Most people agree that Aspen is Vail's glitzier neighbor (though residents of the two cities argue over which city is the more pretentious). Aspen residents take pride in the fact that Aspen was a town before it was a ski destination, whereas Vail was built as a ski resort in the 1960s. But nowadays, little of the quaint mining town that Aspen once was remains. Sure, streets are charming and it has that small-town feel, but now high-end shops such as Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton line the streets. The dining options are equally chichi, with numerous gourmet restaurants frequented by a glamorous crowd. Celebrity sightings are normal, particularly during the winter peak season, from November to March.
Aspen's Rocky Mountain setting is picturesque, and there are four mountains catering to all levels of skiers. One lift ticket grants access to all four mountains, although only top-notch skiiers should try their hand, er, ski, at Aspen Mountain. Those who do not plan to ski day-in, day-out have plenty of other options, such as shopping -- and even dog-sledding! The summer months are less crowded, but the warm weather still draws visitors looking to fish, hike, golf, and check out the popular summer music festival.
Peak season for Aspen is November to March, and hotels can get pretty packed. Many hotels in this glamorous resort town are expensive, although they offer slightly reduced rates in the summer and heavily reduced rates in the fall and spring. If they're open, that is -- many hotels close during fall and spring's off-peak seasons. Most hotels are clustered around the bases of the four mountains. For those looking for a more relaxed vibe, Snowmass Village is slightly more laid-back and family-friendly.
Nov. - Mar.; June - Aug.
120 V, 60 Hz
15-20% at restaurants