10 things to know before visiting Aspen
Aspen is a ski hot spot during winter months for celebrities like Mariah Carey to the Kardashians. Located in the highlands of Colorado, Aspen offers a luxurious ski experience like no other. On major holidays, it is reported that a private plane lands or takes off at the Aspen airport every six minutes, wow! I never thought I would be able to experience such a place without having loads of money. After a couple months of planning, I made it happen. It was finally time to embark on a new journey, on a “Snowcation”.
I came across what I would call a "cheap flight" nonstop to Denver for $150 round trip. Typically when traveling I would go to a warm place, but this time I challenged myself to something new and I enjoyed every bit of it. While researching the hotel options were pretty much basic not spacious. So my crew and I agreed on a beautiful log cabin for a traditional Aspen winter feel equip with fireplace and balcony that we found on Airbnb (save on your Airbnb booking here). We planned for four days in Aspen, with a different activity for each.
As I stated we flew into Denver then made our way to Aspen. The beautiful ladies (me not included lol) prepared a hearty breakfast to prepare us for the day to come. We went to Aspen Snowmass for snow activities like skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. What I love about Aspen is that there is complimentary hot chocolate everywhere you go.
My most favorite excursion would have to be dog sledding. This has been in my bucket list for a while. I want to try experience this when I traveled to Iceland last November, but the price was around an unethical $200 per person. When you are balling on a budget, $200 is hard to suffice when this dog-sledding tour only set me back $50. Talk about saving bread. I found this deal on Groupon. This was truly an experience to remember and probably the last time I’ll ever do it. For me it is fun for five minutes, after that it felt like needles were piercing through my face and hands. The cold weather, along with the cold breeze from being pulled by the dogs, ah man, talk about setting yourself up. The instructors face had many blisters from the cold.
Our final excursion was on snowmobiling. Much like ATV, but in the snow. This was also something I wanted to do while in Iceland but did it in Aspen for less. This was phenomenal ride with amazing views of the mountains and snow caps along the path. There was even a mini zoo with different animals, I was shocked to see a Llama those are rare haha. Aspen was definitely a memorable vacation. Nothing but pleasant vibes and wonderful people. It is
1. FLY INTO DENVER
I always assumed going to Aspen would be impossible for me to experience soon due to the high ticket prices. The cheapest ticket I ever saw was around $700. This is more than I have ever paid for an international ticket, so affording $700 to fly within my home country was not a huge priority for me. Okay the good news is that I found a round trip ticket to Denver, Colorado for $150. It was a short 3-hour drive to aspen, nothing excruciating, a calm road trip. You can also take a bus for around $120. Saving at least $550 would you not trade that for 3 hours? I sure did and was able to enjoy two cities instead of just one.
2. RESEARCH FIRST
Research and make sure Aspen piques your interest, do not just go just because you "heard" it is nice. Make sure it in your budget and liking. Snow excursions is what attracted me to visit Aspen in addition to me wanting to visit more states in the United States. I was able to knock Denver off my list and a snow vacation.
3. You May need to check your bag and rent a spacious vehicle
If you read my post about saving money on trips then you checking bags is something that I envy. Aside from the fees, I just prefer to have my things with me. I have a fear of loosing or having delyed luggage. My flight was with Delta Airlines and I also have their credit card so I get a free checked bag *woot woot*. My large suitcase wasn't enough and I also had to bring along my travel backpack. You would be traveling with a lot of bulky items and if you are anything like me you will have a different "look" for each day complete with the coat to match. Be prepared to carry a large suitcase and not just a carry on to fit numerous items. My crew and I all had large suitcases, so much stuff we needed a pick up truck because our items couldn't in any full size SUV. It gets real with the luggage traveling in the winter.
4. NOT FOR THE BUDGET TRAVELER
During our time in I really thought to myself Aspen is really for the sophisticated, exclusive jet-setter a.k.a. people with excessive money to splurge. The city itself boasts glamour and high-end with million dollar real estate. Needless to say, here is not much budgeting you can do. There are a few hotels under $200, but that's about it. I recommend renting property especially if it’s not just a couple people going. This is one trip you just have to set aside money and have a good time. Interacting with natives who work at the facilities I visited, they said the ski slopes are one of a kind and attract wealthy skiers for some reason. Me not even being an intermediate skier would not know the difference. Even walking the basic streets feel l Aspen is truly magical, honestly breathtaking (literally, as the altitude is higher than NYC sitting 8,000 ft above sealevel) and worth every dime spent.
Read On: What I Wore Aspen
5. WAYS TO SAVE
There are ways to save during your stay. Pre- booking your ski and lift tickets in advance can save you up to 20%. Some hotels are in conjunction with the ski resorts and offer bundle package deals that allows you to save a percentage, which can vary. Public transportation and shuttles are free, so you would not have to pay for a car, gas and parking. Staying in an Airbnb right outside of Aspen is less expensive than staying in the center (save on your booking here). This would require transportation. Purchasing one pass gets you into ALL four mountains, so you;re getting options for your money. Also take advantage of the free shuttles if you are staying the town.
6. HEAD OUT EARLY
With most small towns, things shut down early. If you thought you would be skiing until the sun set, you are wrong. Most ski resorts start rounding up at around 3 pm. It is best to head out early and take advantage of activities. You do not want to spend money on rentals and lifts to only enjoy an hour.
7. SKI CENTRAL, NOT MUCH TO DO
Known as one of the top ski destinations in the world, Apres Ski is always in the air. With that being side that is prime focus of traveling to Aspen. It is not somewhere that offers a ton of excursions unless you travel to the outside towns like we did.
8. WHAT YOU CAN DO
Though skiing is the front-line in Aspen, there are a few other things you can do to make your trip exciting. You can take a horse and carriage sleigh ride around the city. You can experience snowmobiling like I did, or dog sledding. Indulge in fine dining. If you are an advance skier, toy can participating in the champagne spraying brunch at Cloud 9. This is a ski-in/ski-out restaurant, so it is not recommended for newbies. You go bowling, hit up Aspen Museum for some dope art work, and even do some yoga at Aspen mountain before your day of skiing (only on tuesdays, thursday and saturdays). If you tried skiing or snowboarding and it is not your cup of tea, settle for some simple snowtubing.
9. UTILIZE GROUPON & GOOGLE
People often dismiss promotional sites like Groupon, I don't know why. Groupon has save me money a lot of places even internationally. I found my dog sledding promotion on Groupon that cut the cost in half. The horse and carriage sleigh was up there as well. Also utilize google to see if any company is having a promotion. We somehow landed a promotion with snowmobiling. It also does not hurt to contact the company and ask, especially if you are traveling with a large group. The worst they can say is "no".
10. KNOW YOUR MOUNTAINS
There are four mountains in Aspen. Snowmass, Aspen Mountain (or Ajax), Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. Knowing where you can ski or snowboard is essential. Some mountains like Aspen Snowmass, are for ADVANCED skiiers, and I mean really advance, because of their high slopes. Other mountains like Buttermilk are for beginners due to the low slopes.
HOPE YOU LIKE HOT CHOCOLATE
Everywhere you go there is complimentary hot chocolate yo keep you warm and toasty. If you are a hot chocolate lover as I am, this is a bonus for you. Every single person I met during my time in Aspen were nice. It’s good to know you’ll be around pleasant people and not snobs!
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