by Zereshk, Source: Wikimedia Commonsevents include concerts, wine tastings, lectures, fashion shows and all sorts of sporting activities.

After enjoying the best eggs benedict you’ve ever tasted, you walk around the twelve block core of Aspen. You pass by galleries, bookstores and cycle shops, making note of which shops you’ll explore later.  You smile as you see children running into the waters of the dancing fountain.  Passing Rio Grande Park you head to the Rio Grande Trail, the most popular recreation path in the area.

The paved trail runs alongside the Roaring Fork River all the way to Glenwood Springs forty-two miles away. Though hikers, rollerbladers, cyclists and even commuters use the trail, at times, you find yourself completely alone listening to the gentle gurgling of the river and Maroon Bells; Photo by Jesse Varner, Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Photo by Jesse Varner, Source: Wikimedia Commonsthe rustling of the “quakies” (aspen trees). Before you know it, your stomach signals it’s lunch time.

Lunch on a patio sounds perfect; but should you go to Finbarr’s Irish pub smack in the middle of the Hyman Pedestrian Mall, or the Ajax Tavern where you can try their famous truffle fries?  Of course, there are dozens of other culinary choices, each with their own specialties.  You settle on the truffle fries and are not disappointed. 

After lunch you take the Historical Society History Coach Tour.  As the six-seat electric trolley whisks you around town, you visit two local history museums and listen to your guide tell stories of how Aspen came to be the town it is today.  To top off the history tour, you end the day at the Aspen Brewing Company, one of three known drinking establishments since 1885 to produce its own beer.

For dinner more choices abound.  Shall it be the only alpine restaurant, Creperie du Village, or seafood at Pacifica?  A good meal is capped with a gelato from the Paradise Bakery and an impromptu classical concert from Music Festival students.  Back in your comfortable hotel room, sleep comes easily.

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 Day Two

The second day of your vacation takes you to Snowmass Village. Early risers will enjoy the sight of dozens of colorful hot air balloons filling the blue sky.  The air at sunrise gives smooth flight over the Snowmass valley.  For a moment you wish you’d gotten up a bit earlier and made one of those smooth flights.  You make a mental note to do that next time you come here.  

Hiking Trail; Photo by Matanya, Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Photo by Matanya, Source: Wikimedia CommonsYou’re happy to find out if you had kids you could drop them off at the Treehouse Kids Adventure Center where they would enjoy a themed day camp.  They could enjoy mountain biking, paintball, mountain boarding, or hiking.  You make a mental note to tell your friends who do have kids about this wonderful option.  You have a choice of hiking or mountain biking the Rim Trail, a seven-mile single track along a Mancos shale ridge which offers splendid views of the mountain peaks and valley.

Mid-day it’s time to refuel and you narrow your choices down to Fuel at the Snowmass Mall which offers a refreshing smoothie, breakfast burritos, gourmet wraps or Panini; or Base Camp Bar & Grill which has an extensive mountain-town menu.  Once the hunger pains have been satisfied, you’re ready for the afternoon.  Should you go on a three-and-a-half-hour Jeep tour or explore the area via horseback?  You opt for the leisure of meandering through the Aspen Horseback Riding Through Aspen Groves; Photo: Courtesy of the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association/Home Ranch, Source: Colorado.comCredit: Photo: Courtesy of the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association/Home Ranch, Source: Colorado.comgroves and meadows filled with wildflowers on top of a gentle and easy-going horse provided by the local Wilderness Outfitters.

The evening is set for more western experiences.  You enjoy a sunset country-style dinner at the historic Burlingame mountain cabin.  The event is a three-hour affair with live music around a campfire, horseshoes and s’mores capped by beautiful views of the sun setting behind the mountains and turning the alpine sky to a star-filled extravaganza.  You sure won’t see that in the city.

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 Day Three

You can hardly believe it is your final day in the area and you want to wrap up your mini-vacation with another day of fun and relaxation.  You decide to take a bus tour of the Maroon Bells Lake; Photo by Frank Kovalchek, Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Photo by Frank Kovalchek, Source: Wikimedia CommonsMaroon Lake and the Maroon Bells Peaks.  Along the way you learn about the local history, wildlife and geography.   Once at the Lake, you spend some time hiking around the area and simply taking in all the majesty of nature.

Whitewater Rafting; Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Source: Wikimedia CommonsYou’re excited for the afternoon adventure.  Fly-fishing and golf is too tame for your free spirit. Instead, you sign up to take a guided whitewater-rafting trip down the Roaring Fork River.  The exhilarating ride leaves you breathless and a little wet.  What better way to cap the afternoon than with a relaxing trip to the Viceroy Spa?  You love the pampering of the massage treatments and feel invigorated by the hydrating and moisturizing elements of the treatment.

How best to end your time in the beautiful Aspen Snowmass area?   You find yourself at the Belly Up, Aspen’s live music venue which only seats 450.  Some of the biggest names in the industry as well as the up and coming display their talents at the club and you marvel as you see photos of past performers such as Joe Crocker and B.B. King.  Feeling totally relaxed, you leave the club and walk under the star-filled sky to snuggle down in the comfort of your bed for the last night in this paradise.  As you fall asleep, the last thought is you will come back and experience the wonderment of this magnificent place during the height of the winter.  The ski slopes and cross country trails await.


The copyright of the article Three-Day Mini Summer Vacation to Aspen is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing