Aspen is, of course, best known as a high-end skiing destination but many parts of the area remain quaint and provincial even today (outside of the posh resorts, chalets and bistros). Located west of Denver, the town is set at 7,908 feet and offers spectacular mountain scenery in any season. If you're thinking of visiting at a time other than the winter months, there are many fun things to do all round the area. But if you're planning a visit to ski, you're in for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Ski resorts are everywhere around Aspen and the favorite of many visitors, including jetsetters and Hollywood stars, is Aspen Mountain on Colorado 82. There are no beginner runs here--only intermediate and advanced--so it's perfect for skiers and snowboarders who don't like cluttered slopes. Snow enthusiasts who are just starting might try Buttermilk Ski Resort, located outside Aspen Mountain, where beginners are welcome. Two other resorts in the Aspen area are Aspen Highlands and Snowmass. Lift tickets bought at any are good for all.
Backcountry skiing in Aspen is also a popular activity. Many visitors head to the trail that leads to the Alfred A. Braun Hut System, where you can enjoy an overnight stay. Backcountry skiing allows you to experience nature's most beautiful sites but you have to be in good shape to do this on your own. You can hire a guide to help you out, if you're inexperienced.
If you don't want to do any work yourself, snowmobiling is the way to get around. There are plenty of rentals near the White River National Forest. You can also hire a guide to lead you, which is a good idea, since the terrain can be unpredictable.
Dining and Nightlife
Skiing and partying go hand in hand and Aspen carries on this tradition as nowhere else. (A lot of visitors leave out the skiing altogether.) There are over 100 bars and restaurants to choose from, offering everything from quick meals to gourmet food, and the city is alive with action at night.
Gusto Ristorante is a fairly new dining establishment with authentic Italian food. At Jimmy's the specialties are steak, tequila and Saturday-night salsa dancing. Elevation serves sumptuous dinners and is a late-night watering hole for guests who enjoy techno music and international sounds. 39 Degrees is another hotspot with pool bar, outdoor firepits and delicious cocktails. For lunch, try Johnny McGuire's, a local favorite with deli food and affordable sandwiches perfect for picnics and ski tours.
Aspen has a lot of fun things to do year-round. The Aspen Dance Festival is an international event held during summer months, with troupes performing from all over the world. The Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival is actually two festivals: the June Festival in the last week of June and the Labor Day Festival at summer's end.
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