I had never been to Aspen before last week. The adventures I had and places I went were the perfect plan to get the best experience and enjoy the most important parts of Aspen. Without further ado, here is my (very enjoyable) 30 hours in Aspen.
Hiking to Crate Lake Near Maroon BellsOn a picture perfect Tuesday afternoon, we began our first adventure - hiking the Crater Lake Trail. The beautiful drive up Maroon Creek Road brought us to the U.S. Forest Service entrance to Maroon Bells. We paid the $10 to drive our car in. (*Note: access the trailhead at Maroon Lake by shuttle bus from Aspen mid-June through mid-September. Or, drive up to the trail head before 9 am or after 5 to park at the top.)
On this late spring day, comfortable temperatures and partly cloudy skies kept this moderately difficult hike enjoyable, and took our party of three ladies ranging in age from 21 to 45 years approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete round trip. We stopped often to take pictures of the breathtaking scenery. The one way distance of the trail is approximately 1.8 miles, with a gradual incline on the way towards to Crater Lake with an elevation gain of 700 feet.
The Maroon Bells area contains several trails that are not as difficult or are much more difficult as Crater Lake, ranging in shorter and longer distances. Maroon Lake Trail is only one mile long, and Scenic Loop Trail is one and a half miles. Maroon Creek Trail is a more challenging distance at a little over three miles one way. Maroon Bells also offers overnight camping for those wanting to spend an entire weekend hiking and exploring.
Aspen's Favorite Aprés: Historic J BarAfter a little bit of settling in, our band of girls decided to it was time to find some food and drinks, a well-deserved reward after our healthy hike. Our first stop was the historic Hotel Jerome’s infamous J Bar. Upon arrival at about 6:00 p.m., it was not too busy and we grabbed comfy seats at the bar. The staff was very friendly and we took advantage of the professional mixologists’ Pineberry Martini. Two orders of delicious Spicy Edamame later, the wait staff asked if we would enjoy a trivia game. All three of us unfamiliar, he handed us some blank sheets, assuring us we would enjoy the game. The place, very suddenly, was packed with enthusiastic, very knowledgable locals, people all enthusiastic and excited for “the games”. Clearly outnumbered and out-pop-cultured, it was a true test of our celebrity and historical knowledge, each test centered around clever themes. We did not win the game, but it made our time at Hotel Jerome very enjoyable.
Best Steak: Steakhouse No. 316Next stop was dinner. We had 8:30 pm reservations at Steak House No. 316. (*Note: if looking to have dinner in Aspen any earlier than 8:30pm, it is highly recommended to call and make reservations more than just a few days prior to your arrival.) The Steak House was high-end and sophisticated yet comfortable, reflecting the historic roots of Aspen and reminiscent of its mining hey-day. Our server was very friendly and catered to our every need. They had an extensive wine list, and I opted for a glass of Rosé which paired perfectly with the meal and was just my speed. Even better, the food was incredible. I delighted in devouring my 8oz. Prime Filet. All of the entrees are offered a la carte, with several options for sides that can be split between two to three people. We shared the Thyme Whipped Potatoes and Sauteed Asparagus. Being a steak and potatoes kind of girl, this meal definitely did not let me down. The steak was cooked just as I wanted, and the potatoes tasted heavenly.
Free Amenities That Offer True Value: BreakfastThe next morning we took advantage of the free breakfast offered by the friendly staff at the Molly Gibson lodge. It is the best free breakfast I have ever seen, with so many options that included eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, pancakes, oatmeal, bagels and more. I ate toast with jam, some fruit, a hard-boiled egg and enjoyed a glass of green tea. It was delicious and prepared me for starting a great day in Aspen!
The next couple of hours I went an explored Aspen, taking some pictures and observing the culture. It was early in the day, so the streets weren’t too crowded, but I could imagine how joyful it would be if they were. With lots of shopping and dining, Aspen is a place for enjoying oneself and one’s company, and I really liked the atmosphere.
HOPS Culture: Aspen’s Best New RestaurantOur lunch stop was at Aspen’s newest restaurant, HOPS Culture, located on Hyman Avenue. If there is anything I urge you to do in Aspen, it is eat here. It is a restaurant and bar with a focus on craft beer. The general feeling of the place is great, and it is only reinforced once trying their food.
We started out ordering three appetizers, the Spinach in a Bread Box, Mini Chicken Tacos and Little Piggies (blanketed hot dogs). All three appetizers were excellent and our meal was off to a great start. For my entree, I order the Buffalo Chicken Mac n’ Cheese. It has red hot crumbs on the top, with blue cheese and chicken inside. Usually not a huge fan of blue cheese, I decided to try it anyways because I could not stop my mouth from watering just thinking about it, and our server Dan told me he had a similar aversion but stilled loved this entree. I agreed with Dan. It was incredible and I would recommend it to anyone! Too full and satisfied for dessert, I ended my trip to Aspen on a very high note, and will definitely be going back when I get the chance.
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Blog written exclusively for Molly Gibson Lodge by Eimile Pesch