When your friend and former roommate moves to a tiny ski town and says "you should come visit" -- you go!
Welcome to Jackson, Wyoming! It will most likely take you some time and effort to fly in, and you'll probably fly in on American, Delta or United since those are the only airlines that fly into Jackson Hole. It's a small town but it packs a big punch!
After getting settled at the house we headed to downtown Jackson to do what every basic white girl does in a ski town besides ski - shop and drink. There were two super cute paper and goods stores - Roam + Made. Tori likes to call these places "craft stores" but I still think that's not accurate... they are nothing like Michaels. You'll see jewelry, stationary, home decor, and trinkets. They are supplied by small trendy companies and all the displays are amazing. Call those stores whatever you will. The Valley Bookstore is cool to check out. They have great postcards to send to your Grandma - as I always do... shout out Nunna ily. - and there are cool books and calendars to look through.
When you exit the bookstore, you'll be looking at the town square. If there is only one photo you take in Jackson, WY it needs to be in front of one of the Antler Arches. The antlers come from the National Elk Refuge down the street, and it is the only Elk refuge in the country. Ya, I learned this from the visitors center brochure... you should try actually reading those sometime - life changing.
We headed to happy hour at Café Genevieve. The drinks are great, and the options for snacking aren't so shabby either. We had the watermelon margaritas and the Moscow mule. If I'm really being honest I started with the H.G.T. (gin, tonic, and lime) but I definitely couldn't hang with that - sorry Jo - so I traded in for the go-to margarita.
We headed back to the house to greet the back country boys who had spend the day trekking and skiing at Grand Targhee - it's a cool ride through Idaho to get back into Wyoming on the other side of the Tetons. If you're a big skier it's worth checking out. After a few ski shots and feasting on frozen pizzas we headed out to the Jackson Moose hockey game at Snow King. This is SO COOL. It has all the small town sports vibes - people are really into the game, entrance is $5, and beer is another $5 - we went the night they played the Boston team, and watched the Moose take home a win!
We decided to take the town of Jackson by storm that night. First stop: the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar the only place where bar stools are saddles. The bar is fairly big, and the live music is good! If you sit at one of the cocktail tables where you can see the people dancing and hear the great music you get a server and you're in for a great night. After some time at The Cowboy, we headed to Town Square Tavern. This is a little more of a local's spot, also has live music and well priced drinks. I think that's just Wyoming for you - a good bang for your buck. Tori and I made a graceful Irish goodbye and were quickly asleep on the pull out couch (after devouring 1/2 a bag of Doritos) and happy to be together... I told you it was a good night!
The first night we all just slept where we landed. One on the floor, three on the pull out couch (one with a fitted sheet over his head) and one miraculously had the king bed all to himself - you're a champion Rhino. Needless to say, that morning called for brunch at The Bird. This place is COOL. It is the classic small town rustic bar/restaurant. On Sunday's they have $15 bottomless bloodies + mimosas that come with a free ride home from their driver Phill. The food was awesome and just what you need after a night out in Jackson.
Somehow we were unable to convince the men to hang out with us that day... They did more hiking and back country skiing - obviously out shining our athletic abilities. Jackson is a skier/boarder's paradise - there are SO many back country spots and cool runs at the mountains. If you're going to ski/board and want suggestions I'll hand you directly over to Ryan and Tori and they'll take good care of you.
After brunch we took a quick cat nap before our Sleigh Ride through the Elk Refuge. This was arguably the best part of the trip. Tickets can be purchased at the visitor center for $21. It is the best $21 you'll spend. The tours leave every half hour from 10am-4pm. We were on the last tour of the day, and I think we got more out of our guide and group because of it. You're driven to the refuge where upon arrival, you're greeted with cozy blankets in a big red sled pulled by two beautiful horses. The guide takes you through the herd and at times you're so close to the Elk you could touch them. It's breathtaking.
After our romantic sleigh ride, Tor and I rejoined the men to head to Church. Church is at the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson (the REAL local's spot). Yes... Church at a bar... I guess I should mention that Church is a band (lolz). The bar has the BEST food. We had everything from tacos to gyro sandwiches... and final plate of onion rings that I think Ricky may have eaten 70% of solo - no judgements, we were on vacation (love ya Rick). The bar is packed for Church. People dance and sing along, which makes for great people watching! It's the best ending you can have to a Jackson, WY day.
Oh boy, here we go... 5 of us pile into the camper truck and head to Ski Jackson Hole Resort in Teton Village. Ricky and I rented gear, and the others brought their own. Renting is reasonable, and if you get there when the mountain opens there isn't much of a line. I should mention that the resort had been closed for the first 3 days of our trip. They had gotten a massive storm that knocked over power lines and wreaked havoc on the small town. The day we skied Jackson Hole was the first day it had opened so there was more of a rush of people.
The boys skied Rendezvous Bowl while Tor and I skied, acquired a knee injury, spent time with the medic, and headed straight to the bar. I know I know, people tell me all the time: I'm not that athletic. There. I admitted it.
To deal with the loss, we took the tram to the summit and had gourmet waffles and beer before the mountain closed. The views are incredible, and it's fun to watch the skiers before they hit the slopes. Then it was time to aprés ski - my favorite part! First stop was Nick Wilson's Cowboy Cafe for lunch and brews. Next was the Mangy Moose for appetizers, more beverages, and live music. The vibes are great in the Mangy Moose. Definitely a place to hang around after the mountain closes. On the way home we stopped at Bodgea Gas Station for a slushie - shout out to Mark who's the only one that supports Tor and my habits. BEWARE. These slushies are one and done - for realzies.
The evening ended with tomato soup and grilled cheese and introducing Mark and Ryan to the wonder that is Coyote Ugly (the movie).
THE FINAL MORNING:
We decided to spend Valentines' morning sharing memories over great food and coffee. Disclaimer: we have this thing about spending Val day together (Vegas, SD, now Jackson). Warning to my future husband... this tradition may continue. Persephone Bakery exceeded all of our expectations. The decor is impeccable, and the food is out of this world. If you don't make time for this spot you're greatly missing out. Tor had the Croque Madame and I had the Brussel Sweet Potato Hash and the Soup of the Day (Cream of Broccoli). Everything was incredible.
Before you leave Jackson, you need to take a scenic drive through Grand Teton National Park. It's beautiful and so fun to get lost in nature (wow, that was so Earthy of me to say). Since the airport is so small you don't have to be there super early before your flight so drive through the park before you get to the airport - you won't regret it.