Aspen, also known as heaven on earth, provides the perfect escape for Oklahoman’s for summer vacations or a long weekend. With our much cooler summer temperatures than Oklahoma, it’s easy to understand why. Summer is truly the best time to be in Aspen. When asked which season I like best, I used to answer like a Buddhist and say: the season I’m in. But then, I realized if I was honest, I love summer the best. I love the long sunny days and the warmth of the sun, I love that it’s still cool enough in the morning to enjoy my morning fires and then be able to lunch outside in the beautiful garden patios of some of the best dining in the world. Maybe the best thing about Aspen to an Oklahoman? You can leave your mosquito spray behind.
Yes, Aspen is known for our stellar mountains and skiing, and it’s the perfect escape for Oklahoman’s when the summer temps hit the 90’s and 100’s. For Oklahoman’s who like to be outside in the warmer months, you’ll love being able to hike in the afternoons, bike, river raft, play golf and tennis, and enjoy endless musical events and concerts. Continue reading to find out why Aspen should be high on Oklahomans’ travel list.
Oklahomans’ love their BBQ, and there are plenty of BBQ restaurants and specialty dishes to enjoy all over town.
When you’re craving some BBQ, Home Team BBQ is nestled under Buttermilk Mountain, just two miles from town. This restaurant draws out the locals who never travel past the round-about and has hit a home run. Their five homemade BBQ sauces can be smothered over any of their slow-roasted pulled sandwiches, plates or platters. In the true tradition, you can order two or three meat platters. A must-try is also their finger-licking ribs.
From its opening, there’ve been lines out the door. Fresh homemade buns make every sandwich over the top, and every gluten-free eater slightly jealous. While the consensus favors the chicken sandwich, my favorite is the French Dip. As an Oklahoman in Aspen, look for their Hickory Burger, that rotates throughout their daily specials. Splurge on the fries and consider yourself lucky if you’re there on a day they have their Carnitas Sandwich. For us gluten-free eaters, you can ask for a “lettuce bun,” and it’s still delicious. First come, first serve, no reservations.
While there’s no BBQ here, it’s always busy. This no-reservations restaurant also has a marketplace where you can get fresh super clean, (their words) cheeses, charcuteries, groceries, or roasted chicken for your Airbnb. Chances are you’ll see me popping in here at the end of the day for a half chicken for my honey.
The menu changes seasonally and is always fresh with its own unique twist, such as the tofu lentil bolognese. You’ll want to get there early for the “taco of the day.” which can run the gamut of fish to Korean tacos. Their steak boards and Vietnamese Chicken Salad are both super popular. No reservations either, first come, first serve.
This is my favorite place for breakfast and lunch. With their beautiful garden patio, my girlfriends and I don’t even ask where we’re meeting. You can’t go wrong with the Huevos Rancheros, which will fuel you up for your hike. Feeling like you need a lighter start to the day? Try the avocado toast. Reservations aren’t necessary, but I always make them, just in case.
This often-overlooked restaurant is another one of my go to’s, not only because the view is to die for with its floor to ceiling window overlooking Aspen to Buttermilk Mountain but also because you can always find parking. A huge plus in Aspen. Also, because it’s not on the radar, and in the west end of town, last-minute reservations are usually not a problem. Menus change seasonally. The architectural decor is in the clean modern Bauhaus style. Reservations are suggested.
THINGS TO DO WHILE ON VACATION IN ASPEN
Here are a few “Must Do’s”, and a couple that are under the radar.
When it’s a hot summer day, and you need a break from the heat, call the Smuggler Mine and go on a tour. It’s always a cool 50 some degrees in the mine. Make sure not to wear your flip flops if your toes get cold quickly. Each tour is different depending on who your tour guide is.
Call (970) 925-2049 for information or to schedule a tour.
What summer vacation would be a vacation without a little water? Be sure to pack your swimsuits and spend a day in their pools, water slide, lazy river, and family swim area. Your kids’ can also partake in their summer camp, leaving you all day to do your own thing, like maybe a massage or facial? See the next section for more details.
Speaking of massage and facials—with all the hiking, biking, golfing and outside activities, your body is bound to get sore and your skin dry from the high altitude. That’s when, me, Pila and my Heaven on Earth Day and Medi Spa come to the rescue. My From Head to Toe (50-minute massage and 40-minute oxygen facial) and The More Than Skin Deep, (30-minute massage and 60-minute oxygen facial) are my most requested spa packages and highly rated on Google and Yelp. When you’re traveling from high humidity to arid aspen, you feel like you’ve aged overnight and my deeply hydrating, custom-tailored oxygen facial will come to your rescue. Be sure to visit my Online Shop for amazing skin-care products!
Learn more about Heaven on Earth services and contact me to schedule your spa recovery day.
Being an Aspen resident, I feel the museum is transformative in that I feel like I’ve stepped into New York City, without ever having to step on a plane. Their rooftop, open-air café, So, has unobstructed views of Aspen Mountain, making it one of the best places for lunch. If you’re here at the right time, you might even catch the (Buddhist) monks creating their sand mandalas.
Oklahomans love their Garth Brooks and country music, and while he hasn’t been here yet, we’ve had Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and The Zac Brown Band grace our stages. This year Eric Church, Stevie Nicks, Kings of Leon and Maren Morris will be playing this Labor Day Weekend.
Aspen summer camps will get your kids making new friends, forgetting their iPads and into new ideas and experiences.
Ajax Adventure Camp offers day camps and overnight trips for kids to enjoy activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, archery, camping, arts and crafts, and much more over a nine-week period from June 12 to Aug. 13. Last year I had guests whose children went here, and they had a true, away from home summer camp experience.
ACES Youth camps are experiences for youth grades K – 12, teaching them there is a natural connection between earth and nature. Their programs turn the Aspen environment into a classroom that is fun, educational, builds friendships and is both exciting and educational. Summer programs are based on environmental science education with outdoor exploration that promotes awareness and spread knowledge about our impact on the environment.
This spot makes the list twice. You can spend the day with your kids here, or you can drop them off at their summer camp and have the day to yourself, knowing that your children are having the best time of their lives. Kids will enjoy a wide range of activities such as educational activities, rock wall climbing, painting, and swimming and more. Your kids will come home ready for a nap!
The Aspen Art Museum offers week-long workshops for kids who are four to 14. Hands-on projects, performances, group discussions, and off-site field trips are led by professional artists and educators to guide the children through concept and material exploration.
Formerly, Aspen T.R.E.E. (Together Regenerating The Environment Through Education) The Farm Collaborative offers kids ages six to 11 to interact with farmyard activities, explore gardens and farmlands, discover nature and participate in activities that build community.
Here are a few more of my favorites to make your trip easy and memorable
Favorite Hike in town: Hunter Creek Trail – Smuggler is by far the social hangout, but if you really want to get into nature, go for the Hunter Creek Trail. You can walk to it from town and the beginning of it is covered and next to the river. You can make it as longer by looping over and hiking down Smuggler Mountain or simply turn around.
Favorite Nail Artist and Up-Do Artist: Cheyenne at Full Circle (970) 923-3302 Getting your nails done is getting harder and harder in Aspen. Just Caddy Corner from Heaven on Earth, Cheyenne always does a profesh job and you’ll leave with pretty, shiny nails. Cheyenne is also a bridal makeup artist and does the most beautiful up-dos.
Best Colorist and Blow Out: Kelly at The Hillz Salon (310) 776-0920.
When you’re Asian, and you get your hair colored blonde, and everyone tells you: “It looks natural”, you know you’ve got the best colorist.
Best Bang Trim: Emily at M Salon (970) 925-3605 Sometimes you don’t need an overhaul, just a little trim to help out your selfies. All my girlfriends rave about Emily’s bang trims.
Favorite Place to Shop: Souchi – Women’s Knitware Brand in Aspen – Suzi knows jeans, and knows how to fit them on you. Don’t get hung up on the size and be willing to go down or up a size or two, you’ll be surprised to find the fit perfect for you and your body type. Souchi is just across the way from me, so if you come with a friend, while one is getting a massage or facial, the other can be having fun shopping.
Pila’s Online Classes
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