ASPEN TRAVEL GUIDE
By Tara | Aspen, Co
Aspen may no longer be the silver mining boomtown of the 1880’s, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll tell you why this Colorado gem, nestled in the Rocky Mountains, still brings in the crowds all year round.
There’s something magical about Aspen. From the million dollar views, historic charm, beautiful buildings, and exceptional outdoor activities, Aspen is impressive in many ways. Although private jets land and take off here daily, it’s not all just glitz and glamour. This iconic ski town has just the right balance of nature and luxury.
Before embarking on our adventure to the Rocky Mountains, we contacted blogger and Aspen local, Melissa Wisenbaker, to find out what a first time visitor should include on their itinerary. She has become our go-to resource for what to do and see in the Aspen area. Melissa has been living in Aspen for almost 8 years. She loves it because it’s small but functions as a big city. It is by far her favorite mountain town. We couldn’t agree with her more! She explains that the best part is meeting all the visitors.
“It’s an international hotspot!”
Another reason why she loves Aspen is that every day can be completely different. From snowboarding to hiking, cycling, stand up paddle boarding, yoga, and the incredible arts and culture scene, there is a variety of different activities to choose from throughout the year. Today, we’re sharing our Aspen experience along with some of Melissa’s top recommendations. For even more inspiration connect with Melissa on Instagram @neversacrificestyle.
Melissa’s Top Pick: The Hotel Jerome
Built in 1889, the Hotel Jerome perfectly blends modern luxury with historic heritage. The interiors are absolutely beautiful. The Hotel Jerome offers superb amenities and is centrally located with convenient access to town. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, the lobby is worth a visit. While you’re there stop by the iconic J-Bar for a cocktail or a quick bite to eat.
“It’s an Auberge property and definitely pricey, but if you want to splurge, it’s worth it in my opinion!”
Next up: The Little Nell
The Little Nell is a five-star, five-diamond hotel.
“The Little Nell is also amazing (and also very pricey). It’s the only ski in/ski out hotel in Aspen. If you don’t want to spend the money to stay there, I’d recommend having breakfast there as they have an amazing breakfast buffet.”
Melissa’s Top Pick: Bosq
Bosq serves up New World Cuisine. You’ll recognize flavors from the Mediterranean to China.
“This is hands down my favorite restaurant.”
Local’s Secret: At most restaurants, consider eating at the bar. They will offer you a condensed version of the regular menu but for nearly half the price!
If you are in the mood for sushi, head over to Matsuhisa.
“Order the Adam Roll (it’s not on the menu) and if you like Sake, the TK40 is incredible.”
“The best place for steak and seafood.”
There are many great casual lunch options in downtown Aspen. One of our favorites was Meat & Cheese, which Melissa recommended. It’s a unique hybrid specialty food store and restaurant. They have a great selection of healthy salads as well as soups, sandwiches, and tacos. Get there before the crowd though because they don’t take reservations.
Other great options include…
White House Tavern offers a small menu, but huge sandwiches.
For all organic, vegetarian options head over to Spring Cafe for breakfast or lunch.
JUS offers delicious fresh juices. Try the charcoal lemonade!
The next time you’re by the Aspen Art Museum head to the rooftop for lunch at the SO Cafe. The menu is limited and changes every week, but the options are always healthy and delicious. Melissa says, “If anything, come here to see the view! It’s always free to go to the Aspen Art Museum and open Tuesday-Sunday. I come here at least twice a week to work.”
Melissa’s Top Pick: Maroon Bells
When visiting Aspen, you must see Maroon Bells! It was by far the highlight of our recent trip. We even saw a moose! Maroon Bells is only located 10 miles from Aspen up Maroon Creek Road.
“They are not to be missed! For the best photographs, I recommend visiting at sunrise. Be prepared to pay a $10 per vehicle fee. CASH OR CHECK ONLY.”
Downtown is beautiful. The 19th-century buildings remind you of the unique mining history, yet all of today’s modern luxuries are available. It’s 3.5 square miles makes walking and biking easy. From mid-June to mid-October stroll through the Saturday Market where you can enjoy Colorado grown produce and crafts, a food court, and live music.
Take a gondola ride up to the top of Aspen Mountain for breathtaking views. Once at the top, join in on one of the many activities they offer or enjoy some on-mountain dining. If you are into music, check out what’s happening at Belly Up Aspen or see if there is a JAS Cafe show going on with Jazz Aspen Snowmass.
During the Summer you can catch an adrenaline filled polo match out at the Aspen Valley Polo Club. The St. Regis also hosts the annual Snow Polo Championship every December.
There are many options when it comes to shopping in Aspen. From consignment to high-end designers, there’s something for everyone.
This trailhead accesses Smuggler Mountain Road, one of the most popular recreation areas in the immediate Aspen vicinity. Any spring, summer or fall afternoon, Smuggler Mountain Road is busy with Aspenites hiking, running, mountain biking or walking their dogs. Smuggler Road provides a short (1-1/2 mile) workout with great views of Aspen from the look-out point, which makes it very popular.
Or opt to do the Hunter Creek Loop and you’ll see Smuggler that way too!
Ute Trail (Difficult)
The trail starts close to town on Ute Avenue. The sign for the trail is approximately 0.4 miles up Ute Avenue on the right if you are headed east. It is steady uphill with switchbacks, 0.9 miles and 1,000 vertical feet to a rock outcropping. The view of Aspen from the rock outcropping is spectacular. A mile-long aerobic workout.
Red Butte Trail (Difficult)
This trail is accessed off of Cemetery Lane and is a quick but difficult trail with amazing views.