Aspen may have a reputation for its riches, but there are few Colorado towns that have as rich a history as this former mining enclave. Tucked into the Elk Mountains and Sawatch Range, Aspen was founded in 1879 during the Colorado silver boom. The market crashed soon after and it wasn’t until the 1940s when Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke discovered what remained of the town that its next boom began. He and his wife, Elizabeth, developed a plan to reinvent the area as a vacation destination to inspire the mind, body and spirit.
Aspen has stayed true to these three founding principles and has grown into one of the world’s most iconic mountain resorts. A reputation for “glitz and glam” and indulging in the good life has attracted A-list visitors for decades (don’t be surprised when you spot a celeb in the wild), but thanks to its year-round community of longtime locals, this alpine town’s charm isn’t just about luxury.
The old saying among Aspenites goes, “I came for the winter but I stayed for the summer.” While you might first think of saving your visit for ski season, the warmer months are just as sweet — and more affordable. The mountains are open for hiking and biking — the endless adventures enhanced by a thriving cultural calendar and charming cobblestone-clad downtown core teeming with world-class art galleries, award-winning restaurants, luxury designer boutiques and five-star resorts.
About a 3.5-hour drive from Denver, “A Quick Trip” to Aspen is just far enough from Front Range communities to warrant a full weekend getaway. And while it ranks as one of the world’s most exclusive enclaves, there’s a way to visit Aspen on a summer vacation budget of any size. Here’s an insider’s itinerary to experiencing one of the world’s swankiest ski towns.
Read the travel guide on The Know Outdoors.