To get local’s take on Aspen’s latest hot spots, we turned to Jimmy Yeager, who has worked in some aspect of the city’s hospitality industry since 1997. Naturally, the beloved owner of Jimmy’s, An American Restaurant & Bar has the inside scoop on Aspen eats. But when it comes to the resort city’s slopes, shows and snowmobiles, the famed restaurateur has just as many suggestions.
If you’re spending a couple of days in the snowy palace, Yeager’s guessing you plan on putting on a pair of skis. “The locals’ favorite mountain to ski is Aspen Highlands,” he says. “It certainly is the most adventurous mountain.” If you’re a bit more green on the white, he suggests Buttermilk, a slope that’s widely regarded as one of the finest beginner spots in the country.
After a few runs (or falls) on Day 1, hunger pains will certainly kick in. “If somebody wants more of a mountain-experience lunch,” he says, “I would recommend that they go to Cloud Nine on Aspen Highland. But if it’s a beautiful bluebird day, I would recommend going to Ajax Tavern for après-ski.” The latter, which is located at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Little Nell, is also a wise choice for dinner. But then again, so too is Jimmy’s, a relaxed eatery with an active bar that serves up an impressive list of fresh, creative cocktails.
When Day 2 starts, remember these words from Yeager: “We’re up here in the middle of this pristine mountain environment, yet we’re centered around a tremendous amount of urban culture.” And he’s right. The Wheeler Opera House’s upcoming calendar reveals a host of events — humorist David Sedaris on November 24, singer-songwriter Marc Broussard on December 31 — that will take your mind off of the slopes. But if you can’t pull yourself from the powder, he insists a T-Lazy-7 snowmobile tour is the adrenaline rush you need. For more cerebral pursuits, check out the Aspen Institute, which regularly hosts lectures (like December 12’s “Legacy of Rome” seminar) and book signings.
If the Institute is quiet during your stay, get a lesson in Italian dining from L’Hostaria or mollusk appreciation from the oyster bar at Pacifica. Yeager says Sky Hotel’s 39 Degrees Lounge is the place to see and be seen at night. Something about that place — and the city in general — has a way of casting a snowy spell on you.
Photo Courtesy of iStock_Ray Roper