WHY WE LOVE IT
The couple that skis together treks together to this superchic, four-mountain resort town in the Rockies. Show off your schussing and matching Bogner parkas. Hot après-ski scene.
summer sporting playground—hiking, mountain biking, river rafting, llama trekking—you name it.
Half of Colorado's best restaurants within a dozen downtown blocks. Plus a trio of famous hotels.
Culture! Aspen Music Festival. Dance Aspen. Aspen Art Museum.
More shopping per square inch than any state capital. Real estate to ogle. High-society types to spy.
Good buys: snowboards from Radio Boardshop, Steve DeGouveia's handmade moccasins, Gorsuch Norwegian sweaters, couture castoffs from Susie's Consignment.
WHEN TO GO
November to March; July and August are peak travel times; find ski bargains in April. Come mid-September through mid-October for the foliage.
WHERE TO EAT
315 E. Hyman Ave.
A local couple's labor of love: A heartwarming bistro with sunshine-yellow walls serving pan-Mediterranean dishes like fig-glazed porkchops and sharing plates like the popular "Butcher's Board."
303 E. Main St.
Upstairs here means street level, and, like New York's Next Door Nobu, this is the democratic Matsuhisa, with lounge, bar, and patio—great for people-watching, and no reservations required.
624 E. Cooper Ave.
This perennial gathering place is cheery and sunny on a cold day, even nicer for a warm evening on the terrace. Share wood-fired pizzas and other Italian über-peasant dishes and play spot-the-celeb.
601 E. Hopkins Ave.
A one-stop picnic shop—plus charcutier, fromagerie, bakery, and café serving wonderful panini. On warmer days, you can vie for one of the airy patio tables.
MAIN STREET BAKERY CAFÉ
201 E. Main St.
Perhaps the coziest place to fuel up before a day on the slopes—or bike trails—and the best breakfast/brunch joint, with homemade muffins and granola, eggs, pancakes, and half of Aspen at the other tables.
WHERE TO STAY
330 E. Main St.
This classic hotel is an elegant Wild West fantasy, with log fires, velvet couches, crystal chandeliers, king-size beds in 2002-remodeled rooms, and a ski-concierge. The J-Bar is the center of Aspen's après ski scene.
675 E. Durant Ave.
Deluxe accommodations with a down-home feel, and the only true ski-in, ski-out hotel in town. Big, beige rooms have king-size beds, gas-log fires, and marble bathrooms: Ask for one with a mountain view. Restaurant Montagna, the Living Room lounge, and the Bar are popular hot spots.
315 E. Dean St.
The town's biggest hotel (179 rooms) and most self-consciously luxe, is all Persian rugs, blond wood, black granite, and bronze elks, for a contemporary take on alpine. The massive new Remède Spa, with its couples suite and post-massage Champagne, is a honeymoon heaven.
709 E. Durant Ave.
It's the first—the only—hip hotel in town, with kitschy varnished tree-trunk beams in its towering foyer, a James Bond-ish cocktail bar, summertime firepit pool deck in summer, and comfy stripped-pine bedrooms, some with tiny balconies. Service is bare-bones compared to the big hotels, but so are the rates.
205 S. Galena St.
Harley Baldwin, owner of the Caribou Club and the tony Baldwin Gallery, also owns a half-dozen apartments above them—which you can rent. The Silver Queen is a gigantic show-off with wraparound terrace, but the others are more modest. And shhh: renters get complimentary access to the Caribou, normally about $500/week for temporary winter membership.
WHAT TO DO
Full details at aspenchamber.org
Spread over four mountains—Aspen (or Ajax), Buttermilk, Snowmass, and Aspen Highlands—the trails of Aspen offer plenty of challenging terrain for even the most demanding skier. Now that the new high-speed Deep Temerity lift is open, skiers and snowboarders can spend even more time on the mountain—albeit less canoodling time for couples on the ride up.
Powder Tours (tel. 970-920-0720) takes expert skiers in 11-person snowcat groups to the backcountry. Two guides lead you on a full day's adventure, with lunch in a wood-stove-heated cabin.
426 S. Spring St.
For a year-round, four-time-daily shot of adrenaline, take to the skies in a paraglider. No experience is needed, because these are tandem flights with a pilot strapped in behind you. Maybe later you can fly tandem with each other.
Vail-based Paragon Guides lead various treks in and around the beautiful green mountainsides of Aspen and Vail on their team of happy llamas. They can also arrange a custom trek for the two of you.
One of the country's top classical-music festivals runs virtually all summer long and draws top names. There's also a lesser-known winter season.
If you're Gen X (or Y or Z), this annual exhibition of ski tricks, snowboard contests, and snowmobile races is for you. Otherwise, avoid late January, when Buttermilk (where the games are held) and the entire town of Aspen is overrun by tattooed masses sponsored by outdoorsy outfitter Helly Hansen.
March 8-12, 2006
Aspen annually becomes the epicenter of homegrown comedy. Festival alums include Jim Carrey, Jack Black, Cheech and Chong, Sarah Silverman, the Simpsons Live, and, debuting in 2006, Jim Henson's Muppet Improv.
330 E. Main St.
The après ski universe revolves around this saloon-like bar, where the bold-faced and the merely cold-faced warm up with Aspen Crud—the signature bourbon-spiked milkshake. If that doesn't heat things up enough, try the outdoor hot tub with warmed-towel service.