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Best Ski Towns in North America: Jackson, Wyo.

An authentic vibe melds with an adventurous spirit in this playground that's a stone's throw from some of the best skiing in the West.

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I moved to Jackson for the skiing, but it was the town that kept me here. The bottomless powder and steep chutes at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort are great, but I need cultural stimulation to sustain me. Jackson, an old cowboy town that’s managed to modernize with chic hotels and tony restaurants without losing its western soul, delivers.

5 Great Ski Towns: Take SKI’s North American Ski Town Challenge

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Originally Illustration by Josh Cochran

As is typically the case, it’s the people who make the difference. Jackson’s population—right around 10,000—isn’t as transient as most destination towns, and the well-rounded residents are as likely to spend the day climbing the Grand Teton as they are taking in a local Shakespeare production or joining in on a discussion about climate change. Opened in 2007, the Center for the Arts is home to lots of those events. Over the years, it has hosted everything from the Moth Radio Hour to concerts by Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, as well as political discussions and talks on wildlife conservation.

For aesthetes, there’s an art gallery on every corner. What’s more, the entire side of the largest parking garage in town is an art installation: a glass enclosure that glows with pink and orange lights and doubles as a greenhouse, producing 100,000 pounds of hydroponically grown fresh produce each year—which can be bought in local markets. And for epicureans, there’s the Snake River Grill, where the elk tenderloin medallions are $59 and worth the price. Or Bin22, a wine bar with hundreds of selections.

All of this is to say that Jackson is sophisticated. That’s not to say the place is stuffy. I’ve had plenty of days where I ski powder or mountain bike on the nearly 50 miles of trails that are right in town, then head to Local for a bison burger. Afterward I’ll shoot pool and grab a beer at the Cowboy Bar, a tourist’s favorite where you can grab a seat or horse saddle bar stool, order a Miller High Life, and line step to the music of a live country-western band. If this sounds like your kind of night, this ski town is right up your alley.

Here are our picks on what to do, see, eat, drink and more in the town of Jackson

Spa: The Amangani Resort

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Take us here, please.Courtesy of Amangani Resort

At the Amangani, you can soak in the outdoor infinity pool with views of the Tetons, then head into the spa and undergo any number of treatments, including the Nourishing Journey, three hours of decadence that starts with a body polish and wrap, moves on to a massage, and end with a facial.

Drink: Roadhouse Brewing Tap Room

Opened last fall just southwest of town, the taproom consists of a small bar right next to the brewery. Take a tour of the facilities, then sample the many offerings—everything from light (the four percent Highwayman Pilsner) to stout (Siren Song, a golden ale with a 14-percent alcohol content).

Après: Local Restaurant and Bar

At the resort, stop at The Mangy Moose for buffalo wings and pitchers of PBR. In town, Local is, in fact, where most locals hang out. That includes Harrison Ford, often seen bellied up to the bar. There are always beers on tap, but Local is known for its cocktails, including The Local, a play on an Old Fashioned.

Sleep: The Anvil

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The Anvil Hotel.Courtesy of Hotel Anvil/Mikael Kennedy

The Anvil is a beautifully detailed crash pad with a hipster vibe. The room lay- out will remind you of any roadside motel, but that’s where the similarities end. The bathrooms are tiled in black and white and have rain shower heads, the lighting fixtures are all brass, and the beds are covered with custom Woolrich blankets.

Eat: Glorietta Trattoria

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Looks yummy.Courtesy of Gloreietta Trattoria/Read Mckendree

Glorietta Trattoria’s atmosphere, created by subway tiles and a neon sign, is cozy and cosmopolitan. The cocktails and rustic Italian cuisine are superb. Start with a negroni or gimlet, then tuck into pasta or wood-fired honey truffle chicken. After dinner, sip a house limoncello or go all out with a Tiramisu.

Jackson By the Numbers

Population: 10,659
Average Income: $75,150 (USD)
Male/Female Ratio: 54/46
Median Home Price: $1.7 million (USD)
Median Age: 34.4

(Updated with 2020 stats)

Local Tip…

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Jackson local Hadley Hammer.Courtesy of Matt Power

“My favorite place to grab breakfast in town is Cowboy Coffee. It has a relaxed atmosphere and you’re bound to run into locals, anybody from 20-somethings working on their computers to ranch hands grabbing a cup of dark coffee. I like to go in for an Americano and a croissant, or, if I’m feeling the need for comfort, a spicy Bhakti Chai.” Hadley Hammer, Big Mountain Skier.

Originally published in the January/February 2019 print edition of SKI Magazine. For more great stories like this delivered directly to your mailbox, SUBSCRIBE NOW.