The Experience: If Aspen isn't quite your mountain town scene, head to Vail instead. It's equally as idyllic (it was modeled after European mountain resorts), pedestrian-friendly, and lovely, but the town itself is more of a square in a village with a small collection of boutiques and restaurants for visitors. Ride up and down the gondolas for mountain views in every direction and ski the unique back bowls. It's also closer to Denver, making it easier to get to and, therefore, a little more crowded during peak seasons.
The city of Vail was built to accommodate the Vail Ski Resort, which is the largest single-mountain ski resort in the country. With 193 marked skiing trails, Vail is one of the nation’s most popular ski resorts as well. The Tyrolean-style village is nearly as well visited during the summer. Nearby streams and lakes stocked with fish make Vail an angler’s dream, and opportunities for river rafting abound. Horseback riding, mountain biking, golf and hiking are other popular warm-weather activities.
For mountain bikers, Colorado is a haven, with great trails all over the state. Unfortunately, the mountain climate limits the season in many areas. But the town of Fruita, near Grand Junction, has the climate to enable you to stretch out your mountain biking season through the shoulder seasons and into the winter months. It's also a quirky little town with enough character to make you want to stay a while and return.
The Experience: Denver is the perfect urban adventure for anyone who likes midsize cities. It's easy to navigate and manage and doesn't feel at all claustrophobic, but offers endless cultural excursions, gourmet dining experiences, and a fun nightlife you'd expect from large cities. Make sure you visit the Denver Art Museum, check out the breweries in the RiNo neighborhood, and stay at the Crawford Hotel, which is in the old Denver Union Station. For a boutique hotel, stay at The Maven Hotel.