The admin around Aspen’s best-known offering takes up a lot of time. Even if you are already a skiing expert, you’re probably not going to fit it into your lunch break.
But if you don’t want to waste the time you get living out of luxury Aspen rentals, there are plenty of things to do and sights to see. Aspen is a beautiful locale, both in the winter and the summer.
Here are 5 things you should try fit into a quick trip to Aspen, Colorado.
1. Drive Through Independence Pass
It’s worth renting a car just to take a drive through Independence Pass in Aspen. It’s only a 20 mile stretch, but there’s so much to see you can stretch it out over a whole day. Over 12,000 feet above sea level, it’s one of the highest in North America. The twists and turns will test your driving skills (but if you’re not plain irresponsible, there’s no danger). It might feel like an extreme sport at times, but the only thing truly extreme is the magnificence of the views.
You can get out of the car and walk along an easy trail to a sightseeing platform, where you can look over the vast Continental Divide. Of course, this depends on how much time you have, but since there’s very little admin around it, there’s a good chance you’ll fit it in.
The bad news is that this is a summer attraction. In the depths of winter, it is closed due to the danger of frozen roads.
2. Aspen Brewing Company
Those amateur brewers will flock to the Aspen Brewing Company, but there’s something for even the most casual beer drinker. The brewery has a huge range of craft beers, that would make your local hipster bar owner blush. If blonde and red ales sound delectable to you, they taste even better than you’d expect.
There is outdoors seating, from where you can #DrinkInTheView with a pint of beer. If it’s too cold outdoors for you, you can get good views from inside as well.
Of course, this place truly comes alive at happy hour and at night, and there’s live music on weekends. But if you’re just in the area for a short trip, you can take a tour of the brewing facility itself. Or you could simply try a range of different beers at the tasting room in downtown Aspen, at a time when you can afford for your mind to be a bit foggy.
3. The Wheeler Opera House
This is one of those sights that you can fit into those free times when anything else will take too long. It is a “relic” from the 1800s, constructed by business tycoon Jerome Wheeler, and still hosting performances to this day. If you can make it to a concert or play, the intimate theater will wow you.
The architecture itself is stunning, with its Victorian roots maintained and the decor of the day remaining pristine.
Even if you can’t make it to a show, you can pop in to have a look, although there are no organized tours on offer. Check on the Wheeler Opera House website for a schedule of performances during your trip.
4. Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
The first thing people think of when they hear Aspen mentioned is the skiing. The second thing is the natural beauty. And like everywhere else in the world, this natural beauty needs to be studied and conserved. The history of the region is fascinating, as is the wealth of flora and fauna and their origins. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) is focused on educating visitors about Aspen’s ecosystem and how it’s being protected.
ACES is committed to starting discourse that transcends politics. They don’t want to force you into debates about global warming and government policies. They simply want to help you understand the environmental science that goes into clean air, water, and food in the area.
Their philosophy is that we are all environmentalists, since we all ultimately care about the planet. It’s the only one we have after all. This is the perfect place to practice that “environmentalism.”
5. John Denver Sanctuary
This is one of those tourist locations that is somewhat niche. You have to be a fan of John Denver to appreciate the John Denver Sanctuary. Although not from Aspen, he loved the town and immortalized it in the famous Aspenglow. When the musician died in 1997, the town decided to pay tribute to him with a memorial near the Aspen Art Museum. You’ll find stone slabs with lyrics from his songs inscribed on them. For those who aren’t huge fans, the area still has an impressive flower garden, and you will be able to appreciate the inscribed boulders from an aesthetic perspective.
This is also one of those activities you can easily fit into a whirlwind trip through Aspen, as it’s always open and you don’t have to spend that much time there. An added bonus is that admission is free.
Aspen has a lot to offer even if you don’t have time to learn to ski. During a quick business trip, you can nonetheless cram in some great activities, which will make it memorable and leave you wanting more