48 Hours In Aspen, Colorado

Since its founding in 1881, Aspen Colorado has quickly gone from mining town to ski country (the first chair lift was installed in 1946) to the glitziest ski resort town in North America (with many a celebrity sighting). And the reason for that is simple: Aspen offers amazing skiing in a charming little town filled with great restaurants and bars. Home to four different ski resorts, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass, this is the perfect winter getaway for every level of skier (and non skier). The town also boasts over 300 days of sun annually, chic designer boutiques, luxury hotels, world renown restaurants and quaint pubs. This is a vibrant mountain community where recreation and arts thrive year-round.

Where to ski: Four hills to choose from
The great thing about Aspen is that it caters to all types of skiers, from powder loving backcountry daredevils to families learning to ski. How can one places cater to everyone all at once? Easy, it has four different mountain resorts (all accessible within a 20 minute free bus ride): Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass.

Aptly named, Snowmass offers an abundance of deep snow and a vast expanse of terrain that includes 94 trails and the largest vertical descent (4406 feet) of any resort in North America. With excellent dining facilities across the mountain, tubing lanes, and many other outdoor activities (including great many options for kids), Snowmass is also a favorite among families and groups.

There is no denying the unique personality of Aspen Mountain. Rising from the vibrant heart of downtown Aspen, this is where it all began in 1946 with the single-seat Lift 1, which immediately became the longest chairlift in the world. That mentality of “go big or go home” has always been at the foundation of the mountain they still call “Ajax.” With over 103km of trails and a vertical rise of 3267 feet,  this is a great mountain for ‘adult’ skier who likes all types of terrain (but who also want easy access to lots of après-ski options).

Aspen Highlands may just be one ridge over from Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk, but it is truly in a world all its own. Of the four mountains, Aspen Highlands avoids the spotlight, which is perfectly fine with the locals and in-the-know skiers and riders who tackle its uncrowded slopes. Hike the ridge to Highland Bowl for the sweetest run of your life, or simply cruise along the mid-mountain groomers off the Cloud Nine chairlift. Views over the valley to the snow-covered Maroon Bells constantly will remind you: this is Colorado at its best. This mountain may be best kept for expert skiers with the number of double black diamonds it boasts.

Buttermilk Mountain is home to ESPN’s Winter X Games, two extraordinary terrain parks and a world-famous 22-foot Superpipe. But the mountain is also easy-going for beginners and families, boasting uncrowded beginner terrain and The Hideout, an innovative learning center for young skiers. Most days, it feels like it’s just you and the mountain, with miles of groomers and glades to explore at your leisure.

Where to stay: In Aspen or Snowmass?
To be perfectly honest, deciding on which hotel or resort to call to home-base, depends on which hills you plan on skiing (although the free Aspen bus can get you to any of the hills in a matter of minutes). But if you are planning on many late night excursions, we would suggest staying in Aspen for all the extra amenities. In Aspen village you can opt for anything from old world luxury hotels like the Little Nell or St. Regis Aspen Resort to the more affordable and modern Limelight Hotel. If you are traveling with your family, we would suggest making camp at Snowmass, opt for the Viceroy Snowmass (which boasts an amazing spa as well), the Limelight Hotel or the Westin Snowmass.

What else can you do in Aspen if you don’t ski
Although Aspen is known for skiing, there are lots of other outdoor winter activities to enjoy, from snowshoe tours and ice skating to tubing and the breathtaker alpine coaster. But if the après ski is more your lifestyle, perhaps you would prefer to spend your days at one of the many world class spas or shopping the latest from Ralph Lauren, Gucci or Prada (yes this town boasts lots of luxury shopping). Meet the rest of your crew for après (which happens every day around 4pm across all the resorts) at Wet Deck (and the W Hotel) for a classic cocktail or a Moscow mule and a dip in the heated pool, before heading out for dinner and a night on the town enjoying live music (check out Belly Up or Wheeler Opera House). Also be sure to track down the seasonal Champagne pop up bars that are dotted across the mountain (best enjoyed with truffle fries of course).

Where to eat
Aspen is definitely a food lovers paradise without hundreds of options for even the most discerning eater. If you want to impress your guests, hit up Element 47. This restaurant tucked inside the Little Nell hotel is one of the finest dinner reservations in town. The kitchen has its own private wagyu supplier (Emma Farms in Olathe), and, beneath the restaurant, a 24,000-bottle collection of wines that have received the Wine Spectator Grand Award for more than 20 years running. If you are craving seafood, which may seem strange in beef country, check out Clark’s Oyster Bar for the best seafood in town. Be sure to also check out Meat & Cheese, La Creperie du Village, Bosq or Betula Aspen.

Where to drink
This town has everything from sophisticated cocktail bars to local pubs and brewhouses (Hops Culture and Aspen Tap). Some of our favourites include Ajax Tavern, Hooch (and underground speakeasy style cocktail bar), Chair 9, and the Chefs Club at the St. Regis. Further, no trip to Aspen would be complete without a stop at J Bar at the Hotel Jerome, this is an Aspen staple but be sure to get there earlier than later to snag a table. If you want to dance (and drink) the night away, may we suggest Escobar.

Christian Dare

Christian Dare

Christian Dare spent much of his formative years working in the fashion industry as a Visual Manager before pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Design. He is the Principal at Christian Dare Creative, the co-founder of Stylist Box and runs a successful men’s lifestyle blog, Christian Dare Edited,focusing on menswear, interior design and craft cocktails. You can find him online at www.christiandareedited.com or follow him on Twitter @christiandare but he is more fun on Instagram christian_dare. 

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