TRAVEL - Aspen, the dreamiest winter escapes

Some 200 miles west of Denver, Aspen, Colorado, is nestled in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It’s a peaceful retreat in every season, alive with colorful wildflowers in the summer and golden-yellow aspen leaves in the fall. But in the winter, this mountain town feels especially magical—fresh snow glitters on the trees, and downtown comes alive with twinkling strings of lights. With four ski resorts and expansive terrain to explore on snowshoes or cross-country skis, Aspen is a major winter outdoor recreation hub. Plus, after you come in from the cold, you can warm up at the chicest après-ski scene in the country and immerse yourself in the city’s sophisticated arts and culture. At 8,000 feet in elevation, Aspen sees chilly temperatures in the winter, but thanks to Colorado’s abundant sunshine and dry climate (and the right jacket and gear), you’ll hardly notice. Here’s how to plan a weekend trip filled with the best things to do in Aspen.

Travelers head to Aspen during the warmer months for patio dining, world-renowned concerts and festivals, and warm-weather activities like hiking, mountain biking, and fly fishing. But from December to early April, Aspen is all about the downhill skiing and snowboarding at four Aspen Skiing Company resorts—Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass—which have varying terrain types and difficulty levels.

You can ski right into downtown from Aspen Mountain (known locally as “Ajax”) which has 64 miles and 3,267 vertical feet of terrain. Sprawling Snowmass offers tons of family-friendly runs and amenities. Aspen Highlands is known for its steep, rugged terrain (and is especially popular among locals), while Buttermilk has a world-class terrain park. You can easily hop around and try all four mountains, as they're all accessible via the same lift ticket. Aspen Snowmass' four mountains are also on several multi-mountain season passes, including Ikon and Mountain Collection. If you’re new to skiing or snowboarding (or you just need a refresher), enroll in a group or private lesson—Aspen’s instructors and guides are incredibly knowledgeable and experienced.