The Best Things to Do in Aspen With Kids
Taking on Aspen as a family? Don't miss these kid-friendly things to do.
With its plethora of upscale eateries and luxury resorts, Aspen has long been synonymous with aspiration. The ski resort town, nestled in the shadows of the imposing snow-capped Rocky Mountains, is replete with art galleries and museums, making for an elegant and upmarket town. And with its countless ski slopes with cosy cafés and hut-like lodgings, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic break. Except… you had to spoil it all by bringing the kids.
Not to worry, Aspen is also a haven for children, whether they’re zooming down the mountains at break-neck (note to editor: find a safer adjective to describe the readers’ children) speeds or hanging out in the gorgeous parks. Trek across the great grassy expanses in spring or summer, taking a gondola over the land for some of the best views. There are also plenty of playgrounds across the parks, or you can bring them sledding or hit up the water complex. Here are Plum Guide's thoughts on things to do in Aspen with kids.
Relax in the parks
In summer, the parks in Aspen make for a leafy and serene setting. Well, as serene as it gets when you’re on holiday with the kids. Bring them to the Wagner Park and let them clamber over the obstacle course and climbing frames. Head to the Independence Pass park, where you can climb up and down the hills, with stunning views appearing at every turn. Watch out for the sudden drops, as your kids will probably be running perilously close to the cliff edges, as is their wont. Another family-fun set of trails runs through the Maroon Bells, with its stunning lake and curvaceous topography. Set up a picnic on a meadow and enjoy the colours of the autumn leaves.
You can’t really lose with skiing (unless you fall over and hurt yourself). But what we mean is: it’s something the whole family can enjoy, and certainly one of the best things to do in Aspen with kids. The resorts are open from late November to mid-April, when snow covers the area. For something super deluxe, head to the Little Nell. It has Jeep tours and fly fishing among the myriad activities that’ll keep your tots totally happy (if such a thing were possible). It even has a prestigious wine cellar, for when you’ve given up looking after the kids. We're sure they'll be pretty happy staying at home and enjoying the heated pool at Across the Divide, anyway.
The St. Regis Aspen Resort is another food and wine hub, with excellent views from the Fountain Terrace. Head to the Viceroy Snowmass for a resort right on the slopes, before jumping into the pool (if you're brave enough in the snow).
Here at Plum Guide, we've got ski lodges galore in our directory of expertly-vetted rental homes in Aspen. Check out our guide on where to stay in Aspen for the perfect skiing getaway.
We’d like to think that everything we list here constitutes family fun, although it may well depend on the family and their idea of fun. That said, there are some places that are just all about the family fun, such as the Aspen Recreation Center. This is one of the certified fun thing to do in Aspen in kids, where they can make use of the themed swimming pool or attend a day camp. There are also tennis lessons, a youth centre and an ice skating rink. Play basketball or volleyball or hang out at the playground (with your kids… it’d be weird to go alone). Take your cherubs to the rock climbing area or play youth flag football in this all-encompassing complex.
…and you thought Aspen was all about the skiing. Well, it is big on the ski stuff, but the Aspen Whitewater Rafting is another highlight. Smash down the rapids and conquer the foamy water in the areas of Aspen, Snowmass and Arkansas River Valley. Try not to lose one of the children as you battle the tumultuous water. The Slaughterhouse Falls and the Roaring Fork are among the challenges; they don’t sound like a leisurely float downstream, so good luck.
Back in the town centre, just as you’re drying off, take your children through the dancing fountain, where they can splash around and get you all wet again. Pick up an ice cream at the adjacent parlour, making sure the kids spill it down their t-shirts. Job done.
Hey, you like food, right? Well, you’re in luck: Aspen is chock full of culinary establishments of the highest order (translation: good food places). The Steak House No 316 is considered the ultimate in fine dining, as well as Matsuhisa (eating at this upscale sushi spot is on our list as one of the best things to do in Aspen) and the Wild Fig. If you’re worried about your kids causing a ruckus in such a respectable eatery, take them to somewhere like the White House Tavern, which is a little more child-appropriate, while retaining its prestige and elegance. The Hickory House and the Maru Aspen pull off similar tricks.
Go on a cycling trip along the flat and paved Rio Grande Trail to skirt the edges of the Glenwood Springs. The Woody Creek Tavern is another idyllic spot for bikes, which can be rented from several spots in the town centre.
There you have it: the best things to do in Aspen with kids. Following a day running around after your children, you're going to want somewhere comfortable to sleep. Our selection of rental homes are vetted by our fastidious home critics, so whether you're after a mountainside condo or a spacious family lodge, you're in for a great night's sleep in a Plum Guide home.