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1 City 5 Ways: Aspen

C2 Photography

Photo by C2 Photography

With four skiable mountains, a thriving cultural scene and culinary offerings that rival any sophisticated metropolis, Aspen is the grand dame of Colorado ski country. Settled in 1879, the town oozes a Wild West vibe, though one that’s been glammed up with couture boutiques and swanky art galleries. Nonetheless, 5,547 acres of world-class slopes and a gondola that rises directly from a postcard-worthy village make Aspen the quintessential ski town. But nonskiers needn’t fret: From the Wheeler Opera House to the Aspen Institute, there’s no shortage of off-mountain activities. And Aspen is just the start: Four other first-rate resorts lie within driving distance. Bring on the powder!


Aspen Art Museum photo by Derek Skalko.        

Where to Stay: Hotel Jerome
Dating back to the 1880s and recently revamped, the Hotel Jerome delivers 93 luxurious rooms, a historic bar and a taste of the Old West right in the heart of downtown Aspen.

Early Morning: Fresh Tracks
Meet at the base of Ajax at 8 a.m. for Fresh Tracks, a complimentary program that allows the first 24 people in line to ski the mountain before it opens to the public.

Afternoon: Aspen Art Museum
Whether you come for the rotating exhibits of contemporary art, the Shigeru Ban-designed façade or a glass of wine at So, the rooftop café, admission is complimentary and the museum is one of the hottest après ski tickets in town.

Evening: Wheeler Opera House
The hub of Aspen’s cultural life since it opened in 1889, the Wheeler Opera House features live music, theater, opera and more in a setting straight out of Aspen’s silver boom days.

Where to Eat: Justice Snow’s
Located in the Wheeler Opera House building, Justice Snow’s has one of the country’s most extensive cocktail menus. Pair a PDA—apple whiskey, ginger liqueur, lemongrass, apple, cinnamon and ginger—with the apple and cherry croustade.


Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.        

Where to Stay: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Situated at the base of Beaver Creek, the Park Hyatt offers prime views of the mountains and easy access to the slopes. Come 4 p.m., gather around the hotel’s outdoor fire pits for complimentary s’mores.

Morning: Ski Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek has a reputation for being a family mountain, but there’s really something for everyone. Beginners and intermediates should lap Cinch Express lift; experts should explore Grouse Mountain.

Afternoon: Allegria Spa
Rejuvenate sore muscles at the Allegria Spa, a pampering paradise. All treatments—try the Sports Fusion Massage—include access to the Aqua Sanitas Water Sanctuary, a healing, five-stage hydrotherapy circuit modeled on ancient Roman baths.

Après-Ski: Cookie Time
Warm up after a day well spent with this tradition at Beaver Creek Village where, at 3 p.m., guests can eat as many fresh-out-of-the-oven gourmet chocolate chip cookies—served on a silver platter—as they can handle.

Where to Eat: Beano’s Cabin
Stashed in a luxurious log cabin at the base of Larkspur bowl, this high-end eatery is accessed by a 20-minute sleigh ride and serves up live music, a Colorado-inspired five-course meal (heavy on wild game) and unmatched ambiance.


Alpino Vino photo by Ben Eng.        

Where to Stay: The New Sheridan Hotel
With its brick façade, contemporary Western furnishings and antique mahogany bar, this 26-room hotel is a throwback to Telluride’s Gold Rush days. Modern touches—flat-screen TVs, Egyptian cotton sheets—elevate the hotel into the present.

Morning: Telluride Helitrax
After getting dropped off atop a remote mountain, skiers schuss down virgin snowfields, ski in the shadow of 14,000-foot peaks and pass 19th-century mining ruins—all amid the grandeur of the majestic San Juans.

Afternoon: Alpino Vino
Spend the morning lapping Telluride’s steeps, bowls and cruisers, then ski down See Forever to this Euro-inspired restaurant that delivers Italian nibbles, a patio wine bar and breathtaking views.

Early Evening: Telluride Yoga Center
Soothe mind and body with a yoga session at the town’s most comprehensive wellness center. TYC offers a variety of classes, including Yoga for Stiff Bodies, the perfect remedy for sore skiers.

Dinner: La Marmotte
Housed in a building that dates back 125 years and once provided the people of Telluride with ice, La Marmotte dishes up elegant bistro fare in a cozy French farmhouse setting.


Umbrella Bar photo by Chris Segal/CBMR.        

Where to Stay: Elk Mountain Lodge
Stay downtown at the 19-room Elk Mountain Lodge, steps from Crested Butte’s lively main drag. You’ll have to take a bus to the mountain, but you’re in the heart of Crested Butte’s off-mountain action.

Morning: Eleven Experience
Ride a swanky snowcat from downtown Crested Butte to a private mountain hideaway in Irwin that receives nearly twice the snow as CB. Then have at the untracked slopes.

Afternoon: Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Crested Butte is known as an expert’s mountain, but that’s not the whole story. While black diamonds abound, there are also miles of beginner and intermediate runs off the East River and Red Lady lifts.

Apres Ski: Montanya Distillers
Kick back with a cocktail at Montanya, Crested Butte’s craft rum distillery. Made with American sugar cane, Colorado mountain water and honey, Montanya serves up three rums, 25 different rum drinks and a rocking après scene.

Dinner: Umbrella Bar
Take a self-guided snowshoe tour to the top of Ten Peaks and enjoy a buffet dinner under the stars at the Umbrella Bar, a new mid-mountain restaurant with glass walls and a retractable roof.


Photo by Jack Affleck, courtesy of Breckenridge Ski Resort.        

Where to Stay: One Ski Hill Place
Situated at the base of Peak 8, One Ski Hill Place delivers guests to Breckenridge’s doorstep and offers ski-in, ski-out accessibility, luxurious condos and family-friendly amenities, including a bowling alley.

Morning: Schuss Breckenridge
With 2,908 acres of terrain spread over five peaks, Breckenridge is vast. Check out the free ski orientation tours, which leave each morning from the base of peaks 8 and 9.

Afternoon: Fat Biking
Riding mountain bikes with superwide tires, cyclists can explore Gold Run Nordic Center’s almost 14 miles of trails. Prefer to sweat indoors? Try Breck Bike Guides’ new spin studio.

Early Evening: Breckenridge Arts District
Cruise around downtown’s flourishing arts district with its exhibition spaces, workshops, theaters and studios. Take a class, watch a performance or observe local artists at work.

Dinner: Blue River Bistro
After a day of roughing it on the hill, you might crave city-style creature comforts. Head to the Blue River Bistro for a buzzing happy hour, specialty martinis and honey- and-cashew–encrusted brie.

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