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Is Aspen Worth Visiting? Honest Review And Things To Do

Aspen, Colorado is one of the most luxurious mountain towns in the United States. It has quite an awesome reputation. But is Aspen worth visiting?

Aspen has four distinct ski areas, a lively main street with countless shops and restaurants, upscale accommodations, and stunning mountain views. For these reasons, it is known as a top destination for those looking for a mix of luxury and natural beauty.

There are numerous amazing sights and activities to enjoy in and around Aspen, no matter the season of your visit. But of course, all these possibilities come with a price tag.

Luckily for you, my friend Abby is an Aspen expert, and I interviewed her for this post. We’ll give you insight, into whether or not Aspen is worth the trip.

In this post, you’ll also get a preview of the top places to visit, and things to do. Of course, we’ll provide some reasons why you should and shouldn’t visit Aspen.

Let’s get to it!

A twilight view of Aspen, with warm city lights illuminating the town against the snowy backdrop of ski runs on the mountains. This photo perfectly sums up why Aspen is worth visiting.

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Is Aspen Worth Visiting? In Short

If you are just here to get a quick answer before planning your trip, here it is:

Yes, Aspen is worth a visit!

Despite any concerns about its popularity, celebrity status, and cost – the city is a great vacation destination in the US.

Having experienced this charming mountain town multiple times, I can confidently say that it offers an incredible experience. I love it there!

Whether you’re into its excellent skiing in winter or enjoying scenic hikes in the other seasons, Aspen has a lot to offer.

The views are insane, the food is delicious, and there are lots of awesome hotels and Airbnb’s for a great stay.

A skier on a vast snowy slope with scattered pine trees under a bright blue sky, in Aspen.

Why You Shouldn’t Visit Aspen

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly getaway, Aspen might not be your best choice. In that case, you might want to consider a cheap winter destination in the US.

It’s known for its high prices. You’ll see them at designer stores, top-notch ski resorts and spas, fancy dining, and luxury hotels.

While you can visit Aspen without breaking the bank, it’s not typically a destination for a cheap vacation. Personally, I shy away from visiting places where I don’t fit in budget-wise.

Other downsides of visiting Aspen are big crowds in peak season, challenging weather at times, and limited accessibility.

Further down in this post, I’ll give you some tips on how to navigate those challenges.

A sunny street view in Aspen with charming brick buildings and the American flag fluttering, with snow-covered slopes in the distance. The cute inner city of Aspen makes it definitely worth visiting.

Pros and Cons of Visiting Aspen

Pros

💙 Stunning Landscape and Scenery

💙 Amazing Things to Do

💙 Luxury Shopping

💙 Lots of Awesome Hotels

💙 Spas & Relaxation

💙 Great Food-Scene

💙 Fun Nightlife

💙 Vibrant Art Scene (Museums, Galleries etc)

Cons

💔 Expensive

💔 Crowded (at times)

💔 Pretentious Atmosphere

💔 Challenging Weather

💔 Hard to Get to

The Maroon Bells mountains tower majestically over the surrounding forest under a clear blue sky in Aspen

Awesome Things To Do in Aspen

If you are still not sure if Aspen is worth visiting, here are a couple of activities that might change your mind.

Keep reading below as I share some of my favorite things to do in Aspen – for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation.

With these awesome activities, you’ll create lasting memories of your time in Colorado.

1. Hit the Slopes and Go Skiing

Aspen is known as the ski capital of the world, so this needs to be on top of your bucket list.

If you’re visiting in winter or early spring, bring your skis, ski helmet, and other essentials – and be ready to be blown away.

Aspen has four different ski resorts: Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, Snowmass, and Aspen Mountain. My personal favorite is Aspen Highlands, because of the expert skiing and legendary Highland Bowl. 

Each ski resort offers unique slopes for all skill levels and of course incredible mountain views. So, you really can’t go wrong with any of the resorts in the area.

After all, Colorado is one of the best states for skiing and snowboarding, so don’t miss out on the chance to enjoy Aspen’s world-class resorts for an unforgettable experience.

A wide shot of Aspen's ski slopes with a clear view of the trails and pine trees under a brilliant blue sky.

2. Enjoy A Hike Around The Maroon Bells

Even though Aspen is famous for skiing, you can enjoy the town year-round. I also think Aspen is awesome in the fall.

You can enjoy hiking in Aspen no matter the season, but it’s especially wonderful in warmer months like summer, fall, or spring.

My favorite time to visit the Maroon Bells is during fall when the leaves start falling and the aspen trees turn bright yellow.

For an easy hike, try the Maroon Bells Scenic Loop Trail. It’s just 2 miles long and offers breathtaking views of the mountains and landscape. This hike is perfect for enjoying nature without working too hard.

Psst: it will also serve up lots of great photo opportunities.

A serene hiking trail in Aspen with lush greenery, flanked by tall trees under a clear blue sky.

3. Take The Gondola Up The Mountain

Riding the gondola at Aspen Snowmass is a fantastic activity year-round, whether you’re visiting in winter or summer.

In winter, you can enjoy the snowy vistas and use it as a convenient lift to access skiing trails. 

Did you know that you can also use the gondola in summer? You can drive up to get some awesome views or even to jumpstart a hike.

Plus, you’ll capture plenty of stunning Instagram photos with the beautiful mountains as your backdrop from the top of the gondola.

A serene hiking trail in Aspen with lush greenery, flanked by tall trees under a clear blue sky.

4. Stroll Around The Main Street And Shop

Aspen is famous for its luxury shopping. Some of the most exclusive brands, like Chanel, Prada, and Louis Vuitton draw in crowds and celebrities.

However, if you prefer budget-friendly options, there are also boutique shops, art galleries, and outdoor gear stores you can check out.

Walking along the main street is a treat in itself, as it’s incredibly scenic. Keep an eye out for celebrities, as they are often seen shopping, exploring, or dining along the main strip.

An upscale boutique in Aspen with shelves of stylish handbags and a modern, minimalist interior design.

5. Sample Some Delicious Food

Given Aspen’s world-class skiing, upscale shopping, and luxurious accommodations, it’s no surprise that the dining scene in this mountain town is exceptional.

There are so many fantastic restaurant options in Aspen that you shouldn’t miss.

Having visited Aspen multiple times, I highly recommend trying the Aspen Hickory House for a relaxed dining experience that offers delicious barbecue.

If you’re in the mood for something more upscale, I suggest dining at the French Alpine Bistro, known for its crepes and wine selection.

A gourmet dish featuring roasted meat and colorful vegetable garnishes artistically arranged on a ceramic plate, indicative of fine dining in Aspen.

6. Relax At A Spa

Getting pampered at a spa in a mountain town is truly special, and Aspen boasts some of the best spas around.

For a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, visit the WestEnd MedSpa, known for offering top-notch facials in Aspen.

Especially if your skin is exposed to the cold air during skiing all day, they have some special treatments to put you back in shape.

7. Drive Along Independence Pass

Independence Pass is an iconic road trip in Colorado.

It is known for its beautiful scenery of the Rocky Mountains as you pass the Continental Divide. Plus, don’t miss the chance to explore the historic Ghost Town of Independence along the way. 

I love this drive because you’ll see so much of the area and you can really get a feel for the beautiful mountains.

Views like these really make Aspen worth visiting.

A winding road through Independence Pass near Aspen, with remaining snow patches and mountain ranges under a sunset sky.

Where To Stay In Aspen

As we discussed, Aspen is upscale and expensive. Finding good accommodation is one of the biggest challenges when visiting Aspen – especially when you are not super-rich.

Choosing the right kind of hotel is key to making your trip to Aspen worth it.

With so many options, it can be hard to pick where to stay in Aspen. That’s why I’ve highlighted a few of the best places to stay to make your decision a bit easier. 

Luxury: The St. Regis Aspen Resort – If you are looking for a luxurious place to stay, look no further. The St. Regis is known for its high-end amenities, top-notch interior and decor, and great staff. It’s in a great location and is a great home base for exploring all that Aspen has to offer. 

Mid-Range: Mountain Chalet Aspen – This Chalet is all about its prime location. You can walk to the ski lifts, making it a prime choice for a winter getaway. Plus, it has a great breakfast, hot tub, and sauna for guests to enjoy.

Budget-Friendly: Element Basalt Aspen – Technically this hotel is just outside of Aspen but it’s the perfect option if you are looking to avoid the hefty Aspen accommodation prices. I stayed here during one of my trips to Aspen and loved the convenient location, friendly staff, and brewery next door!

How To Get To Aspen

Another downside I mentioned of visiting Aspen is that it is hard to reach. So in this chapter, we’ll discuss a few ways to overcome that challenge.

The best way to get to Aspen is by flying into the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport.

But, if you are within driving distance then I recommend driving because it’s easy and cost-effective. This way you can use your car to explore the nearby attractions (you’ll need a car to explore the city).

If you’re nearby or enjoy road trips, driving to Aspen is easy. Highways like Interstate 70 and State Highway 82 connect well to Aspen.

Aspen has bus services by RFTA, handy if you prefer not to drive. These buses connect Aspen with nearby areas. This option is great for budget-traveling. Overall, I prefer to have my own vehicle though.

A signpost at the top of a snowy Aspen mountain with the text "Highland Bowl" indicating ski routes under an overcast sky.

FAQ: Is Aspen Worth Visiting?

How Much Time Do I Need in Aspen?

You should spend at least three full days in Aspen.

This allotted time allows you to walk around the main street, enjoy the views, participate in some outdoor activities, and simply enjoy being in Aspen. 

Aspen is a beautiful place, and a visit should never be rushed. Especially if you want to explore different hikes or skiing slopes, you’ll need a bit more time.

I think you can stay up for a week and keep nicely busy.

Is Aspen Expensive to Visit?

Visiting Aspen can be costly.

Being situated in a somewhat remote area means that getting there requires both time and money.

Once you’re in Aspen, you’ll find lots of upscale shopping, dining options, activities, and accommodations, contributing to its reputation for being on the pricier side.

Aspen is not a great place for budget travelers, so I would recommend going somewhere else instead.

Is Aspen a Walkable City?

You can easily walk along Aspen’s main street, especially if you stay at one of the main hotels there.

However, I recommend renting or driving your car so you can visit nearby attractions like the Maroon Bells and Independence Pass, which are just a short drive away.

Which is better Aspen or Park City?

Aspen is better than Park City in my opinion.

Both destinations are very similar and offer lots of skiing, shopping, dining, and hotels.

What sets Aspen apart is its top-notch amenities, activities all year round, and reputation as one of the best and most luxurious places globally.

Final Thoughts: Is Aspen Worth Visiting?

Aspen is definitely a destination worth visiting. If you are looking for a mix of luxury, outdoor fun, and beautiful scenery for your vacation, Aspen is the right fit.

Its top-notch amenities, the wide range of activities year-round, and breathtaking landscapes such as the Maroon Bells and Independence Pass make Aspen a truly special place to visit.

Whether you’re passionate about skiing, enjoy upscale shopping and dining, or just want to experience a luxurious getaway, Aspen has something unique to offer that makes it worth a visit.

As I mentioned, there are downsides to visiting Aspen. The clientele is upscale and that can make the atmosphere less friendly and somewhat pretentious. It can also be a difficult place to go if you don’t have a bigger budget.

So to sum it up, unless you are a budget traveler, I would recommend Aspen 100 % as a vacation destination in North America.

blonde girl pink dress in front of blue door santorini

About the Author

Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, based in the Netherlands. She spends most parts of the year abroad at various destinations with her husband.

She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.