Apres Ski in Aspen Snowmass
The Aspen Snowmass area is one of the most upscale ski resorts on the planet, anchored by downtown Aspen and the smaller villages at Highlands and Snowmass.
Aspen Town and Snowmass Village
Downtown Aspen is just over 1 mile (1.6 km) long, from the mostly residential West End to the mostly commercial East End, and about half a mile (.8km) wide from North to South.
The north side of town hugs the Roaring Fork River, and is home to the popular Benedict Music Tent, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, and the John Denver Sanctuary (all best enjoyed during the summer months). The entire south side of town hugs Aspen Mountain, with primary access to the hill via the 8-passenger Silver Queen Gondola, and secondary access via the Shadow Mountain double chair, locally known as Lift 1A.
The main commercial area is sandwiched between S. Monarch Street on the West and Original Street on the East. Main Street and Durant Avenue are the North and South borders. Aspen is unique from other ski towns in the U.S. as you will find everything from truly local boutiques, gear shops and dispensaries to outposts of some of the most luxury brand names in the world, and a world-renowned art museum. Nowhere else do back-country outfitters fit as naturally amongst high-end art galleries as in Aspen. There is also a multi-screen movie theater, opera house, ice-rink and several parks.
There is also a shopping area at Snowmass, at both the Village and Mall areas. However, this area is mostly filled with gear shops, restaurants, and dispensaries, rather than having the broader variety of stores that’s available in downtown Aspen. An even smaller village is at Highlands.
Skiing in Aspen Snowmass can be very expensive (if you go five-star) but it can also be affordable. If you’re on a tight budget it is cheaper to stay in Snowmass or Highlands or commute from one of three more modest towns up to half an hour away. And there are the occasional freebies such as complimentary mountain tours, free shuttles between the four mountains, and free coffee and cookies at the base of the mountains.
Apres Ski Bars & Nightlife in Aspen Snowmass
In Aspen, it’s so easy to start with après, go right into dinner and then just keep on partying without ever taking off your ski boots, that you’ll think you’re in the Alps.
Aspen Mountain Apres-Ski
Before the mountain closes, especially on a blue bird day, stop at the Sundeck for a drink and enjoy the incredible view of the Highland Bowl and Maroon Bells. As it stays lighter, longer into the afternoon, this place becomes more and more popular.
At the base, Ajax Tavern and Chica (new for 2021/2022) offer a livelier scene and incredible people watching. If you venture past the base area for a drink, consider Aspen Tap/Aspen Brewery, Silver City or Zane’s Tavern for a typical bar ambiance or something more cozy at The Wine Bar (Little Nell) or 39° Lounge (W Hotel).
If you’re in the mood for cocktails, head to Hooch (modern), 7908 (theatrical) or the Living Room at Hotel Jerome (classic). To end the night dancing, head to Bootsy Bellows or Belly Up, which is a fantastic concert venue that attracts world-renowned entertainers (book tickets early).
On the legal side, you must be 21 years old to drink alcohol, and you cannot walk the street with an open container of alcohol. Children can accompany their parents in restaurants but not in bars or clubs which, by the way, shut at 2:00 am.
Aspen Highlands Apres Ski
The most famous apres-ski in North America is probably Aspen Highland’s Cloud Nine. Reservations are required, and if you’re at the second seating of the day, make sure you’re wearing something that you don’t mind being soaked in champagne.
Down at the base, Highlands Alehouse is a great spot for pizza, beer and to watch other skiers come down for the day.
Snowmass Apres Ski
Due to the size of Snowmass resort, there are a lot of options for ending your ski day with a beverage. If you don’t want to ski down for drinks, check out Venga Venga, Ranger Station (both at the top of the brightly colored Sky Cab in the Mall area) or Base Camp (bottom of the Sky Cab). If you want to stay mid-mountain, check out Lynn Britt Cabin, which is bathed in sun with a great view of the race course. Elk Camp Lodge, at the top of the Two Creeks lift, also stays sunny late into the afternoon.
Restaurants in Aspen Snowmass
Another one of the best parts about Aspen is the depth and breadth of the restaurants in the area – ranging from coffee and sandwich shops to fine dining and unique ‘back-country’ experiences.
There are several great coffee options in Downtown Aspen, including Local Coffee, Ink Coffee, Bear Den and Gorsuch Café right at the base of the gondola.
Some more casual dining in downtown Aspen include Grateful Deli, Big Wrap, Jour de Fete and CP Burger. Outside of the core, head over to the Aspen Business Center just across the street from the airport, which has the French Pastry Café, Louis Swiss Pastry, and Mawa’s Kitchen.
The list of premium dining in Aspen is long, but some of the most popular places include Clarke’s Oyster Bar, Ellina, Meat & Cheese, Hotel Jerome (J-Bar), White House Tavern, Casa Tua, Betula, Matsuhisa and Home Team BBQ at the base of Buttermilk.
If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, make a reservation at Pine Creek Cookhouse, which is only accessible by cross country ski/snowshoe or classic horse drawn sleighs.
Other Activities in Aspen Snowmass
Downtown Aspen, and the shopping areas at Snowmass are great for walking and window shopping, but the area also features a wider range of activities including art shows, ice skating, snow tubing, fat biking and ice climbing.
One of the best parts about visiting Aspen Snowmass is the breadth of activities available other than skiing or snowboarding. In addition to shopping in Downtown Aspen, there are a multitude of art galleries that show renowned artists, as well as the formidable Aspen Art Museum with major shows and events each season. The ISIS theater in downtown shows several movies each day, and the Wheeler Opera House also has a vibrant events calendar. Belly Up is a fantastic concert venue, bringing in world-famous bands and DJs each week. If ice skating is your thing, there is an outdoor rink in downtown (Silver Circle), and two indoor rinks (Aspen Ice Garden in downtown) and the Lewis Ice Arena at the Aspen Recreation Center on Maroon Creek Road. The Rec Center also has a climbing tower and aquatic center.
There is also 90km of free cross country trails, anchored by the Aspen Cross Country Center at the Aspen Public Golf Course, where you can rent equipment, take a lesson or have a guided tour. There are also hundreds of miles of trails in the area for hiking, snow shoeing or fat biking, including the popular Rio Grande and Smuggler Mountain trails. Lastly, Aspen Expeditions runs ice climbing tours if ascending waterfalls is of interest.