Colorado is my home away from home. I grew up coming to Snowmass/Aspen during the winter and the summer. There is plenty to do year round. In this post, I am going to talk about my favorite summer activities and restaurants from my most recent trip. A post on winter activities will come at a later date.
I love to stay active and eat well on vacation. Aspen is the perfect place with an array of fun outdoor activities and amazing dining options.
Eat and Enjoy!
Favorite restaurants in Aspen
If you are looking for some good Italian, this is the spot. The best appetizers: the Fornarina and/or the Rollino. Good main: the Pappardelle. If you are like me and end up filling up on appetizers, order a soup or salad or one of their “Contorni.” My favorites is the Quinoa.
Ajax Tavern (located at the Little Nell)
Great food and a lovely outdoor patio for those perfect summer nights. You can smell their famous truffle fries from a mile away. They are super delicious but will leave you smelling like truffle oil the rest of the night. I guess that’s the sacrifice you will have to be willing to make. The complimentary white bean dip with bread is also delicious. The rest of menu is full of seasonally-inspired dishes with locally-sourced ingredients. Favorites: Wagyu beef strips and the chicken breast with carrot hummus.
I loved the design of this restaurant. Appetizer: Lobster Steam Buns, these were so delicious! Mains: Rabbit (yes, my husband ventured out and tried it. He said it was pretty good) and the 10-oz Ribeye steak. Salads: Local House Salad or the Beet Salad. Sides: Fire Roasted Summer Squash (looked and tasted more like zucchini) and the Broccoli.
While Starbucks may make an appearance in town, ink! is the best place to go. Grab a quick cup of coffee and bite to eat before you head off to your outdoor adventure. ink! serves an assortment of breakfast food items, including bagels, egg breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, cereal and pastries. Lunch (sandwiches and salads) is also served daily.
A family favorite. Paradise Bakery has exceptional baked goods that are made from scratch daily. Every night after dinner, this is the hot spot for dessert. Students from the local Aspen Music Festival and School perform in front of the bakery. The cookies and gelato will not disappoint. Breakfast is also served daily including delicious muffins, breakfast sandwiches, burritos and more.
Top things to do in Aspen/Snowmass during the Summer
Just a short bus ride from Aspen Highlands and you will have breathtaking views of the Maroon Bells. The Maroon Lake Trail is a short, flat trail that winds around Alpine Lake, and is great place for a picnic. Hikers beware, moose, beavers and bears have been spotted.
For those looking for a longer, more adventurous hike, you can hike past the Maroon Lake Trail to Crater Lake, 3.6 miles round trip. Witness the most photographed peaks in all of Colorado up-close and personal.
You can also bike from Aspen Highlands to the Maroon Lake Trail, about 9 miles.
This 4.6 mile hike gradually climbs up hill with some steep inclines.The views along the way and at the top are so worth it. Plus you get to look forward to a nice meal at the Sundeck Restaurant and a gondola ride (for free) on the way down.
This 50-minute indoor cycling class is a great addition to all of the hiking and biking. If you like a little competition, they utilize monitors to track your performance throughout the class. The studio also provides all of the amenities you will need, shoes, towel and water. Jamie was the best instructor, with fun music, great intensity and a good sweat.
Bike the Rio Grande Trail
A popular 16-mile round trip biking trail along the Roaring Fork River. Stop for lunch at Woody Creek Tavern (about 8-miles) then turn around and head back to Aspen. The way there is pretty easy because it is mostly downhill but the way back is a gradual uphill with some flat road. You can also continue all the way to Glenwood Springs.
Hike Elk Camp/Bobsled Ride
If you hike Aspen Mountain first, this will be a breeze. Take the “beginner” Vista trail, about 2.13 miles, to the top of the Gondola. You can proceed to hike all the way to top of Elk Camp and take the chair lift down to the restaurant area. Beware of mountain bikers on the way up.
We stopped at the restaurant area and hopped on the Bobsled, a little pricey but worth it. This self-controlled sled is deceiving on the way up. But you can go full throttle on the way down and it goes about 35 miles per hour. We rode twice before heading to lunch, which had something for everyone: a salad bar, sandwiches, pizza and burgers. On Tuesdays around 4 pm they offer a Farm-to-Table experience.
If you ever find yourself in Aspen during the summer, I hope these tips will be helpful. Staying active and eating well on vacation can be so easy. I always leave trips like these inspired to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.