Adventure Guide: Aspen Winter

Aspen is one of those places that can be what you want it to be. You can ski hard all day and party all night, and do just about everything in between. And it is great for families and hipsters alike. Each of the four mountains has a vibe of its own. I prefer staying in Aspen, but I know many families who love the more laid-back vibe of Snowmass Village. 

Stay

The Little Nell and Hotel Jerome are the original grand dames who have been through a few makeovers and still come out on top. St. Regis and Hyatt Grand Aspen also have their own following. I have stayed at all of them, and prefer the convenience of the Nell and the vibe of the Jerome. After many years of staying at hotels, we opted for a condo right in town. We happened to find one we love and made it our yearly residence. I am happy to hook you up with Dean Gresk, our amazing realtor, who can always find something and is honest and not in it for the big sell.

Ski

Aspen

I love Aspen Powder Tours if you have a day to spend skiing pow with a small group. Otherwise, on the mountain, my go-tos are Back of Bell, Walshes, and any of the bump runs of FIS. Trainor Ridge is a favorite. I like to take Ruthies to (if groomed) Aztech to Strawpile and cut off to go back to gondy or base for a fast top to bottom. My insider secret- Sharkys Margaritas. Sharkys is no longer there, but after lunch and before aprés, the best margarita in town is served at the completely missable bar at Bonnies. It's a little tradition with my peeps. 

Highlands

Highlands is my favorite place to ski in Aspen. I love to hike the bowl and ski the g's or, if I feel lazy, sneak into Temerity, Mushroom and Hyde Park. I also love the short steep shots in Olympic Bowl and how high-speed rippable Highlands is. 

Snowmass 

I used to only almost solely ski Snowmass, but truth be told, when they put the Gondy into Two Creeks (which was my secret spot), I stopped making the trek. I have great memories in the Cirque, Headwall, the Glades. Long Shot is a great thigh burner in powder.

Do

There are a ton of things to do other than ski in Aspen. My kids are big fans of the rec center with its waterpark-style pool, skating rinks and sledding hills. You can mush to your heart's desire on a dogsled tour in Snowmass Village or take snowmobiles up the passes. If you prefer to go uphill, you can buy some spikes and hike in town or snowshoe up to the top of Buttermilk. If you like to go up AND down, skin up any of the mountains and then ski on down. 

There are a few ski tour centers as far as cross-country skiing goes. You can also ski out to the Pine Creek Cookhouse and have lunch or dinner. It's fun to go at night and turn the headlamps off for a ski under the stars. A sled is available if you don't want to try the more downhill ride home after a few glasses of wine and schnapps. Or just want a scenic ride out. 

Eat

My personal favorites are The Wild Fig for adults and French Alpine Bistro and Matsuhisa (Nobu) with kids for dinner and Ajax Tavern for lunch. There are so many great restaurants and everyone has an opinion so here are just a few:

Cache Cache- Top-notch American fare. Tough reservation to get, with a loyal following.

Casa Tua- Another great Italian with the iconic private club attached.

Mezzaluna- A kids' fan favorite, along with Brunelleschi's where they can make their own pizzas. 

Campo de Fiori- ANOTHER Italian favorite with a bit of a scene.

Steakhouse No. 316- If only because it's the same ownership of my long gone but beloved Lulu's and they have her famous kale salad.

Hickory House- A go-to for BBQ with the whole fam.

Meat & Cheese- I love it for a good cheese board.

Poppycock's Café- An old-time, breakfast favorite. 

Paradise Bakery- Good for a grab-and-go breakfast or an aprés snack. 

J-Bar- A pretty, old-school western saloon located inside the Hotel Jerome. 

Gorsuch- The table at Gorsuch draws an eclectic crew of locals and instructors. You drink European beers and champagne, and it feels like you are in Austria or somewhere civilized. If you are lucky, Claudio will be playing some classical and classics on his guitar.

Cloud NineThe spot for a festive lunch or dinner. The private candlelight dinners by snowcat are such a fun way to spend an evening. Add a DJ and book the place out, and it is a memorable party. You can also skin up and sneaky ski down, but don't publicize that! Be aware: at the 2 pm seating for lunch, you will get soaked with champagne, but the dancing is fun! We have an annual costume-themed pre-New Year's lunch there- themes have been Noah's Ark, The Flying Elvises, HOT DOG, Spinal Tap, and more to come. Don't drink too much because the best part is the ski down! 

Woody Creek Tavern- This is a good seated lunch fare with a wide variety and is kid-friendly.

The Adventure Continues! Read On...