There’s the Aspen that people read about, and then there’s the Aspen that visitors actually experience. Between the star-studded slopes and exhilarating sports exist the cultural gems that elevate a visit to Aspen from super to superb.
These unique things to do in Aspen often get overlooked so we’re bringing them to the forefront. When you arrive, place them boldly on your schedule.
Howling at the Moon – Wintertime
Skinning — the act of going uphill on skis with the help of synthetic fur skins — under the full moon has become so popular in the Roaring Fork Valley that the Aspen Skiing Co. decided to embrace it.
Now, the increasingly popular route up Tiehack on Buttermilk Mountain is lit up during the full moon with glow sticks so that people can find their way to the Cliffhouse at the top. That’s where the restaurant serves up dinner and live music to hungry uphillers. You’ll also get to see Pyramid Peak, The Bells, and Highland Peak in a new light.
If you get there early enough, there’s free hot chocolate around the fire from 5 to 6 p.m. View the schedule for full moon dinners here.
Brush Up on Ballet – Year-Round
Image courtesy of Aspen Sante Fe Ballet
Never one to be ordinary, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet developed a unique hybrid business model that means the company calls both towns home (though the 12-member troupe actually lives in Aspen).
In the 20 years since it was founded, it’s become known for supporting emerging choreographers by commissioning boundary-pushing, athletic yet elegant works.
In February, Los Angeles-based choreographer made her solo debut in a piece called, “Eudaemonia.” Though she built her resume on the entertainment side of dance — Broadway, reality TV and celebrity choreography — this departure was well received.
If you’re not interested in spectator sports, sign up for an adult class. Open to the public on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, you can start your day with grace (and sweat).
Farm-Fresh Food at 10,000 Feet – Summertime
Some of the best food in Aspen is found in the most unsuspecting place: inside the Elk Camp restaurant mid-mountain on Snowmass.
While the salad bar is worth the trip any time of day, on Tuesday nights during the summer the chefs prepare menus featuring Roaring Fork Valley purveyors. That means you’ll find Colorado trout, lamb, and venison along with seasonal vegetables and sweet desserts, like Paonia peach crumble.
They even showcase Colorado wines, spirits and beers so you can drink local too. After tipping a few back, dancing to the local live music may be just a little easier.
Become a Mini-Sommelier – Springtime
The Little Nell’s wine program is unparalleled and it’s no secret it churns out master somms the same way the New England Patriots pull in Super Bowl rings.
Now, Carlton McCoy, wine director and master sommelier for The Nell, wants to share the love with fellow professionals in the hospitality industry. From April 9-12, The Nell will host The Wine Academy, a four-day intensive course in everything wine, spirits, pairing, service, and etiquette. Here, industry folks wanting to up their knowledge will get the chance to rub shoulders with some of the best in the restaurant world, while expanding their pallets.
If you’re not in the hospitality industry but want to experience this wine academy, voice your interest. There may be more sessions down the road that are open to the public
Lend a Hand – Year-Round
The Roaring Fork Valley is home to more than 400 nonprofits. Philanthropy is braided into everyday life. Both residents and visitors help keep these charity organizations running while having fun too.
Miss your pooch while you’re in town? “Check out” one of the pups from the Aspen Animal Shelter for a hike, and make both of your days better.
Is your green thumb getting lazy? Cozy Point’s Aspen T.R.E.E. public farm is always open for picking and pruning.
Want to experience behind-the-scenes culture? See if you can volunteer with any number of organizations like Theatre Aspen, the Aspen Music Festival, and School or Jazz Aspen Snowmass.
There are a number of secret, unique, or little-know things to do in Aspen. Adventure companies, hotels, and local business owners are dreaming up new experiences as we speak. Our advice? Ask your concierge.