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AspenWhen you hear “Aspen,” you probably think millionaires, exclusive parties, private jets…but believe it or not, Aspen can actually be an affordable place to take the family, especially in the summer off-season, according to Eileen Ogintz in a recent article for Tribune Media Services.

Hiking, biking and fishing are what Aspen is known for in summer, and the best place to start is the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES). Located in a 25-acre preserve and nature center in the heart of downtown Aspen, ACES offers a variety of summer activities for families, including custom hikes (a bargain at $40 an hour), a birds of prey program (free), summer camps, drop-in classes, evening hikes to see beavers…even a hike past the Ashcroft ghost town. (Yes, a real ghost town where 3,000 miners once lived!)

Other spectacularly scenic hikes include the Hunter Creek Trail (a favorite of locals), or for the more ambitious, there’s the epic trek across the 12,500-foot-high West Maroon Pass from Crested Butte.

For the bikers in the family, the 40-mile Rio Grande Trail to Glenwood Springs is a favorite of locals, while the shorter 9-mile ride to Woody Creek Tavern is also very popular—downhill all the way.

As one might guess, lodging in Aspen is much cheaper in summer, with many locations offering special deals to help your budget. The Little Nell, located at the base of Aspen Mountain, offers free room nights and fly-fishing excursions, with rates as much as half-off peak their winter rates. At the St. Regis Aspen, kids eat free in summer. And the historic Limelight offers gift credits starting at $50 a night to use on adventures like bike rentals, fly-fishing and meals. Another way to save is to rent a condo in Aspen or down the road in Snowmass (20 minutes away), with rates starting at $150 for a two-bedroom.

Although Colorado is best known for its skiing, it also hosts numerous festivals and concerts across the state, including free music concerts on the Village Mall in So while there’s still time before school starts, round up the kids and head to Aspen. Non-millionaires welcome!

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