Mountain Paradise: 48 Hours in Aspen

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For folks considering a bit more mud, Aspen is a haven for two-wheeled off-road adventure and boasts hundreds of miles of single-track beginning directly from town. Beginners can hit Lincoln Creek Road, a bumpy, rolling dirt road with beautiful river views around every corner. At the end, a spectacular high-alpine valley. For something a bit more challenging, try the Smuggler-Hunter Creek Loop, which goes past the ruins of a few deserted mining cabins.

Bikes can be rented at Hub of Aspen or Ute City Cycles (231 E. Main St.)

For the truly adventurous, the famed 10th Mountain Hut Division manages a system of 29 backcountry huts in Colorado, connected by 350 miles of suggested routes, many of which offer amazing mountain bike treks.

Finally, for history buffs, the Aspen Historical Society offers 90-minute bike tours through town, touching on the area's mining past.

Aspen Nightlife

After a full day out about town, there are plenty of great meal options to satiate your hunger.

The pinnacle -- although not the cheapest -- of Aspen's dinner options is Montagna, an elegant restaurant in the opulent Little Nell hotel under the direction of executive chef Ryan Hardy, a 2008 James Beard nominee for Best Chef in the Southwest. Hardy grows produce and raises livestock on his 15-acre Rendezvous Farm and the chicken pate must not be missed.

The bar menu Cache Cache is a favorite among Aspen locals looking for a bit more down-to-earth fare. The main dining room features French bistro-style cuisine and an elegant yet comfortable ambience.

Kenichi is a popular sushi den that is known as a place to see and be seen. A global twist is added to the standard sushi favorites.

After dinner, head to the historic Wheeler Opera House, which features comedy acts, live music and a diverse roster of independent films.

Cap off dinner with a legendary local drink.

For more than a century, the J-Bar at the historic Hotel Jerome has been one of the town's favorite watering holes. Like many bars across America, the J-Bar was converted to a soda fountain during Prohibition. At that time it's now famous "Aspen Crud" -- a vanilla milkshake with a few shots of bourbon mixed in-- was invented. It's not only tasty but historic.

Getting to Aspen

Flying into Aspen's tiny airport is easy but can be costly. But baggage claim and ground transportation are just steps from your jet. Flights can also be found to Eagle County Airport or Denver International Airport.

Aspen Hotels

Finding a place to rest your head is not necessarily going to be cheap. The Little Nell has set the standard for luxury in town for years and has been recently renovated. Aspen is also home to a St. Regis and Park Hyatt. For something a bit different and slightly more affordable, consider Kimpton's Sky Hotel. On Main Street is the historic Hotel Jerome. Over at Snowmass Village, the new Viceroy is adding a bit of hip South Beach style to the ski slopes. Don't expect the hotel manager here to be in a suit -- instead he wears a tight black T-shirt.

Budget travelers should consider the Aspen Mountain Lodge, the Molly Gibson Lodge or Hotel Aspen. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone and try to get a better rate.

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