Playing the game: Insider tips to get around Aspen during high season
There’s a game I like to play over the holidays — it’s basically dodge the tourists.
Now there are many ways to play this particular game: get the heck out of Aspen altogether, hunker down at home, or bob and weave when it comes to doing things like getting into town, grocery shopping, skiing, happy hour, etc.
At the risk of giving up some local secrets, but feeling the need to inform the uninitiated, below are a few of my personal moves.
Getting into town: Take the bus. Period. End of story. But if you can’t, because sometimes you do need a car, recognize that rush hour over the holidays seems to run in reverse; the line of cars coming from Snowmass (or other points downvalley) into town is outrageous in the late afternoon. Once in town, park in one of the residential areas and pay for the day; you do not want to be doing the two-hour shuffle right now.
Grocery shopping: Go downvalley. If you can’t, hit City Market or Clark’s early — as in the minute they open for business — or wait until just before they close. At all costs, avoid late afternoon when the post-ski crowds jam things up.
Skiing: Skip it. But if you really need to get your turns in, go early — first bucket, first chair — and get done early. And think Tiehack; trust me, it won’t disappoint. Nor will getting your outdoor fix on a hike, nordic skiing or numerous other activities that don’t involve lift access.
Happy hour: Now, I’m not encouraging drinking at home alone, but I will say that happy hour at this time of year is often best enjoyed at home — with friends. Gather the gang, play some board games, experiment with recipes … there are plenty of ways to make an evening of fun happen inside your own four walls. Or, if you have to do the town thing, think about places off the beaten path. You know, places the tourists aren’t likely to find or frequent. They exist, but if I tell you where they are, I might have to kill you.
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Aspen’s dirty downtown alleys are enough of a blight that the city government is taking the initiative to clean them up this week.