Family-Friendly Ski Vacation in Snowmass, Colorado
Snowmass, Colorado, often plays second fiddle to fancier Aspen, but located just 20 minutes south of the glamorous ski town, Snowmass offers plenty to satisfy, including several wonderful hotels, family-friendly restaurants and superlative skiing, dare I say even better than Aspen Mountain? In the summer, visitors can find terrific mountain biking and hiking right out of their back door. Year-round, Snowmass does a wonderful job of curating all sorts of events (many of which are free), from Ullr Nights and Snowmass Luminescence in the winter to a concert series and a weekly rodeo in the summer. And, Aspen is always a free shuttle ride away for shopping, nightlife or a big night out.
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Where to stay in Snowmass, Colorado
Upscale ski-in/ski-out resort with modern studios and suites, plus a restaurant and cafe at the base of Snowmass Mountain.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out, whenever possible.
Limelight Hotel Aspen
Located in the heart of the action, this central stay has all the hip hotel fixings plus celebrated service.
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Things to do in Snowmass, Colorado
Downhill Skiing - Snowmass Ski Resort offers 4,406 vertical feet, 3,342 acres of terrain, 98 trails, 21 chairlifts (Aspen Mountain offers just 673 skiable acres). It has terrain to fit every ability, which makes it a great place for beginners, but also simply for skiers who like wide runs with well-dispersed crowds.
Tubing - Great for the kiddos, there are multiple lanes for snow tubing.
Cross Country Skiing - The Aspen Cross Country Center, is located in the heart of the Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System, which offers over 60km of free trails. At the Aspen Cross Country Center, you can find retail, rentals and lessons.
Ullr Nights - On several nights over the course of ski season, Snowmass hosts the family-friendly Ullr nights. The evening begins with a gondola ride up to Elk Camp Meadows where winter activities such as tubing, snowbiking, s'mores, hot chocolate and bonfires are enjoyed.
Breathtaker Alpine Coaster - For another kind of winter thrill, ride through over a mile of the forest at up to 28mph.
Snowbiking - Yes, bike on snow! Snowmass even offers lessons. Fun for the entire family.
Snowmobiling - Head out to T Lazy Ranch, a 20-30 minute drive from Snowmass, depending on the weather, for a scenic tour through the famous Maroon Bells.
Ice Skating - In the winter, an outdoor ice rink anchors the Snowmass Base Village plaza complete with free skate rentals. Grab a drink and a snack at the Limelight Hotel Snowmass, while the kids burn off their last bits of energy.
Day Trips from Snowmass, Colorado
Pine Creek Cookhouse - Take a day off from skiing and head to the magical Pine Creek Cookhouse for lunch, a 30-45 minute drive from Snowmass to the trail start. In the winter season, guests can access the restaurant by sleigh, cross-country skis, snowshoes or, depending on the snow level, simply walking. Reservations are a must.
Places to eat & drink in Snowmass, Colorado
Fuel - Nothing fancy, just a place to fuel the family with breakfast burritos, smoothies and coffee.
Venga Venga - Fun for lunch or dinner, with great views of the slopes and mountains. Modern Mexican fare with solid margaritas.
New Belgium Ranger Station - New Belgium's local restaurant, serving all of their great beers. The Nachos are a perfect snack to share for apres.
Snowcat Dinners - Take a snowcat up Snowmass Mountain for dinner at Lynn Britt Cabin, or head over to Aspen Highlands (one of the four ski mountains that make up Aspen / Snowmass) and take a snowcat up the mountain to Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro.
Kenichi - Longtime Aspen favorite Kenichi recently opened a sister restaurant in Snowmass. Fun and relaxed with Miso Black Cod and Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice.
Toro - Located in the Viceroy Snowmass, chef Richard Sandoval's restaurant serves up Pan-Latin fare.
A Night in Aspen... if your legs aren't completely burnt after a day skiing the slopes head up to Aspen on the free shuttle and cab or shuttle back. It is a 20+ minute ride. Begin the night with drinks at the Hotel Jerome, either at The Living Room, their luxe lobby lounge, or Bad Harriet, a newly opened speakeasy-style bar. From there, head to Matsuhisa for sexy, fancy sushi and a fun scene; Casa Tua for a Miami vibe in Aspen with great Italian fare; or Meat & Cheese if with the kiddos. They are loved for their roast chicken with potatoes and shareable plates. For a later night, the Belly Up offers world-class musical acts year-round.
Need to Know
Aspen / Snowmass is actually made up of four separate mountains, so for a week-long plus visit to the area, there is plenty of terrain to ski in the winter. Snowmass is the largest of the four mountains and offers varied terrain, serving beginners to advanced skiers. Buttermilk is a beginner's mountain, great for kids and for skiers looking for easier terrain. Aspen Highlands is considered the "local" mountain and has more advanced ski terrain and a low-key vibe. Aspen Mountain is in the heart of the town, offers terrain primarily for intermediate and up skiers and has great people-watching.
For more travel tips, check out my guide to Telluride: Winter Adventure in Telluride, Colorado.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Colorado.