4 Tips for Group Vacations in Aspen

Photo by Jeremy Swanson

From hiking Rio Grande Park to getting together for dinner at Kenichi, these are the best activities for groups on vacation in Aspen, as suggested by Sonya Haushalter, concierge at The Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands.


Breakfast Bites

John Denver Sanctuary (Photo by Paul Iwancio)
John Denver Sanctuary (Photo by Paul Iwancio)

“I would start with breakfast at Main Street Bakery, a longtime mom-and-pop joint with the best eggs Benedict,” Haushalter says. Served until noon on weekends, breakfast at this bakery consists of omelets, pancakes, French toast and a “Ben-Addiction” section with six different variations of eggs Benedict. After breakfast, “walk it off … by strolling through the John Denver Sanctuary and inspiring rock gardens next to Theatre Aspen.” Located in the northeast corner of Rio Grande Park, the memorial features a slew of boulders engraved with the lyrics of Denver’s songs, as well as a vast perennial flower garden. (Main Street Bakery: 201 E. Main St.; 970-925-6446) (John Denver Sanctuary: Rio Grande Place and Mill Street; 970-920-5120; aspenrecreation.com)


Troop Trek

Woody Creek Tavern (Photo by May Selby)
Woody Creek Tavern (Photo by May Selby)

“Next, rent a bike and take a ride down the Rio Grande Trail to Woody Creek Tavern, an eclectic restaurant that longtime local, Hunter S. Thompson, used to frequent,” Haushalter says. Stop into Aspen Velo, a full-service bike shop to rent mountain bikes (four hours for $32) or road bikes (four hours for $45). Pass by Maroon and Brush creeks on the scenic 8-mile ride up Rio Grande before arriving at Woody Creek Tavern, a mountain lodge decked out with colored Christmas lights. “It’s a cash-only establishment best known for [its] margaritas—split the nachos while you’re at it,” Haushalter suggests. After lunch, “ride the 8 miles back to Aspen or take a taxi back,” Haushalter recommends. “There are taxis waiting at the tavern for this reason.”  (Aspen Velo: 465 N. Mill St., Ste. 19; 970-925-1495; aspenvelo.com) (Woody Creek Tavern: 2858 Upper River Rd.; 970-923-4585; woodycreektavern.com)


Majestic Mountains

Maroon Bells (Photo by Jeremy Swanson)
Maroon Bells (Photo by Jeremy Swanson)

For an afternoon excursion together, Haushalter suggests going to the Maroon Bells, just 10 miles from Aspen. “The lighting is best in the morning, but truth be told, [the Maroon Bells] are beautiful no matter what time of day or year,” Haushalter says. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer, this mountain range can only be accessed by the public bus—which departs from Aspen Highlands—but groups are welcome to drive their own cars before or after for a $10 fee. Buses depart every half hour and tickets can be purchased for $6 (or $3 on Wednesdays) inside Four Mountain Sports. (Four Mountain Sports: 970-544-3013; aspensnowmass.com)


Out to Dinner

“I would wrap up this exhausting yet exhilarating day with a sushi dinner at Kenichi,” Haushalter recommends. “They offer a great menu and lively ambiance, with plenty of non-sushi items for those who aren’t into eating raw fish.” The menu features a variety of specialty and house rolls, as well as a selection of sashimi that includes Aspen-style whitefish. An extensive wine list and one of the largest sake catalogues in the country complement Executive Chef Kenichi Kanada’s impressive dishes for the perfect space to swap stories after an active day out on the road. (533 E. Hopkins Ave., Ste. 2; 970-920-2212; kenichiaspen.com)


—Written by Kristin Lee Jensen