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1. ASPEN, Colorado
Back in the day, partyers in ski boots danced on beer-drenched floors and the Eagles played for free at the Little Nell bar. Now a five-star hotel sits in its place. But under the glitz, Aspen is still a party town. Play air hockey with a tattooed barfly at Cooper Street Pier, catch a live act at the Double Diamond, or shake it Latin-style at Jimmy’s. This season, with snowboarders now welcome on Ajax and happenings from World Cup races to the Spring Jam, the spirit of the old Little Nell lives on.
2. WHISTLER/BLACKCOMB, British Columbia
Whistler is so happening that some locals’ haunts change each season when they become too popular with tourists. Nonetheless, thirsty mountain workers steadfastly catch end-of-day rays at Merlin’s at the base of Blackcomb and Dusty’s at Whistler Creekside. The beautiful people congregate at the Savage Beagle. Music of every color and creed pours out of doorways in the base village, and Garfinkel’s kicks off every weekend with a Thursday-night dance party.
3. BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado
Breckenridge has a western-tinged après scene. Start at the Breckenridge Brewery, then work your way down Main Street to the Gold Pan Saloon (going strong since the 1800s). Pull up a saddle-style barstool or learn to country swing at the Salt Creek Saloon — popular with rowdy local ranchers. Or duck into the historic Brown Hotel for a quiet cocktail.
4. KILLINGTON, Vermont
Four base areas translate into serious après-ski potential. Kick back with a local brew at the main lodge and watch the last runs on Superstar’s headwall. Then join everybody else cruising the access road in search of happy-hour specials and good vibes. At the latest hot spot, the Lookout Bar and Grill, bartender Skiddy commands a loyal following. For music and some local flavor, head to McGrath’s Irish Pub on Sherburne Pass.
5. PARK CITY, Utah
Last year Park City unveiled a new base lodge with a deck that’ll have Olympic views come February. This season the news is a skier’s bridge that connects the slopes to Main Street — just step out of your bindings, and you’re well on your way to après heaven. Quaff local brews at the Wasatch Brew Pub, boogie all night at HarryO’s, or be seen at Robert Redford’s Zoom restaurant.