Located in Colorado’s beautiful Rocky Mountains, Aspen has become one of the most popular ski resort towns in the country. Known for it’s idyllic beauty, outdoor activities, five star hotels, designer shopping and upscale dining, Aspen is the ultimate getaway. I had not been to Aspen in many years, as my family used to visit Vail (another ski resort town in Colorado) more often, so I was very excited to check it out again after so long.
I decided to make a girl’s trip out of it, and bring one of my best friend’s along for a long weekend in the snow. We ate, drank, shopped, and relaxed to our heart’s content, leaving very happy and in love with the little town of Aspen. I plan to go back next spring or summer to experience Aspen in a new light — when it’s warm and green!
Below you will find all my favorite places to stay, drink, eat, shop, and play in the beautiful town of Aspen, Colorado!
WHEN TO VISIT
The prime times for Aspen travel, in terms of crowds and prices, are in ski season—mainly from late November to March—and then in the summer during the festival season. The payoff if you visit Aspen in the summer, though, is getting to experience the mountain bliss with temperatures are in the high 70s. For the best deals, travel to Aspen in September, when prices are the lowest, the crowds thin and the fall foliage pops with color. The busiest time of year is obviously winter, where crowds come to enjoy the incredible skiing.
WHERE TO STAY
My favorite hotel in Aspen is by far The Little Nell. The Little Nell is located in the heart of the city, right on Aspen mountain. It’s the only ski-in, ski-out hotel in Aspen. Known as Aspen’s only Five-Star, Five-Diamond hotel, it is definitely the place to see and be seen! They also have a more private property called The Residences at The Little Nell, which you can rent large residences for your family. You can learn all about the hotel and residences in this post.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
- Caribou Club: my favorite place in Aspen to hang out! The Caribou Club opened its doors in 1990 as Aspen’s first members-only club, offering gourmet dining, an extensive wine list, bar and nightclub. You can find yourself here for hours, having pre-dinner drinks, to a wonderful meal, then dancing all night on their dance floor.
- Ajax Tavern: located at the base of Ajax—if you’re coming from up the mountain, you can spot the famous mountainside patio on your ride down—and above The Little Nell, this is an Aspen classic for lunch. I recommend the cheeseburger and fries!
- Element 47: located inside The Little Nell, Element 47 is the perfect place to unwind, set in the beautiful dining room of the hotel. This restaurant features a remarkable wine list, gourmet American cuisine, and a cozy upscale atmosphere.
- White House Tavern: this tavern is located in, you guessed it, a cute little white house. Due to its intimate size, there’s often a wait so make sure to arrive early and put your name on the waitlist so you can enjoy one of their delicious sandwiches or salads.
- Matsuhisa: fresh fish is flown in daily to this well-known upscale Japanese eatery by famed Chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
- SO Cafe: located on the top floor of the Aspen Art Museum, this cafe has beautiful views overlooking Aspen Mountain and serves delicious lunch options as well as coffee, wine and beer.
- JUS: stop by this little spot for a juice and healthy salad or smoothie bowl. And don’t forget to grab a Chlorophyll juice if you are feeling some altitude sickness!
- Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro: A huge part of the appeal of skiing is the promise of the aprés ski scene afterwards, and this spot on the top of Highlands, conveniently equipped with bubbling raclette grills, is definitely the place to be at around 2pm where you will see skiiers enjoying their ski break, complete with spraying (and drinking) endless bottles of champagne.
- Casa Tua: serves upscale Northern Italian fare—think burrata with organic tomatoes, tuna tartare, specialty risottos, grilled branzino, biscotti, and gelato. From the outside, Casa Tua resembles a charming ski lodge or mountain home, particularly when it’s lit up at night.
- Cache Cache: an old-school steakhouse that’s proven to be a mainstay in Aspen: The restaurant opened back in 1987.
WHAT TO DO
- Skiing one of the slopes: Buttermilk if you’re a beginner, and Snowmass or Aspen if you want more of a challenge
- Shop around the quaint brick-lined streets of Aspen village, filled with things from kitschy Western knick-nacks, antique home goods to designer clothing
- Take in some art at the Aspen Art Museum, and do not miss the rooftop cafe
- Catch a live concert at Belly Up
- Take a horse drawn carriage around the town and up the mountain
- Going to one of the town’s great festivals, such as summer’s Aspen Music Festival, Aspen Ideas Festival, or Food + Wine
- Browsing the Aspen Saturday Market, from June through October
- Hiking the “Grottoes,” the caves on Independence Pass, along the Roaring Fork River in the spring or summer season
- Take a 15-minute drive to the beautiful Maroon Bells lake