Issue 5: Aspen

Discover a locally curated guide to the city's finest experiences

  • A lobby at the Hotel Jerome. Photograph by Galdones Photography

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    Built in the 1880s, this gorgeous brick hotel is an Aspen landmark. With stellar views of snowy peaks, a sort of rustic luxe vibe, and an attentive staff, Hotel Jerome embodies all that is Aspen. Don’t miss the cheeseburger at the J-Bar—a hangout of local chefs and visiting celebrities alike—which also boasts the dubious honor of once being the de facto office of Hunter S. Thompson.

    Whole grilled fish with roasted vegetables. Photographs by Galdones Photography
    The patio at The Wild Fig.
    Prosciutto, burrata, figs and mint.
    Fazoletti with asparagus.
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      Sometimes after a long day skiing the slopes or roaming the trails you just want a great burger or a well-earned pint. This is our go-to. The menu is packed with hits, like a crispy chicken sandwich loaded with spicy kale slaw. Look for beers on tap from nearby breweries like Fort Collins’s New Belgium Brewing—especially the bright, refreshing Czech-style pilsner Blue Paddle.

      Mountain biking in Aspen. Photograph by Ilan Shacham
      Dining at the Viceroy. Photographs by Galdones Photography
      Antler chandelier.
      The cozy lounge at the spa.
      A pretty pillow.
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        If you’re in Aspen to hobnob with celebrities, chefs or interesting locals, head here. A favorite of Food & Wine editors, it’s the sort of place you might see a burly mountain man drinking margaritas next to Mario Batali. Expect tasty mac & cheese flecked with bacon and jalapeños, excellent steaks and venison, and a seriously good time.

      • The Benedict Music Tent at the Aspen Music Festival. Photograph by Galdones Photography

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        There’s something to be said for listening to gorgeous music in a gorgeous setting. The Aspen Music Festival lures stars such as Yo-Yo Ma to perform classical music in sprawling concert halls, one of which was founded in 1889. The annual summer festival is available to those on every budget: Casual clothes are de rigeur at concerts, and a full 25 percent of events are completely free.

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          Nobu Matsuhisa’s eatery follows in the footsteps of his renowned New York shrine to Japanese food, Nobu. Look for famous dishes like yellowtail with jalapeño and yuzu and silken black cod with miso. Even non-fish items like foie gras and Wagyu beef, which might sneak into the omakase, are fantastic.

          A room at the Limelight. Photographs by Galdones Photography
          Part of a suite at the Limelight.
          A do not disturb sign.
          Seared foie gras with mushrooms. Photograph by Galdones Photography
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            When in Rome, eat pasta. When in Aspen, get outside—as much as possible! With miles of trails suitable for novices and experts alike, the breathtaking hiking here is nonpareil. We’re particularly fond of Maroon Bells, where two of the most photographed peaks in North America are reflected in Maroon Lake. A comprehensive list of area trails can be found here.

            Window boxes outside Casa Tua. Photographs by Galdones Photography
            Dover sole with vegetables.
            A table set for outdoor dining.
            Branzino carpaccio.
          • Fly-fishing on the river. Photograph by Brian Bailey

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            fly fishing

            Fly fishing is meditative, relaxing and a darn good time. As with most things in Aspen, you can do it the low-impact way (sodas and packaged sandwiches) or the high-volume way (a guided excursion that includes food and wine pairings). No matter how you slice it, expect a fun day out on the water. Local fish include wild rainbow trout, carp and speckled trout. They’re all delicious.

            Hats and bags for sale. Photograph by Galdones Photography
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              This quaint little spot is popular among locals and tourists alike. Reasonably priced, with a slew of homemade options including breads, pastries and desserts, it also features some of the best Eggs Benedict in town, which come slathered with a luscious Hollandaise sauce. If weather permits, head outside to enjoy the bakery’s airy patio.

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                THE LITTLE NELL

                With spectacular views of Aspen Mountain, a beautiful outdoor pool, some of the sweetest service in town, and a great range of amenities, The Little Nell is a classic. Look for impressive touches such as mountaintop yoga at 11,212 feet, in-room spa services, cruiser bicycles, and a private plane available to rent for leaf-peeping excursions in the autumn.

                Crispy prosciutto, burrata, pistachio mostarda, ciabatta. Photograph by Galdones Photography
              • Tents at the Food & Wine Classic. Photograph by Allen Zepeda

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                FOOD & WINE CLASSIC

                Hobnob with the likes of Andrew Zimmern and Thomas Keller at star-studded parties; watch cooking demos by Jacques Pépin; sip world-class wines while standing on top of Aspen Mountain. Any food lover would flip for the annual Classic thrown by Food & Wine Magazine—a destination event in one of America’s prettiest cities.

                Local tomatoes at the market. Photographs by Galdones Photography
                Fresh-baked breads and pastries.
                Colorado cherries.
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                  AJAX TAVERN

                  Nestled at the base of Aspen Mountain and part of The Little Nell Hotel, this spot’s casual vibe belies the quality of its food. Ajax is famous for juicy burgers, truffled fries—which come dusted with Parmigiano-Reggiano and are addictively good—and perhaps the most beautiful dining patio in town.

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                    ST. REGIS ASPEN RESORT

                    Pretty as a picture in winter—its snowcapped façade resembles a gingerbread house—the St. Regis is equally luxurious in all seasons. Its rooms are warm and inviting, with great mountain views, and the staff is very attentive. Stop by the Shadow Mountain Lounge during your visit; if you ask for a demo of how to saber a bottle of champagne, the bar director might guide you through it! It’s an adventurous way to end an adventurous trip.