A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Aspen vs. Sun Valley for Skiing, Food, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Aspen or Sun Valley?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Aspen and Sun Valley can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Aspen

Aspen is a authentic, charming, and quaint ski town. As this is a charming small town, visitors also come to explore the sights and local activities. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. This is a quaint and attractive place to visit, too. It's also known for skiing, nightlife, and live music.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a active, adventurous, and outdoorsy town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include skiing, nightlife, and food.

Aspen and Sun Valley: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Aspen or Sun Valley?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Aspen than Sun Valley, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Aspen is better known for its food, nightlife, music, shopping, christmas markets, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere, while Sun Valley is more popular for its museums. Aspen is well known for its world-class skiing, many food, film, and music festivals, and its stunning mountain hikes. Also, Aspen is famous for The Maroon Bells. Sun Valley is well known for its ski resorts as well as being the home of Ernest Hemingway.

How is Aspen different from Sun Valley?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Sun Valley and Aspen. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Skiing?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Aspen and Sun Valley are fantastic places to visit for winter sports such as skiing.

Visitors will find world class skiing in Aspen. Near the town, there are 4 separate ski resorts. In town you'll find Aspen Mountain, which is known for it's black-diamond runs. Aspen Highlands, a couple miles away, has a mix of slopes and is less crowded. Buttermilk attracts many freestyle skiers and Aspen Snowmass is considered one of the best family-friendly ski areas.

Sun Valley is a top destination for snow skiing, and it attracts visitors from around the world. There are plenty of slopes that are accessible by lift as well as backcountry terrain for those who are more adventurous. The ski areas include Bald Mountain, which is next to Ketchum, and Dollar Mountain, by Sun Valley. Bald Mountain is best for advanced skiers and Dollar Mountain has options for beginners and intermediates.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Aspen or Sun Valley?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a town with a few options for its museums and landmarks. However, Aspen does not have museums and landmarks.

Sun Valley offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. Museums in the area include the Sun Valley Museum of Art and the Wood River Museum of History and Culture.

Aspen does not have museums and landmarks.

Is the Food Better in Aspen or Sun Valley? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Aspen is terrific for its restaurant scene. Also, Sun Valley is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

Eat your way through Aspen, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. The town hosts many food festivals and there is a growing selection of diverse restaurants. In town you'll find cafes and restaurants that cater to both the local crowd and the travelers who flock to the area during peak seasons.

Sun Valley has a huge number of terrific restaurants. Many restaurants pride themselves in using local, organic, and sustainable ingredients. You'll find everything from cafes and bakeries to sushi, pizza, and Mediterranean.

Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Nightlife?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Aspen is a great destination for nightlife. Also, Sun Valley is still popular, but not quite as popular for nightlife and partying.

The people in Aspen know how to have a good time. The people in Aspen know how to have a good time. The nightlife scene includes craft beer, live music, and dancing. There's a local vibe, particularly during the off-season times when the tourist crowds are less.

If you're looking for night time activities Sun Valley has a few options to choose from. It's a low key town with relaxing bars and breweries where you can enjoy a cold drink after a day on the slopes. It's not a party town that's high energy, but there are plenty of places where you can hang out in a mellow setting.


Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Music?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Aspen is a great destination for live music. However, Sun Valley is not a live music destination.

Aspen has become a hotbed of musicians and artists. Popular music venues in town include Silver City Mountain Saloon and Belly Up Aspen.

Sun Valley is not a live music destination.

Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Resorts?

Aspen
Sun Valley

If luxury resorts are your style, both Aspen and Sun Valley have very good options.

In Aspen, you'll find some of the region's top resorts. Popular resorts in the area include The Little Nell, Hotel Jerome, and St. Regis Aspen.

There are plenty of resorts in Sun Valley to choose from. The most popular place to stay is Sun Valley Lodge, but there are also other small lodges and hotels in the area.

Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Hiking?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Both Aspen and Sun Valley are destinations which offer very good hiking.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Aspen. During the summer and fall seasons, hiking is a great way to explore Aspen's nearby beauty. Popular trails include the Ute Trail, the Lost Man Trail, and the famous Maroon Bells Scenic Trail.

Many visitors go to Sun Valley for the hiking trails. During the warmer months you'll enjoy miles of hiking trails in the area that take you by fields of wildflowers and to scenic mountain overlooks. White Cloud Trails is a relatively easy 4 mile trail that many visitors enjoy. Baker Lake and Taylor Canyon are also nice options.


Is the Shopping Better in Aspen or Sun Valley?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Aspen is a great destination for shopping. Also, Sun Valley is still popular, but not quite as popular for its shopping opportunities.

Aspen is an extremely popular place for shoppers. There are many great local shops and art galleries where you can pick interesting items or fine art.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Sun Valley. While most visitors spend their time adventuring outdoors, there are also plenty of shopping options in the area. Whether you need to pick up hiking or ski gear, or you want to browse some local boutiques, you'll find shops that meet your need.

Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Christmas?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Aspen is terrific for its Christmas activities. However, Sun Valley does not offer Christmas activities.

Aspen is a world class destination for shoppers. There are a number of beautiful activities that will bring the holiday season to life in the town.

Sun Valley does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Christmas Markets?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Aspen is a great destination for its Christmas markets. However, Sun Valley does not offer Christmas markets.

Aspen has plenty of Christmas markets during the holiday season. The town has a charming Christmas market that is fun to explore and has around 40 vendors.

Sun Valley does not offer Christmas markets.


Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Families?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is renowned for its family-friendly activities. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Sun Valley is an extremely popular town to visit for families. During the winter months there's skiing, ice skating, and other winter activities. During the warmer months families will enjoy riding the Roundhouse Express Gondola, hiking through the mountains, or horseback riding.

Aspen offers lots of family activities. Families that enjoy skiing together, hiking, rock climbing, and having adventures will enjoy a visit to this town. Aspen Mountain is not a great option for beginning skiers, but further away, Aspen Snowmass offers good beginner slopes.

Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Couples?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is renowned for couples. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

Sun Valley is a great town for couples, as it has plenty to offer. Couples who enjoy winter sports and outdoor activities will love a romantic getaway to the area. There's also a charming downtown area that has great restaurants. In the surrounding countryside there's plenty of spectacular hikes that couples will enjoy as well.

Aspen is a great ski town if you're traveling as a couple. Aspen is both a popular ski destination as well as an established town. There are many great restaurants and activities that couples can enjoy and the setting is cute and very scenic, making it a beautiful and romantic destination.

Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a great destination for backpackers. However, Aspen is a ski town with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

Sun Valley is a very popular town for backpackers and budget travelers. There are a couple of hostels in the area and plenty of activities that appeal to the backpacker crowd.

Aspen is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. Because it is both a town and a ski resort, there are a couple of more affordable accommodation options. Even so, this is an expensive destination that isn't always ideal for budget travelers.


Is Aspen or Sun Valley Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a great destination for its public transit. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for times when you don't have a car.

The public transit in Sun Valley can get you to most places easily. There are free shuttle buses that run through Wood River Valley including connections between the Village and Dollar and Bald Mountains. It's also connected to Ketchum and Elkhorn Springs.

While Aspen offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are several shuttle buses around the town.

Is Aspen or Sun Valley a more walkable city?

Aspen
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is renowned for its ease of walking around. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for its walkability.

Getting around Sun Valley on foot is easy. It's easy to walk to almost anything you need if you stay at a conveniently located hotel.

Aspen is very walkable. The town is compact enough that it can be explored on foot. If you're planning to head into the mountains to hike, you'll likely need a car.

For even more information, also check out Is Aspen Worth Visiting? and Is Sun Valley Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Sun Valley or Aspen?

How long in Aspen or Sun Valley?

Both Aspen and Sun Valley have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Sun Valley than in Aspen. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Aspen, and 3-7 days is enough time in Sun Valley.

Families should spend more time in Sun Valley than Aspen. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Sun Valley, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Sun Valley than Aspen. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Sun Valley that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Sun Valley than Aspen if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Sun Valley.


  • How many days in Aspen or Sun Valley? Ideal Length of Stay
    Aspen 3-5 
    Sun Valley 3-7

One day in Aspen or Sun Valley?

Aspen might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

In Sun Valley, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this outdoorsy destination offers. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Lots of people come for the skiing. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.


A weekend in Aspen or Sun Valley?

Even though Aspen is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. It offers something for everyone. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Sun Valley. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Aspen or Sun Valley?

Aspen, a popular ski town, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this ski town. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Sun Valley is a fun place to experience. In Sun Valley, many people enjoy the skiing and nightlife that this destination offers. Lots of people come for the skiing. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A week in Aspen or Sun Valley?

Aspen is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

In Sun Valley, many people enjoy the nightlife and food that this adventurous destination offers. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the skiing. One week is often enough time to do most activities.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours from Los Angeles, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, and The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Sun Valley or Aspen?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Aspen is $293, while the average daily cost in Sun Valley is $184. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Aspen and Sun Valley in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Aspen $170
    Sun Valley $95
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Aspen $340
    Sun Valley $190
Compare Hotels in Aspen and Sun Valley

Looking for a hotel in Aspen or Sun Valley? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Aspen


Hotels in Sun Valley


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Aspen Hotel Prices and Sun Valley Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Aspen $56
    Sun Valley $61

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Aspen

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Aspen:

  • Aspen hotel or address to Denver Airport (DEN) - Departure Private Transfer: $221
  • Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) - Private Transfer Arrival or Departure: $269

Is it cheaper to fly into Aspen or Sun Valley?

Prices for flights to both Sun Valley and Aspen change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Aspen $85
    Sun Valley $48

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Aspen $45
    Sun Valley $42

Tours and Activities in Aspen

Here are a few actual costs in Aspen for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Aspen Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Highlights of Aspen Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Tour: $40
  • Aspen's DarkSide Ghost Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Past to Present Historic Tour: $40
  • Dark History Ghost-Themed Guided Walking Tour: $40
  • From Past to Present History Walking Tour: $40
  • City Highlights Walking Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Scenic Walking Tour: $40

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Aspen $20
    Sun Valley $49


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Aspen and Sun Valley, we can see that Aspen is more expensive. And not only is Sun Valley much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Sun Valley would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Sun Valley and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Aspen would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Aspen than you might in Sun Valley.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Aspen Expensive? and Is Sun Valley Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Aspen or Sun Valley?

Aspen has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Sun Valley. When comparing the sizes of Aspen and Sun Valley, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.