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30 Apr 2024
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Aspen Information

When you think of an Aspen vacation, you likely picture world-class skiing and snowboarding and an après-ski scene of hot tubs and high-end cocktails. While this isn’t far off, there’s actually a variety of free or nearly free activities in Aspen that you can take advantage of as well.

Aspen has a vibrant cultural scene, beautiful nature to explore, and rich historical sites you can visit at little to no cost. If you’re looking for some activities to add to your list that won’t break the bank, you’re in the right place! Here’s the top list of our favorite free or nearly free activities in Aspen that will make your next vacation one to remember.

Aspen Art Museum


If you’re looking to explore the rich art scene in Aspen, the Aspen Art Museum is a great place to start. Admission to the museum is free, and they host a multitude of events for everyone from small children to older adults. These events include active art activities you can participate in yourself and fellowship presentations from esteemed artists.

AAM is dedicated to supporting artists in their pursuit of developing bold ideas. Their mission is to foster community and allow artists a space both to showcase their work and be challenged to innovate and take risks in their art. The general museum is self-guided, but there are plenty of staff throughout the building who can assist you however you may need.

band on stage playing concert

Music in the Mountains


Aspen Music Festival & School has a variety of free concerts. From a National Piping Center class where you can observe bagpipe techniques to Spotlight recitals featuring students playing beautiful chamber and solo works, there’s something for everybody here.

The school has an extensive list of offerings, many of which are free of charge. If you’re looking for a unique experience to add to your vacation, this is a great place to check out. You can see an opera, participate in a family program, or listen to a lecture, all at one of the top classical musical festivals in the United States.


We’d be remiss to discuss free or nearly free activities in Aspen and not include some of our favorite hiking spots. Colorado is known for its scenic hiking, and Aspen is most definitely not an exception.

There are a variety of trails that you can take, and what is “best” will depend on your hiking ability and how long you’d like to be out. Alltrails is always an excellent resource for hiking, and locals are known to list Smuggler Mountain as the quintessential quick local hike. Aspen Trail Finder is another awesome resource.

person hiking in aspen mountains

Bluegrass Sundays

Free, 6/16/24 – 9/1/24

Gather together on a Sunday afternoon to hear delightful bluegrass music from talented local bands, free of charge! These open-air concerts are a wonderful way to kick back and relax with friends and family. Elk Mountain provides a scenic backdrop to enjoy some classic bluegrass music.

While concert admission is free, you will need to purchase a gondola ticket to get to the top of the mountain. Gondola tickets run at $37/person but are free for children. The ride up to the concert is an experience in and of itself that we highly recommend.

John Denver Sanctuary


The John Denver Sanctuary offers a peaceful respite located in the heart of Aspen. Many like to enjoy a picnic here with friends and family or simply sit down for a moment of quiet contemplation.

The space honors Denver with the Song Garden, a collection of river boulders with his lyrics etched into them, arranged in a circle to represent the circle of life. A Colorado Blue Spruce was planted in the middle of the garden to represent Denver himself. The Sanctuary also contains a large perennial flower garden, which starts blooming in late May. This beautiful nature destination is a must-see for Denver fanatics, but anyone can appreciate its serene atmosphere.

Independence Ghost Town

Self-guided, suggested $5 donation.

Sixteen miles east of Aspen on Highway 82 sits Independence, a town that once thrived in the 1800s but now serves as a historical site. Once a major mining town (with over $190,000 worth of gold found there!) Independence is located just below the Continental Divide and is considered a can’t-miss stop on Independence Pass.

Efforts began in the 1980s to preserve and share the town’s story for future generations. Exhibits include abandoned Stables, The General Store, and the Intern Cabin. Visit today and get a glimpse into the gold mining of Aspen’s past!

Aspen Thrift Shop

Aspen Thrift Shop was initially founded in 1949 to help fund a local hospital. It’s run by a collection of volunteers and has the lowest prices around!

Here, you can find skis for as low as $50 if you’re lucky. The shop is quite popular, often with a line out the door before they open in the morning. Locals and tourists alike love the store for its charm and the great finds. You never know what you’ll see there, so it’s always worth the trip!

gondola ride, aspen mountains

Book Your Aspen Vacation with McCartney Properties

Now that you know all of the free or nearly free activities in Aspen, it’s time to book that vacation! McCartney Properties offers a range of Aspen vacation rentals with everything you could need—we even have rentals specifically equipped with hot tubs. We also provide pet-friendly rentals, long-term options, and shorter getaways. We're here to provide you the best Aspen vacation possible. Book your stay directly with us today!