I’ve been walking around downtown Aspen since I was a very young visitor and skiing and snowboarding here and outside of Glenwood Springs for as long as I remember; now that I'm 15, this valley is still one of my favorite places to vacation. However, while strolling through Aspen and looking at mountains is fun, after just a few days, you may start wondering what else you can do other than Snapchatting or FaceTiming with friends elsewhere. In looking for activities to keep myself occupied—and my mind off of what my friends are doing back home—I’ve discovered some favorites.
Go to a Free Thursday Concert at Snowmass
The combination of live music and magnificent views from the slopes of Snowmass ski area makes for a perfect Thursday evening with the family. I’m not much of a dancer, but it’s fun to watch all the people gather near the edge of the stage and jam out to the music. There are plenty of food options around (my main hangs include Slow Groovin’ BBQ and the Stew Pot) and the “Skittles” lift is open for free rides from the Base Village to the Mall.
Get Cultured at an Aspen Music Festival and School Sunday Concert
Whether I’m seated in the tent or spread out on a blanket outside, one of my favorite ways to spend Sundays is going to the tent and listening to the afternoon concerts. I come from a family of classical music lovers and musicians, so while for many teens, the idea of sitting quietly during music considered “boring” may seem sleep-inducing, I actually find every part of the concert experience exciting. The fact that so many people come to the tent in the middle of the afternoon to hear music they wouldn’t otherwise listen to creates a shared appreciation for the art form that seems special to Aspen. Seeing young musicians walking to the back door of the tent with violin cases on their backs gives me a feeling of joy, and even though I don’t know them personally, I feel that, in some way, we’re kindred spirits. It’s inspiring to see people only a few years older than me performing music of the caliber that they do.
People Watch and Chill in Downtown Aspen
I’m the type of person that can sit alone with my thoughts for hours on end, and one of my favorite places to do this is in the heart of Aspen. Rotating between the tables across from Paradise Bakery and benches on the mall, I relax, enjoy the view of the mountains, and read a book. For added excitement, I recommend people watching. From the unicycle rider with long gray hair and a tie-dye shirt to the parents struggling to control ice cream-smeared kids, this easy activity can provide constant entertainment for hours on end.
Shop at Susie’s
As many of the stores in Aspen are above the price range of the average adult, it’s basically out of the question for teens to shop here. One affordable and fun exception: Susie’s consignment shops. For brand-name and designer items, the store in Aspen is great, but I prefer the downvalley location in Willits. With racks of clothes organized by type of garment and color, the store is bound to offer something to match your style. While you’re not going to find Urban Outfitters-esque clothing here, the shop is perfect for vintage-looking shoes, jackets, jeans, shirts, and jewelry.
Take a Hike
I’m not an avid hiker, but I’m willing to put in some effort to see expansive views of the valley and occasional wildlife. My favorite not-super-strenuous-but-rewarding hike is the Thomas Lakes Trail, which leads to a pair of lakes at the base of Mount Sopris near Carbondale. It’s a 7.2 mile roundtrip trek, with a few uphill parts. If you’re not willing to go all the way, about two thirds of the way up, there’s a huge wildflower meadow, perfect to stop at and eat a snack before the hike back down. Bonus: In addition to the scenery, hiking is a great activity because there often isn’t any cell service, forcing you to stay off your phone and appreciate where you are.
Get in the Water at Ruedi Reservoir
Another location with limited cell service and breathtaking views is this reservoir and its surrounding area, just about 15 miles up the Fryingpan Valley from Basalt. Ruedi offers four campgrounds, two boat-launch ramps, and areas to swim and fish. If you’re hesitant to wade into the chilly water, you can spend hours on the shore searching for Native American arrowheads or hiking in the surrounding forest. My family and I head to Ruedi when we’re looking to have some fun but not drive miles out of our way.