Affordable Ski Weekend Itinerary: Aspen, CO

by  Tyra Sutak | Nov 24, 2015

Aspen is one of the best mountain towns in Colorado to hit for a ski weekend getaway -- and it doesn’t have to be all glitz and dollar signs in the notoriously ritzy town. Here, what an affordable two days can look like:

Day 1: Explore the Town

Start your day off with a hearty breakfast at the Main Street Bakery & Cafe, a quaint breakfast and coffee joint serving up a variety of filling breakfast items for under $12 per plate. Add in a cup of coffee and you’re ready to get outside and explore the scenic mountains that surround Aspen.

After breakfast, it’s time for a stroll through Aspen’s charming downtown streets, which are filled with shopping, history, and world-class restaurants. Pay a visit to the Aspen Art Museum located in the heart of downtown and peruse the impressive gallery of rotating international contemporary artwork found in this beautifully designed building. The museum originally opened to the public in 1979 and is free to enter Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Once you’re acquainted with the historic streets of downtown, it’s time to bundle up and get outside and play. Whether they’re covered in snow or surrounded by wildflowers, the Maroon Bells -- two peaks in the Elk Mountains -- is a must and just a short drive from Aspen. While the roads leading to these most photographed peaks in North America are closed starting mid-November for winter, you can cross-country ski there. Or, if you're looking for a special activity, splurge on a snowmobile tour with T-Lazy-7 ranch. The two-hour experience isn't cheap at $250 per person (or $350 for a two-person vehicle) -- you're getting exclusive access, after all -- but the included hot chocolate sweetens up the day.

After a long day exploring Aspen’s wintery landscape, warm up with a drink (or two) at Justice Snow’s, a local favorite. This restaurant and bar is known for their handcrafted cocktails -- featuring rare spirits and fresh ingredients -- all served inside of a historic downtown building originally constructed in 1889. Justice Snow’s also serves $5 margaritas and mojitos, plus a $10 house burger, during happy hour daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Day 2: Hit the Slopes

A smart way to save in Aspen is to stay at a hotel that covers breakfast and fuel up there in the morning. From $139 per night, The Molly Gibson Lodge is one of the best value albeit older options in the area, featuring a variety of rooms with in-room fireplaces and offering a complimentary hot breakfast buffet each morning. The lodge is conveniently situated in front of Aspen’s free skier shuttle, which makes stops at all four mountains in the area, and is also pet-friendly lodge. If you’re looking for more modern digs, Limelight Hotel down the street (from $252 per night) offers free lift tickets for guests staying more than three days, plus $10 pizzas and discounted cocktails at happy hour.

After breakfast, it’s time to hit the slopes. Get turns in at one or all four of the area's mountains, which include Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and nearby Snowmass. If you’re traveling with a group, check out the Perfect Storm ski deal: Throughout most of the ski season (excluding February 7-13), pay for four days of lodging, lift tickets, and equipment rentals and get five for your money.

Finish your powder day by getting in on the carefree après-ski spirit of Aspen with happy hour. Aside from the others mentioned already here, we love Ajax Tavern -- located at the base of the Aspen Mountain’s Silver Queen gondola -- where you can enjoy $3 draft beers and a selection of discounted raw bar offerings, charcuterie, and small plates before heading back into town. In Colorado, spending all day playing in the great outdoors is also typically followed by a visit to a local taproom for a refreshing Colorado craft beer. The bustling Aspen Brewing Company taproom is located in downtown Aspen and one of the top spots to hang out and grab a cold, locally made beer.

Bonus: If you’re a live music fan, plan your trip in Aspen around the Belly Up Aspen music calendar. This intimate venue features a pretty epic list of performers, including B.B. King, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Wyclef Jean, John Legend, and more in the past. Aside from a first-come-first-serve general admission section, tables reservations can also be made which include dinner and bar service.

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