I love Aspen; I spend the most time within the downtown core (aka the bustling area within a few blocks of the Limelight), with trips to Snowmass sprinkled in for summer concerts. But there are nearby towns that are worth exploring, all located within a few hours of Aspen.

These small neighboring towns each offer something unique and make a wonderful addition to any trip to Aspen. Here are my favorite Aspen day trips.

Redstone, CO

Redstone is a stunning little town located about an hour from Aspen. Originally a coal mining town, Redstone is a history buff’s dream come true. The Redstone Historical Society maintains the local museum and the century-old coke ovens were recently restored. Redstone also serves as an artist’s colony and the Redstone Art Foundation works to promote arts in the area. Their annual Labor Day Weekend Art Show will bring together local artists and visitors in support of the Foundation’s mission. Avalanche Ranch is a hidden gem in Redstone. Take a look at its website for information on booking a yoga class or massage.

Paonia, CO

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Located beyond Redstone, Paonia is two hours from Aspen. If Paonia sounds familiar, it’s likely because you’ve seen it on a menu around Aspen.

Paonia peaches are the best I’ve ever had, and various farms in Paonia come to the Aspen Saturday Market and provide ingredients to chefs around town. Paonia features a variety of vineyards and distilleries; this handy map features all of the possible stops on a wine tour. If you have kids with you, head to Big B’s for an orchard tour and to sample their various ciders.

Located close to Paonia is Gunnison River Farms, one of the most beautiful spots I’ve seen in Colorado. They offer fly fishing adventures, whitewater rafting, quaint cabins that are a step or two above glamping, and “farm to fork” meals. Trips to Gunnison River Farms need to be booked well in advance but are well worth the extra planning.

Glenwood Springs, CO

Last but not least, I highly recommend a day spent in Glenwood Springs. If you flew into Denver or Vail on your way to Aspen, you might have driven past Glenwood on your way to town. Glenwood Springs is about as kid friendly as a town can get. The famous Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is enough entertainment to keep anyone occupied for a whole day. There’s also a spa in case the adults need some relaxation while the kids do laps on the waterslides.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is a uniquely Colorado experience. It blends a traditional amusement park with Colorado vistas and a hint of extreme adventures. Start off by exploring the caves with the tour option that best suits your group. The Historic Fairy Cave is perfect for little ones, and the Wild Cave Tour involves getting down and dirty as you crawl through the caverns. The park features the first Alpine Coaster in the US.

Once you’ve returned from your day trip adventure, it might be the perfect time for a night in at the Limelight, and of course, we already have that all planned out for you.

About Beth Slater

Beth lived in Aspen for 11 years, working for The Aspen Institute and assisting The Aspen Ideas Festival. She has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from the University of Vermont. Her favorite thing to do in Aspen is ski on Ajax.