Illustration by Julia Rothman
Typically known for its stellar slopes, Aspen has become a cultural hot spot. Today we take a tour of Aspen with local Kathleen Wanatowicz. Kathleen is the owner of PR Studio, an Aspen-based communications business specializing in public relations for the built environment. Kathleen’s inner passion for interior design, poetry and contemporary art is evident in this wonderful guide full of shops, museums and eateries. Thanks to Kathleen for enlightening us about this beautiful mountain city! — Stephanie
CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!
Everyone from jet-setters to jet-laggers flock to Aspen for its serenity, seclusion, world-class skiing and undeniable culture and style. All of this, mixed with the messy vitality of the town’s eclectic shopping and dining, make for a vacation cocktail to write home about. The Aspen design guide starts on the edge of town, just across from the free-admission Aspen Art Museum (www.aspenartmuseum.org) at the locally owned and operated Aspen Brewery. Forget Gatorade — in Aspen, only a mirco-brew can quench the thirsts of hard-hitting motor-cross and mountain-bikers after a day “on the hill.” Aspen is surrounded by the natural beauty of the White River Forest. Nearby Snowmass Village is an outdoor dreamland, and Anderson Ranch Arts Center (www.andersonranch.org) in the center of town hosts weekly “auctionettes,” where art students from all over the world donate pieces for mini-auctions.
LivAspenArt (http://www.livaspenart.com): Part gallery, part artist cooperative, this spot features large, colorful landscape and still-life paintings that are bold and beautiful.
David Floria (http://www.floriagallery.com/): I always feel at home here. David will educate every customer in the latest in contemporary art with his expert talent for showcasing the work of up-and-coming artists.
Paris Underground (http://parisunderground.com/store/): Flashback to mid-century Paris — this interiors store is to die for. Hard-to-find lighting fixtures, lamps and furniture are displayed with an expert eye for design.
The Gallerie (http://gallerieaspen.com/): The place to shop for the go-to dress, outfit and menswear for Aspen’s nightlife. Owned by an adorable husband-and-wife team.
Re-cycle Art (http://recycleartaspen.com/index.html): Handcrafted bikes remade with style and alotta love. The trend for alternative transportation is finally catching on with style.
Henry Beguelin Showroom (http://www.henrybeguelin.it/pagine/usa.php): Handmade leather goods, furniture and accessories. There are only four showrooms in the US and this one is a piece of Italy in the heart of cowboy country. You can find Henry Beguelin behind Mezzaluna.
James Perse (http://www.jamesperse.com/Biography.do): Rather new to the Aspen scene, this is a great place to find design items, other than clothes.
J.Crew on The Mountain Concept Store (http://www.yelp.com/biz/j-crew-aspen): Not your average J.Crew concept mountain store. There are no sale prices on items, so shoppers beware.
Von Freytag (http://www.yelp.com/biz/vonfreytag-aspen): Owner Giselle Leal travels around the globe during the off-season to collect one-of-a-kind vintage clothing and accessories. This is not a consignment store, but if you’re looking for a cocktail dress with international influence and high style, this is the location.
Aspen Thrift Store (http://www.yelp.com/biz/aspen-thrift-store-aspen): When Aspen cleans out its closet, we all benefit. I once found a vintage lamp by an Italian designer for $2. There are no prices listed on items. You bring your finds to the front and they tell you how much they are. Don’t argue, as all proceeds benefit local non-profit organizations.
Berko (http://www.ferencberko.com): Granddaughter of pioneer photographer Fernec Berko, Mirta Mallory will take you on a tour of the Berko exhibit at the Aspen Meadows.
Aspen Poets Society (http://www.aspenpoetsociety.com): On the last Sunday of each month, amateur and published authors come to share, listen to and read poetry in the Hotel Lenado lobby.
No decisions necessary — for a flavor montage of Aspen, sign up for a Foodie Food Tour (www.foodiefoodtours.com). You will be guided to a variety of Aspen’s most beloved and unique eateries; enjoy tastings at each stop, meet many local restaurant owners/chefs and learn why Aspen’s history makes it such a special destination.
Woody Creek Tavern (http://www.woodycreektavern.com/): Sort of hard to find, but I’m sure Hunter S. Thompson wanted it that way. The tavern is a historical site, reminiscent of the old railroad days, but now a cast of characters own the restaurant and infamous people of the past have left their mark.
Explore Bookstore & Café (http://www.explorebooksellers.com/): Vegetarian restaurant and bookstore that is so special, it was purchased by a local investor to save the shop from closing. The upstairs café was recently remodeled and natural light fills the room. It’s the perfect place to dive into a new read.
Peach’s Corner Café (http://www.peachscornercafe.com/): By far the best people-watching location in Aspen. Situated across from City Hall, Peach’s offers fresh pastries, salads and paninis. Local artists’ works hang on the walls, including pieces by die-hard hunk Karl Wolfgang (http://www.karlwolfgang.com).
Specialty Foods of Aspen (http://www.specialtyfoodsofaspen.com): Locals call it the “Cheese Shop.” Kiley, the Holy Mother of Cheese and owner makes the best charcuterie board west of France, featuring a selection of specialty meats and pates adorned with cornichons and olives.
Wild Fig & Lulu Wilson (http://www.thewildfig.com/press.php?start=6): Mediterranean cuisine with a nightly pasta special. Located across from the Wheeler Opera house. The outdoor patio is delightful in the summer.
Little Annie’s (http://www.littleannies.com/): Comfort food in its simplest form, including potato latkes, plus crazy locals at the bar. I once saw my favorite actor Eugene Levy chowing down.
Dark Horse Alley (http://www.yelp.com/biz/dark-horse-alley-cafe-aspen): This espresso cart brings the beautiful atrium plaza of the historic Ute City Bank Building to life. Serves baguette sandwiches and salads with uniquely inspired ingredients.