An Insider's Guide to Aspen, CO

From the best shops to the greatest places to stay, The Scout Guide (TSG) Aspen editor Brooke Casillas plans the perfect trip to the area.

Where to stay for a getaway: With so many amazing hotels in Aspen, you almost can’t go wrong. One of my Scout Guide favorites is the Aspen Meadows Resort for their spacious rooms and open grounds. This would be a wonderful place for a family to stay. Plus, we are just crazy about the Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer’s influence on the resort; everything is bright, simple, and beautiful. The St. Regis Aspen not only offers family packages and activities for children, they also have one of the most beautiful and relaxing spas where you can get pampered before having dinner in one of the many restaurants located in the hotel. Whether you are with family or on a romantic getaway, we love The Little Nell, where you will have an uber luxurious stay, including fine dining and ski in ski out access!

Where to go for brunch: For a more upscale breakfast, try Prospect in Hotel Jerome; the eggs Benedict on a gruyere biscuit is heavenly. For a more casual brunch with the kids you can go to Hickory House, which is also an extremely tasty family barbecue restaurant.

Where to go for lunch: Ajax Tavern is fabulous for lunch. They are known for their double cheeseburger, which is divine! You can sit on the patio year round. In the winter it is so fun to sit in the sun and enjoy watching all the skiers come down. If you are heading off for a hike or want to grab a picnic lunch you can’t beat The Butcher’s Block, where they have the most delicious sandwiches! (Butcher’s Block also has the best meats, cheeses, seafood, and unique condiments in town.)

Where to go for dinner: Cache Cache offers the ultimate fine dining experience. Scout’s favorite, the rotisserie chicken, pommes frites, kale and sage oil is a must-order. Their French cuisine is made with locally sourced ingredients that make you want to return again and again. If you want to enjoy a bottle from their extensive wine list, just ask for Alex. His knowledge of wine, coupled with a French accent, will make you feel as though you are in France for the evening. If Italian is what you are craving  then head to L’Hostaria, where the staff could not be more friendly! Their mouth-watering pasta dishes are made fresh, and you won’t want to miss their house cured Parma Prosciutto.

Where to go for drinks: Justice Snow’s, located  in the historic Wheeler Opera House building (opened in 1889) takes their mixology seriously, and it definitely tastes like it! Each of their drinks are handcrafted and made from fresh juices/ingredients. The decor takes you back in time with its hip and historical vibe. Not only are their cocktails delicious, their food could compete.

Ideal place to celebrate a special occasion: Pine Creek Cookhouse will give you the ultimate mountain experience! In the winter there are a few ways to access this gorgeous cozy cabin nestled in the mountains. If you are feeling like getting bit of a workout before indulging you can cross country ski or snowshoe, for more of a relaxed outing you can take a horse drawn sleigh ride. In the summer you can drive right up to it and then enjoy scenic walks through historical Ashcroft ghost town.

Where to shop: When it comes to shopping in Aspen, you have quite the selection! When looking for something cozy you can find to die for cashmere sweaters at Souchi, but even if it’s just a cool summer afternoon they have yummy lightweight knits too. Kemo Sabe knows how to make you feel right at home while shopping for the perfect  pair of cowboy boots, antique turquoise jewelry, a silver belt, or a Stetson hat.  Everyone there makes sure you find something that fits perfectly and looks amazing on. You won’t want to miss out on the shopping experience at Kemo Sabe!  It wouldn’t be a shopping trip without heading to Pitkin County Dry Goods. They carry everything from Fiorantini and Baker boots, Helmut Lang, to AG jeans. Across the street from “Pitkin” is The Little Bird. This high-end consignment shop has vintage Gucci, Hermes, and more. In the same plaza as Little Bird you can find one of our favorite shopping spots, Meridian Jewelers where you can’t go wrong with anything from here! Only a short block, and many other hot local shops down, you can find Galerie Maximillian, home to some of the most unique and sought after pieces of art. Don’t forget to grab a pair of ski’s and a fashionable outfit at Performance ski across from the gondola.

Ideal Saturday afternoon: In the summer, you must stop by the Aspen farmer’s market, where you not only find amazing produce and local meats (from Crystal River Meats and Milagro Ranch), but also luxurious handcrafted jewelry by Taylor and Tessier. While in town, take a gondola ride to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy activities for kids, have a picnic, play frisbee golf, or take in live music from time to time. You can also hike Aspen Mountain or walk around Hallam Lake with one of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) naturalists. In the winter, enjoy a day of skiing on one of the four mountains! When you are ready to wind down and relax there are multiple places to apres. Cozy up in The Little Nell lounge and have a warm cocktail or hot chocolate.

Best fests and other reasons to visit: The Food & Wine Classic speaks for itself. Try the grand tastings or take a wine seminar during the day and enjoy unique dining experiences in the evening. Jazz Aspen/Snowmass festivals in June and Labor Day are the ultimate music experiences featuring top artists from around the world. Each festival is a way to raise awareness for the organization and support their educational programs. The  Aspen Ideas Festival is the best way to indulge your mind. Join top leaders and innovators by taking part in educational seminars covering topics ranging from U.S. policy, the environment, the arts, and economic issues.

Where to get pampered: Salon Tullio offers it all! Haircuts, facials, manicures, and more. You can spend the day getting pampered and enjoy chatting with everyone who works there – they have the friendliest staff. A newer establishment in town is BlowOut, a blow dry bar where you can get an incredible blow out. After your hair treatment stop into their attached store for adorable clothing, and located directly above is Amen Wardy, a home store that has anything you could ever ask for.

Secret gem: Find Veuve Cliquot’s Oasis champagne bar by The Little Nell. (Scout is hosting our own Oasis event March 8th 2014 – don’t miss out!) And Woody Creek Tavern, a watering hole for the late Hunter S. Thompson, has an eclectic vibe with delicious food and fresh squeezed margaritas. In the summer ride your bike there from town on the Rio Grande trail.

One piece of insider information: With an elevation of 7,890ft you must stay hydrated before, during, and after your visit!! Drink lots of water, moisturize, and don’t be surprised if you get out of breath while shopping at all of the amazing local stores.

{Images via Pinterest, Aspen Food & Wine Festival, and featured businesses}