Aspen, Colorado for Kids

This Ski Resort Rolls out the Red Carpet for Children in the Summer

On an Aspen vacation, kids can leave their parents behind with fun camps and classes targeted to the shorter set. Plus, activities the entire family can enjoy together.

Families are welcomed at the upscale mountain town of Aspen all year-round, but once school lets out for the summer, the red carpet is really rolled out, with many local businesses and nonprofit groups offering camps, classes and clubs just for children—no parents allowed.

No matter what your child’s interest—from cooking and art, to drama and nature, it’s likely there’s a program in Aspen for him. For your next travels to Aspen, check out these just-for-kids activities that nurture a child’s independence and give parents plenty of grown-up time alone (round of golf, spa treatment or leisurely lunch anyone?):

Cooking kids

It’s hands-on learning at the Cooking School of Aspen’s Kids in the Kitchen classes. Children ages 6 to 13 have fun learning basic cooking techniques with kid-friendly recipes. Classes are typically held on Saturdays in the summer.

Center stage

Drama kings and queens can take to the stage during intensive summer workshops with Theatre Aspen, which makes its home in Aspen’s Rio Grande Park. Kindergarteners through teens learn the basics and have fun with improv and other stage games.

Exceptional artistry

The summer workshops for kids at Anderson Ranch in nearby Snowmass (a 10-minute drive from Aspen) typically fill up well before the warm-weather season even starts. This world-renowned retreat brings in talented teachers to instruct school-age children in various media. Specific classes vary each year, but in the past, they’ve included large-scale painting, digital photography, woodworking and sculpture.

Putting pen to paper

The Aspen Writers’ Foundation is well-rooted in Aspen’s summer scene, with its annual Summer Words Writing Retreat and Literary Festival. Aspiring writers can practice their craft at Scribes & Scribblers’ Creative Writing Camps. The two-week camps introduce kids and teens ages 8 and up to the basics of storytelling and narrative structure. The camps provide a supportive, fun environment to encourage participants to put their own stories to paper.

Up close with nature

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies offers dozens of half-day, full-day and multi-day courses for kids and teens ages 5 and up at its Hallam Lake Nature Preserve in Aspen or 20 minutes away at Rock Bottom Ranch in Basalt. Children might help feed farm animals, sleep outdoors at “Farm & Wilderness Camp,” or learn everything there is to know about reptiles.

Back in the saddle

All summer long, little equestrians can attend camp at the H2J Riding School at Cozy Point Ranch, about six miles from Aspen. Daily, weekly or monthly rates give families some flexibility; young children start out learning the basics of riding safely and caring for horses, and over time, advance to jumping and preparing for horse shows. Year-round private lessons are available.

Happy campers

Camp Ecology is an Aspen day camp with a focus on nature for ages 5 to 8. Weekly themes include “Bugs, Slugs & Spiders” and “Forests Rock.” Its sister program, Camp Eco Sports, gives children ages 7 to 10 lots of opportunities to run around Aspen’s local parks, and sports include soccer, football, and softball.

For a full list of summer camps in Aspen and the surrounding Roaring Fork Valley, visit Mountain Parent magazine’s website here.

Fun for the Whole Family

When the entire clan is ready for some quality time together, choose from the area’s many active adventures, cultural offerings, and fun dining options. Here are some favorite family-friendly activities for your next Aspen vacation:

  • Tour the Aspen Art Museum, Wheeler Stallard Museum or Holden-Marolt Ranching & Mining Museum.
  • Take some fly-fishing lessons.
  • Enjoy preschool storytimes at all four valley-wide libraries.
  • Hike to Ashcroft’s Pine Creek Cookhouse for lunch or dinner.
  • Fly high with a hot-air-balloon ride.
  • Go rafting on a mild float trip or wild whitewater adventure.
  • Ride the Silver Queen Gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain for some Frisbee golf.
  • Take to the valley’s network of paved bike paths.
  • Admire the talented cowboys (and cowgirls) at the Snowmass rodeo.
  • Watch the family-oriented weekend performance at Theatre Aspen.
  • Listen to a kid-friendly Aspen Music Festival concert.