As the quintessential chic mountain town, Aspen’s art and cultural scene is on par with artsy mountain hotspots like Santa Fe and Park City, compacted into a walkable downtown. These are the spots to check out for gallery showings, rotating exhibitions, and a taste of the valley’s rich history from rugged mining camp to world-class ski destination.
Galerie Maximillian — Galerie Maximillian, often just called “Max,” is built around rotating modern and contemporary art exhibits. While the work is museum-quality, you can bet that Aspen’s high-rolling clientele comes to this gallery with open wallets year after year.
Skye Gallery — With quirky modern art, Skye Gallery is one of those places that upholds both of Aspen’s appearances: high-end artsy haven with a loud counterculture undercurrent.
Red Brick Center for the Arts — The Red Brick Center is a hub for non-profit groups and gallery openings. There’s always something showing, and the center hosts an ongoing calendar of events and classes for visitors.
History Museum at Lift One — Part gallery, part museum, part ski bum fantasy, this small museum features old ski artifacts and artwork. It’s located at Aspen’s famous Lift One, the first fully functional ski lift in Colorado.
Aspen Art Museum — Rotating exhibits populate the galleries of the Aspen Art Museum. The building itself features a prominent exoskeleton design that is itself a massive work of art and the coolest piece of architecture in a town rich in unique building designs.
Wheeler/Stallard Museum — In the late 1800s, as the mining camp that had settled what is now Aspen began to flounder, the town needed a rich investor and developer to come in and push it forward. Jerome B. Wheeler was that person, and his legacy lives on in the home he bought in Aspen’s West End. Although Jerome and his wife Harriet never actually lived in the house, it’s still set with the decor that it had when the couple arrived to begin Aspen’s transformation into what it is today. The upstairs, however, is more contemporary and features rotating exhibits covering Aspen’s history.
Wheeler Opera House — The Wheeler Opera House has held events since 1889 when it became the original performance venue in Aspen. Named after the same developer, Jerome B. Wheeler, the building also offers tours, both guided and unguided. You can tour it for free each Wednesday at 1:30 PM.
Summer music on the mountain — Any who’ve spent ample time in Colorado are accustomed to the state’s deep affection for bluegrass music, and Aspen is no different. Aspen Snowmass hosts bluegrass concerts during the summer, along with classical and other performances that are free as long as you buy a lift ticket.
Aspen Historical Society — The Historical Society runs an Aspen Highlands ski history tour on Mondays at both 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. The tour itself is free, but you must have a lift ticket. Alternatively, the Hotel Jerome Tour takes you through Aspen’s most historically rich hotel, and Hunter S. Thompson’s preferred stomping ground and watering hole, on Tuesdays at 1:30 PM. Tickets cost $15.
The West End — No matter when you’re in Aspen, walk yourself through the town’s West End. The neighborhood is a mix of modern, multi-million dollar homes and well-kept but rustic mountain houses, most of which are second (or third) homes for the rich and famous.