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More Reasons to Visit Aspen During Off-Season

Brandon Wenerd's picture

The ballots for Aspen’s election have been cast, the weather is fair with daytime highs in the mid-60s, and a sizable portion of downtown looks like either a ghost town or an ominous industrial construction site. Nonetheless, there are still a myriad of reasons to make the trip to Aspen during the month of May, or at least what is left of it.

Town folk call this muddy time of snowmelt and low tourist occupancy “off-season,” yet plenty of shops, restaurants, and hotels are open and anxious for a little economic stimulus via curious out-of-towners. Though it may look abandoned when driving down Main Street, not everyone fled Aspen for destinations like Moab, Jamaica, or to follow The Dead in psychedelic VW Vanagons as they wrap up their reunion tour on the West Coast. A sign in the storefront of the Billabong shop in downtown Aspen summarizes the endearing reality of those who call Aspen home: “Because life doesn’t have an off season, neither do we.”
The Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the City of Aspen recently announced an incentive program to promote. In a press release, assistant city manager Randy Ready described the program as a way “to help promote local shops and restaurants. When someone spends $50 on taxable items at local businesses, excluding groceries and pharmaceuticals, they will receive four parking tokens.” Each parking token is worth one dollar of parking time and needs to be redeemed by bringing an original sales receipts to one of the three visitor centers in Aspen to fill out a simple voucher form indicating their name, date, sales amount and number of tokens issued. In a town notorious for its pricy metered parking and 40 dollar parking violations (50 dollars after 10 days), a voucher for free parking in exchange is a way to make downtown Aspen more visitor and commerce friendly. The program runs from May 11 through June 12.

Other reasons for a late spring retreat to Aspen include the burgeoning outdoor recreational opportunities. The beautiful weather as of late has made for plenty of crystal clear days to tackle Smuggler Mountain, hike the scenic Hunter Creek Trail, or ramble up the steep face of Red Mountain via the Sunnyside Trail. Public golf courses like the Aspen Golf Club are offering discounted greens fees before the summer rush to the tees. Afternoon greens fees for 18 holes at the Aspen Golf Club are an affordable $52.50 before June 11th. The Snowmass Club recently opened its golf course on May 9th; the public can play after 1 o’clock for a reasonable rate of $125 though June 19. Many down valley courses like Aspen Glen and River Valley Ranch are open for the season as well.

Hotel rates are the lowest of the year, so visitors can have their pick of premium lodging accommodations at desirable prizes. Additionally, prix fix dinners at world-class eateries remain a popular and affordable gourmet dining option through the end of May, particularly at restaurants like Social, Lulu Wilson, and Rustique. Those looking for a relaxing spring spa getaway will find the Aspen Club an enticing and affordable oasis for mind and body rejuvenation. The Aspen Club is currently advertising a 50-minute massage for the low price of 99 dollars or a 80 minute massage for only 140 dollars, nearly 50 dollars off the regular season price.

Cheap food, cheap hotels, great deals, parking that’s on the house, and plenty of outdoor activities without the crowd; if you need a little high alpine rest and relaxation, Aspen’s open for business all off-season long.