Like any group of athletes, skiers take their craft seriously. Skiers also take seriously the after party. Here are five of the nation’s the best ski towns to party in America.
To fully take in any good ski town, you need to hit the nightlife. The bars and clubs in these towns have proven their reputation to the legions of tourists who make their trips year after year, and the locals who make their visits night after night.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
When it comes to North American skiing, few people would argue against the Rockies being the premier mountain range, and when it comes to the Rockies, it would be tough to argue that Jackson Hole, Wyoming is not among the best spots to ski away the days and party through the nights.
The Center for the Arts offers an intimate setting for those interested in the beauty of performance, but if you understand music as a participatory group venture, the Wort Hotel’s Silver Dollar Bar kicks the party into overdrive with no cover charge and a dance floor that gets the crowd on their feet nightly.
Anyone familiar with Jackson Hole will tell you the Stagecoach is the premier party spot, and it has been so for more than 50 years. Craft beer lovers can get their fix at Snake River Brewing Co., Roadhouse Brewing Co. or even the Bankok-inspired Thai Me Up.
Let’s not forget that Jackson Hole is a skiers paradise, and oftentimes skiers don’t want to waste precious party-time returning to hotel rooms to change into street clothes. The wild western feel of the area welcomes cowboys of the slopes to enjoy many of its good-time establishments in the comfort of their skiing gear.
The name Vail is synonymous with skiing and for good reason. The town was established and built as the base village to Vail Ski Resort in 1962. The fact that it’s the largest ski mountain in Colorado doesn’t hurt, either. Nightlife is not hard to come by, especially on its main stretch on Bridge Street, from Hanson Ranch Road to the covered bridge at the Gore Creek Inn.
Vendetta’s is a must-visit, but most people don’t need to be told that, because they end up stopping by whether instructed to or not. It’s not distinctly touristy, but also not exclusive to locals. It’s laid back atmosphere welcomes all. Loaded Joe’s is impressive for its dynamic business practice. A gourmet coffee shop by day, it transitions to full-on bar at night. Vail Daily’s Best of 2010 named it “Best Locals Pub,” which may have something to do with its Happy Hour(s).
Ski Bar’s name may imply some degree of simplicity, but its interior begs to differ. A front bar, a sports den, the VIP Red Room and a soundproof disco room offer something for everyone. Your biggest issue will be choosing how to divide your time among the bar’s rooms.
Tahoe South, California / Nevada
Heavenly is the South Lake Tahoe party that is best described by its name. Almost more of a concept than a skiing locale. You go to Heavenly when the thrill of the party outweighs the need to ski. Sure, skiing is what ties the experience together, and it’s even the biggest resort in California at 4,800 acres. You’re just liable to get sidetracked by go-go dancers at mid mountain and the mobile snow cat DJ booth.
If you make it to the bottom, feel free to hit it big (or burn your stash) at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe or Montbleu Resort, Casino and Spa. The town definitely takes its party-all-night philosophy from its flatland big brother, Las Vegas.
Hunter Mountain, New York
Sure, New York isn’t the first destination to come to mind when it comes to legendary slopes, but this list isn’t about legendary slopes. Partying is what it’s all about at Hunter Mountain. It’s an easy two hours from Manhattan and offers 240 acres of skiable land, but you’ll probably only end up there if you plan on doing at least some amount of (heavy) drinking.
Hunter’s base lodge will keep you going on rock music until late at night when the crowd moves down the mountain. Slopes in Tannersville refers to itself as “New York’s Infamous Winter Party Destination,” boasts three floors worth of DJs and serves up Jagerbombs until 4am.
Hunter Mountain may not compare to New York’s renowned Whiteface Mountain at Lake Placid. In fact, there’s nothing placid about it at all.
When someone mentions Aspen, the first thing to come to the minds of most people is the image of a grandiose ski town tucked away in the Colorado Rockies. The name Aspen is so strongly related to good business practice that when famous American writer Hunter S. Thompson ran for sheriff there in 1970, he ran on the platform to, “Change the name Aspen, by public referendum, to ‘Fat City’. This would prevent greedheads, land-rapers and other human jackals from capitalizing on the name Aspen.”
Thompson didn’t win, and the name has been surely capitalized on in the past half-century. Not all businesses are evil, though, and some are even capable of providing a hell of a time.
Check out the famous Cantina, which offers “shot skis,” a ski holding six shot glasses to test your ability to synchronize neck motion with your friends. J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome was voted “Sexiest Ski Lodge in North America” by Playboy. If that sounds like too much fun, the Aspen Brewing Company offers enough craft beers to entertain any palate.
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