You likely know of Aspen, Colorado — the chic mountain town that’s a favorite among visiting celebrities with its sublime ski slopes and upscale dining and nightlife. While Aspen often gets all the glory — which is warranted — as the hamlet is indeed rich in history and culture, while offering a plethora of outdoor activities. Snowmass, however, its sister resort about 10 miles down the highway, has much to offer visitors, as well.
In fact, as someone who lives less than 30 minutes from both of these resort towns, I’d argue that Snowmass makes a fabulous destination in itself, especially in the summer months, when the resort town rolls out the red carpet for families and hosts a number of warm-weather annual festivals and weekly events. New restaurants, a recently renovated mountainside hotel, and easy access to outside adventures add to Snowmass’s allure.
If your travel plans take you to western Colorado this summer, I highly recommend you make lovely, laid-back Snowmass your home base. You’ll have plenty of amenities and activities right outside your doorstep. And if you do want to explore Aspen’s sophisticated scene, it’s just a free bus ride away.
Here are my suggestions for 16 fantastic things to do in Snowmass this summer — including my tips on where to eat and stay locally:
1. Snowmass Rodeo
Every Wednesday night from the end of June through mid-August, the Snowmass Rodeo entertains locals and visitors with its array of cowboy competitions, including bull riding, barrel racing, and team roping. Visiting children can even compete in mutton bustin’ and the calf scramble. Before the rodeo, dine on ribs, pulled pork, or burgers with all the sides. There are also several western-themed vendors on-site for you to find the perfect souvenir.
2. Hiking And Biking Trails
Snowmass is home to dozens of hiking trails rated easy, moderate, and difficult. Wind your way through aspen groves, across wildflower-strewn meadows, and amid evergreen forests. The higher you climb, the more fabulous mountain vistas await. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies offers free guided nature walks on Saturdays and Sundays.
Similarly, Snowmass is known for its variety of mountain biking trails for all levels of experience. In the summer, the ski mountain is transformed into Snowmass Bike Park. Access the bike park trails via the Elk Camp Gondola and Elk Camp chairlift. Just load your bike (there are rentals available), hop off at one of two spots, and enjoy the thrilling ride down the mountain!
3. The Collective
Comedy, Yoga, And More
The Collective has been a welcome addition to Snowmass Base Village in recent years. This community hub is where locals and visitors gather to eat, drink, exercise, and simply have fun. The space, which is an outdoor ice rink in the winter, transforms into a turf-covered play area where you’ll find yoga classes, live music, and lawn games in the summer. Then there’s the technicolor Game Lounge featuring billiards, skeeball, and foosball, plus 12 “selfie stations” for capturing vacation photos in front of creative backdrops. Grab a healthy meal at mix6 or relax with a drink at the Moxi Bar.
This special spot is a nifty, upbeat gathering place with some creative summer programming that includes outdoor movies, live comedy performances, science center camps, open mic nights, art shows, and salsa dancing.
4. Annual Festivals
Snowmass likes to celebrate — whether it’s with food, art, music, or the outdoors. Chances are, whenever your vacation is scheduled, there will be some sort of special event happening, such as the Snowmass Art Festival, the Independence Day Community Celebration, Heritage Fire culinary demonstrations, Cidermass (celebrating hard cider), or the beloved Snowmass Balloon Festival. And that’s just to name a few. Check the Snowmass events calendar to see what’s happening when you’re in town.
5. The Lost Forest
Coaster, Climbing Wall, And More
Hop on the Elk Camp Gondola and make your way up to the outdoor playground dubbed The Lost Forest. Here, various ticket packages include access to an alpine coaster, ropes course, climbing wall, and zipline canopy tour. Bring your own equipment to toss a line in the Trout Hook Fishing Pond or play a round at the Aerial Approach Disc Golf course.
If you simply want to take a scenic gondola ride to enjoy the high-altitude views, then hop off for a bite to eat at the Elk Camp Restaurant or a walk along some mountain trails.
Spas In Snowmass
All this outdoor activity at high elevation might result in some sore muscles, so why not schedule some time at the spa? Snowmass has a couple of great options.
6. Lupine Spa At Viewline Resort Snowmass
The Lupine Spa at Viewline Resort Snowmass is a newcomer, as this slopeside hotel just opened its doors in January 2022 after a $40 million renovation. Locker rooms here feature steam rooms, which you can use before or after your treatment. Spa services include a customized CBD massage for added healing effects from the hemp plant.
7. Spa At Viceroy Snowmass
The Spa at Viceroy Snowmass has a calming, dimly lit relaxation room with comfortable lounges set in a circle under an impressive antler chandelier. There are small hot tubs in each of the men’s and women’s locker rooms. Treatments include soothing and spiritual rituals inspired by the Ute tribe — the people who first settled in the mountains of Snowmass.
8. Anderson Ranch Arts Center
Anderson Ranch Arts Center is a hidden gem in Snowmass, and if you’re an art aficionado you’ll certainly want to pay this special spot a visit during your vacation. Listen to a lecture by a visiting artist, check out the rotating exhibits in the art gallery, and shop in the ArtWorks Store. Take time to stroll through the outdoor sculpture exhibit: (Still) Sculpturally Distanced.
9. Free Live Music
Snowmass celebrates 30 years of free, live music on the mountain in 2022. The Snowmass Free Concert Series, the locals’ favorite, takes place on Fanny Hill every Thursday evening from mid-June to mid-August. The lineup includes everything from pop and funk to R&B and country. Bring your own blanket or chairs, as well as a picnic basket, and settle in for a good time. (You can’t bring your own alcohol, but drink vendors are on-site.)
Every Friday, from June through the end of September, brings Music on the Mall. You’ll find a variety of local performers on Tower Stage during happy hour (4:30–6:30pm) for the perfect way to kick off the weekend.
Best Restaurants In Snowmass
Restaurants in Snowmass are especially inviting in the summer months, since so many have fabulous patios for dining al fresco in the fresh mountain air. Here are some of my faves:
10. Limelight Lounge
Limelight Lounge has a spacious outdoor patio that’s pet-friendly and gives you a front seat to all of the action on the outdoor turf yard at The Collective. I especially like the wood-fired pizza and variety of small and shareable plates.
11. Aurum Snowmass
Aurum Snowmass also has a large and comfortable outdoor seating area. The menu focuses on seasonal new American food. No matter what you order for your main meal, do not miss their amazing chocolate chip cookies served warm with a side of whipped cream. Trust me, you’ll want to save room for dessert just to eat these divine melt-in-your-mouth treats.
12. Venga Venga
Venga Venga is the place for Mexican food in Snowmass. Its outdoor deck faces Fanny Hill — right in the thick of the Snowmass Mall action. Be sure to start with the tableside guacamole.
13. New Belgium Ranger Station
New Belgium Ranger Station features the Colorado brewery’s favorites like Fat Tire and Voodoo Ranger IPA. It is casual dining here, with menu items served to guests on tin cookie sheets. Order the baked pretzel rolls with savory or sweet dipping sauces, including cheese fondue, beer mustard, and hazelnut chocolate.
Best Hotels In Snowmass
If you’re looking for a full-service hotel, consider these options:
14. Viewline Resort Snowmass
Perched slopeside next to Fanny Hill, Viewline Resort Snowmass is part of the Marriott Hotels & Resorts family. If you’ve got points to spare, this is a solid choice not only for its location at the Snowmass Mall, but also its on-site spa, seasonal kids’ club, and upbeat lobby lounge. I stayed overnight here on a media visit and thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Stark’s Alpine Grill. It’s expensive, but if you’ve got an occasion to celebrate, the filet mignon and crab cakes are divine.
15. Limelight Hotel Snowmass
This lively property in Snowmass Base Village includes a generous breakfast buffet in its room rates. Other amenities include a pool and hot tub, electric charging stations in the garage, and even a climbing wall. If you’re bringing along Fido, the Limelight will provide a pet mat and water bowl.
16. Viceroy Snowmass
Accommodations here are luxury residences ranging from cozy studios with efficiency-style kitchenettes to spacious four-bedroom suites with full kitchens and a washer and dryer. Super-luxe penthouses are also an option. The Viceroy Snowmass is adjacent to Assay Hill, a stone’s throw from the Base Village.
Pro Tip: If you end up overnighting in Aspen and want to drive into Snowmass for the day, you can park for free in the Snowmass Base Village garage or in the numbered village lots in the summer months. Remember, though, that public bus service from Aspen to Snowmass is also free.
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