When we moved to Aspen, I knew there would be lots of snow, but this year we have been getting completely dumped on. And when I say dumped on, I mean like 70 inches of snow in ONE WEEK. We’ve legit had a winter storm of sorts every single week this year. It’s been crazy, but to be honest, I haven’t hated it. Why, you ask? Because snow means tons of fresh powder, and if you’re a skier (we love skiing), that means the season is more than likely going to stretch into April. This is great news for us, but what if you’re not into skiing? Let me break it down.
I get asked what there is to do in Aspen other than ski way more than you probably think. And honestly, I’ve wondered it myself a few times when looking to entertain friends and family that don’t want to ski or snowboard. But now that we’ve been here for almost six months, I can safely say there are plenty of ways to hit the mountain or have fun in Aspen without having to ski.
And remember these are just the winter activities, so imagine what you can do in the summer! That’s a whole other post, though. For now, here are a few things I love to do in Aspen that don’t involve skiing or snowboarding.
Carriage & Sleigh Ride
I did this with some of my girlfriends through Aspen Carriage and Sleigh and oh my God did we have a blast. This is absolutely not the kind of carriage ride experience you’d have in Central Park or in a park in Chicago. The horses used for these activities are living it up in fields and pastures and being treated wonderfully, so know the animal treatment is much, much better than what you’d find in a big city.
You’ll start your ride by being picked up in a carriage right in town at the corner of Cooper and Galena. Before you board, I recommend grabbing a hot chocolate and a pastry from Paradise Bakery, which is located right on the corner. It’s one of my favorite spots in town and goes perfectly with this experience.
Next, you’ll be taken on a carriage ride through the beautiful and charming town before being dropped off at your sleigh. As cliche as it sounds, the song lyrics “dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh, through the fields we go, laughing all the way” have never more accurately described an experience. This is exactly what you’re going to do and it is an absolute ball.
You’ll see some of the most stunning scenery the Rocky Mountains have to offer and the guide/driver of the sleigh will point out wildlife and show you bear tracks (fun fact I learned on the ride – black bears don’t hibernate all winter! But don’t worry, it is completely safe!). And as if that isn’t enough, the sleigh you ride in is the same one Mariah Carey rides in every Christmas Eve! How neat is that?!
The cost is $250 plus tip and it is worth every penny. I could not recommend it more. Whether you’re looking for a family activity or something fun to do with friends, this is it.
This activity is a little more… extreme… for lack of a better word. But wow is it SO much fun! The company, Krabloonik Dog Sledding, is located in Snowmass and it is legit. Like, this experience is straight out of the movie “Balto”. These dogs are born to run and absolutely love sledding. I took a kennel tour before doing it myself and learned how well they’re taken care of and how they’re literally so happy to get harnessed to a sled and go. If you have any concerns about how these animals are treated, definitely take the kennel tour first.
Each sleigh is piloted by a musher (the traditional title for a dog sled guide) and you can just tell that those people live for these dogs. They live on-site at the kennel and are basically with the dogs 24/7. It’s actually really special to see the bond between the musher and the dogs. But in addition to the musher, each sleigh can hold either two adults and one child or just two adults. Once you’re buckled in and ready to go, you head out on the designated dog sledding trails of Snowmass Mountain where the dogs will pull you up to 20 mph!! It is exhilarating, to say the least. You can make stops if you’d like and grab hot chocolate and get to know the dogs – it’s just a one-of-a-kind experience.
It is a slightly pricier activity at $900, but you’ll never experience anything else like it – trust me. They have a couple of different ride times with one in the morning, one in the afternoon and then a twilight option. The twilight option is a little chillier temperature-wise because it happens later in the day, so bundle up good if you choose it. Other than that, you can tour the kennel and they also have a restaurant on site to grab a bite to eat. Starting in April they also have ATV tours, which I cannot wait to go on.
I can’t say enough good things about this experience and the company. Absolutely, 110% do this when you’re in Aspen – especially if you’re a dog lover!
Snowmass Alpine Coaster and Tubing
I’m honestly having trouble finding the words to express how freaking fun these activities are. We’ve gone three times and legit can’t get enough. Zelda is obsessed and I have to say, I’m kind of glad because I’m equally as obsessed. They’re both fantastic alternatives if skiing isn’t your thing. The coaster, dubbed “Breathtaker”, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s like an individualized roller coaster but in the middle of snow covered mountains. If you go, I recommend buying the duo pass because that gives you access to the tubing as well. There are four different lanes with varying speeds, one being the slowest and four being the fastest, so there really is something for everyone! So far we’ve only gone up to lane three because we’ve had Zelda with us but I’m so ready to go back and fly down lane four solo.
As for cost, it’s extremely inexpensive for what you get access to. Only $54 for the duo pass good for both the coaster and the tubing AND that also includes your lift ticket to get to up there from Base Village of Snowmass.
Snowmass Base Village Ice Rink
And while you’re at Snowmass, you might as well go ice skating at Base Village Ice Rink! It’s a blast and there’s something nostalgic about it that I love. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at ice skating but luckily they’ll allow you to just skate around with your kid wearing your regular boots. This is what worked best for us, ha! I think you’ll find it really fun and just an overall cute experience. You rent your skates in a refurbished Airstream trailer, so you can imagine how picturesque it is. And for after skating, there are tons of great restaurants within walking distance!
Aspen is known for its shopping, and let me tell you, it is realllll good. While they have all the classic luxury spots like Gucci, Prada and Dior, I want to share a few less obvious choices that are just as amazing and I’ve personally been loving since moving here.
Olivela: You might recognize this one because I actually wrote an entire post on them a little while back, which you can find here, because that’s how much I love this store. This is the kind of shop where every time you go in, you’re guaranteed to find something special. Everything in the store is very unique and you just want to play when you go in, which always makes shopping extra fun.
Plus, every purchase at Olivela gives 20% back to girls education non-profits around the world. Now if that isn’t a reason to shop somewhere, I don’t know what is.
Marcus: I feel so lucky to have a Marcus store in Aspen. They’ve been popping up in major cities all over the US, so to have one here is great. It’s owned by Marcus Lemonis from The Profit (great TV show btw!) and is just a very carefully curated shop filled with some of my favorite brands.
Aviator Nation: I feel like this store is California cool meets Colorado rad. You just have to go into the store to feel the vibe. It’s such a cool spot, especially if you’re really into elevated casual pieces. I’m a huge fan of their sweatpants. I might actually be addicted? They also carry mini sizes, so Zelda and I rock matching looks from Aviator Nation quite a bit.
Pitkin County Dry Goods: This one took me by surprise. The name of the store doesn’t exactly scream “chic”, but it’s actually so, so good. Just another lesson on not judging a book by its cover I guess. You’ll find Alice + Olivia, GRLFRND Denim, etc., so they have some really great stuff. It’s kind of a fixture in Aspen, so you definitely have to stop in.
Ever After: Unfortunately this is only a pop-up, so it’s not permanent, but you can still shop it online. It’s only open in Aspen through the end of March, so if you’re around, definitely drop in before it leaves. I’ve loved it for Zelda. She’s been rocking a lot of pieces from there, so consider it Zelda approved. The buzz around town is that they’re coming back next season, but if you want to check it out, again, just hop online.
OK, so what do you think? Tempted to come to Aspen even if you’re not a skier? Of course there are still tons of other things you can do like tubing, snowmobiling, hiking, etc. I should also mention there are a lot of super chic restaurants and bars for more non-outdoor activities. Either way, Aspen never disappoints so put it on your list to come and visit! And if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to reach out – I’m happy to help you navigate and find amazing things to do in my new hometown!
Photos by Hallie Duesenberg