While Aspen is known for it’s amazing skiing, the summer activities and beauty are not to be missed! Summer in Aspen: A Mini Mountain Getaway, is the perfect trip for outdoor lovers, families, couples or anyone looking for a relaxing mountain vacation!
Last week my husband and I extended the three day 4th of July weekend and went up to Aspen, Colorado for a couple of days. Our first visit to Aspen was last fall and we absolutely fell in love with the little mountain town. Ever since our last trip we’ve talked about going back. I knew I wanted to go during a different time of year and since ski season can be so crowded and expensive, we opted for a summer visit and it just happened to be on the 4th of July! Summer is the perfect time to make a trip up to the mountains. Not only will you escape from the heat, but there are tons of outdoor activities to do. Below I’ll be sharing where we stayed, ate, hiked and of course where I did my running. Enjoy!
During our stay in Aspen we had the pleasure of staying at the fabulous Hotel Jerome again. It was such a treat to stay here on the 4th of July and see the fireworks right outside the front of the hotel!
We stayed here during our first visit and couldn’t have had a more perfect experience. Hotel Jerome is one of the beautiful hotels in the Auberge Resort Collection. The hotel is not only luxurious, but also has historic Colorado charm. You immediately get a relaxed and welcomed feeling when you walk in not only by the decor, but the friendly staff as well.
The rooms are a nice size, exceptionally clean and decorated to give you that feeling of mountain resort living that you crave. Each room is equipped with a snack bar that is loaded with goodies and a small refrigerator that is also stocked with drinks. I love that the first round of snack and drinks is complimentary, it’s a generous and welcoming touch.
Other amenities that you’ll find at Hotel Jerome are a luxurious spa that I experienced during our first visit, a well equipped gym, an outdoor pool, plenty of places to sit and relax both inside and outside, an inviting bar called the Living Room and two restaurants, J-Bar and Prospect. The hotel has really thought of everything you could possibly need during your stay and go above and beyond to make you feel comfortable and welcomed.
Where to Hike
If you’re driving to Aspen, I recommend taking the route over Independence Pass. Before reaching Independence Pass you’ll pass by Twin Lakes. Stop for a few pictures and a short hike.
The options for hiking in Aspen are more than you will ever be able to do in one visit. Two hikes to put at the top of your list are the Maroon Bells and Aspen Mountain often referred to as Ajax. We hiked the Maroon Bells during out last visit, so as hard as it was not to do it again we opted for a different hike this time. We decided to go hardcore and climb from the base of Aspen Mountain (Ajax) up to the top. The hike is approximately 5 miles long with an elevation gain of just over 3,000 feet to a summit of 11,212 feet. Our calves and lungs definitely felt the strain in a couple areas. If you’re up for the challenge and accustomed to altitude, the views along the way make all the sweat and fatigue worth it.
I would not recommend hiking down the mountain due to the length and steepness. Instead, grab a seat on the Silver Queen Gondola and enjoy the spectacular views on the 2.5 mile trip down. If you’d prefer to skip the strenuous hike up the mountain you can purchase day tickets to take the gondola up to the top.
At the top of Ajax you’ll find plenty of free outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy. The Sundeck restaurant is a great place to grab a drink and a bite after hiking, and views of the Elk Mountain Range that will take your breath away.
Where to Eat…SO MANY CHOICES!
Where to eat. This is a tough one because there are sooo many good choices! I’ve only been to a handful of the restaurants in Aspen and I’m sure there a many more that I’m not mentioning, but these are my current top picks in no particular order.
J-Bar at Hotel Jerome is a casual bar/restaurant serving up great food and drinks that really hit the spot after a day of hiking. We’ve eaten here a couple times and have never been disappointed. Some of our favorite things to eat are the J-Bar Burger, Shoe String Fries with a trio of dipping sauces and the highly addicting Spicy Edamame with Shishito Peppers. If you have room for dessert the Spiced Beignets with Burnt Honey Coffee Sauce are amazing and don’t leave without trying the iconic Aspen Crud!
Meat and Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop. If you love a good charcuterie or cheese board then this is where you need to go. The cured meats and cheeses are exceptionally good and they do a fabulous job pairing them together. This laid back restaurant has a wonderful outdoor patio that is perfect for sitting out on with a glass of wine for a light al fresco lunch or dinner.
Annette’s Mountain Bake Shop-This tiny hole in the wall bakery was one we stumbled on after our hike up Ajax. It’s probably one of the smallest place I’ve walked into, but the smell of fresh baked bread literally draws you in. We were in the mood for something sweet and helped ourselves to some rugelach and the most amazing oversized lemon macaron I’ve ever had! There was a wall full of homemade cookies, breakfast pastries and they make some killer looking and smelling sandwiches as well. Note: they only accept cash, so bring your dollars!
Justice Snow’s– Looking for a hip place to grab a cocktail? Look no further than Justice Snow’s. They are serving up creative craft cocktails with fresh ingredients that really hit the spot. This bar and restaurant is perfect for grabbing a pre-dinner drink or in our case a mid-afternoon we just climbed a mountain reward! I highly recommend trying one of their bourbon smash concoctions and for snacking the Devils on Horseback. You can’t go wrong with goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon!
The Living Room at Hotel Jerome is a great cozy and relaxing bar to grab a cocktail or small bites at before heading to dinner. Dim lighting, comfortable sofas and oversized chairs are the perfect setting to enjoy a creative crafted cocktail. Make sure to try the Champagne Cider Punch.
Prospect– Our dinner at Prospect located inside Hotel Jerome, was the highlight meal of our mini mountain getaway. With it being summer and the weather absolutely perfect, we were able to eat outside. This Modern American bistro is serving up amazing classic dishes with contemporary flare. For starters I chose the Green Gazpacho with Red Shrimp, Grapes and Almonds. It was probably one of the best soups I’ve eaten. Fresh, flavorful and beautiful looking as well.
My husband had the Lobster Salad which was also phenomenal. It was presented in a deconstructed manner, with new potatoes, sugar snap peas, big chunks of fresh lobster and crispy pancetta, all on top of a shallot custard.
For our main course my husband couldn’t resist ordering the perfectly cooked Colorado beef flat iron steak with a to-die-for blue cheese butter melting on top. I went with the special of the day, seared halibut on top of a bed of fresh corn, green beans, peas, fava beans and an amazing saffron foam. If we could have stuffed one more bite of food in us we would have had dessert as well. The creme fraîche cheesecake and seasonal fruit tart were sounding on point!
Where to Run
Summer running in Aspen was a dream come true for me. Both mornings I started my runs on the Rio Grande Trail which is located a couple blocks behind Hotel Jerome. The 42 mile continuous trail runs from Glenwood Springs to Aspen and it is gorgeous! It was one of those runs where if I didn’t have to stop and turn around I probably wouldn’t have. The wide multi-use trail is not only great for running, but biking and walking as well. The stretch I ran on was a mix of paved and compact dirt and ran alongside the Roaring Fork River. The run in mostly flat which is great if you aren’t accustomed to running at altitude. There are plenty of trails that connect to the Rio Grande Trail if you’re feeling adventurous and want to give one a try. If you’re looking for a trail with a little more incline try Hunter Creek Trail.
I’m so happy that we were able to take this mini getaway to Aspen and experience some of the wonderful things it has to offer during the summer months. It’s one of those places that’s hard to leave and that you constantly think about returning to. Now that we’ve experienced it in both summer and fall the only thing left to do is head back in the winter for some skiing!