Not just a place for X Games pros and ski bunnies, Aspen has much to offer families, couples and outdoor enthusiasts alike during the warmer months.
By Alli Tong
Aspen, Colo., has long held a reputation as one of the country’s top ski areas and hot spots for outdoor devotees. And it’s no wonder—the small mountain community (population of about 7,000) swells with world-class athletes and snow sports fanatics in the wintertime for Aspen and Buttermilk Mountains’ famous terrains as well as the Winter X Games, which has been held in Aspen for the past 12 years.
But summertime in Aspen truly defies the ordinary and should not be forgotten as a vacation option. With more than 300 days of sunshine year-round, and activities from mountain hiking, biking, concerts, festivals, shopping and more, Aspen has everything for a great summer vacation—at 8,000 feet above sea level. Here, discover why Aspen may just be the perfect place for your next summer vacation.
Summer is a great time to visit Aspen, when resorts and hotels are less likely to be filled to the max, making you feel like this tucked-away city is all yours.
Exuding luxury and mountain elegance, The St. Regis Aspen Resort (stregisaspen.com) brings its guests uncompromising service, amenities and views of the area’s lush green hillsides and forests—not to mention easy access to downtown with its central location in the heart of the city.
Enjoy full-service offerings such as the award-winning Remède Spa, 24-hour butler service and renowned dining such as the resort’s Chefs Club by Food & Wine, where James Beard Award-winning chefs whip up exciting new menus every season.
For those looking for a cosmopolitan feel with a little bit of country, The Little Nell (thelittlenell.com) is laid-back enough for a casual vacation yet romantic enough for an intimate getaway. Located just 17 paces from the base of the Silver Queen Gondola (which is a must-do for unparalleled views of the mountains and robin’s-egg blue skies), the hotel offers exquisite suites and dining options, perfect for nights in and socializing.
After visiting Aspen, it’s easy to fall in love with this mountain town—breathtaking views, soul-refreshing air and dusk-to-dawn activities. That’s why the Dancing Bear Aspen (dancingbearaspen.com), a private residence club that allows owners a year-round home in Aspen, broke ground in 2009. The club features nine residences, giving owners—who buy in at one-eighth fractions—superior service and five-star amenities without the worries of taking care of a second home.
Andrea Laderman, who lives full time in Southern California with her husband and three young children, first bought a fractional ownership in Dancing Bear in 2009. They loved the fact that the residence gave them exactly what they were looking for—an effortless getaway that allowed them to be a family together. “It exceeded our wildest expectations,” says Andrea, who notes that she and her family stay at the Dancing Bear Aspen at least four times during the year, with summer being a favorite season, when they often stay for a few weeks at a time.
“Buying a second property is a big decision—many of us can’t buy a second property and still travel,” Andrea says. “We are the type of people who know that we want to spend all our vacation [in Aspen].”
During their stays, the family members love spending time at the rooftop lounge, which offers a place for owners to relax among the best views in town as well as a full breakfast bar in the morning. They also enjoy renting the private theater room or playing with their kids in the extensive playroom.
For time away from the kids, Andrea and Mark both love to bike, hike and spend time outdoors or attend a local event, such as the ballet or a concert at the popular music venue Belly Up, with the assistance of the residence club’s concierge, who will help with transportation and tickets.
“We love it so much,” Andrea says. “The owners here are like-minded, and we have made great friends.
Whether you’re yearning to explore Aspen’s abundant nature or shop until you drop, Aspen has something for everyone.
One of the best ways to explore the area is via bicycle. On bike, you’ll pass streams, waterfalls and cliff-side views of town. One fun, easy route for beginners is the Woody Creek Trail, about a 10-mile trek along a beautiful canyon road. When you reach the town of Woody Creek (once home to legendary author Hunter S. Thompson), you can stop at the world-famous Woody Creek Tavern for good food and brew.
Although there are plenty of more challenging trails for expert cyclists as well as hikers, those looking to do something a little more adventurous might want to explore Aspen with a one-of-a-kind view—from the sky. Take flight over the city with Aspen Paragliding (aspenparagliding.com), where you’ll fly tandem with an expert instructor. Flights take off from Aspen Mountain at various times in the morning.
While the city’s downtown area is host to a number of shops—everything from art to antiques—experience the way of the locals and head to Aspen Saturday Market (every Saturday from June 15 through Oct. 12.), which showcases locally grown produce and artisan gifts. Other downtown stores run the gamut from consignment to high-end designer brands, such as Gorsuch and Burberry.
From traditional brasseries to casual American dining, discover an array of dining options at your fingertips.
A traditional French brasserie with an enticing menu—and a fine selection of refreshing libations to boot—awaits gourmets at Brexi Brasserie (brexiaspen.com) inside the Dancing Bear Aspen. Decked out with black-and-white tiled floors, the charming atmosphere of Brexi has been known to lure not only locals and visitors but also the owners of Dancing Bear. For a true brasserie experience, sit at the bar and order bar-style dishes such as the hanger steak with frites or the crab cake po’boy.
Oenophiles will love the posh Cache Cache (cachecache.com), where everyone from winter ski bums to celebrity locals like Lance Armstrong can be found. Find an extensive wine list boasting more than 1,000 labels and mouthwatering entrees like the Colorado rack of lamb with potatoes au gratin.
“We have a philosophy of using local products,” says chef and co-owner Chris Lanter. “We like to keep our cuisine really simple, keeping the flavors.”
Chris says that patrons to Cache Cache in the summer can find oft-used ingredients such as garlic scapes, sweet corn, fresh peaches from the nearby city of Palisade, chevre (goat cheese), as well as herbs like mint and rosemary. The chef also recommends the restaurant’s newly crafted summer beverage called the Caprock Gin, which is made with Peak Peach Eau de Vie, fresh squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and soda.
If you’re looking for a getaway that’s far from big cities and big lights, yet still encompasses a surplus of activities and entertainment in a heavenly backdrop, look no further than Aspen. Whether you opt for leisurely summer strolls through downtown and quiet nights of gazing at the clear, star-splattered sky or opt to trek the mountains and soar above the skies, this city has it all. LBM