9 North American Ski Towns Where the Après Scene Rivals the Skiing
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Skiers and snowboarders come in three types: those who head straight for the first double black diamond they can find, those who spend the first half of the day remembering how to put on their boots and those who fall somewhere in between. But when the lifts stop spinning, you can find all of them at the same place — the bar.
Ski season is well underway, but there’s still plenty of time to book a ski trip this year — whether you’re in it for the powder or the party.
To pick our favorite après ski destinations in North America, we evaluated not only the quality of the piste and number of skiable acres, but also the quantity of bars and breweries in town and their ease of accessibility.
Whether you’re a die-hard skier or rider who will travel to the other side of the world for fresh powder, or you just want to visit a winter wonderland where you can relax by a roaring fire and sip mulled wine, these towns are sure to impress.
If a ski-in, ski-out town could exist, “Breck” would be it. With ski-to-town trails and the BreckConnect Gondola that connects the mountain to town, getting into the heart of Breck for après-ski couldn’t be easier. With more than 200 shops, restaurants and bars to choose from, Breck is the ideal destination regardless of whether you’re an avid skier or, well, more of the hibernating type. Check out the Rocky Mountain Underground — a combination ski shop and bar that presses their own skis — or sample some of the local beers at the Breckenridge Brewery.
The ski-in, ski-out Mountain Thunder Lodge is just a short walk from the BreckConnect Gondola and downtown, making it a great place to base yourself for the ultimate après experience. And if you don’t feel like walking back to the resort after a long night, Breck’s free shuttle service will get you where you need to go.
In a state widely known for its charming New England villages and quiet ski towns, “The Beast” stands out. A variety of bars line Killington’s five-mile access road, offering everything from fine dining to a party that may have you taking a rain-check for the following day of skiing. The Motor Room Bar’s location in the drive terminal of an old lift offers an unparalleled drinking experience. (Did we mention it’s accessed by snow cat?) The Wobbly Barn, or “The Wobbly” as locals call it, is a classic après spot that often has live music and dancing.
Park City, Utah
Although Utah is usually associated more with skiing than partying, there’s still fun to be had once you’re off the hill. The town lift transports skiers from the slopes straight to historic Main Street, which is lined with dozens of restaurants and bars. There’s also a free city-wide bus system, so you don’t have to worry about getting around after a night out. If you’re into spirits — or even if you’re not — check out the High West Distillery, the world’s only ski-in, ski-out whiskey distillery. The Cabin, located on the main strip in town, has live music, events and karaoke almost every night of the week.
This upscale, lively town has the feel of a city block with chic bars and cafes that seem transported from Manhattan and dropped next to a ski hill in the Rockies. Base yourself at the landmark Hotel Jerome, an Auberge Resort, which is home to the J-Bar (order the Aspen Crud — a bourbon-spiked milkshake cocktail). Book with The Platinum Card® from American Express through the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program for 5x and a $100 food and beverage credit — perfect for travelers who prefer the après part of skiing.
Visit Aspen by April 11, and join the Aspen Historical Society on their weekly Thursday pub crawl. The Highlands Alehouse is another popular spot, especially if margaritas and nachos are what you’re after.
Every skier and snowboarder in the country has heard of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Its reliable annual snowfall, expansive front, back and side country terrain and over 4,000 feet of continuous vertical slopes make it one of the most popular ski destinations in North America. Fortunately, the nearby town of Jackson has après-ski scene that can keep up. Before ending your night at the famous Mangy Moose, located in Teton Village, make sure to stop at the Bistro at Alpenhof Lodge, a Swiss-alpine style bar and restaurant. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is another Jackson classic.
Whistler, British Columbia
When people think North American skiing, they usually picture Whistler — one of the largest resorts on the continent. And the mountain, which has over 8,100 skiable acres, has just as many opportunities to celebrate the best ski day of your life. For an exclusive après experience, Canadian Wilderness Adventures offers heated snowcat rides to a hidden valley between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, where visitors will enjoy hot chocolate in a custom igloo. For something more casual, there’s Dusty’s Bar & BBQ, located at the base of the Creekside gondola.
Book a room at the Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa (from 80,000 points per night this month and as few as 37,000 later in the season) and warm up by the fireplace at the Cinnamon Bear Bar, best known for its Swedish after-ski parties.
Beer lovers, rejoice! Of the 22 breweries in Beer Town, 18 are part of the Bend Ale Trail — where participants hop from brewery to brewery, collecting passport stamps and earning prizes along the way. If beer isn’t your thing, no problem. Bend is home to plenty of distilleries, wineries and cideries including Bendistillery. The Old Mill District also has a number of wine tasting rooms, including Va Piano Vineyards. And for a real après ski bash, check out the Crow’s Feet Commons downtown location, which is part ski and bike shop, part coffee and beer hangout. Oh, and there’s also a 4,300-acre ski hill — Mount Bachelor — just 20 miles from town and accessible by the Mount Bachelor Shuttle.
While much smaller than its western counterparts, Mont-Tremblant is an awesome après ski destination for East Coast skiers. Expect cobblestone walkways, outdoor fire pits and a distinctly European vibe while exploring the shops and restaurants at the bottom of Mont Tremblant. La Forge Bistro-Bar & Grill’s location at the foot of the mountain makes it the perfect first stop on your après itinerary and features a terrace that is usually the first to fill on sunny days. And arguably one of the most popular ski bars in the world, Le P’tit Caribou is a well-liked après spot celebrating its 25th year this season.
Stay at the slopeside ski-in, ski-out Fairmont Tremblant, which is walking distance to town and some of the best après spots. Book through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts with your Amex Platinum card for a $100 food and beverage credit — perfect for ski-themed cocktails at the Axe Lounge Bar. Order the L’Après Ski (tequila, Grand Marnier, lemon and apple juices, brown sugar and mango purée) or the Black Diamond (rum, Averna Amaro, vanilla syrup, fresh cream).
Featured image by Alexandr Podvalny via Unsplash.
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