Your Winter Travel Guide To 48 Hours In Aspen

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Anastasiya Tkachenko

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Winter Travel Guide: 48 Hours In Aspen

There’s nothing quite like Aspen in the wintertime. 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the wonders this mountain town has to offer.

It’s the celebrity ski spot, luxury shopping haven, and real estate wonderland

But, there’s so much more to Aspen than just the aesthetic allure.

It’s a mountain town that everyone should have the opportunity to visit because you really won’t believe that something as picture-perfect exists, except with your own eyes. 

Luxuries come in all shapes and sizes, and Aspen has more to offer than just brand names. 

Just before you roll onto Main Street Aspen, glowing landscapes and roaring mountains surround the town, including Maroon Bells, one of the (unofficial) wonders of the world.

Here you can camp under the glistening night sky, hike for hours, or sit and admire the sparking lake – a literal wonder. 

Maroon Bells

Or, if you wanna be part of one of the coolest parties in the world, X-Games Aspen hosts their annual 3-day event at Buttermilk Ski-Resort, at the base of Snowmass Mountain (right before you reach downtown Aspen). 

In terms of one-of-a-kind experiences, the list goes on and on…

It’s truly one of the most festive, world-renown mid-western towns to spend your holidays in, a winter weekend, or honestly at any point in the year. 

In this guide, I’ve outlined my ideal 48 Hours In Aspen that anyone can plan and enjoy.

By contrary belief, you don’t have to be a celebrity to enjoy the richness Aspen has to offer, but, as you’re probably aware, bringing big bucks is always a bonus. 

If you live in Colorado, then you’re lucky enough to be able to drive to Aspen at your leisure, or even take a short 45-minute flight from DIA or a private airport. 

By the way, sometimes I’ll drive 3.5 hours just to spend the day in Aspen.

That’s how much I love it and find it’s worth visiting. 

That being said, I am so excited and ready to reveal my ideal 48 Hours In Aspen – what to do, where to eat, and how to enjoy. 

Let’s start with Day 1.

Day 1

Check-In & Lunch 

First, let’s start with checking in to your hotel to get settled and warm up a bit from the cold winter air.

Once everyone is settled in their rooms, luggage has arrived, and everyone’s got their proper winter clothing on, it’s time to get lunch

There are two options here, depending on the hotel you’re staying at, you could probably grab a seat at the restaurant at your hotel. 

But, if you’re too excited to stay inside and want to explore downtown Aspen already, then here are three of my personal favorite restaurants to eat at for lunch, right in the middle of it all.  

Three Favorites: 

  1. French Alpine Bistro
  2. Mi Chola
  3. The White House Taverna popular après-ski place to spot celebrities.

Now, Aspen is a culinary capital.

There are award-winning chefs, top-tier restauranteurs, and world-famous dishes all over Aspen that millions of people fly to indulge in from all over the world.

That being said, some options may only be available by reservation or only open for dinner – also depending on the time of year you decide to visit.

And with Aspen being fairly small, tables can be taken up pretty quickly (especially during the winter), so if you don’t have a reservation ready, the three restaurants I’ve listed are guaranteed to have an open table ready for you and your guests. 

By the way, I couldn’t forget to add Bear Den Aspen to the list. 

I’ve yet to have an opportunity to sit down and indulge in the rich deliciousness of their menu, but every time I walk by, I fall in love and can’t stop staring at this adorable restaurant. 

This means if you’re in Aspen, please do me a favor and enjoy it for me.

Bear Den Aspen

Cozy Up With a Cup of Coffee

Next on the list, after lunch, you must grab something hot to drink before you explore the beautiful stores. 

After all, Aspen is the only location in Colorado where you’ll find stores like Dior, Chanel, Moncler, and more.

Aspen may only be 3.6 square miles, but to fully enjoy it you must bundle up and keep yourself cozy.

And if you’re on the hunt for something weather-appropriate (and ready to spend some moneyyy), then you’ll definitely find something unique and worthwhile

Okay, back to coffee shops, here are two of my favorite coffee shops to grab something cozy & caffeinated:

  1. Felix Roasting Co. at Hotel Jerome

By far, one of the most beautiful coffee shops I’ve ever been to.

Located at one of the most famous luxury hotels in Aspen, Hotel Jerome, it’s an entire experience once you walk in. My eyes light up every single time I visit.

If you have the chance, (or need to warm up) I always recommend taking a seat and spending 15-20 minutes enjoying the ambiance and unique interior design, plus the beauty of the snowfall around you. 

If you don’t have the time to stay, then you’ll still enjoy the quality of coffee.

I really enjoyed their Matcha Latte with Vanilla and Oat Milk. Yum.

2. Paradise Bakery & Cafe

Just steps away from the world-famous Ski-in, Ski-out hotel The Little Nell (a dream of a hotel btw), is Paradise Bakery & Cafe, a locally owned establishment since 1981.

Smack in the middle of the main street, no matter what time of day or season, you’ll always find a crowd around this beloved, local bakery.

It’s loved in the community and frequents visitors from all around the world, looking for a steaming cup of coffee, one of their famous cookies, or a baked good, made fresh every morning.

If this is where you choose to go, do yourself a favor and try the:

  • Hot Apple Cider
  • Mocha Latte
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Snickerdoodle Cookie
  • Brownie

Next Stop: Dior

It doesn’t matter if you plan on splurging or not, taking a tour around town of all the beautiful stores is a delight in itself.

As mentioned before, you’ll find some extra special stores here like Chanel, Dior, Moncler, Gucci, Prada, Ralph Lauren, and many more rare finds – rare for this part of the country.

But also, how often do you find Ralph Lauren in the middle of the Rockies? Only in Aspen…

As you walk around, you’ll probably notice other tourists like you and locals wearing cowboy hats

Interesting juxtaposition…cowboy hats and couture?

That’s Colorado for you, baby. We LOVE it.

So if you’re interested in getting your own custom luxe western wear, then add Kemo Sabe to your must-visit list.

Even if you’re coming in just to admire the world-famous Kemo Sabe experience, you’ll be amazed.

It’s not like your local hat store…be prepared to spend big bucks for your own one-of-a-kind hat.

But if you’re interested in the splurge, then your entire experience from start to finish will be something you’ll remember forever.

Just a Reminder…

As you spend time oohing and awing over the beautiful luxurious, make sure to admire the surrounding snow-capped mountains when you have a chance. It’s the true luxury Aspen has to offer.

Alright, you had a fabulous lunch, you’ve spent a couple of hours browsing the stores, and now you want to indulge in something sweet.

I’ve got you covered.

A Detour For Something Sweet

I don’t know about you, but no matter where I am or what I’m doing, my radar is on for a sweet treat.

I love a good splurge here and there, but the true sweetness of being in Aspen, for me, is taking a detour to find dessert…

Preferably something chocolatey…

And then finding the perfect spot to admire the winter wonderland around me.

Personally, I’m not too picky with my desserts, so simple treats will always make my day.

So in that case, I want to highlight two places I think you’ll find quite simple, but enjoyable…

  1. Aspen Mini Donuts

Hot, fresh mini donuts…that’s right, there’s nothing better.

This food truck has been around since I first started visiting Aspen years ago.

The only contact information I could find was their FB Page, but I wasn’t able to find much information on their hours of operation.

Nonetheless, if you’re lucky enough to spot Aspen Mini Donuts in action, do not hesitate to run and buy as many as you can.

Then, walk over to Rio Grande Park and find yourself a bench facing the mountains.

It’ll be quite cold so you may only have 5-10 minutes before you start to freeze, but take a moment to indulge in the donuts while appreciating the gorgousness around you.

By the way, Rio Grand Park is where the World Snow Polo Championship is held every single year, and has been for 11 consecutive years by the Aspen Valley Polo Club.

I highly recommend you plan your trip around this event if you have the chance, it’s incredible.

2. AspenX

Okay, this may be a little bit more upscale than a food truck or neighborhood Starbucks, but its simplicity, location, and ambiance are worth experiencing…

Plus the ideal spot to take a break before heading back to your hotel to get ready for dinner.

AspenX, located at the base of Aspen Mountain Ski Resort (Aspen Gondola Plaza) and The Little Nell, one of Aspen’s finest 5-star hotels, is a premiere cafe that only the locals know about.

Unless you’ve spent your day skiing, or been recommended by a friend…

It’s unlikely that you’ll stumble into this particular cafe, simply because it’s a few blocks past the main attractions on Main Street.

Otherwise, it’s the go-to spot for skiers and snowboarders alike.

And for people like you that want to enjoy some quality treats.

When you’re here, make sure to try the world-famous Parisian Macarons by Maison Ladurée – recognized as the ambassador of the Parisien macaroon, a baked good like a soft Beignet.

Then, finish off the trifecta with Lavazza Coffee, authentic Italian coffee.

Mmmm, heavenly.

Dine Under The Stars

So you’ve spent your first official day in Aspen eating, shopping, and indulging…now it’s time to head back to your hotel and get ready not just for dinner, but a culinary experience.

Okay, this is what you’re going to do…

Once you get back to your hotel room, take a wonderful hot shower, put on your favorite outfit, and be ready to indulge.

So, ideally, you’ve already made a reservation for dinner ahead of time – if you didn’t, that’s okay, I have some recommendations for you.

Dinner Options:

  1. Matsuhisa – the first Matsuhisa location outside of Chef Nobu’s original Beverly Hills restaurant.
  2. The Monarch – an unforgettable steakhouse.
  3. Mezzaluna – traditional Italian, perfect for a winter’s night.
  4. Element 47 – Five-Star, Five-Diamond Ranking.
  5. Jing – global fusion at its finest.
  6. Ajax Tavern – truffle fries and wagyu double cheeseburger, anyone?
  7. Clark’s Oyster Bar – the freshest seafood in town.
  8. Bosq – tasting menu only, 35-seat restaurant.

No matter which restaurant you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

Meet Me at Midnight

Did you think the day was done after dinner?

Not when I’m writing the guide…

So you’ve had your dinner, and you’re extremely satisfied with the food, service, and overall experience, of course.

Now, you have 4 options:

Go back to your hotel and…

Grab a midnight cocktail at the bar right after dinner and continue the fun.

Or

Put on comfy clothes, find a cozy couch in the lobby next to a fireplace, and order some late-night chamomile tea with honey and mint.

Or

Put on your pajamas, get in bed, order dessert from room service, and snuggle.

Or

Grab your swimsuit and head outside to the jacuzzi or heated pool for an evening swim under the stars.

Four excellent options to finish off Day 1 in Aspen.

Day 2

Good Morning in The Mountains

Is there anything better than waking up in Aspen?

It’s one of the few pleasures most people will never get the opportunity to experience.

So if you’re lucky enough to wake up in this magical town in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, then take a deep breath or appreciation and enjoy every single moment that you’re there.

It’s truly something special.

Okay, back to the agenda.

First Stop: Breakfast.

The One and Only: Poppycock’s

Truthfully, there aren’t too many options for breakfast. I’ve found that the easiest and most convenient option is to reserve breakfast at your hotel.

And with so many beautifully upscale hotels located in the center of Aspen, breakfast is always top-of-mind and you’ll never sacrifice quality.

But, if you want to step outside your hotel and go to one the most loved breakfast spots for locals and tourists alike, then make sure you go to Poppycock’s Cafe.

Named after being the go-to place for a little “gossip” (not kidding, check their website), Poppycock’s Cafe is an Aspen staple and known around the world for their famous Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes.

Dog Sledding, Hot Springs, & Snowboarding, Oh My!

For Day 2, you have so many interesting options on how to spend your day.

Whether you want to adventure, relax, or try something brand new, there’s an option for everyone in your group.

Here are my top choices for how to spend Day 2:

Aspen Mountain Gondola

Starting off the list with something simple, yet spectacular. The Aspen Mountain Gondola is always a hit.

If you are not a skier or snowboarder but still want the thrill of journeying up the mountain, a quick purchase of a “foot pass” gets you a ticket on the Gondola and access to Sundeck Restaurant at the top.

Yes, that’s right.

After a 15-minute ride up Aspen Mountain, you get to enjoy being warm and cozy at the very top next to the rock fireplace or step outside onto the spacious patio overlooking the beauty of the Elk Mountains around you.

Plus, you can grab a snack, hot soup, delicious pizza, or another meal if you’re still hungry after breakfast.

Ski or Snowboard

The main reason you probably came to Aspen is for the epic adventure of skiing or snowboarding.

And yes, it is as amazing as it sounds…

Recently, 153 acres of snow terrain, known as Hero’s Terrain, have been added to the upper, eastern aspects of Aspen Mountain.

This addition increases Aspen Mountain’s lift-served terrain by more than 20%, extends existing runs, and lengthens the vertical drop by 1,200 feet.

Plus, if you want to take a break mid-way, you can ski into (literally, it’s located mid-mountain) Bonnie’s.

Take a left off North American or Tourtelotte Park for a plate of soft pancakes, hot chili, or a cup of coffee that you can enjoy on their famous two-tiered outdoor deck.

Pancakes and powder, anyone?

Krabloonik Dog Sled Tour

Yes, dog sledding is as magical as it sounds.

Each sled is pulled by 8-10 Alaskan Husky sled dogs and guided by an experienced musher.

Depending on snow conditions, each ride is usually 45 minutes – 1 hour long, and afterward, you can grab a steaming cup of hot chocolate or cider and warm up your toes around the campfire.

It’s extremely fun and the dogs are adorable.

Glenwood Hot Springs

Recognized as the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool, Glenwood Springs is a heavenly oasis.

There are 15 different minerals in the water (like Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, etc.), all known for having health benefits like relieving body aches and pains, eliminating toxins, increasing circulation, etc.

So not only do you get to enjoy soaking in hot spring water as the snow gently falls, but your body will benefit from the minerals.

By the way, Glenwood Springs is 45 minutes outside of Aspen, but definitely worth the ride.

Tip: Please check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to enjoy such hot temperatures. Always good to know ahead of time.

Spa Day

Peak happiness is a spa day.

And after a full day of adventure and exploring from the day before, why not treat yourself to a morning at a luxurious, rejuvenating spa?

When it comes to experiences in Aspen, I’m sure any spa you go to is going to be a winner.

But, from personal experience, if you want a guaranteed seal of approval, I recommend you book your morning at the Viceroy Hotel & Resort Spa.

From start to finish it feels like you’ve walked into an alternate universe.

Whether you’re looking for an incredible massage, holistic treatment, skincare session, or even an oxygen service, this 7,000-foot Spa has it all, and then some.

Other than one of the best massages I’ve ever had in my life, I loved their amenities.

Especially the tranquil relaxation area which offers snacks and tea (amazing) and a plunge pool on the Ladies’ side – men have an Infrared sauna on their side.

It was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had, I certainly plan to come back soon.

Après Ski Fondue

Did you know après ski is a French term that simply translates to “after ski”?

Yes, you did because you’re an expert.

But, did you know that it’s not only about grabbing a bite after hitting the slopes, but it’s a cultural phenomenon?

All around the world, from Switzerland to Austria to Aspen to Japan and even Jackson Hole, après ski customs and culture are just as distinct and unique as ski culture.

In one country you may find yourself soaking in a hot tub with a glass of champagne on an outdoor deck, or in another part of the world, you might have a two-hour lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Just depends on where you wanna go, you know?

So, whether or not you spent the day skiing, it’s time to kick off your boots and beanie and celebrate the day with friends, family, and fondue

Because what’s a winter’s day without fondue?

And when it comes to fondue, look no further than Almresi.

Just imagine it…

Fresh baked German Pretzel, Resi’s Cheese Fondue, and Schweizer Rösti (Crispy Swiss potato pancake with farmers’ cheese and smoked salmon).

Then German Hot Chocolate and Apfelstrudel (Traditional German apple strudel served with vanilla sauce) for dessert as the sun starts to set around you, and the night sky lights up.

Seriously, have you booked your ticket to Aspen yet?

Hot Fudge Sundae

Alright, it’s your final night in Aspen, what are you going to do?

Well, I have 3 options for you I think you’ll really enjoy:

Comfy Couch + Caviar

One of my favorite ways to end a busy day is by finding a comfy couch and fireplace, ordering a drink or cup of tea and snack or something sweet, and sharing stories of the day with the people I love most around me.

If this is also something you love to do, then I suggest getting cozy at The Wine Bar at The Little Nell.

Order some Truffle Fries, an Aztec Cocktail, and Portabella Dip and you’re good to go for hours.

If you’re really feeling up for it, order some Regiis Ova Caviar.

I guarantee it’ll be one of the highlights of your trip.

Hot Fudge Sundae at Sundae

I know there are other weird people like me out there who love to enjoy ice cream no matter how cold it is outside…

But for some of you who think that’s crazy (I get it), what about a Hot Fudge Sundae with chopped peanuts, whipped cream, and a sweet cherry on top

Or how about a Caramel Brownie or Banana Split?

The good news is you never have to choose at Sundae’s.

Swim at The St. Regis

So in order to swim at their 24-hour outdoor heated pool or one of their three outdoor hot tubs in their courtyard that’s surrounded by the hotel’s elegant structure and cascading mountains, you have to be a guest.

The good news is that you’re most likely staying here already, or if you’re not, the hotel that you’re staying at most likely has an outdoor pool and hot tub that you can enjoy, as well.

Regardless, consider ending your night by looking up at the stars in the middle of the mountains in a hot tub…

Not a bad way to end your 48 Hours in Aspen.

Love,

Anastasiya

P.S. Did you read my other blog post 8 Top-Tier Denver Cafes You’re Going To Love?

You haven’t? Well, here it is ready for you.

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