7 Comparisons of Aspen vs Breckenridge

Trying to decide between Aspen vs Breckenridge for your next vacation? Here I’ll break down different aspects of each mountain town. Whether you are looking for great skiing, summer hiking, or night life, here is what you need to know when deciding between Aspen or Breckenridge.

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While Aspen is known as a hot spot for celebrity sightings and the famous Maroon Bells, Breckenridge has cozy woodland creatures and fun mountain fun.

Make sure to check out both towns as you decide whether to make your next trip for Breckenridge or Aspen.

pinnable image of Aspen vs Breckenridge with 4 images: old cabin sitting in yellow grass meadow, large troll in the woods, carved caves, kids playing on large rocks in the water
kids playing on large rocks in shallow waters, rock steps behind with a flagpole and green trees

Blue River Plaza in Breckenridge

Most Family-Friendly Town


There are a lot of great things to do around Aspen, and when we visited with our kids, we had a great time.

We enjoy hiking, so we stayed plenty busy in Aspen with the kid-friendly hikes.

But as far as being in town, family entertainment was lacking.

If you are a family that likes hiking, Aspen will deliver. But if you need attractions and fun in a city sort of way, Aspen isn’t the best choice here.

As far as friendliness of the town toward families, Aspen was great. We have a lot of kids and no one seemed bothered by it.

Family-friendly activities include easy hikes, heading to a ghost town, alpine coaster, challenge course, or the John Denver Sanctuary.


Breckenridge is full of fun, family activities to last your entire stay. Regardless of how you define fun, Breckenridge is a great place.

Family-friendly activities include a short walk to a giant woodland troll, hanging out at Blue River Plaza and playing among the rocks and water, heading to a fun arcade restaurant, or hitting up the mountain park in the summer.

You’ll also find plenty of fun hikes and waterfalls around the area.

Breckenridge is overflowing with families, so you’ll definitely fit right in among the kids running around enjoying themselves.

Between Aspen or Breckenridge, Breckenridge is a more family-friendly town!

There is just more to do overall for families in Breck.

cascades of water coming down a large rock area

Grottos hike in Aspen

Hiking in Aspen vs Breckenridge


Aspen has some great unique and exciting hikes.

Maroon Bells is the most popular as it takes you to a view of the famous mountain peaks in Aspen. You can hike beyond the landing point over to Crater Lake as well.

The Grottos are a family favorite as you can climb down into the ice caves or hike over and enjoy the cascades.

Going up Hunter Creek will take you through forests and meadows up to abandoned cabins you can peek in.

Snowmass is a nearby area that also offers plenty of trails on the mountain (our favorite was the Tom Blake trails as they were bursting with colors during the fall).

And of course those who are more adventurous (and without kids on their trip) can make the popular trek from Aspen to Crested Butte. This trail is 11 miles over the mountain, where as driving from one to the other would be over 100 miles.


Hiking in Breckenridge is a real treat. You’ll get trails of all levels for any audience.

The walk to Isak Heartstone is a short and easy one to see the giant troll.

Families will also like hiking on the mountain up to Sawmill Reservoir without too much effort or up Burro Trail.

If you’d like to exert a little more effort, try McCullough Gulch, which takes you to a waterfall set that will leave you speechless.

And true adventurers can cross off a 14er by hiking up to Quandry Peak.

Both towns offer incredible hiking, so either would be great to visit for those looking to get out on the trails.

view from a brown deck overlooking to the mountain peak range, in between filled with green pines

View from our rental in Breckenridge

Most Affordable: Aspen or Breckenridge


Aspen has a reputation of being a more posh, refined town. They have a great music scene and ski resort. Celebrities are drawn to the luxury hotels and upscale lodgings.

Can you find affordable lodging in Aspen? Yes, relatively speaking. But it’s a bit harder to find than other mountain towns.

Many hotels in Aspen run around $1,000+ per night. You can check out this mountain lodge that is significantly less.

Or, to really open your options, you can do what we did and find a rental in Snowmass. Snowmass is just a short drive away, but feels a little more relaxed and is much more affordable.


While going to Breckenridge still comes at a cost (it is a mountain town, after all), you’ll likely to find much more affordable accommodations.

Breckenridge has some great, upscale places to stay. But they have so many more options for lodging that you’ll also find some great affordable lodgings as well.

Breckenridge has a large selection of both rentals and hotels to choose from. This makes pricing a lot broader and feasible for more people.

🏠Check out the beautiful, but decently priced Ranahan in Breckenridge

Location of Breckenridge vs Aspen


If you are flying into the Denver Airport, then Aspen will take about 4 hours to drive to. Another option is to make a connecting flight into Aspen / Pitkin County airport, though this can be expensive.

Aspen is located about 3 hours west of Denver, and then an hour south. To access Aspen, you’ll take I-70 west until Glenwood Springs (about 3 hours) and then head south on highway 82, which will take you right into Aspen.

Aspen feels a bit isolated. It has the neighboring town of Snowmass immediately to the side, but other than that, it’s mountain roads that get you there.

That’s not to make it sounds like it’s not able to stand on it’s own. While there may not be a Walmart or Costco, Aspen has a regional airport, a full size grocery store, and a level 3 trauma hospital.


From the Denver airport, Breckenridge is under 2 hours away. You could also fly into Eagle/Vail, but it won’t save you that much time, and it’ll come at a cost.

Breckenridge is about 2 hours west of Denver and located just a short drive off of I-70. To get there, you’ll take I-70 west to CO-9. From there, it’s just about 10 miles into town.

Breckenridge is closer to many more towns than Aspen is. You’ll drive right through the town of Frisco to get to it. Just down the road off I-70 is Silverthorne one way and Copper mountain the other. You’re also very close to Keystone.

Breckenridge has plenty of resources nearby. The town has a Walmart nextdoor in Frisco, a full grocery store in town and in Frisco, easy access to I-70 for other town resources, and a level 3 trauma hospital in Frisco.

large snowy mountain with a pink sky

Aspen vs Breckenridge Ski Resorts

Aspen skiing

To begin, the farther from I-70 you get, the less crowds you’ll have. Aspen is far enough where you won’t feel completely overrun with people when you hit the slopes.

There are 4 ski resorts all within a short distance of each other in/near Aspen.

A lift ticket in Aspen will run an adult about $200 for a day. The good news is that you can purchase multi-day lift tickets at a slight discount. The even better news is that these lift tickets are good at all 4 resorts: Aspen Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass.

Aspen Mountain is more for experienced skiers, as there are no Green runs here.

Aspen Highlands doesn’t get as many people, making it better for those avoiding thick crowds. It has plenty of runs for everyone. Beginners will love hanging out around Cloud 9 chairlift.

Buttermilk is located right off the main road in Aspen outside of the downtown area. It hosts the Winter X games and is known for being a great playground for those seeking quarter pipes, jumps, and more.

And lastly, Snowmass is up the mountain in Snowmass. It’s one of the best family-friendly ski resorts in the US, making it the perfect winter family vacation spot.

Breckenridge skiing

Breckenridge is a much more popular resort. It’s easy access from just about anywhere in the Denver area, making it a hot spot for weekend ski trips.

Breckenridge is well known as a family-friendly ski area, as well. You’ll get 187 runs over 3,000 acres of mountain. You’ll also have plenty of options for easy, beginner runs for the whole family.

Peak 8 and 9 are the best places for beginners and families to have some nice, easy runs. These peaks will also lead to more challenging runs for experienced skiers.

And with an average of 300 inches of snow each year, you’ll have great skiing all season long.

large hot springs pool with lots of people

Glenwood Springs can be accessed from both towns easily

Day Trips from Aspen vs Breckenridge


As mentioned before, Aspen is a little more remote than Breckenridge. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have access to nearby towns with a little day trip.

Twin Lakes and Granite is a beautiful area, famous for its glacial lakes set in the beautiful setting of some of the highest peaks around. Granite is next door and a great place to check out a few ghost towns. Both towns are accessible via Independence Pass during summer months only.

Leadville is another great place to visit during summer as it also requires driving over Independence Pass. Leadville is the highest incorporated town in America and is full of beauty. Visit this mining town on a day trip full of history, hiking, and cool museums.

Another day trip could include heading to Glenwood Springs where you can take the day to soak in the largest hot springs pool in the world! It’s way more fun than that, though. Enjoy the diving area, waterslide/lazy river, and kids area as well.

For a waterfall fix, drive about an hour-and-a-half to Rifle Falls State Park. Here you’ll see the awesome waterfalls that are in a surreal setting. Walk up to the side up them, then explore the caves in this awesome state park.


Since Breckenridge is set right in the middle of all the mountain resorts, there are plenty of day trips available.

Glenwood Springs is just a drive away if you’d like to experience the hot springs and fun.

Vail is a great resort area, whether you are looking to get some incredible winter skiing in (it is my fave) or summer hiking.

Leadville is an option from Breckenridge as well, as it’s just under an hour away.

Georgetown is a small but great mountain town right off I-70 that offers small town charm, a beautiful lake, and great hiking.

For a longer day trip, you could drive the 2 hours to Steamboat Springs. This town is incredible with hiking, lakes, state parks, small town feel, mountain biking, and more. There is so much to do that I actually recommend staying a day or two to really experience it, but if you’re short on time, a day trip can work.

Festivals and Events

Aspen Festivals

At the beginning of January, Aspen gather for 4 days to celebrate Winterskol. This long weekend event has activities and exhibits like snow sculptures, fireworks, a torchlight ride down the mountain, and more.

The better known event is the Winter X Games by ESPN. These are held in late January and feature various ski and snowboard events by top skiers/boarders. Each night ends with live music for the audience to enjoy.

Summer brings the Aspen Music Festival and School, one of the top classical music festivals in the US.

Labor Day weekend closes summer with the popular Aspen Snowmass Jazz festival.

Breckenridge Festivals

Late January brings the International Snow Carving Championships. This is a popular event that people from all around the area flock to and watch master carvers create masterpieces out of snow.

Enjoy the Rubber Duck race in Riverwalk Center every Labor Day weekend. The race supports the arts, which provides an art festival along the same time.

The Breckenridge Film Festival comes to town toward the end of September, and the holidays start in early December with the Race of the Santas and lighting of town.

You can also grab a viking hat and join the Ullr fest in December.

See the full list of Breckenridge events year round

Overall Feel of Aspen vs Breckenridge


The overall feel of Aspen was a quieter, nice town that just felt more luxurious. While walking around town, there wasn’t a lot going on or much hustle and bustle. Now, when we went over to Snowmass village, that was a different story even just a few miles down the road. But Aspen keeps a quieter, more formal feel to it.


Breckenridge is always a hustling town. Not hustle like Denver, but hustling with fun and excitement. All sorts of groups (young adults, families, singles,) are moving through town from one adventure to another. Families gather around Blue River Plaza to hang out or run around the mountain adventure park area.

Breckenridge is a more relaxed, casual feel.

While we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Aspen, Breckenridge definitely had a more fun, family feel to it.

Aspen vs Breckenridge Wrap Up

Hopefully this has helped you decide if you’d rather go to Aspen or Breckenridge for your next Colorado mountain trip. Both have a lot to offer and both are really fun.

If you need more activities, attractions, and overall family-friendly atmosphere, I’d recommend heading to Breckenridge.

If you just want serene beauty, relaxation and a variety of incredible ski terrain, Aspen makes a great option.

Will you choose Breckenridge or Aspen? Either way, it’ll be a great mountain experience.

You May be Interested in:

Breckenridge vs Telluride

Getting to Vail from Breckenridge

pinnable image of Aspen vs Breckenridge with 4 images: old cabin sitting in yellow grass meadow, large troll in the woods, carved caves, kids playing on large rocks in the water

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