June 25, 2017

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Aspen, Colorado

SnowKnown for the glitz and glamour of its celebrity status, underneath Aspen is a low-key and culturally and historical rich community.  Located 220 miles west and south of Denver, the town is nestled within the Elk Mountain range.  Today, Aspen is a world-renowned ski resort, but the town’s history dates back to the days of the Ute Indians. Originally a summer hunting camp of the Utes, the first white settlers appeared during the 1870s as miners searching for silver and fortune. 

Aspen quickly became a boom town growing to more than 12,000 miners and their families. But the town quickly went ‘bust’ with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Act in 1893.  The years that followed are known as “The Quiet Years,” during which time ranching and farming took center stage.  It wasn’t until the late 1940s that skiing arrived in Aspen, as did modern-day founders Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke.

They came with a vision for the community that focused on Mind, Body and Spirit and were instrumental in initiating Aspen’s rebirth as the cultural and vibrant town known today. A year-round destination for tourists Aspen offers numerous attractions and festivals as well as great hikes, a host of other summer activities, and of course the world-class skiing it is known for during the winter. 

Attractions

There’s no lack of things to do in Aspen.  Visitors can take tours of historic landmarks and shop at trendy boutiques.  A selection of art galleries, a theater, and a concert hall will feed your cultural side.  The Hotel Jerome, built by Jerome B. Wheeler, has been an Aspen landmark and local gathering place since opening in 1889.  The Wheeler Opera House, another of Jerome Wheeler’s legacies opened in 1889, was originally a part of the “Silver Circuit” – a mining era collection of venues that brought internationally renowned performers to the mining camps and towns of Colorado’s high country.  It continues to entertain visitors today.  Take a tour of Smuggler Mine, one of the most famous and productive of Aspen’s silver mines. It produced a world record nugget of nearly pure silver that weighed almost a ton and had to be broken into three pieces to be hauled out of the mine.  Or, enjoy a walking tour showcasing the fabulous Victorian architectural of the mining barons as well as the darker elements of Aspen’s tarnished past.

Dining

The award-winning cuisine in Aspen features everything from fresh sushi to comfort foods like truffle mac ‘n’ cheese. Travel by SnoCat, gondola or sleigh to enjoy an evening at one of the off-the-beaten-track eateries in winter. In summer, dine al fresco beneath clear alpine skies.  Aspen’s nightlife is legendary – after dinner head out to dance the night away, play billiards or enjoy some wine tasting at one of the lively clubs and bars. 

At the Hotel Jerome’s “J Bar,” you can order the infamous “Aspen Crud”, a milkshake infused with numerous liquors that was the preferred (and off-limits) drink of Tenth Mountain Division soldiers training in Aspen during WWII. Aspen offers varied cuisine and enough to last for a months vacation.

Here are some of our favorites:

Ajax Tavern, first class and delicious for lunch or dinner ($$$$), at the base of the gondola. Campo di Fiori for a good Italian dinner with good atmosphere,($$$), 205 S. Mill St., Jimmy’s Bar and Restaurant,($$$) just upstairs from the pervious listing, dinner and late night, good food and one of the most diverse venues for people watching. Hickory House ($$), 730 West Main, way down on Main St but a killer breakfast if you are headed to Highlands or Snowmass or need a bar-b-que fix. Boogies ($$) classic 50’s diner, a must for kids or if you need some cheap comfort food. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes are great. 534 E Cooper. Cache Cache. Top shelf for food and people. All we can say. 205 S Mill downstairs. Elevation. Young, hip with cutting edge cuisine. ($$$) Dinner and Late Night. 305 East Hopkins. Good Sandwich, good value, Johnny McGuires Deli.($) 730 E Cooper Ave, across from City Market. Speaking of City Market, when you need to quick food,(sushi between bike rides), cold drinks and of course groceries. 711 East Cooper Ave. Sushi? Japanese? Go for Kenichi ($$$), 533 East Hopkins. Pinions, another top shelf choice. ($$$$) 105 South Mill St. Colorado western cuisine with great wine list. Syzygy. Our place after a Peak Experience. Top Shelf.($$$$) Food and edgy decor. For big girls and boys looking to swing from the chandelier. 308 East Hopkins. Lastly Weinerstube. ($$) got to have some good Austrian food for yodeling when you need to. Bomber Breakfast, Ya GOOT! 633 East Hyman. OK, this is by no means a complete list, just some of favorites. For a good listing go here and you’re welcome.   

Shopping

If you love to shop, Aspen is the place for you.  Visit the international fashion houses along Galena Street or one of the many unique boutiques.  Western treasures, fine art, clothing and handmade jewelry await.  You’ll find the latest and greatest trends and technical gear at one of the many outfitters.  Watch the two meet as outdoor fashion takes center stage on the runway during Aspen Fashion Week, held every March. We can’t cover half the shops in Aspen but here are ones related to our activities that can help you out with that gear or clothing you discovered you need prior to heading out into the alpine. Ute Mountaineer. Everything for climbing, hiking, backcountry skiing. Check their website for Aspen events for noted speakers. Just moved as of October 2010 to 210 South Galena in the Elks Building. Explore Booksellers. Located in a great victorian house at 211 East Main St. Check their website for speakers during your visit and Escape upstairs is their conservatory style restaurant. Nice. Ajax Bike and Sport, 635 East Hyman next to Weinerstube, or Aspen Velo, 465 North Mill St. can help you out with anything cycling. Fly fishing? Better hit Taylor Creek Fly Shops. In Aspen on the Cooper Street Mall. Park on Durant Avenue and look for Aspen Sports. Taylor Creek is inside of Aspen Sports. 408 East Cooper is the address.

Plan your Aspen Vacation