The Rite-of-Passage Weekend
Playtime: Any trip to Aspen is an opportunity for world-class skiing and dining, but an escape to the outlying Pine Creek Cookhouse combines the best of both. The gourmet-dining destination sits tucked into the base of the Elk Mountains, just 11 miles outside of Aspen. For dinner, you'll strap on a miner's headlamp and cross-country skis to make your way through 1.5 miles of subalpine-valley terrain to a log-cabin cookhouse in the heart of the Ashcroft Ski Touring area. Once there, you'll dine on porcini-dusted elk, Jack Daniel's-marinated caribou, rainbow trout, and more. If skiing or snowshoeing to dinner isn't your idea of a good time, a horse-drawn sleigh will deliver you to the cabin's doorstep.
Downtime: Aspen needs little introduction; however, if you've never spent a wintery evening wandering along the twinkle-light-lined streets of this iconic mountain town, it's time to rethink your après-ski plans. A late-night stop at the venerable Popcorn Wagon (970-925-2718) is a rite of passage for Coloradans (get a gyro or a sweet crêpe). So too is grabbing a nightcap at the J-Bar in the Hotel Jerome . Or search the stacks at Explore Booksellers. Housed in a sprawling old Victorian on Main Street, the landmark bookstore has old creaky floors, an aroma of freshly brewed coffee (there's a coffeeshop on the main level), and a pervasive stay-all-day-if-you-like vibe that makes you want to spend the afternoon. And with a full bistro located upstairs, you can munch on tasty vegetarian fare or sip from a glass of organic wine while you read.
Stay the Night: Hole up in one of the Limelight Lodge's casitas (reserve the deluxe variety if you can), where couples can take advantage of a spacious living area with fireplace, a secluded location, and easy access to the on-site hot tubs and heated pool. Don't forget to bring snacks (each casita has a kitchen) and a bottle of wine—and plastic cups—for a hot tub-side beverage.