The Perfect Long Weekend In Off-Season Aspen
Aspen has come a long way since being founded in 1879 by intrepid miners seeking fortunes in silver in the Wild West. Today the resort town, nestled in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, is best known as a wintry wonderland where celebrities and the well-heeled mingle for the world-class slopes and a buzzy social scene.
Since visiting during peak ski season Opens a New Window. can be crowded and costly, here’s a tip: Aspen makes for an equally thrilling visit the rest of the year, especially in summer and fall. Hotel prices dip; the climate is blissfully moderate; crowds thin out; and there’s plenty of ways to take advantage of the great outdoors.
An Aspen mainstay for over 125 years, Hotel Jerome also unveiled a sweeping renovation earlier this year. Now there are even more spacious suites and outdoor common spaces to unwind in, along with a sleek underground speakeasy bar called Bad Harriet. The decor throughout is luxe and handsome, thoughtfully bridging the building’s storied past to the modern day with its eclectic mix of materials (like leather, velvet, and animal hides) and furnishings (think chesterfield sofas, antler chandeliers, and contemporary art). After a long day of being out and about, head to the hotel’s legendary J-Bar, where you can ease into the evening with a local draft beer and famous house burger made with 7X Colorado beef. Relax even more by booking a High Altitude Sports Recovery Massage at the spa. The unique treatment blends firm pressure and aromatherapy to help you to recover and adjust to the high altitude.
Aspen may not be the biggest town, but it boasts an arts and culture scene that defies its diminutive size. And arguably, the crown jewel is the Aspen Art Museum Opens a New Window. . Originally founded in 1979, it moved to its current address in 2014, into a striking 33,000-square-foot structure envisioned by acclaimed architect Shigeru Ban. As it’s a non-collecting institution, exhibits are constantly on rotation. If you’re a history buff, beeline to the Aspen Historical Society, where you can dive deep into local lore. (For example, at the society’s Wheeler/Stallard Museum, there’s a provocative Hunter S. Thompson exhibition on display through September 29.) Music fans will flip for Belly Up, a snug live music venue that’s packed in some of the industry’s biggest acts, including Snoop Dogg, Jimmy Buffett, and The Roots.
Aspen’s summer and fall climate is so temperate, you’ll naturally want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. While running and cycling are no-brainers in any natural backdrop, take advantage of the rugged Rocky Mountain terrain for a more unique experience. If you’re seeking a moderate hike, try your hand at the Smuggler Mountain Trail, Sunnyside Trail, and Rim Trail. But if you’re a fitness buff seeking a challenge, go big for one of Aspen’s infamous “14ers,” whose peaks soar to 14,000 feet in elevation. Fly fishing and horseback riding are also terrific ways to make the most of your breathtaking surroundings, so book excursions with The Little Nell Adventure Center and Maroon Bells Outfitters, respectively.
By Katie Chang