Yes, Aspen is known for its upscale shopping, high end real estate and the many celebrities who frequent this Colorado playground. But more and more, families flock to Aspen for the wealth of outdoor activities it has to offer. With temperatures in the 70's from June to September, this cool mountain retreat beckons those who seek escape.
Renting a vehicle is almost unnecessary while in Aspen, as this small city is quite pedestrian friendly, with its large sidewalks, outdoor mall and everything you need within a short walking distance.
Mountain Biking at Snowmass — Photo courtesy of Aspen/Snowmass
Beginning as a small silver mining town in the late 1800's, the former Ute City now has a population of just over 6,000, Aspen (renamed for the popular trees in the area) is a huge draw for everyone from nature buffs to athletes and adventure junkies.
Four hours from Denver and only 1 1/2 hours to Vail, Aspen offers an abundance of outdoor fun. If hiking is your thing, there is everything from self guided tours for the novice to guided alpine hiking over the alpine pass to Crested Butte for the more experienced.
Jeep tours, camping and fly-fishing trips entice some, while many go for the more rigorous mountain biking. Not to be missed and just a short drive away in nearby Highlands are the most photographed peaks in North America, the "Maroon Bells." Easiest approach is by bus, which leaves every 20 minutes from Ruby Park.
At the base of these mountains, surrounded by lake and wildflowers is the T-Lazy 7 Ranch, where families will love the western atmosphere and horseback riding. Lodge and cabin rentals available.
Thrill seekers can check out the white water rafting, zip lining across the Animas River or paragliding and tandem flights from the top of Aspen Mountain. And for a different thrill, hot air balloon rides offer an incredible experience, complete with champagne toast and certificate.
Kids will love taking the 2.5 mile ride on the Silver Queen Gondola, traveling 3,000 vertical feet up to the top of Aspen Mountain. While there, play a round at the world's highest disc golf course, experience the Eurobungy trampoline or just relax at the Sundeck restaurant up top.
Aspen hosts professional golf tournaments, mountain bike races, and is training ground for many professional runners. It is home to a quality golf course and tennis club and recreation center, with amenities such as two pools, lazy river, a rock wall and hot tub, sauna and steam room.
When it's time to unwind, catch a student concert at the Aspen Music Festival, free bluegrass on Sundays by top musicians from Colorado and around the country or a performance by the renowned Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.
Remember, high altitude calls for staying hydrated and sunscreen protected. Afternoon thunderstorms can crop up, so hikers be boyscout ready with an emergency kit and a jacket.
Aspen is not just for the rich and famous - it's the ultimate summertime alpine adventure.