Aspen Summer Vacation: Top Things to Do
If you talk to enough Aspen locals and regulars, you might just hear a common theme: They came for the winter skiing but stayed for the Colorado summer. Summer in Aspen offers up a bountiful array of activities and things to do, from heart-racing adventures such as rafting and mountain biking to relaxing community concerts, intellectually stimulating art exhibits, and world-class dining.
Here are our top 12 things to do in Aspen during summer to make the most out of your mountain getaway.
1. Take a Gondola Ride
Our lifts spin even in the summertime with the Elk Camp and Silver Queen gondolas churning visitors both uphill and down. Jump on the Silver Queen Gondola right in Aspen to take in quintessential Colorado vistas and breathtaking views of town. From the Silver Queen, you can access the Sundeck restaurant, lawn games, free kids activities, yoga and meditation, Bluegrass Sundays, hiking, and more.
2. Picture Yourself at the Bells
These aren’t your average bells. The Maroon Bells are the most photographed peaks in all of Colorado, and for good reason. These striated, red rock formations reach upward from Maroon Lake and pierce the sky at over 14,000 feet. During summer days, catch the shuttle up from Aspen Highlands to Maroon Lake.
3. Ride a Bike
One of the first things you may notice in town is the abundance of bikes. Whether you’re into slow cruising, road biking, or adrenaline-inducing mountain biking, Aspen has something for you. The Rio Grande trail offers up a mellow, scenic cruise on a paved path running from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. You can test your off-road skills in Aspen and Snowmass bike parks. Or, jump on a road bike and explore the area in a way that cars just don’t do justice.
4. Get Out on the Water
While the skiing may be what Aspen is known for, the Roaring Fork River is the life of the valley. Take advantage of the wide array of recreation opportunities the river has to offer during summer and try a guided rafting, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding tour.
If you’re idea of fun is a bit more mellow than whitewater rafting, try your hand at fishing our Gold Medal rivers that are home to a variety of brown, cutthroat, and rainbow trout. Go on a guided fly fishing tour for the best fishing holes and expert advice.
5. Experience the Aspen Art Scene
Visit the Aspen Art Museum and it’s delicious rooftop café or stroll around town and stop into one of our many unique art galleries. If you’re more in tune with music, catch Jazz Aspen Snowmass, free summer concerts in Snowmass, the Aspen Music Festival & School, or a show at Belly Up. Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Theatre Aspen, and Wheeler Opera house also provide fantastic dance, stage, and vocal productions.
6. Go Off-Roading
If you want to experience some of the best views in the area, but don’t want a 20-mile hike to get there, consider a Jeep or 4×4 tour! Old mining roads and mountain passes, which are more likely to be clear from snow in the summer months, wind through our area and climb to incredible heights. Experience this quieter side of Aspen with the help of local guides.
7. Try out the Local Watering Holes
After your adventures, unwind with a beer at Aspen Brewing Company, located right in downtown Aspen. Further “down valley” as the locals say and on the way to Glenwood, don’t miss out on Woody Creek Distillery located in Basalt. Pop into Carbondale and visit Batch to check out a Roaring Fork Brewery beer, Carbondale Beer Works, or Marble Distillery. And, in Glenwood Springs, grab a drink at the Beergarden.
8. Lace Up Your Hiking Boots
Embrace a challenge and earn those breathtaking views by lacing up your hiking boots and hitting one of our numerous mountain trails. Popular trails near town include Smuggler Mountain Trail, Cathedral Lake, and American Lake. Our summertime trails also offer some of the most incredible wildflower displays in all of Colorado. Visit Aspen Trail Finderfor more trail details.
9. Eat and Enjoy Aspen’s Incredible Dining Options
No fancy header needed here, Aspen is home to some amazing restaurants and incredibly talented chefs. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Brunch: Aspen Over Easy, BB’s, or Peach’s Corner Cafe
- Dinner: Jimmy’s, Matsuhisa, White House Tavern
- Al fresco: Ajax Tavern, Bosq Aspen, Grey Lady
10. Treat Yourself to Rest and Relaxation
Enjoy the Aspen lifestyle of pampering yourself at one of the town’s many spas. If you’re up for a little drive, head to Glenwood Springs to experience the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs. Even in the warm summer months, the hot springs feel great.
11. Take a Stroll
While it’s not huge, our mountain town houses 200 shops and restaurants in our little Aspen downtown. Take a stroll through our pedestrian zone, pop into both unique and high-end retail shops, watch kids play in the fountain, and just enjoy the views and the people watching – you never know who you’ll see in Aspen.
12. Drive to the top of Independence Pass
This windy, curvy, narrow mountain pass takes you from the heart of Aspen to the top of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 12,095′. At the top, you can take a walk around, stretch your legs, and catch your breath from the drive to look over the majestic peaks of Sawatch Range. Independence Pass is only open during the summer months, and there is plenty to explore off the pass itself.