fine art photography

Kelly Hornberger

Ultimate Aspen Guide! Where to Stay, Eat, & Things to Do


back to blog


If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you probably know that my family & I LOVE the mountains.  In fact, there’s no place we’d rather be.

To me, Aspen, CO is one of the most beautiful & relaxing places on earth.  Since I get to go there pretty regularly for weddings and we’ve taken some family trips there, I get loads of questions about where to stay, what to do, etc.  So I’m SUPER excited to share my ultimate Aspen guide with you today! 

Aspen Guide

Whether you’re looking to have a magical mountaintop wedding or an awesome family vacation, keep reading for tips and recommendations on all things Aspen! Make sure to read all the way to the bottom to get your FREE “Hello, Aspen!” PDF, and download it to keep all this info handy and in one spot for your next trip!!

P.S. this blog post first made an appearance in my Happy Hour with Kelly emails! If you want to be the first to receive these fun emails and get updates on any KHP announcements, sign up for my email list here!

Aspen Mountains

Places to Stay in Aspen

Here’s the hi – low of our absolute favorite places to stay in and around Aspen!

High-End Recommendations:

1) Hotel Jerome (pictured below) is by far our ABSOLUTE fave!  It’s OLD, historic and all things Auberge, so you can expect old-world charm and insane customer service.  A VERY high-end property, but absolutely amazing and 100% worth the splurge.

2) The Little Nell is gorgeous and the location is a dream. RIGHT next to the slopes and the gondola!  Their customer service is outstanding and the hotel itself is super updated.

3) The St Regis!  It’s beautiful, SUPER close to the mountain, and let’s be honest…you can never go wrong with a St. Regis.

4) Aspen Meadows Resort is another FAVE of mine.  It’s a little outside of town, but still within walking distance to town thru the stunning Aspen cottage district.  SUPER quiet, amazing stars at night, and VERY modern. 

*A nice little bonus about all of the above hotels is that they all offer amazing restaurants and room service on property.*

Hotel Jerome in Aspen CO

For a more cost effective option, take a look at these: 

1) The Gant: I absolutely LOVE this area of town.  It’s more residential, right by City Market, and super close to hop on the East Aspen Trail.  East Aspen is by far my dream spot of Aspen, with MAGICAL valleys between the mountains on your drive up to Independence Pass, a gorgeous river, and THE most dreamy trail (keep reading for more on that later)!

2) Hotel Aspen is a great stay just two blocks away from Hotel Jerome.  It’s VERY basic but also very budget-friendly, and you can’t beat the AMAZING location.  And since you want to be outside so much in CO, does it really even matter that it’s so basic??

Great Aspen AirBNBs 

We have also stayed in both of these Airbnb’s: this one in Aspen, and this one in Old Snowmass, a residential and incredibly peaceful area that I just love.

I am not as big of a fan of staying in Snowmass Village simply because it’s more crowded and more touristy, but if you want to do more of the “top of the mountain” activities, this is definitely where you would want to stay.  

Another awesome option I have stayed at in Snowmass Village is the Viceroy, and IT. IS. FABULOUS!  You get so much space, and even a fireplace in your room!  If Snowmass Village is where you want to be, then most definitely check it out!

Aspen Mountain Gondolas


There are endless ways to spend your time in Aspen, and you can’t go wrong choosing any of them!  In fact, maybe you’ll need multiple visits to do everything you want :). Here are some of my personal favorites: 

1) FOR SURE explore the Maroon Bells. The stunning twin peaks are two of the most photographed mountains in North America. You can drive up super early in the morning, or you can ride the shuttle from the bottom all day long.

If you’re REALLY adventurous, you could try this bucket list hike from Crested Butte all the way to Aspen!  It’s on our list to tackle one of these days – we can’t wait!

2) Walk around town for AMAZING shopping, including Ralph Lauren, Dior, Kemo Sabe (pictured below on the right), and more.

Shopping in Aspen, CO

3) Get a treat at  Paradise Bakery. Their ice cream & cookies are AMAZING!

Paradise Bakery Aspen CO

4) Check out the ropes course, zip lining & skating at Lost Forest at the top of Snowmass mountain.

5) Play Frisbee golf and hike around at the top of Aspen Mountain (more specific hike recs in the next section!). is an amazing site for all the activities and booking tickets that are needed. 

6) Go paddle boarding on the East Aspen River. 

7) Catch a concert at the Music tent.

8) Rent bikes and bike to Woody Creek Tavern, have a marg & even a meal and decide if you want to bike or Uber back. 😊

9) Play in the park by John Denver Sanctuary.

Aspen Guide


It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid hiker or a complete novice; there’s a trail for everyone in Aspen!  Here are my top recommendations:

1) Smuggler is one of the more popular ones, might be pretty crowded, but amazing views and wide trails make it worth it.

2) Ute Trail:  This one and smuggler are both great if you’re looking for a fast up and down trail.

3) Lower Hunter Creek Trail is a 1.7 mile out and back trail, or you can go for the full 8.9 mile Hunter Creek Trail.

4) Hike up Aspen Mountain and take the gondola back down.

5) East of Aspen Trail – This is one of my absolute favorites to run. It’s very flat, but the views are AMAZING!!

6) The Rio Grande Trail is on the other side of town from East Aspen. It’s also SO beautiful and SUPER easy to run.  It’s actually the starting point for biking to Wood Creek.

Aspen Guide

Where to Hike in Aspen


Great eating on a vacation is a MUST, and one of the easiest, best ways to get to know the city.  Check out any or all of these restaurants. You won’t be disappointed!! 

1) Acquolina

This is one of Joe’s favorites! The entire restaurant is lined with their liquors and they have one of the most extensive lists of alcohol we have ever seen in a restaurant!  The food is AMAZING! It doesn’t get any better than that!

Acquolina in Aspen CO

2) Steakhouse 316 is just PERFECTION.

3) Casa D’Angelo for an incredible Italian meal.

4) Betula

5) White House Tavern is awesome for a casual meal.

6) Hotel Jerome: J-Bar, The Living Room or Bad Harriet for a drink. You absolutely have to get the Aspen Crud!

7) Try Hotel Jerome’s garden patio (pictured below) for lunch with a view and an amazing burger.

8) Hotel Jerome Prospect for THE best breakfast! 

9) If you want to buy a membership, The Caribou Club is a MUST for dinner or drinks! You will never go hungry or eat poorly in this gorgeous mountain town!

Aspen Guide

Kelly’s Favorite Things

One thing that I can not get enough of and will always recommend, is framed art to display in all your favorite places!  If you love these photos of Aspen, you can visit my Art Gallery store to see more travel photos from fabulous places, and even purchase them for yourself here!

Mountain Biking in Aspen


As promised, click here to download my complete guide to all things Aspen.

Aspen Engagement Session

Featured Aspen Engagement Session

It only seems right to feature more gorgeousness from Aspen. I have to share Jordan & Jonathan’s beautiful summer engagement session.  You can find it right here!

Hopefully, you’ll love these Aspen tips as much as I loved putting them together in this guide!  If you do head to Aspen, write me back and let me know what you think – I’d love to hear! 

Now you know what they say…the mountains are calling and I must go :). Always dreaming of my next Aspen trip!




share this post: