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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Bypass the Crowds in Vail


5. Oddball Day

Admire Impressionist paintings at Big Sky Studios and visit the outdoor art park at Aspen Meadows.  

In snowy months, Aspen can be a nerve-wracking drive, but in the fall, it’s an easy (and scenic) 90-minute trip. Though Vail has upped its glam quotient in the past couple of years, this sister city is still the place to shop and soak up some culture. Start with coffee and an extra-large sticky bun at Main Street Bakery & Cafe, where morning regulars trade local gossip (201 E. Main St.; 970-925-6446). Then shop for some real-deal cowboy boots—made of everything from calfskin to hippo hide—and a custom Stetson at Kemo Sabe. Peruse local artist Tania Dibbs’s vibrant Impressionist landscape paintings at Big Sky Studio. Then head to Aspen Meadows, a Bauhaus-designed resort with a scenic outdoor art park, open through November. Standouts include Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone River, a winding red sandstone wall, and Matthias Goeritz’s Big Dipper, a constellation of star-shaped pillars. Finally, stop for dinner and drinks at Little Nell’s Ajax Tavern, an indoor-outdoor restaurant with sweeping views of Aspen Mountain and a famously decadent cheeseburger, paired with truffle French fries.

Published on Oct 7, 2010 as a web exclusive.

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