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Après Ski Plans: What To Do Off the Slopes in 5 Famous Ski Destinations

March 14, 2019

Whether you’re setting your sights on the 2022 Winter Olympics or just hoping to conquer the bunny hill before spring, there are only a few weeks of ski season left for winter sports lovers. Before we say farewell to fresh powder, we’re hoping to squeeze in one or two more ski weekends—and the towns below are at the top of our list. Why? Because they offer up a wealth of things to do after your last run of the day. Grab your friends and make some après ski plans with our recommendations for what to eat, drink, and see in five of America’s favorite ski towns.

Jackson, WY

Home to three incredibly popular resorts—Jackson Hole, Snow King, and Grand Targhee—Jackson has certainly earned its reputation as one of the country’s quintessential ski destinations. But this classic Western town has lots more in store for animal lovers, nature enthusiasts, and foodies alike.

Get energized for a day on the slopes with a morning pit stop at Cowboy Coffee Co. When dinnertime rolls around, book a table at Glorietta for elevated yet comforting Italian dishes. If you’d prefer heartier fare that’s a bit more casual, head to dinner at Sidewinders (don’t miss out on the pretzels served with pizza-style toppings!).

You can’t leave Jackson without saddling up for a drink at the iconic Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, where genuine Western saddles serve as barstools. Cocktail lovers should head to the Four Seasons for elegant drinks at The Handle Bar, while beer aficionados can end their day with a pint at Snake River Brewing, Wyoming’s oldest brewery.

Jackson is the perfect launching pad for visits to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park, which you see without the summer crowds by booking a seasonal snowcoach or snowmobile tour. Nature lovers will also enjoy a sleigh ride through the nearby National Elk Refuge. When you’re ready to warm up indoors, swing by the National Museum of Wildlife Art to see iconic Western animals through the eyes of acclaimed painters and sculptors.

Yellowstone National Park in Jackson Wyoming
Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. Photo credit: Taha / Adobe Stock

Waitsfield, VT

Situated in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, Waitsfield is home to Sugarbush Ski Resort—and equidistant from both Killington and Stowe. Skiing is the main attraction in the valley during the winter months, but Waitsfield is also full of old-fashioned New England charm.

American Flatbread is a can’t-miss for pizza lovers (and a great way to load up on carbs before another day at Sugarbush!). Spice things up with Mexican fare at The Mad Taco, or drive a few minutes to the tiny town of Warren for fine dining at the historic Pitcher Inn.

Sample a wide variety of local beers and wines—plus cheeses and other artisan bites—at Mad River Taste Place. If you’re in the mood for a field trip, take a brewery tour at Woodchuck Cider, about 50 minutes away. Closer to home, stop by the bar at Peasant for cocktail hour. (P.S. Don’t leave town without a six-pack of Heady Topper, the beloved IPA from Stowe’s Alchemist brewery.)

You may not be thinking of ice cream during a ski vacation, but there’s never a bad time for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Luckily, the famed ice cream factory is only 25 minutes from Waitsfield. We also recommend a shopping trip at the incredibly quaint Warren Store, paired with a detour to see one of Vermont’s famous covered bridges.

Covered bridges in Vermont
Covered bridge in Vermont. Photo credit: Mariamichelle / Pixabay

Telluride, CO

Colorado is full of incredible ski towns, but we especially love the old-school Western charm of Telluride. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the town is surrounded by the towering 14,000-foot peaks of the San Juan Mountains, either.

Catch a ride to dinner with an unbeatable view at Allred’s, perched atop Telluride’s gondola ski lift, or splash out for a seasonally inspired prix fixe menu at La Marmotte (located in a century-old icehouse). For something more casual, drop in for a slice at Brown Dog Pizza, winner of the 2015 Pizza World Championships.

Head straight from the mountain for a well-deserved après ski drink at Telluride Brewing Company, which has been crafting award-winning beers since 2011. Keep things casual and join the locals at the Last Dollar Saloon, browse the deep wine list at The Parlor Bar, or stay up late for cocktails and dancing at Liberty Bar and Lounge.

History buffs will enjoy a stop at the Telluride Historical Museum, which showcases the town’s gold-mining roots as well as the heritage of the region’s Ute Native American tribe. Packed with Victorian charm, Telluride’s gallery-filled streets are also worth an evening stroll—the town itself is a designated National Historic Landmark District.

San Juan Mountains in Telluride Colorado
View of the San Juan Mountains in Telluride. Photo credit: Ehiris / Wikimedia Commons

Taos, NM

New Mexico might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of skiing, which is exactly why we love Taos! The Sangre de Cristo Mountains—a subrange of the Rockies—offer up world-class powder without the crowds of Colorado and Utah resorts, while the town itself is rich in great cuisine and unique cultural heritage.

Get a taste of New Mexico with tacos at La Cueva Café, or nachos and margaritas at Adobe Bar. If you prefer something cozier after a day on the mountain, enjoy upscale and locally sourced dishes at The Love Apple, where you’ll dine inside a century-old adobe chapel.

Head to the cleverly-named Parcht to snack on wine, cheese, and charcuterie for an après ski pick-me-up. Beer lovers shouldn’t miss Taos Mesa Brewing, which is also the ideal place to catch a southwestern sunset. If you have an afternoon to spare, visit the nearby Black Mesa Winery for a tour and tasting.

The town is home to Taos Pueblo, a World Heritage Site of adobe dwellings that have been continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years. Taos is also ideal for art lovers, offering up the Taos Art Museum, Harwood Museum of Art, and more. If you prefer something a bit more futuristic, plan a visit to Earthship, where you can tour experimental dwellings powered by passive, sustainable energy sources.

Taos Pueblo adobe buildings a World Heritage Site
Adobe building in Taos Pueblo. Photo credit: Elisa Rolle / Wikimedia Commons

Bend, OR

Because it receives a whopping 400 inches of snow each winter, Bend is one of the premiere ski destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Once you’ve come down from the slopes of Mount Bachelor, the town is also a paradise for beer lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Bend is something of a foodie mecca, so there’s no shortage of places to make a reservation once you’ve hung up your skis for the night. Ariana leads the pack for fine dining, but you’ll find a wide array of global flavors, too. Try out Spork for dishes with a Peruvian influence, 5 Fusion & Sushi bar for Japanese fare from James Beard semifinalist Joe Kim, or Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails for Louisiana cooking with a twist.

Bend has earned the nickname “Beer Town, USA,” so you can probably imagine the local libation of choice; visit 10 Barrel Brewing Co. or Crux Fermentation Project to sample some hometown favorites. Don’t despair, spirits fans—The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin and The Stihl Whiskey Bar have you covered, too.

Take advantage of Bend’s unique location in Oregon’s high desert to check out two remarkable natural sights: Newberry National Volcanic Monument and the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area. If it’s too cold to explore the parks, you can also visit the High Desert Museum, which showcases the region’s history alongside native animals like porcupines, otters, bobcats, and badgers. In town, trek along the Bend Ale Trail or just stop by Deschutes Brewery for an insider’s tour.

Crux Fermentation Project brewery in Bend Oregon
Crux Fermentation Project tasting room. Photo credit: Crux Fermentation Project

Headed for the mountains soon? Take along your favorite shades and tag us with #KnocksOnTheSlopes to be featured!

Written by Caroline Lees for Knockaround.

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