4.28.24

Five Days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

In early March, I went on one of my favorite vacations to date — to ‘the last of the Old West,’ Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My friend Emma is a big skier and was heading to Jackson Hole for a girls’ ski trip and graciously invited me along. I’ve been skiing once, in Park City, Utah six winters ago, and it was not for me, so I decided to sit skiing out this time and just enjoy all the town had to offer. (I later learned that Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, one of the two mountains in town where you can ski and where Emma had a lift ticket, is not a great place for beginners — so while I am sure I could have conquered ski school, I felt very validated in my decision to stick to a lower elevation!)  There is so much to do in Jackson Hole that even if you don’t ski — or head there in the summer months — I still think you’ll have an amazing time; I know I did!

Wyoming was state number 40 for me (!) and I really enjoyed exploring a place that was so different in geography from what I am used to in my daily life — the snowcapped mountains were stunning and we saw so much wildlife, even staying right in town. I flew into Jackson Hole on a Thursday and came back on a Monday, and it felt like just the right amount of time to do everything I wanted to do — plus leave some room to enjoy recommendations from Uber drivers and bartenders. Getting to Jackson Hole from the East Coast takes some time, so I am glad I took the time off to truly enjoy it.

HOW TO GET THERE & GETTING AROUND —

From DC, there are no direct flights to Jackson Hole, so on the way there, I took an American Airlines flight from DCA to DFW, and then from DFW to JAC. My flight from DFW to JAC was delayed by about four hours because the plane we were supposed to take was damaged by turbulence on its descent. Luckily, the airline found us another plane — but I was really nervous there for a second since it was the last flight out to Jackson Hole that day and I didn’t want to spend the day in Dallas. While we were in limbo at the gate, I talked with a nice couple who own a vacation home in town and told me flights to Jackson Hole are frequently delayed because of weather, so definitely something to mentally prepare for if you’re traveling during the winter months. I didn’t pay attention when booking, but my flight only had a 50% “on time” rating, so I probably should have expected a delay!

I will say, landing in Jackson Hole was nothing short of incredible. It’s the only commercial airport in a National Park, and the descent is absolutely stunning. Once you’re on the ground, you de-board the plane “Kennedy style” and walk on the tarmac into the terminal, underneath an antler archway just like they have on the Jackson Town Square. Once in the terminal, the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce has a complimentary mimosa bar — and fresh squeezed orange juice as well!— set up for you to enjoy while you’re waiting for your bags.

Our group went back and forth on renting a car, and ultimately decided not to since we were staying right in town. This was definitely the right decision for us, as it was very easy to get an Uber to/from the airport and Ubers around town whenever we needed one. Additionally, our hotel had a complimentary shuttle that would take you to/from Jackson Hole Resort every day, and then a smaller shuttle you could call for to bring you to town and back that operated on tips — it was so convenient and quick. And, the week before we were in Jackson Hole, it had snowed a lot so the snow was packed down into sheets of ice that melted down some during the day, but then re-froze into sheets of ice at night. Because of this, the driving conditions weren’t that great, and I would have not felt comfortable driving a rental car — I was more than happy to leave that task to the locals!

WHERE TO STAY —

Because of what flights were available to me to get from DC to Jackson Hole, I flew in on Thursday, a day before the other girls on the ski trip. For the night I was in town alone, I stayed at the Springhill Suites right in downtown Jackson Hole. This was such a great hotel — the rooms were spacious, it was within walking distance of everything in town, and there was a big complimentary continental breakfast you could take advantage of, which I think would be super convenient if you were headed out for a long day of skiing. There was also a hot tub that seemed to fill up right around happy hour time!

After the first night, I moved over to The Lodge at Jackson Hole to be with the rest of the ski trip gals. Both hotels were great, and I don’t think you could go wrong with either! The Lodge did feel a little more authentically Jackson Hole, whereas Springhill Suites definitely had that Marriott vibe you would find anywhere. The Lodge also offered the aforementioned shuttle services, which were so convenient, a complimentary daily breakfast buffet, and a really beautiful lobby with a roaring fireplace. While Springhill Suites was right in town, The Lodge at Jackson was a short 5-10 minute ride, just depending on how you hit the lights, but conveniently for my skiing friends, it was a bit closer to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Depending on traffic, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is about 30-45 minutes from downtown Jackson, and there is a small town called Teton Village that surrounds the resort itself. While it is definitely an option to stay up there as there is plenty of lodging and ski in/ski out options — I think that would be a great option if you had kids traveling with you! — we were all really glad we stayed closer to Jackson itself to take advantage of the more plentiful dining, nightlife, and shopping options.

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK —

When you’re heading to Jackson Hole, the one thing I cannot stress is enough is to drink a lot of water! The elevation is so much higher than what most of us are used to, and that can lead to altitude sickness. On my first night in town, I definitely felt a little bit off — my head hurt and it was harder for me to catch my breath — because of the elevation. By the second day, I was carrying a water with me everywhere I went and drinking a lot of it at meals, especially if I was also enjoying a glass of wine.

I had heard mixed things about the food in Jackson Hole — but I ended up finding some really great spots to eat + drink:

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar — ever since I saw this bar on Keeping Up With the Kardashians (lol — but actually!) years ago, I knew I wanted to go to this iconic saloon, where saddle bar stools and swinging doors set the stage for cowboy culture and lively entertainment. I went a few times during my trip, both for mimosas right as it opened at 11am and for live music with my friends at 11pm. No matter when I went, it was so much fun — you definitely need to saddle up (literally!) to the bar here at some point on your trip to Jackson Hole!

Glorietta Tavern — this was one of my favorite meals the whole trip! I couldn’t get a reservation for a large party here because it’s so popular, so I went solo the night I was in town by myself and sat at the bar. It offered a great balance of rustic charm with a cosmopolitan feel, and had an amazing Italian menu. I was starving by the time I sat down, and ordered the whipped ricotta crostini to start, followed by a caesar salad, and then the fusilli gigante, which was spicy and flavorful – divine!

The Bunnery — a beloved breakfast spot famous for its hearty, made-from-scratch fare, this place was recommended to me by coworkers who worked a ranch out in Jackson Hole one summer. I had a classic two-egg breakfast with toast, hash browns, and bacon here — it had been a cold walk over, so it was the perfect way to warm up.

Jackson Drug — located right off the Jackson Town Square, Jackson Drug is nostalgic diner with a retro vibe, serving up classic comfort food favorites like milkshakes, burgers, and fries in a cozy, old-fashioned setting. Emma and I came here for lunch right after she arrived into town, and I had a delicious southwest salad, and we both took milkshakes to-go for our walk around town.

Bin 22 — nearly everyone we talked to before heading to Jackson Hole recommended Bin 22, and I can see why! This is a cozy wine bar and tapas restaurant with delicious food. At the front of the restaurant is a wine store with a great selection of red, whites, and bubbles alongside snacks that you can take away to enjoy. We went here twice on our trip — the first time was a Friday night for happy hour and since there were six of us, it was a little bit of a wait. During the wait, they let us buy any bottles of wine we wanted from the store, uncorked them for us, and gave us glasses; it was so nice and made the waiting for a table part so much less inconvenient. Emma and I had enjoyed it so much that we went back later in our trip for a glass of wine and a cheeseboard before dinner one night — it was just as great the second time!

Coelette — this was another one of my favorite meals of the trip! The atmosphere and decor in Coelette was the perfect balance of mountain cozy and upscale chic. Offering ‘French alpine’ cuisine, we shared a bunch of appetizers to start — including amazing fresh baked bread and Brussels sprouts, and then I did beef wagyu as my main.

The Local — located right on the Town Square, this place online was praised for its delicious burgers, so you know it was on my “to eat” list! One of the other girls on the trip wasn’t skiing either, so we went here for lunch one day and it didn’t disappoint. If you go, definitely ask for the dipping sauces for the fries — they were delicious!

Handle Bar — located at the Four Seasons, Jackson Hole, I met up with all of the skiers here one afternoon for après ski and IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! While we initially had a table inside, we eventually got off the waitlist for an outside table, which was the move. They had fire pits going and a live DJ, and it was so much fun to enjoy a drink and watch all the skiers finish up their last runs for the day. This was a great way for me to enjoy ski culture without actually having to ski, hah!

Eleanor’s — one night before dinner, Emma and I were looking for a place close to The Lodge at Jackson and found this place on Google Maps. It was a dive, but we enjoyed it — lots of locals were here in ski gear after a long day on the slopes to enjoy one of the daily specials, and I am not one to complain about $5 drinks! I wouldn’t necessarily go out of your way to go here, but it definitely fit the bill for what we wanted.

Trio — we did dinner here one night, and I am indifferent on it — I would probably recommend going elsewhere; the food was good, but the atmosphere wasn’t as cozy or chic as some of the other places we went. That said, the portion sizes were very generous and it was very conveniently located right off the square! Trio is done by the same team as The Local, and I would probably pick the latter as my favorite of the two.

The Virginian — one of the iconic bars in Charlottesville is called ‘The Virginian’ and since Emma and I went to UVA, we’ve long wanted to go to The Virginian in Jackson Hole. We came here for breakfast one morning and there was a wait for a table — which I always think is a great sign. We started off our meal with the largest homemade cinnamon roll I’ve ever seen, and then both got a veggie egg scramble with hash browns. It hit the spot!

The Bistro — located in the Cloudveil Hotel, Emma and I came here for lunch one day. They had bottomless mimosas for $35 that they served you off the cutest cart, and a wonderful take on a caesar salad. For my main, I did an avocado toast that had some of the most beautiful presentation I’ve ever seen!

FIGS — I love Mediterranean food, and this was a great spot to enjoy our final meal in Jackson Hole! Located right inside The Hotel Jackson, we had a really large square table that was perfect for our group. We started off by sharing some dips that they served with fresh, warm pita, and for my main, I did chicken kebabs and a side salad with some toum. So, so good!

A few places I’d love to make it to on my next trip to Jackson Hole: Silver Dollar Bar, Cafe Genevieve, Persephone Bakery, Hatch Taqueria and Tequilas, and The Blue Lion.

WHAT TO DO —

In my Uber on the way into town, my driver mentioned to me that there was snow tubing at Snow King Mountain Resort, the ski resort located steps away from downtown Jackson. I’ve been snow tubing a few times before and loved it, so I thought this could be a fun way to get out in the snow and enjoy that side of Jackson Hole while my friends were all out skiing. So, I went by myself one morning and had the best time! I booked a one-hour session to start at 11AM online and that timing was definitely the move — when I first arrived, it wasn’t crowded at all, so it was easy to grab my “lift” ticket and a snow tube, take the magic carpet to the top, and enjoy a few runs without waiting in any lines. By the time I left an hour later, there was definitely more of a wait at the top, but it was so worth it! The hills were steep, so you go really fast and it was just so much fun. They also have staff at the top to help push you off and get you situated in your tube. I was somewhat nervous about going alone and was worried I may be the only adult there, but once I got there, I was so glad I went — there were people of all ages and no one really noticed I wasn’t with a bigger group; it was definitely one of the highlights of my trip!

While we were in town, Emma had the great idea to find some hot springs to enjoy — so we booked a soak at Astoria Hot Springs, which is about a 25-minute drive from downtown Jackson. (I definitely recommend booking in advance — they offer two-hour timeslots, and they do sell out since it is so popular!) We easily got an Uber out there, but coming back, it was very difficult — we ended up calling a local taxi company to come get us, but had to wait about 45 minutes for them to arrive, so I definitely recommend pre-arranging your transportation back into town if you don’t have a car. Despite the transportation snafu, it was definitely worth the trip — the Astoria Hot Springs are naturally occurring sulphur springs that offer stunning views of the mountains. The water was hot when we first got in, but because the air was so cold, they ended up being a very comfortable temperature. There were several pools throughout the property where you could soak — we ended up going to the one furtherest away from the locker room and had it to ourselves for a while before others made it down there. It was such a relaxing morning — I highly recommend doing this on your trip to Jackson Hole!

The last thing I will leave you with — if you are going to Jackson Hole during the colder months, learn from my mistake: pack only practical shoes! When I landed in town wearing sneakers, I quickly realized that my heeled booties and leopard flats were not going to cut it. I needed waterproof shoes with traction — even the sidewalks were a snowy, icy mess. So my first order of business was walking myself to the Town Square and buying two new pairs of snow boots. I ended up with these Baffin black snow boots and these really cute Oboz sphinx pull-on booties, both of which I highly recommend! I also saw a lot of people wearing the Sorel kinetic conquest boots — the laces are super cute!

If you have any questions about my trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming — don’t hesitate to drop me a comment below or email me at katie@atouchofteal.com. I am happy to try and answer them!

Below are more of my favorite pictures from our trip — until next time, Jackson Hole!

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