Winter In Wyoming
Where to Stay:
As a Florida girl, my first thought was, “Why on Earth would I want to spend a week in wintery cold weather when NYC is freezing.” Well, that quickly changed the minute I stepped off the plane in Jackson. To start, the Jackson Airport is the only airport in the world located in a National Park. If it wasn’t for the low visibility we had due to the snow, you’d be able to look out your window and see the Grand Teton peaks. We deplaned into the snow an entered the famous antler archway to baggage claim (where I was told on some days there is a welcoming committee handing out mimosas!). I waited for my sister to arrive and then we headed into town to start our week of adventure!
Our first stop was checking into our hotel downtown at the SpringHill Suites Jackson Hole. As one of the newest hotels in town, it is appointed with modern and spacious rooms, free breakfast (complete with delicious waffles!), a 24 hour fitness room, and a heated pool and hot tub that was perfect to come home to after a day on the slopes. They were kind enough to host us the first three nights of our stay and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting the area.
If you are visiting for skiing, they offer a free shuttle to Teton Village in the morning and a return shuttle in the afternoon as well. If you’re coming to Jackson for the food and shopping, this is your place. Conveniently located, you’re just a short walk away from all of the dining, shopping, ice skating, and fun nightlife that downtown Jackson has to offer.
As a second option I would suggest the Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa. Also located downtown, this boutique resort has a small, country cozy vibe. Case in point, the hot tea & coffee put out in the library each afternoon, a cozy teddy bear that greats you on your bed at check-in, and a on-site AAA four diamond restaurant. My favorite highlights were the hot tub, the warm fire in our room, and the assortment of board games in the library to occupy our afternoons.
What to do:
There is no shortage of activities for the whole family to enjoy in Jackson, Wyoming. You definitely won’t be bored if you’re not a skier, though apparently this is some of the best skiing in the country. On our second day in Jackson we set out with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris on a full day tour of the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park. We left early in the morning and 30 minutes into our journey we saw a wolf running along a ridge. Apparently this is a HUGE DEAL in Jackson. People can live here for years without seeing a wolf so I felt very lucky, even if it was too far away to photograph.
Next we drove down a road and got right up close and personal with these moose. They were probably 15-20 feet away from us and being able to see how big they were in person was truly incredible. It’s not too often that this city girl gets to experience wildlife (apart from subway rats and pigeons) so I was in total awe.
You’ve got to be up for anything on this trip. We heard there was an otter down by this creek so we had to trek down through snow about waist deep to see this little guy for only a few seconds. Definitely bring your zoom lens, a good pair of high snow boots, and dress warmly. Because after lunch and a tour of the National Museum of Wildlife Art, you’ll be heading out to the National Elk Refuge for a sleigh ride to get up close to the elk. You’ll learn all about the elk, the refuge, and so much more. The horses may have stole the show for me. Ours were named Thunder and Lightning and they were the sweetest!
The highlight of the day for me happened at the very end of our tour. We drove out a ways to see the Big Horned Sheep. There were maybe 100 or so on the mountain and it was a very cool sight to see. But it had been a long day and I was tired so I went back to the car to rest after I snapped a few pictures. Of course, the moment we buckled up, all the sheep came running down off the mountain and crossed the street right in front of us. They were maybe 8 feet away and there were so many babies! It honestly felt like I was in an episode of Planet Earth. So my tip is have patience and be ready for anything.
Of course I can’t talk to you about Jackson without mentioning the skiing. As I’ve said before, Jackson is known to be one the best and hardest mountains with plenty of beyond-expert ability terrain and 40 degree slopes. A lot of the other tourists we met scoffed when we said this was going to be our first time skiing since we were 7 and 8 years old. Luckily for us, we were set up with an amazing ski instructor named Sylvia who had us feeling confident in no time. We never quite made it off the bunny hill and there were plenty of 3 year olds literally skiing circles around us, but I still had the best day and can’t wait to hit the slopes again!
My sister and I had also planned on doing a dogsledding adventure but we just couldn’t make it work with everything else we wanted to do. Plus, I’m excited to save something new to do for the next time I visit (and this time I’m going to bring the whole family!). But I’ve heard really great things about the trip so check them out here.
Teton Village is also full of fun activities for the family to enjoy. Cozy up by a fire, play knights and princesses in the ice castle and take a turn on the beautifully lit ice rink. The man who ran it was so kind and even tried to help us ice skate backwards (I still can’t figure out how to make it work).
where to shop:
If skiing and nature aren’t for you, downtown offers plenty of great places to pop in and explore during the day. We got the following recommendations from a local on where to shop in the area (for more than just souvenirs too!):
where to eat:
Now, this finally brings us to my favorite part….the food! I was really impressed with the quality and freshness of everything we had on our trip. My only regret is that I didn’t take more pictures for you guys but to be honest, I was so hungry after skiing and all of our adventures that I just dug right in. But here is everywhere we ate and some menu standouts you have to try.
- Persephone’s Bakery – I definitely suggest getting the chocolate chip cookie (and at least 6 to take home with you) and the carrot salad. It’s also a great place to pop in if you just want a coffee.
- Palate – Located in the National Museum of Wildlife Art, this spot has a view of the National Elk Refuge so you can watch these amazing creatures graze as you enjoy your lunch. I ordered the Kale Salad – which may sound boring but it tasted amazing! My sister also recommends the Pork Belly BLT if you’re looking for something heartier.
- Piste Mountain Bistro – Take the Bridger Gondola to 9,095′ and enjoy your lunch with a view of the entire valley of Jackson Hole. We took a noon break from skiing to refuel here and it did not disappoint. It was also crazy to watch the smaller kids go off this ski trail! I had the Rosemary Chicken French Dip sandwich which was super delicious and don’t skip out of the confit duck wings. I could have honestly eaten 15 of those by myself.
- Spur – We ate dinner here (but apparently it also won “Best Après this year so it’s worth checking out for just a snack) and I think we ordered one of everything from the menu and still forced ourselves to make room for desert because it was just that good. Don’t miss the Granny Smith Apple salad, the Wagyu Butcher Steak and the Steelhead Trout. And definitely order the Apple Profiterole and the Poached Pear Cheesecake (you won’t regret it!).
- Il Villaggio Osteria – A rustic Italian spot with delicious homemade pastas that is not to be missed! It’s nice to have another option other than “farm to table” (even though most of these ingredients are also locally sourced).
- Bar Enoteca – Come here for sophisticated and delicious après that are perfect after a day on the slopes. We had a ricotta dish that I could live off for the rest of my life and a selection of the day’s fresh fish carpaccio was so light and refreshing. They also had a few bruschetta offerings that were amazing too. Try the n’duja and goat cheese for a little kick and a lot of flavor.
- More Après and fun options – The Mangy Moose was the #1 recommended spot for après by the locals. Come as you are from the slopes, pull up a chair, grab a beer and some nachos, and listen to some awesome local live music. It was a ton of fun! One of my highlights was taking the tram to Corbet’s Cabin for the famous waffles. Unfortunately we arrived 5 minutes after they stopped serving them (though they did have a bunch of samples left out for us to try) but we enjoyed their hot chocolates just as much and the trip up with the view was worth it alone. We also had memorable dinners at Trio and Snake River Grill. We also had breakfast at Wild Sage our last morning in our hotel that was extra delicious. The other places I didn’t get a chance to visit were King Sushi, which came highly recommended by every local we spoke to, Cafe Genevieve, and Teton Thai.
I can’t even begin to tell you guys what an affect this place had on me. The town of Jackson is truly a special place and I can’t imagine myself staying away for too long. From every person I had the opportunity to meet to the incredible experiences I had during my 5 day stay,
This trip was made possible by the wonderful team of people at the Wyoming Office of Tourism and the Chamber of Commerce who invited me to come out and helped to make my stay extra special. I can’t thank them enough for sharing their beautiful city with me and I can’t wait to make it back out and share this place with my entire family!