Aspen with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

Aspen with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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We decided to set our sights high for a family adventure in Aspen. High in the mountains, that is, at an elevation of 7,908 ft. Aspen plays host to movie stars, pop singers, literary icons, supermodels and business moguls and, for one day, our own family of four, which included a 9 and a 12 year old. As family vacations go, this was going to be an action-packed one.
We quickly found out that while the movie stars soak up the limelight in Aspen, regular folk are busy experiencing the fun and entertainment around every corner and taking full advantage of all the things to do. Aspen is an eclectic and beautiful town that is a playground like no other, ideal for family travel. Our itinerary for the day was full yet flexible, a perfect day in Aspen with tweens.


Skiing for Starters

Since our family cannot be classified as expert skiers, possibly not even intermediate, we decided to ski the smallest of Aspen's four peaks, Buttermilk Mountain. It's great for beginners or adults like us who will probably always remain at this stage.

Buttermilk has 44 trails, 35% classified as easy, 39% more difficult and 26% most difficult. We stuck to the easy routes and lasted for hours. Buttermilk has nine lifts and 470 acres to ski with a 2,000-foot vertical drop. Buttermilk Mountain, according to all the ski magazines, is one of the best places to learn to ski in Aspen with tweens, or novices of any age.

Aspen Skiing Company manages all four Aspen ski resorts, and lift passes give access to all four resorts; Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk.

Aspen Skiing Co. P.O. Box 1248, Aspen, CO 81612; 800-308-6935.


Hiking Aspen

The kids were determined to hike Aspen, so we were off on a 14-mile trek to view the Maroon Bells. These are two sheer, pyramid-shaped mountain peaks that are among the most popular in the Northern Rockies. We packed a lunch in our backpacks and started at the end of Aspen's Maroon Creek Rd., taking the shorter route rather than the 30-mile hike that goes beyond the Maroon Bells to Crested Butte.

For maps plus hiking, biking and cross country skiing routes, visit the White River National Forest offices at 806 W. Hallam St. 970-925-3445.

Hitting downtown Aspen

We just had to go downtown to feel that glitzy vibe of "shopping Aspen." You could spend many hours walking the city's streets, as there are shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, museums and jewelry stores galore. It is a very artsy center with galleries showcasing paintings, sculpture, graphics, pottery and handmade jewelry.

Clothing stores abound, like Kemo Sabe at 434 E. Cooper Ave., (907) 925-7878, for Western wear and Gorsuch Ltd., 611 E. Durant Ave., (970) 925-3203, for outdoor mountain clothing.

Shopping for us in Aspen with tweens was decidedly more window than actual purchasing. The prices in most Aspen stores are as high as the mountains, but we did find ski hats for all of us, so we could all say we "shopped Aspen." We decided the shops were so unique that even window-shopping was just plain fun.



Jimmy's is a local hangout (a true local told us so), and we figured that would mean good and reasonably priced food, perfect for family vacations. Aspen's all-American institution didn't disappoint.

Jimmy's has steak, seafood and a very popular meatloaf. The Colorado rack of lamb was fantastic and their homemade chocolate chip cookies were a hit with the kids. The bar is known for its tequila and mescal, with 150 kinds on offer.

Jimmy's, 205 S. Mill St., (970) 925-6020; Bar opens daily 4:30PM, restaurant opens 5:30PM. Brunch on Sun 10:30AM-2PM

The Ultimate Aspen Taxi

We kept hearing about a unique taxicab in town and we wondered what the big deal was, so we found out.

Jon Barnes owns a yellow cab and has been driving it around the Aspen area since 1984. Sometime in the 1990s, he started embellishing his cab, inside and out. He has added colored fiber optics on the roof, a mirror ball, a laser projector, a rollercoaster simulator and even a recording studio, among other items.

Jon also has a webcam and will take your picture and put it on his Ultimate Taxi website. The cost for a 40-minute Ultimate Taxi ride for your group is $175. It's a hit with tweens in Aspen - ours declared it "awesome." We adults thought it was a lot more fun than a limo.

Ultimate Taxi 970-927-9239

The Mountain Chalet

Although not in our original plans, we decided to see if there was anywhere we could spend the night in Aspen with tweens at a rate we could afford. We found a place in the downtown area called The Mountain Chalet. It has that small (59 units) ski lodge feel with bright, cheery, clean rooms and a continental breakfast. Rates vary, but off peak they are $75-$265.

The Mountain Chalet offers an outdoor heated pool, exercise room, sauna and steam room, massages and a game room. After we checked in, our tweens were headed to the pool and we weary parents booked a massage. It turned out to be the perfect family vacation day for all of us.

The Mountain Chalet, 333 E. Durant, Aspen, CO 81611; (888) 925-7797
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