OK, so you’ve planned that big Aspen vacation. You’ve read all the websites and made your list of must-sees. Do you feel like a complete tourist yet? If you’re the type of person that tends to shy away from crowds and hype, maybe you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten path. Never fear, we’ve uncovered some great hidden gems of Aspen that you shouldn’t miss. Here are a few Aspen locals hangouts to help ou beat the crowds.
Long before Aspen was an international ski destination, it was a silver mining boomtown. Located on Smuggler Mountain on the north side of town, Smuggler Mine was one of the country’s largest silver mines in the late 1800s. The mine is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers informative and entertaining tours for adults and children that journey more than 1,200 feet under the ground.
Weather permitting, the Ute Trail is one of the most stunning trails in North America. The famously steep trail is full of switchbacks and challenges. It’s all capped off with a breathtaking view and photo opportunity at the top. If you’re up for it, don’t fight the crowds on the popular Smuggler Mountain hike to the north and opt for the more intimate Ute Trail on the southeast side of town.
Aspen Brewing Company
Aspen Brewing Company has been serving up savory suds for more than a decade. The hometown brewery has a great corner location in town with mountain views and a variety of brews on tap. A local’s favorite, you’re sure to see plenty of bumper stickers, t-shirts and other Aspen Brewery swag around town. Remember, it’s Aspen – where the beer flows like wine.
The Belly Up Aspen
This unassuming, lower-level nightclub is lowkey and one of the best music venues in North America. The bar and nightclub only seat about 450 occupants but brings in some of the most well-known acts in entertainment. Over the years, the Belly Up Aspen has played host to performances from A-listers like Adam Sandler, The Killers, Steve Aoki, Widespread Panic, Dave Chappelle, Jane’s Addiction and Public Enemy.
Woody Creek Tavern
Woody Creek is a small community just outside of Aspen with plenty of character. The Woody Creek Tavern was previously a well-known haunt of author Hunter S. Thompson, who used to live nearby. Other celebrity sightings over the years have included actors Johnny Depp and Don Johnson, as well as musicians Don Henley and John Oates. The throwback restaurant offers a delicious Mexican menu at an affordable price.
Ashcroft Ghost Town
The ghost town of Ashcroft is about 11 miles up Castle Creek Road from Aspen. The town was a silver mining town in the late 19th Century, and today an abandoned saloon, post office, and hotel are all that remain. The historic buildings and area make for a fun day trip during the summer months. Fall colors at Ashcroft are second-to-none. If you’re looking for an alternative to the popular Maroon Bells, consider a trip up to Ashcroft.
Shrines on Aspen Mountain
If you’re an experienced skier or snowboarder, explore Aspen Mountain’s nooks and crannies and you may come upon some hidden shrines. Over the years, several makeshift shrines have been established on the mountain. Honorees include everyone from Jerry Garcia to Marilyn Monroe. Mountain shrines have paid homage to a variety of subject matter over the years, including 9/11, famous Aspen skiers, and the Yankees/Red Sox baseball rivalry. Shrines pop up and disappear over time, so the hunt is the fun part!