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Resort Guide 2022

The Ski Traveler’s Guide to the Best Nightlife in the West

If you're looking to party into the wee hours and still hit first chair, here's your quick-and-dirty guide to the best nightlife in the West.

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Some of us shred the gnar all day and hit the sack by 9 p.m.to do it all again in the morning. Others shred the gnar all day, then the bars until last call—and still do it all again in the morning. While the nightlife scene at most ski resorts isn’t quite back up to full blast, there’s still plenty of action to be found after dark. (Though things can change; check hours and status before heading out.)

See the Full List: Top 10 Party Resorts in the West 

We dug deep into the nightlife options currently on tap at resorts known for their lively after-hours scenes. If that sounds like your thing, bookmark this page because this is your quick-and-dirty guide to the best nightlife at the best party resorts in the West.

Complete Guide to the Best Nightlife at the Top Resorts in the West

No. 5: Sun Valley, Idaho

Nearby Ketchum is Sun Valley’s answer to the nightlife equation. Photo: Getty Images

Score: 8.21/10
Other Strengths: Overall Satisfaction (#1), Family (#1)

What Readers Say

“Restaurants and town charm are top-notch. The food/mountain restaurants and resort service are some of the best I’ve experienced. There’s no slopeside accommodations, however the “walkable” nature of the town is fantastic and bodes well for the nightlife.”

Sun Valley’s closest town of Ketchum more than makes up for what the resort itself lacks in the skier amenities categories, but none more than so nightlife. This authentic, Old West-influenced ski town is steeped in history, including iconic bars and local hangouts that welcome tourists with open arms. It’s a genuinely friendly place. There are definitely some nightlife spots that should be on every Sun Valley skier’s hit list. These are our picks.

Best Nightlife in Ketchum

Grumpy’s

Order a Schooner of beer (a massive 32-ounce goblet) and a burger and revel in the dive-bar ambience of this place that’s been around since 1978. Set inside an unassuming house off the main drag, Grumpy’s is literally covered in kitsch, from the flagged-covered ceiling to license plates and ski signage on the walls. The menu is decidedly low-brow—peep the jar of pickled eggs—and perfect for late-night munchies.

The Lounge at The Limelight Ketchum

If “nightlife” means low-key live music and great drinks, the Lounge at the Limelight Ketchum has got your number. It’s more of a chill vibe than a rowdy hotspot, with local singer/songwriters most nights of the week. Order a hand-crafted creation off the cocktail menu, pair it with a hand-tossed 10-inch pizzas from the wood-fired oven, settle in from 6-9p, and still make first chair.

The Casino

Since the go-to spot for live music, Whiskey Jacques, closed, The Casino has become the place for late-nighters looking to party. More divey than bougie, The Casino has been in operation since the 1930s, and not much has changed. The heart of the place is the bar, with its two dozen leather-topped stools and bartending crew that’s continuously voted best in the region by dedicated locals and visitors alike. There’s also pool, darts, and a welcoming vibe that rocks until 2a most nights.

No. 4: Breckenridge Resort, Colo.

Breckenridge Nightlife
Hit the town of Breckenridge for everything from breweries to nightclubs. Photo: Andrew Maguire

Score: 8.24/10
Other Strengths: Lodging (#8), Après (#5)

What Readers Say

“This has been my home mountain resort for 10 years. Love Breckenridge. Great local vibe, along with acceptance of tourists. So close to other major resorts. Well off of I-70, so it has a real town vibe. Great restaurants and bars (affordable to expensive).”

As a ski town, Breckenridge is one-size-fits-all, meaning all comers will have no trouble finding what they’re looking for here when it comes to dining, lodging, après, and yes, nightlife. Dancing? Check. Live music? Check. Low-key wine-bar? Check. Plus late-night darts, trivia evenings, and more basement dive bars than you can shake a ski pole at. Here are a few of our favorite nightlife options in Breckenridge.

Best Nightlife in Breckenridge

Cecilia’s Nightclub

With DJs or live music from Thursdays through Sundays most of the winter, Cecilia’s attracts a younger and rowdier crowd to its three bars and large dance floor. Find out what’s going on at the venue’s Instagram page.

Gold Pan Saloon

The classic Breck spot for dancing and all-around revelry, the Gold Pan Saloon is still going strong. This 1879 watering hole has a small but lively dance floor fueled by local acts weekly, plus comedy nights, open mics, and more.

Broken Compass Brewing

Trivia buffs and gamers love Broken Compass Brewing for its Tuesday trivia night, two great locations (a new Main Street taproom and the original brewery on the north end of town), and dozen-plus beers on tap. Try the award-winning Coconut Porter and Ginger Pale Ale.

No. 3: Heavenly Mountain Resort, Calif.

"None"
Heavenly’s unique nightlife offering includes over a dozen casinos.

Score: 8.49/10
Other Strengths: Lodging (#9), Après (#10)

What Readers Say

“Best views of any ski resort. Beautiful Lake Tahoe on one side and beautiful Carson Valley on the other side. Varied terrain. Good groomers. Great nightlife with four major casinos next door.”

Skiers who love Heavenly’s brand of nightlife know exactly who they are, and relish the region’s distinctive flavor of casino-fueled revelry by night combined with some of the most amazing views and varied terrain by day. If that sounds intriguing to you and you’ve never been, know that you’ll find a great party crowd that knows how to rage late into the night. That’s not to say that those seeking a more laid-back vibe can’t find it, but that’s not really the Heavenly way. Here’s our top picks for partying hard at this legendary South Lake Tahoe destination.

Best Nightlife in Heavenly

South Shore Room at Harrah’s

For sheer convenience alone, Harrah’s can’t be beat, and the South Shore Room brings in some heavy hitters when it comes to live music. Though the schedule isn’t at full strength due to Covid restrictions, you can find upcoming shows here. In future seasons, PEEK Nightclub is a hopping venue for the dance-till-you-drop crew, though it’s temporarily closed this winter.

Bally’s Lake Tahoe

The MontBleu Casino is now Bally’s Lake Tahoe, but the vibe is the same as before, with the chic Opal Nightclub serving up a great space for dancing and feeling fancy while sipping Champagne, tequila, or whatever else wets your whistle. There’s also an escape room, The Bunker, for groups looking for something a little different.

South of North Brewing Company

Located at the funky and innovative Basecamp Hotel, this little brewery is a welcoming spot with live music nightly and slate of interesting brews. South of North also hosts game and trivia nights, is dog-friendly, and has a great menu of snacks and heartier fare and fire pits around which to gather for warmth while still remaining outside in the fresh lake-scented air.

No. 2: Aspen Snowmass, Colo.

Aspen Nightlife
You’ll find no shortage of spots to party into the wee hours in Aspen. Photo: Sam Ferguson

Score: 8.81/10
Other Strengths: Lifts (#3), Variety (#4)

What Readers Say

“Aspen is all about après, dining, and the nightlife. There are so many great choices in all those categories. The food, even on-mountain, is amazing. So many great après and dinner choices. Then the nightlife and bars—also amazing. There is no better place for anyone 30-something-plus with a fat wallet and the desire to eat, drink and party in style.”

Choosing only a few places to get your party in Aspen is pretty impossible. There are just so many. The good news is that this authentic ski town is not only for the rich and famous—there are plenty of thriftier ways to spend a fun night out on the town. As expected, you can find dancing, dive bars, breweries, wine bars, and more all within the town’s four square miles. These are our top picks for nightlife in Aspen.

Best Nightlife in Aspen

J Bar at the Hotel Jerome

Nestled into one of Aspen most storied hotels, the circa-1889 J Bar is a staple and a must-visit, if just to take in the vibe. Sip craft cocktails and local beers and settle into a cozy booth to people-watch, and know that you’re in the same place where Hunter S. Thompson set up his campaign headquarters when he ran for Pitkin County sheriff in 1970, where 10th Mountain Division soldiers came to refuel, and where umpteen celebs have been spotted throughout the years.

Belly Up

Live music-seekers, Belly Up is your best bet to see some big-name acts in a cool venue that’s hosted John Legend, Wiz Khalifa, Counting Crows, and more. See the schedule of upcoming performances here.

Escobar Aspen

Nightly DJs and a hopping dance floor make this the spot to get your groove on into the wee hours. Formerly Fly Nightclub, Escobar’s new owners spruced the place up with groovy curved ceilings and an interior reminiscent of the inside of a space-age airplane. There are reserved tables for a more intimate experience, but most people come to grind to the sounds of local DJs and party until first chair.

No. 1:  Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.

Whistler Nightlife
Whistler’s party scene remains unmatched. Photo: Rob Perry

Score: 8.86/10
Other Strengths: Variety (#1), Après (#1)

What Readers Say

“Whistler is the total package. You’re surrounded by beautiful mountains and there is a village at the base of the mountain that you can walk to, and includes nightlife and very good restaurants. Everything is right there. You never have to travel again once you get to your destination. And the snow is typically awesome!”

Being the ski mini-city that it is, it’s not surprising that Whistler takes the crown for nightlife. You could spend a month straight here and still not hit all the après and nightlife options on tap. There are storied institutions that have matured as the village of Whistler has grown around them, and hot new venues that lure the trendsetters who jet in from international spots around the globe. From the intimate to the decidedly not, these are your best bets for a great time after dark in Whistler.

Best Nightlife in Whistler

Garfinkel’s Whistler

With Tommy’s (formerly Tommy Africa’s) closed due to the pandemic, Garkfinkel’s has become the go-to for late-night revelry, including live music, dancing, rockin’ local and visiting DJs, and great drink specials.

Dubh Linn Gate

If you’re looking for more of a classic pub scene with TVs on the walls and all of the traditional Irish hubbub, Dubh Linh Gate won’t disappoint. What’s more, there’s awesome local bands that come to rock the house, plus a full menu served until 10p to help the Guinness on tap go down smoothly.

The Raven Room

A low-key option known for its excellent hand-crafted cocktails and cool vibe, The Raven Room, inside the Pan Pacific Hotel, is a great spot for late-night drinks and small plates or dessert. Creative, delicious cocktails such as Adios Pantalones and Sorry I Dropped Your Cherry, as well as a selection of beer, cider, and wine, round out the drink menu.

Buffalo Bill’s

Buffalo Bill’s is a fun cross between a sports bar and a nightclub, combining a rustic, log-cabin ambience with Whistler’s party vibe. There’s dancing, nightly DJs, pool tables, darts, and late-night snacks such as pizzas, fries, and wings. What more could you need?

 

More Travel Guides From SKI

A Complete Guide to the Best Ski Resort Dining in the West
How to Ski the Top-Ranked Terrain in the West
A Travel Guide to the Top Family Resorts in the West

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