Beyond Ski Slopes: 10 Reasons You’ll Love Aspen Right Now

Who decided Aspen is just for winter? The ski resort town has all the joys of the sunny season!

What does vacation mean to you? Hiking and backpacking? Rafting and kayaking? Ballooning and horseback riding? Enjoy all this and more in the Rockies’ ultimate recreational playground – Aspen. Wait a minute…Aspen? The go-to winter resort town for the glitz and glam crowd? Yup, when the temperature rises and the snowflakes melt, the mountain city becomes the perfect setting for a whole host of warm weather activities that drive many travelers to say, “I came for the winter, and stayed for the summer.” So, here are 10 reasons why Aspen in warm weather is today’s hottest vacation idea:

If you like your vacation lofty

You’ll love Aspen’s Maroon Bells – Over 14,000 feet high and perhaps the original “twin peaks,” they’re the most photographed mountains in North America. Reach this postcard-perfect must-see for nature lovers by car or bus (each at designated times only). And get ready to be treated to breathtaking panoramas, scenic hiking trails, pine and aspen forests, wildflowers and columbine flowers (during their seasons) and, if you’re lucky, even some wildlife (deer and moose).

If you like your vacation musical

You’ll love Aspen’s Music Festival and School – If you’re a fan of opera, chamber music, or symphony concerts, be sure to be in Aspen mid-summer to catch a performance or two. One of the US’s top classical music festivals (dating back to 1949), it’s renowned for both its concert programming and musical training. It holds events in various settings – from campus venues to churches to concert halls and other facilities, including the Benedict Music Tent with its open-air freshness and powerful acoustics. Costs range from free, to cheap, to $75 and up. Early reservations are recommended.

If you like your vacation uplifting

You’ll love Aspen’s Silver Queen Gondola – If you want a quick change of scene – from downtown Aspen’s pulsing shopping, dining, and gallery-hopping to total tranquility atop Aspen Mountain – then hop onto a gondola ride. Awaiting you at the summit? Spectacular Elk Mountain views.  Serenity-inviting yoga class at the Sundeck. Nature walks, Bluegrass concerts. Kids’ activities. And North America’s highest disc golf course.

If you like your vacation mellow

You’ll love Aspen’s John Denver Sanctuary – Reminisce about the good ole seventies at this idyllic tribute to the hit singer-songwriter of “Rocky Mountain High.” Find his song lyrics engraved into aesthetically positioned landscape rocks. Enjoy one of the largest perennial flower gardens, with an environmentally friendly wetlands filter system. And check out Theater Aspen – the venue of many live stage productions.

If you like your vacation leisurely

You’ll love Aspen’s Saturday Market – Spend a relaxing Saturday morning at this farmers market and local artisans display rolled into one. The Saturday Market is a U-shaped haven for Colorado-made, -grown, or –produced items, colorful crafts, and live music. Take a break from perusing stalls with a lunch or snack at the food court. If you want to take a piece of Aspen home, there’s no better place to buy it than at this colorful and diverse marketplace.

If you like your vacation adventurous

You’ll love Aspen’s Paragliding – The best thing about this is the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Aspen’s breathtaking landscapes from altitudes of up to 18,000 feet (on a good day) – with that vivid blue Aspen sky above you. The second-best thing is you don’t have to have paragliding experience. You will attend a briefing, then strap into a harness with a highly qualified USHGA certified tandem pilot/instructor behind you. And the third-best thing is, you’re not too young or too old to enjoy this exhilarating two-hour experience.

If you like your vacation daring

You’ll love Aspen’s Independence Pass – Bring out the daredevil in you with this picturesque 20-mile drive on one of the highest roads in North America. Independence Pass snakes along the Continental Divide at more than 12,000 feet above sea level. You may hesitate as you maneuver the tight turns and winding (and sometimes guardrail-free) roads. Travelers say it’s not for the faint of heart but the stunning views are well worth it.

If you like your vacation delectable

You’ll love Aspen’s Food & Wine Classic – Foodie alert! Imagine three days of tasting events, wine seminars, and cooking demonstrations…all at a spectacular 8,000-ft-above-sea-level setting! Yes, come summer, Aspen turns to foodie heaven when the best and brightest of gourmet cooking and wine-making get together at the Grand Tasting Pavilion. Sample the exquisite food and wine offerings, learn tips and tricks from celebrity chefs, enjoy the good life.

If you like your vacation visually inspiring

You’ll love Aspen’s Annual Arts Festival – Experience a thousand and one visual sensations and the chance to buy original artwork from the artists themselves. The festival – located on Monarch Street, between Durant Ave. and Main St. – features the country’s top creative forces and a whole range of extraordinary and imaginative artwork. Feast your eyes on everything, from paintings and photography to glass creations and life-size sculptures, from ceramics and jewelry to mixed media. You may not want to leave.

If you like your vacation action-filled

You’ll love Aspen’s Rafting and Kayaking – Whether you’re a first-timer or a thrill-seeker, Aspen offers a wide variety of fun and safe whitewater experiences. Several companies offer personalized and professionally guided rafting and kayaking excursions that give you the excitement of maneuvering the rapids – amidst the beauty and might of Aspen’s Roaring Fork River and other renowned waters. For a combination of fun and adventure, this is the place to be.