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25 Ways to Savor Summer

This guest blog post comes from the editors at Aspen Magazine.

From summery cocktails to new concerts to hidden hikes, Aspen Magazine has highlighted their favorite ways to make the most of Aspen’s special season.

Grab a seat and a glass for one of these summerlong tributes to your drink of choice at restaurants around town. Champagne Sundays at Brexi Brasserie (411 S. Monarch St.) feature a glass of bubbly for $10 and oysters for $1.50 at this traditional French spot inside the Dancing Bear. Down the street at the Limelight Hotel (355 S. Monarch St.), happy hour just got sweeter with a flight of sangria ($12)—white sangria mixed with rum, rosé mixed with tequila and traditional red with brandy and vodka. Pink on the Patio Tuesdays let you order a refillable glass of rosé ($18) with an entree during lunch at Element 47 (675 E. Durant Ave.) and dinner at Ajax Tavern (685 E. Durant Ave.), and toast to the good fortune of a summer’s day in Aspen. –Barbara Platts_34a1279.jpg

Get in a workout while exploring the town. Start with a cruiser ride on a WE-cycle bike from one of 14 stations around Aspen ($9 for 24 hours). Rack your ride at the base of Smuggler Mountain (Park Circle station) and head uphill for the lung-busting 1.5-mile hike to the viewing platform. Take in the vista and cooler temps before running or hiking back to your bike. Then pedal across town to 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel (709 E. Durant Ave.) and prep for the final leg of your journey—sipping a refreshing Lemongrass Cooler ($11) while soaking in the hotel pool. –Allison Patillo

3 | LUXURY AT 11,300 FEET 
The family-owned, custom-built Smith Cabin on Richmond Ridge is just a few miles away as the crow flies and 3,400 feet up Aspen Mountain, but it may as well be a million miles away… and that’s the idea. Available for rent on a limited basis, the 1,000-square-foot eco-conscious haven (lighting is supplied by a photovoltaic system) is 3 miles southeast of the Sundeck and accessible only by four-wheel drive. Seven hundred private acres surrounded by wilderness preserve the dizzying views of the Castle Creek Valley and Elk Mountains. But views aren’t the only luxury at this three-bedroom modern-rustic retreat. There’s a kitchen with high-end appliances, an open living room, radiant-heated floors, Wi-Fi access, a six-speaker Bose stereo system and a Zen-inspired shower. $2,700 for one night, $1,350 on subsequent nights, 970.379.9400 –Trina Ortega

4 | “Hiking the Lost Man loop. I love the above-tree-line landscape and [the feeling of] getting away without really leaving." –Kitty Boone, Vice President, public programs, Aspen Institute

Start the day with a Gold Mine (coffee, almond milk and honey, $4.70 medium size) from Peaches (121 S. Galena St.). Sip it as you wander through the Aspen Saturday Market downtown, sampling an organic, tart yet sweet plucot from Forté Farms and admiring restored vintage bikes from ReCycle Art Aspen. Once your appetite is piqued, wander over to BB’s Kitchen (525 E. Cooper Ave.) for brunch on the patio and a great view of Aspen Mountain. Order up a BLT Bloody Mary ($12), which adds a twist to the flavors you love, and decadent bananas Foster French toast ($17), a new menu item from chef Jeff Casagrande, who just took over the helm. –AP

For a special night under the stars, custom-design a fully supported on-mountain camping trip at Snowmass in a private wooded area near a small fishing pond. Just a short hike from the Elk Camp Gondola, the rustic getaway allows for wildflower hikes or mountain biking by day, followed by stargazing and s’mores by the campfire. You’ll catch a ride to and from the campsite, and all of the basics for a night in the woods are provided and set up—canvas tents, cots, sleeping bags, a kitchen wagon (and cook), picnic table, chairs and a fire pit. Available through August, $825 per night, 970.923.1227 –TO

7 | “Hiking, arriving [at] amazing lakes, listening to the birds, encountering wildlife, picking mushrooms and enjoying our wonderful mountains and amazing skies are my delight.” –Christine Aubale Gerschel, President and executive director of Les Dames d’Aspen

Looking for a way to fill your glass with something out of the ordinary? In addition to an astounding wine list, The Little Nell’s Element 47 restaurant (675 E. Durant Ave.) boasts an impressive selection of high-tier liquors, including Rémy Martin’s Louis XIII cognac (shot $210). Aged up to 100 years, it’s made with grapes from the Champagne region of France. At Jimmy’s (205 S. Mill St.), Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin (shot $14) was inspired by a recipe crafted in Germany’s Black Forest in the 1940s. The updated version includes 47 ingredients that give this hard-to-find spirit its herbal and floral taste. Two additions to the vast collection of spirits at Justice Snow’s (328 E. Hyman Ave.) are from Kavalan, Taiwan’s only whiskey distillery. Try the smooth and slightly fruity malt whiskey (shot $20) or go for the Concertmaster (shot $24), which is finished in a port cask for a rich body with natural sweetness. –BP

9 | “A superlong mountain-bike ride on the Crown or in Hunter Creek with my husband, followed by canoeing on Blue Lake or Ruedi Reservoir with my son, then eating a lot of good food.” –Kelly Murphy, executive director, Aspen Historical Society

Join naturalist Rebecca Weiss from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies for Tuesday morning birding sessions through September ($15) and discover Aspen’s diverse birdlife and avian habitats. Learn about field craft to enhance your birding skills, local ecology and conservation; you’ll even get a mini-lesson in binocular use or perhaps find out some best books for birders. Bring your own binoculars and guidebook, or borrow them from ACES. It’s a perfect way to start a summer day. Not into company that early in the morning? Book a private outing ($50 per hour). 970.925.5756 –Sarah Chase Shaw

Among the restaurants to join the burgeoning farmcentric food movement is the midmountain Elk Camp at Snowmass, which introduces Farm to Table Tuesdays, a la carte locally sourced dinners throughout August (entrees $7.75 to $20). Purveyors include Carbondale’s Crystal River Meats; the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies’ Rock Bottom Ranch; Basalt’s Avalanche Cheese Company; Crawford’s Rendezvous Organic Farm; and Farm Runners at Hotchkiss, which sources produce from several North Fork Valley farms. Live acoustic music enhances the earthy vibe, and kiddos can stay entertained with games and other family-friendly activities on the lawn outside. Bonus: Five percent of food sales benefit the Thompson Divide Coalition and Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Free rides up the Elk Camp Gondola start at 5:30pm. –Cindy Hirschfeld

Craving an only-in-Aspen cultural experience? Both the Aspen Music Festival and School and JAS Café offer new summer performances at the Aspen Art Museum’s Roof Deck Sculpture Garden/SO cafe. Distractionworthy: the scenic backdrop of Ajax Mountain. The free Tuesday evening (6pm) Music with a View chamber concerts from AMFS run through Aug. 18. JAS Café (7 and 9:15pm, tickets from $35) offers a dinner option (from $85, including ticket) at the early concert. Upcoming shows include Lizz Wright (Aug. 7 to 8) and the Pacific Mambo Orchestra (Aug. 13 to 14). 637 E. Hyman Ave. –Laurel Miller

13 | “Take the gondola to the top of Aspen and hike out on Richmond Ridge. Kids can also play on the rock climbing wall and trampoline.” –Chris Lane, executive director, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies

One of Aspen’s loveliest and most inspired public spaces, the John Denver Sanctuary (Rio Grande Place and Mill Street) is a botanical haven of perennial blooms interspersed with rock gardens and boulders inscribed with some of Denver’s lyrics. Now there’s more reason to visit, thanks to 12 additional inscriptions newly engraved on rocks throughout the park. Denver’s friends and his widow, Annie, selected the quotes, which come from the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, John Muir, Albert Schweitzer, Henry David Thoreau… even Aspen Elementary School students. Pick up lunch first at Jour de Fete (710 E. Durant Ave.); we like the J.R. sandwich (prosciutto, cornichons, tomato and butter or olive oil on a baguette, $10.75) and a side salad of fennel and orange ($5); then wander, ponder and enjoy the feel of sunshine on your shoulders. –LM

When the USA Pro Challenge comes to Aspen Aug. 19 to 20, the world’s top cyclists will test their legs and lungs by summitting Independence Pass not just once (toward the end of Stage 3), but twice (after the start of Stage 4). Join the avid fans along the route by cycling up the pass road before the riders descend in Stage 3. Your ride? This sleek, carbon-fiber Bianchi by Gucci bike ($16,200) with Shimano Alfine componentry and disc brakes. The next day, watch the racers depart Aspen—and help cheer on part-time local and 2014 Challenge champ Tejay van Garderen—from the VIP hospitality tent ($75), which offers a catered breakfast, large-screen TVs and autograph ops. –CH

Got a hankering to hone your outdoor skills? A private outing is the way to go. Elk Mountain Expeditions (970.456.6287) just introduced customized half- and full-day float and wading trips on the Roaring Fork River (from $255). Carbondale’s family-owned and -operated Strang Ranch (393 CR 102, 970.963.2319) includes an equestrian center with panoramic views of the Elk Range. Whether you’re an experienced rider looking to improve your dressage or hunter-jumper skills, or a newbie (the ranch specializes in kids’ programs, ages 5 and up), the highly experienced staff will have you sitting pretty (from $60, not including horse rental). Looking to learn downhill or cross-country mountain-biking basics on-mountain? Bike Snowmass (970.923.1227) offers private lessons (from $99 per hour) customized to your skill level (ages 8 and up) and preferences (picnic lunch? midday fishing break at the pond? no problem). –LM

There are few better ways to end a summer day in Aspen than sitting outside with a primo cocktail and admiring the alpenglow. And what better spot than tony Casa Tua (403 S. Galena St.), which boasts a membership program (benefits include invites to special events and VIP access) and, hence, the most exclusive deck in town? Indulge in a signature drink like an Aperol Spritz ($11) as you tuck into, say, octopus salad with haricot verts, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and olives ($26), or one of the lauded housemade pastas (from $20). Not a member? You can still enjoy the decadent Italian food and wines; the downstairs restaurant and streetside patio are open for public lunch and dinner service. –LM

Ever wonder where one-sixth of the nation’s silver came from? Find out the story behind Aspen’s silver boom on the Smuggler Mountain Open Space Historic Jeep and Trail Tour. Jump in a jeep guided by Blazing Adventures for a picturesque drive up Smuggler Mountain, followed by a 45-minute walk with stops at interpretive signage that the city installed last summer. Aspen Historical Society history coach Mike Monroney is your knowledgeable and engaging guide. Wednesday mornings through September, 9am, free, meet at Gondola Plaza, 970.925.3721 –SCS

If you’re at all familiar with the trails around Aspen, you’ve either experienced or heard about the magnificent midsummer display of wildflowers on the Crested Butte side of West Maroon Pass. What you likely don’t know is that Electric Pass, above Cathedral Lake, hosts a show of color that can be every bit as lovely, according to avid hiker Bob Wade (and owner of the Ute Mountaineer). From the Cathedral Lake trailhead 12.2 miles up Castle Creek Road, most people hike the 2.8 miles to the scenic tarn, then turn around. But take the signed right fork a ½-mile before the lake and hike another 2 miles (and another 1,700-plus feet in elevation) to Electric Pass, and you’ll be rewarded with a riotous profusion of paintbrush, columbine, larkspur and more, especially following this year’s rainy spring. Just start your hike early in the day, so you’re off the exposed pass by the time any afternoon thundershowers roll in. –CH

Grab a picnic of fresh bread ($6), salumi ($11 per pound) and a log of chevre ($6.50) from Meat & Cheese (317 E. Hopkins Ave.); a bottle of Triennes Rosé ($20) from Of Grape & Grain (111 S. Monarch Ave.); and head 45 minutes over Independence Pass to the charming hamlet of Twin Lakes for an afternoon or evening of lakeside fun. Bring your own canoe, kayak or SUP, or rent one from Twin Lakes Canoe & Kayak Adventures (from $30 in two-hour increments) and paddle across the lake to the big sandy beach on the far side. Take a self-guided tour of the former Interlaken resort, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A return at sunset guarantees smooth waters and a stunning view to the west. 719.251.9961 –SCS

Now is the time to take advantage of some of the valley’s least-used trails at the Basalt State Wildlife Area, which encompasses 4,800 acres along the flanks of Basalt Mountain and the Frying Pan River (because it provides critical winter range to elk, deer and bighorn sheep, the area is closed to hikers from Dec. 1 to April 15—and dogs are never permitted). The network of mostly unsigned double- and singletrack trails is perfect for meandering; you’ll find sagebrush-dotted meadows, bird-filled ponds, lush aspen groves, incredible views and total solitude. For a 30- to 40-minute traverse above town, take Spur Road to its end and follow the singletrack up and to the right; then descend on Ridge Road. Or park at Lake Christine, just above the intersection of Two Rivers Road and Sopris Drive; head up the track past the power plant and veer right. –Tess Weaver Strokes

22 | “Walk to the Aspen Saturday Market early in the morning and sample the finest produce that Colorado has to offer. Follow this with an omelet [$18] at Element 47 before taking a leisurely bike ride down the Rio Grande Trail. After the ride and a quick bite at the Woody Creek Tavern for lunch, head back to Aspen, stopping to enjoy the Roaring Fork River on its journey west.” –Simon Chen, general manager, The Little Nell

Sculptors from all over the world convene in tiny Marble—58 miles from Aspen and home to the renowned Yule quarry—to attend the annual Marble Symposium (July 29 to Aug. 5). The symposium offers intensive carving sessions for sculptors with varying levels of experience, but it’s also become a draw for the public, who can view works in progress and completed sculptures along the forested, riverside work sites. Take a free self-tour; chat with carvers; and afterward, swing by Slow Groovin’ BBQ (101 W. First St.) for some down-home, delicious fare like a platter of ribs ($12) before heading back to Aspen along scenic Highway 133. Daily tours 11am-5pm, 970.963.5726 –LM

New this summer at Basalt’s award-winning Woody Creek Distillers are Food Truck Fridays, featuring local mobile eats from the likes of Slow Groovin’ BBQ, Humble Plum and Aspen Skiing Company’s The Sled. They’re dishing up everything from pulled pork sandwiches ($8) and veal cheek tacos with salsa verde ($5), to bahn mi with chicken pate, pork belly and pickled vegetables ($5). Work up a jones by biking down the nearby Rio Grande Trail; then kick back on the distillery’s new patio, summery libation in hand (we’re loving the basil gimlet: vodka, basil, simple syrup, celery bitters, $12). 4-8pm, 60 Sunset Drive, Basalt, 970.279.5110 –LM

Our new favorite post-hike treatment is the recently introduced Classic Nail Grooming for feet at the Spa at Viceroy Snowmass, an ultimate pedicure enhanced with Thai compresses and soothing aromatherapy. Start out by soaking your tired dogs in a copper basin with warm water augmented with myrrh, vitamin E and lavender oils. Next comes a sugar scrub with lemongrass, mimosa oil and lavender to gently exfoliate your feet and calves, followed by a seaweed and white clay mask to brighten and hydrate skin. Just as you’re beginning to sink into pure bliss, the therapist pulls out a warm, muslin-wrapped compress of fragrant ginger, lemongrass and lavender—handmade in Thailand—for a lower-leg and foot massage, then finishes with a tingly peppermint cream. All the traditional pedi elements—filing, trimming, buffing, polish—are also included. The capper? Enjoy your hour with a complimentary glass (or two) of Champagne or chardonnay. $85, 130 Wood Road, 970.923.8000 –CH