December is here and it is time to start planning winter vacations. At the top of my winter wonderland list is the Aspen Snowmass area. Packed with gorgeous resorts, excellent health-conscious restaurants, and world class winter sports, Aspen is the perfect place to get away for winter fun.
Below are my top picks to Eat and Play the Aspen Way:
A great way to start the day is at Spring Cafe. Filled with modern art and great views of the slopes, Spring Cafe hosts a mostly vegan menu with many gluten free options. My personal favorite is the lemon, ginger, cayenne shot and a bowl of coconut rice porridge. The caramelized apples and pistachios are a perfect sweet and savory combination packed with nutrition to play all day. All around the cafe friends are getting together over breakfast and cold pressed juices, as well as people on laptops squeezing in a quick work stint before hitting the slopes for the day. Overall, a great place to grab a meal, a juice, or a quick wifi break.
Ajax mountain, Aspen. Aspen mountain is usually called by its former name, Ajax by the locals. It features more challenging terrain, good step groomed trails, the best bump skiing in America, and is the host of the 2017 World Cup finals in March.
After skiing you will want to make sure to enjoy Apres Ski at the base of the mountain for some drinks and dancing. Most people are still dressed in their ski attire, there is lots of fan fare, bottle service, and dance music to be had by all.
The Big Wrap was packed when I walked down the little stairway to the nearly underground restaurant, and for good reason! There is a huge selection of gourmet wraps, salads, and tacos with plenty of vegan options and specialty drinks. There are only a few seats along the front window, so this is more of a grab and go kind of place, but everything I tried was delicious and I would definitely recommend it for a healthy mountainside lunch.
Snowmass mountain. Whereas Ajax is geared toward the advanced skiers, Snowmass mountain has something for everyone. It is family friendly, has bunny slopes, wide open groomed trails (my personal favorite), and plenty of single and double black diamonds for the more advanced and adventurous. If you plan on skiing here, I would highly recommend checking out Snowmass Sports, where the staff is friendly and knowledgeable about all your winter gear needs… It makes a world of difference to be dressed properly for a day spent in the snow. You can even reserve equipment online and receive a 20% discount on rental gear! After turning in your gear at Snowmass Sports, which is located at the bottom of the Westin Hotel, walk just a few steps across the walk way and settle in for night of drinks and dancing at Venga Venga Cantina and Tequila Bar. Venga has a bit of a younger and more laid back crowd than Apres Ski in Aspen, and is always a recipe for nights with friends that you will always remember… perhaps only after checking the photos though. There is a shuttle that runs between the two mountains, so feel free to enjoy responsibly regardless of where you stay.
My all time favorite place to eat in Aspen is Pyramid Bistro. It is a Nutritarian restaurant, which aims to provide the most nutrition per calorie in every meal, and is considered the healthiest restaurant in Aspen. The atmosphere is beautiful, there are windows everywhere, and dinners are surrounded by pine trees, wildlife, and fresh snow, while remaining in the warm and toasty indoors. There is an outdoor patio for the summer months, and a beautiful bookstore entrance all year round. Some of my favorite vegan items on the menu are the Thai Butternut Squash Soup; creamy and delicious, with the warmth of the Thai peanut that hits your palette and is simply heaven. The Sliders are phenomenal, filled with Indian spices and crisp tomato, sprouts, and onion, they are set off with a fresh and fruity quinoa salad which offsets the boldness of the sliders. I like to finish with a Peanut butter Creme Bûlée, which is like a sophisticated way of eating the old time comfort food of peanut butter and jelly, and then an almond milk Chai latte. It is my all time favorite place and I tell everyone about it! However, I must say that it is the kind of place I would rather eat alone or with my favorite foodie because each bite is so good I just want to savor and not talk.
So, when you sit down to plan your next winter vacation, make sure to keep Aspen Snowmass at the top of your list. You simply can’t go wrong with this fun and healthy wonder wonderland.
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