Aspen became a frequent destination for me during 2014 because my now husband took a job at the St. Regis. The town of Aspen is small, but absolutely stunning. As you fly in all you see are majestic mountains, and as you get lower you finally see a small town tucked away among the peaks. The main focus of my visits was to visit Baris, but I also had the chance to explore the restaurants, shops, landscapes, and of course, the ski slopes of Aspen.
Aspen is a former mining town turned luxury ski resort town. Between 1880 and 1893, Aspen boomed during the silver mining rush. However, with the demonetization of silver the population dwindled. In the 1930’s ski enthusiasts rediscovered the location and its transformation began. By 1950 Aspen was home to the world’s longest chairlift and played host to the World Downhill Ski Championship. Today Aspen continues to host many winter sports enthusiasts and world-class ski and snowboard events across its many mountains, but it’s also a center of arts, recreation and small business. All of this is often overshadowed by the town’s reputation as a winter playground for the elite, but for those lucky enough to visit Aspen, it stands out as a destination that has something for all types of travelers, especially those who enjoy the outdoors.
Below are a few of the places I was lucky enough to visit in Aspen.
Steakhouse No 316 – This steakhouse is an elegant establishment that features high quality steaks, soulful sides, as well as traditional starters and desserts. The red velvet banquets, gilded mirrors and crystal chandeliers give this restaurant a cozy, yet sophisticated vibe. It’s pricy, but worth a visit.
The White House Tavern – A more casual establishment that features premium sandwiches, burgers and salads. Our favorite was the crispy chicken sandwich with a side of hand-cut French fries.
Jimmy’s – We went to Jimmy’s on a double date night. We started with the cheese plate, and while it was delicious it was very small, definitely not enough for two cheese lovers like us! My main course of truffle risotto was amazing though, and I appreciated that you could order it in an appetizer size or a full size.
Chef’s Club by Food & Wine – This restaurant is located in the St. Regis hotel. Because my husband worked at the hotel, we were able to take advantage of a nice discount and treat ourselves to this fine dining restaurant. Here you can taste the signature dishes of chefs from around the country. The wine list is also very impressive.
I also have to mention that the s’mores served at the St. Regis bar are fantastic. The cookies and marshmallows are handmade onsite and who doesn’t love to make their own s’mores by a fire while they watch the snow fall…
Zanes Tavern – Probably my favorite casual restaurant in Aspen. Zanes Tavern has a sports bar vibe, and features many pieces of Philadelphia sports memorabilia on the walls. (I’m from the Philly area, so I appreciated this.) They also had delicious wings (I loved the Cajun wings) and a variety of other pub-style food. I often paired my wings with their mac n’ cheese bites.
This is only a small sampling of all of the restaurants we tried while staying in Aspen. What’s nice is that there are restaurants for all tastes and budgets.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Buttermilk – Buttermilk is best known for being the host of the Winter X Games and has become synonymous with freestyle skiers and snowboarders who push the boundaries of gravity. However, Buttermilk is also home to many gentle trails for beginners. Buttermilk was literally just across the street from Baris’s apartment, so we snowboarded here most often. While I consider myself a decent skier and snowboarder, my husband was a complete novice. So Buttermilk was the perfect place for both of us to enjoy a day on slopes.
Aspen Mountain – You are just steps away from downtown Aspen when you ski here. The mountain is designed for more advanced skiers, but even those who do not ski can take the gondola to the top of the mountain and enjoy the views.
Highlands – This is probably the least well known of the mountains in the Aspen area, but Aspen Highlands has beautiful views that stretch all the way to Maroon Bells. This mountain is also designed for more advanced skiers.
Snowmass – The farthest mountain from downtown Aspen is Snowmass, but this location is a destination unto itself. Snowmass is a quaint village with plenty to do off the slopes. Lodging, dining and shopping can all be found here. Snowmass is a huge mountain with many trails to enjoy. Some beginner trails can be found here, but again, it is mostly designed for more advanced skiers.
Buses, complete with ski racks, run from the downtown area to all of the mountains throughout the day.
Maroon Bells – One of the most photographed areas in all of the United States is just a short drive away from downtown Aspen. Here, Maroon Lake sits within a glacial valley surrounded by 14,000-foot tall peaks. You can choose to hike along its trails, but be sure you know your limits before starting down any of the trails. Maroon Bells is a true natural wonder, and highlights why Colorado is a nature lover’s paradise.
Because of the number of tourists interested in visiting Maroon Bells, visitors are encouraged to take one of the many buses to the site. In fact, the roads are closed to passenger cars for most of the day during the summer, and to all vehicles for safety in the winter.