Why Snowmass, Colorado Keeps Families Coming Back, Again and Again

Located just nine miles from Aspen, Snowmass is an under-the-radar destination that is quickly becoming a favorite for families. And while most people think of Colorado as a winter destination (95% of the lodging in Snowmass is slope-side), it’s also an amazing destination in the summer. With over 2.8 million acres of wilderness, this is the ideal place for horseback riding, hiking, biking, and plenty more. Plus, with over 30 restaurants in Snowmass Village, you’ll have plenty of culinary options, no matter how finicky (or adventurous) your family may be. Here, a list of our favorite spots.

Family-friendly Accommodations: You want choices? You have them here, from hotels like the newly opened Limelight  to the well-established Viceroy, plus there are plenty of condo options which are ideal for families. We liked the Crestwood Condominiums which range from one-bedroom, one-bath up to four-bedroom, four-bath. All rooms have fireplaces, balconies (with a BBQ grill), a fully-equipped kitchen, living room and plenty of closet space. Plus, the Crestwood has a pool and three Jacuzzis (perfect after a day spent hiking, biking or horseback riding). The Crestwood also has free shuttles throughout Snowmass and to/from the airport.

Horseback Riding: For amazing views and great family adventure, it’s hard to beat horseback riding with Snowmass Creek Outfitters. Their trail rides range from 90 minute, two hours, half day, full day and even overnight trips. One of the most popular rides is the 90 minute Rodeo Ride—where expert horse wranglers take families up in the hills of Snowmass to get views of Mount Daly and the Elk Mountain range. The half- and full-day rides include lunch. The views are amazing on all the rides and the wranglers are half the fun with their colorful stories and outgoing personalities.

Canopy Run Zipline: Located at the Lost Forest this experience is for those adventurous families looking for an adrenaline rush. There are seven different ziplines—all of different heights and lengths, but boasting amazing views of the mountains and wildlife below.  The last zip is a quarter of a mile in length and lets travelers feel like they are soaring through the wilderness. Plus, this experience includes rappelling from 30- to 90-foot-high towers and crossing aerial rope bridges.

Snowmass Rodeo: Celebrating over 45 years, this rodeo is the longest running one in the state of Colorado. It takes place every Wednesday and kids (and adults) will love all the competitions including the saddle bronc and bull riding, team roping, and barrel racing. Young kids will love the sheep-riding contest (known as the Mutton Busting) while older kids will enjoy the Calf Scramble. Be sure to get their early and have a BBQ dinner.

Lost Forest :You can easily spend a day here riding the coaster, trying your luck at the climbing wall and seeing what level you can get to on the ropes challenge course (there are five levels). The kids will really enjoy the coaster (they can go countless times), while adults like the challenge of the ropes course and everyone seemed to be getting into the fun of the climbing wall. Plan to spend the day here—you’ll have to drag the kids off the mountain.

Rafting: Families who want to take the kids on a rafting trip, but don’t want to tackle class five rapids, should book a trip with Blazing Adventures. They offer a variety of rafting trips, including taking families on class two rapids on the Lower Roaring Fork. Kids and adults will get to paddle (or not—you can just relax and let the instructor doe the work if you want) while taking in the Rocky Mountains, including Mt Sopris which is almost 13,000 feet tall. The trip also includes a yummy lunch which includes pulled pork sandwiches, salads, burgers, hot dogs, lemonade, ice tea, water and cookies.

Hiking: Some of the best hiking can be founds just minutes away from Snowmass Village. One very popular hike is the South Rim Trail (also known as Ying Yang). The trail is a quick ten-minute walk from the mall and the switchback mountain trail makes it appealing to avid hikers as well as beginners. It takes about an hour to get to the top and the views are well worth it.

Biking: If you’re into mountain biking, Snowmass is the place. With dozens of miles of trails, they have everything from beginners up through the equivalent of black diamond for bikes. For those who are more into leisure biking, families can rent a bike through Aspen Sports and bike from Snowmass to Aspen. It can take anywhere between 90 minutes to 2.5 hours depending on the speed, but the scenery and views around are worth it. Then, you can drop off the bike in Aspen (the store has a sister property there) and families can ride the free shuttle back to Snowmass.

Restaurants Galore

Woody Creek Tavern: From yummy salads (the seared tuna is a great choice), to pulled pork sandwiches, the food here is tasty and the service is quick (great when you have kids). Another great reason to come here? You can bike here from Snowmass and enjoy amazing views along the way.

The Crepe Shack by Mawa’s Kitchen:The kids will love the Nutella, ice cream and whipped cream crepes while adults will savor Mawa’s Greens (think spinach, avocado and broccoli pesto). They have gluten-free and dairy-free options, which makes this a great place for breakfast, lunch or a tasty mid-day snack.

Elk Camp Restaurant:Located in the Lost Forest, this cafeteria-style venue, has a variety of freshly-made foods, including pizza, salad, rotisserie chicken and soups. The views are hard to beat.

Venga Venga: From fajitas and tacos, to freshly-made salads and table-side guacamole, this place is crowded with both locals and tourists. Sit outside if possible, and take in the views.

Fuel: This local favorite has some of the best breakfast burritos and egg sandwiches around. There’s a reason the line is out the door, but don’t worry, it moves fast and it’s worth the wait. It’s an ideal place to pick up breakfast or lunch before heading out rafting, hiking or horseback riding. It’s open 7-3 daily and the owner is hospitable and serves up the sandwiches with a smile.

Saké: This sushi restaurant has an extensive variety of roles, plus plenty of non-sushi dishes (think pad Thai and sweet and sour chicken). It’s a good place for family-style eating.

TORO: Located at the The Viceroy Snowmass this Latin-influenced restaurant is known for their amazing steaks (the fillet is delicious) as well as their variety of seafood dishes (the salmon is a good option). Be sure to leave room for the churros for dessert.

Limelight Snowmass Jazz Brunch: Located at the Limelight hotel, this jazz brunch is held every Sunday and attracts people from all over Snowmass. The all-you-can-eat brunch includes items such as omelets, French toast, yogurt parfait, salmon, bagels, quiche and sweets.