Talk to any ski bum, and they'll tell you west-coast skiing is some of the best out there (or if you're like me and have only skied the US, you'll say it is the best out there - don't @ me).
Which is why I consider myself lucky that I've had the opportunity over the years - thanks in large part to my father, who made his dream of living in Colorado come true several years ago - to meander down some of the nicest slopes out there. From world-class resorts like Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Vail to local favorites such as Loveland and A-Basin to the conveniently-close Eldora Mountain just over 20 miles from Boulder, I've seen (and climbed, and shimmed down, and sometimes fallen down) them all.
But one place I'd yet to check off my list? Luxurious, celebrity-hot-spot Aspen. That is, until this year.
In December, I flew to Colorado for the holidays for a week of celebrating, catching up with family, and, yes, skiing. Given Aspen's notorious reputation when it comes to money, we took a couple of steps right off the bat to get ahead of the expenses.
To keep within a reasonable budget, my family and I rented a condo in Snowmass Village, several miles outside of downtown Aspen, and took advantage of the town's free shuttle service.
After skiing, I ventured into town to see what the hype is all about.
The shuttle drops you off right outside the village, which sits at the base of Aspen Mountain.
From there, you're instantly immersed in the shopping experience, from jewelry stores to clothing boutiques to home decor.
As expected, many of the stores were expensive — really, really expensive. In one store, a pair of snowpants cost $800 while a ski jacket ran for $2,000 or more.
There are other familiar (and expensive) brands in town, like goop MRKT, The North Face, Ralph Lauren, and more.
You can also find boutiques for dog lovers.
And, naturally, a Starbucks.
It's not completely overrun with high-end retail, though. At wine-beer-and-coffee-cafe Victoria's Espresso, I warmed up with a $5 hot chocolate.
When it came to food and drink options, I did admittedly, encounter plenty of sushi restaurants and fine dining spots. But there were also cafes and delis for those of us who didn't want to break the bank on a meal.
And the community has a lovely park for dog owners and evening walkers.
If you're not a skier, you can purchase the sightseeing lift ticket, which only cost $37.
Overall, I'd say that Aspen is just about as beautiful and enjoyable as any ski town in western USA.
But if you do end up in Aspen, it won't disappoint — on any budget.