As an adolescent in California, I had a healthy sense of not wanting to die by avalanche or falling off a mountain—so I kept my distance from the slopes. While my childhood friends were off exploring nearby Lake Tahoe, Big Bear, or wherever, I kept my unadventurous and overly cautious butt in the suburbs. But when the X Games presented me with the opportunity to go to Aspen, Colorado—where my boujie queen Gwyneth Paltrow hangs—for the winter games, I obviously had to set aside my fears and do the damn thing.
My friend Sahara and I went in mid-January when the weather was bitter and the city was buzzing. This was the backdrop for the most extreme vacation ever, and I mean that in more ways than one: There were extreme sports and competitions for (literally) days, it was extremely pricey, extremely artsy, and—not to be cheesy—it was really freaking fun, too.
1. Save All Your Coins!
Not gonna lie, getting to Aspen and vacationing there can be hella expensive. I’ve flown coast to coast for less than it cost to fly to the tiny airport a few states East of California. And within a matter of hours of landing at the tiny Aspen airport, I realized the nearest McDonalds was a 40-minute Uber away. Luckily, there was a grocery store within walking distance from my hotel (the cozy Molly Gibson Lodge) where I bought a few snacks and easy-to-make meals for the the weekend. Seriously, y’all, learn from my mistakes! Budget really well before you fly out here or find a sugar daddy so you can live your boujiest life!
2. Nobu, Nobu, Nobu
Speaking of food, my favorite meal of the my entire trip was when I accidentally walked into a Nobu sushi bar (called Matsuhisa), ordered a ton of fresh jalapeño yellowtail and toro and racked up a bill that was so high I wished those avalanches would overtake me at that very moment. My wallet and I are no longer on speaking terms, but I am a more cultured consumer because of it. And for that, I say thank you, Nobu.
3. Have All the Fun at the X Games
Between tasting the best meals Aspen had to offer, I headed over to Buttermilk Mountain to watch world-class athletes compete for the prestigious medals at the X Games. While I was fully expecting the Games to be all about sports, they ended up being a big ol’ party. Seriously, the Games are basically like a music festival but with winter sports, escape rooms, virtual reality experiences, and music.
One night after marveling at the snowmobile competition, I decided to down some $7 wine in the heated beer garden and hit up the Rae Sremmurd concert. TBH, they may want to think about renaming the Games Snowchella or something because the crowd was wild.
4. Shred the Gnar
First some vocab: From my understanding, “shredding the gnar” means to f*ck sh*t up (in a good way) while snowboarding, skiing, or skateboarding. Though, this is maybe not how I’d describe Sahara and I taking on the slopes in Aspen. After doing some research, we learned it was supposed to be much easier than snowboarding and decided to reach out to Aspen Snowmass for a first timer ski lesson. The company hooked it up with a full-day lesson taught by two really smart and friendly ski instructors named Jacques and Craig.
We didn’t know anything about skiing, and after watching hours and hours of ski fail videos, we were terrified to go up the mountain. Luckily, the instructors broke down all the basics for us. So when it was time to go out on one of the little slopes, it wasn’t so daunting. I only fell once! (I definitely recommend taking a three-day lesson if you want to start skiing circles around newbs like us.)
I can’t lie, though, the boots hurt way more than we thought they would, so we had to dip a little earlier than expected. We were definitely being babies, but also, we didn’t want to miss Olympic Skier Gus Kenworthy’s panel back at the base of the mountain. Priorities!
5. Recover With a Gallery Walk
As you already know, I’m no pro-athlete or ski enthusiast, so I definitely needed a break after going up the mountain. To recover, Sahara and I spent the next day wandering around town. Aspen is super walkable and the complimentary buses are always on schedule. That makes perusing the many, many galleries in the city super easy and cheap. I’m so glad we stopped into the Baldwin Gallery, which was filled with neon signs that spoke to my soul and glittery collages from New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas.
All in all, Aspen and the X Games were nothing like I expected, but way better than I could’ve hoped. Now that I’ve shredded all (well, some of) the gnar, watched all the competitions, and sufficiently depleted my bank account, I’ll be saving up to do it all over again next year!