Aspen, Colorado has long been known as the Rocky Mountain playground, where the rich and famous flock to enjoy high-end restaurants, luxury shopping and parties galore. But this little mountain ski town has so much more to offer than the glitz and glam it is known for, and Le Barn is here to share the inside scoop on this gem of a town through the eyes of the 'Locals.'
One of the few ski resorts with an airport 2 miles from town, Aspen is one of the easiest places to get to (when the weather is on your side!). Worst case, flights will be diverted to Denver, and paradise is about a 5 hour drive over some of the state's prettiest and most breathtaking passes. SUV highly recommended.
Once in town, there are ample hotels and units to consider. Hotel Jerome is one of the oldest buildings, built in 1880, but has just undergone one of the most stunning renovations. With large rooms and views of Aspen Mt, all while being situated in the downtown core, this hotel is a must consideration. The interior is rustic, trendy, cozy and unique, so if your wallet won't allow for a night's stay, at least pop in to enjoy an evening cocktail by the fire. http://hoteljerome.aubergeresorts.com/
Chateau Blanc is Le Barn's hidden gem in Aspen when it comes to accommodation. For incredibly reasonable prices, and a location that can't be beat, you can walk to the gondola or dinner, all while enjoying a bit of peace and quiet in the east end of town. http://www.chateaublanc.com/
When it comes to shopping, this town is full of options. Known for the high-end labels like Dior, Louis Vuitton and Burberry, Aspen is like a mini Rodeo Drive. But the heart and soul of the town is in locally owned shops carrying a wide array of labels. Must visits include: Gorsuch (perfect mix of homegoods and clothes - everything you see is for sale!), Pitkin County Dry Goods (one-stop shop for all), Bloomingbirds (shoes galore) and Kemosabe (the go-to shop for cowboy boots and hats).
Downhill skiing is clearly the most popular activity from November - April, but the town offers more than one might expect. If spending a day skiing the steeps of Aspen Mt, be sure to pop into Bonnie's to take in the views with a warm wine in hand.
Try a day at Aspen Cross Country Center, which has multiple trails clearly marked throughout the town's golf course.
If looking for a break from skiing, a hike up Smuggler Trail is the perfect amount of exercise with a view of town and the ski resorts that cannot be beat. Filled with locals all day long, you'll know you are in the right spot.
For breakfast, there's a wide range of cafes and coffee shops depending on what you are after. For a quick breakfast burrito before hopping on the gondola, visit Jour de Fete. For a coffee that cannot be beat, Victoria's is your spot. For a healthy breakfast in the sunshine, try Peaches outdoor patio. And for the best ambiance, while getting to mingle with the locals, stop by Main Street Bakery and grab a seat at the Community Table.
Whether on the mountain or in town, Lunch is always a must in Aspen. If on mountain, Cloud 9 Bistro is a legendary spot on Highlands. Resembling a chalet in the Alps, this is a must for first timers. Ajax Tavern at the base of Aspen Mountain is the perfect spot to meet those who didn't make it upon the hill. The Double Double burger is a must have. Big Wrap is just what it sounds like; a wrap shop that definitely should not be passed over. Bring cash, as they do not accept credit cards. For when you finish skiing, pop by Sky Bar for a taste of how the locals celebrate a great day on the hill.
We hope you have a few nights in town, because you'll need it when it comes to dinner. There are too many hot spots that are an absolute must. Campo, L'Hostaria, Matsu, Takah Sushi, Jimmy's, Cache Cache, The White House all are musts. Locals Tip: rather than fight to make a reservation, head to the bar and enjoy a drink while you wait for a bar table to open up. Almost all restaurants offer a 'bar menu,' which almost always includes the restaurant's best sellers at a discounted price. These tables can't be reserved, but are well worth the wait.
The 4 mountain ski resort is definitely what the town is most known for, but what many visitor's don't know, is that the true beauty and wealth of activities is at it's finest in the summer months. There is an old saying that has continued to be passed around town, "You come for winter, and stay for summer." And that is exactly what has happened to majority of the local transplants that live in town. The summers rage with festivals, music concerts, art shows. The mountains welcome you for mountain biking, road biking, hiking, fly fishing, trail runs, white water rafting, camping and much much more.
We encourage you to head to Aspen for a ski trip, but we really suggest that you return in the summer to experience the blue sky warm days followed by the perfectly chilled evenings. It's a town like no other. No wonder everyone keeps returning to enjoy all of the beauty it has to offer.