Updated: Mar 13, 2021
Brooke Ely Danielson is a seasoned Fashion Editor and stylist. Based in Aspen, Colorado by way of New York City, she’s passionate about health, wellness and skiing. Brooke shares her favorite spots to grab coffee, fuel up before a workout, après and catch up with friends. This season, indulge in one of the many outdoor spots to relax. Brooke also shares her approach to alpine skiing and uphilling amongst the four mountains in the area.
1. For the Go-To Ski respite, Sundeck (Top of Aspen Mountain) Sundeck is one of my go-to spots for the summer AND winter seasons. Strong wi-fi, great cocktails, a killer vegan beet burger and coffee bar to boot-- lounging on the deck here is a must. Situated at the top of Aspen Mountain, this restaurant has breathtaking views of 14,000 feet peaks, including the famous “Highlands Bowl.” This spot is ideal for lunch and also refuge from cold temperatures and snowfall during the ski season. My summer afternoons are spent working remotely at one of the outdoor tables after I’ve hiked up, all 3,192 feet up. A beer on the deck is the perfect reward after the climb.
2. Ajax Tavern, The Little Nell Where truffle french fries and espresso martinis orders are abundant, and that is an understatement. It’s a “see and be seen” spot ideal for people watching. Nestled at the base of Aspen mountain, Ajax tavern is a guaranteed good time with tasty food, fierce fashion and an après-ski scene so much fun you may find yourself dancing at the base of the slopes with a glass of champagne in hand.
3. For Cozy Mountain Vibes: The Hotel Jerome
For warm, cozy, mountain vibes and some of the best hot chocolate (spiked even) The Hotel Jerome is your place. Think dark rich interiors, wooden accents and a library bar complete with fireplace--mountain romantic I’d say. It is one of my favorite après-hangouts. It’s not uncommon to see skiers lounging in their boots and ski suits while sipping luxe cocktails or coconut hot chocolate. *Hotel Jerome is limiting occupancy to allow for social distancing, click here to see more on their health and service practices.
4. For the Chicest Coffee Spot in Town: Bear Den I call this “The Cool Kids Club.” Bear Den is THE destination for trendsetters from near and far. In the morning you can sip gourmet espresso, or tea, while nibbling fresh baked croissants, cinnamon rolls and mouth watering avocado toast. Grab this to-go and enjoy on your walk over to the gondola before you ski the freshly groomed corduroy slopes.
5. For the Cultured Matcha with Epic Views, The Aspen Art Museum Cafe Not just for art lovers, this contemporary, and very minimally decorated, café space sits on the top floor of the Aspen Art Museum. They are known for their matcha lattes and über chic atmosphere you can work from remotely and/or hold small meetings. Complete with wifi, make sure to arrive with a fully charged laptop as there are limited outlets for powering up!
6. For the Grab and Go Hearty Breakfast, Jour de Fête This is the grab and go breakfast spot pre-ski. Load up on a warm hearty buritto, delicious coffee and fresh baked pastries while you take in the local news, with provided papers from The Aspen Time and Aspen Daily News. Jour De Fête has been a staple in Aspen for over 30 years. It has that “Mom and Pop” feel and will not disappoint. Insider tip: Order an iced Americano with oat milk and the vegan burrito--delicious!
7. For the Perfect Pause and Meditation, John Denver Sanctuary A zen seeker’s paradise. When in search of a place to read, rest or meditate, the John Denver Sanctuary is the spot. Ideal in the summertime, the sanctuary is also a beautiful spot to stroll through in the winter season. Here, I find you can transcend into a magical state of calm and even feel John Denver’s presence.
BROOKE’S APPROACH TO SKIING
With four mountains to choose from, my two favorites, by far, are Aspen Mountain (Ajax) and Highlands. The two mountains are different and offer a balanced variety of terrain.
Aspen Highlands Highlights: My plan this winter has been to spend the majority of my ski time at the Highlands. I like the rolling hills and more wide open terrain to skier's right. If I’m feeling strong and brave, I’ll take the plunge down deep Temerity—cautiously cruising down steep bumps. Highlands also offers the legendary Highlands Bowl hike. A cool and casual 45 minutes straight up with some elevation gain, you can easily lose your breath summiting; although the views, the ski down and the fun are totally worth the workout. For a post-hike reward I indulge in a glass of wine and vegan grain bowl at Merry-go-round. If you really want to let loose head over to Cloud 9 where you can dance on tables while spraying champagne over the lunch crowd.
Aspen Mountain Highlights: For fun and social days, I've been heading to Aspen Mountain for shorter runs on this small, yet vibrant mountain. To zip down a blue run, check out the Ruthie’s side for steep and mercurial terrain. For bumps, trees and a good time, cruise to the back of Bell Mountain (you can hit this out from the gondola as most runs are just under it). For lunch, stop by Bonnie’s for a small salad and a hot cider. Insider’s tip: order Bonnie’s hot spiked cider—it is some of the best I have ever had.
Feeling like you want to live on the edge a little bit? You can backcountry ski on Aspen. With just over a mile skin in you can drop into deep powder and take in some of the most breathtaking views. The skin back up and across to Aspen Mountain’s front side is grueling, beware. Before heading out, make sure you are with a guide and/or avalanche trained as this is avi territory.
New Places to Try. The Tiehack side of Buttermilk Mountain! This is going to be my uphill skinning sanctuary. Friday mornings throughout the winter Cliffhouse Restaurant hosts pancake mornings, which is a great way to refuel and rest after Who knows what I’ll find. Perhaps some great powder and new memories. This will also be the location of my uphill skinning mornings.
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