Whether you look forward to this time of year or dread the departure to colder temperatures, snow still remains a magical thing – from the first flurries to a white Christmas. And in terms of a vacation, if you’re not heading to warmer weather, you’ll be on the opposite end of the spectrum in search of the best ski and snow vacation spots. After all that treading up and down hill with layers upon layers there’s nothing more satisfying then a well earned beer to relax and close a satisfying day. Below is our list of some of the best ski AND drinking towns the nation has to offer where the après ski activities (aka drinking) rivals the slopes.
Park City, Utah
With the slogan “helping people forget their names since 1903,” No Name Saloon and Grill is a watering hole with a rooftop deck for those blue bird days. The spot has repeatedly hit lists of best places to après ski, and it’s off Main Street where a host of other bars are located for a bar crawl. The city is also home to Sundance (if you want to plan a drinking and ski vacation around the moviefest), plus three premiere resorts: Canyons, Park City and Deer Valley, where you can hit the slopes.
Aspen Brewing Co. has a winter seasonal brew that pays homage to a story of the season. On tap in the tasting room is the 10th Mountain Imperial Stout – an imperial version of a traditional English Oatmeal stout – in honor of the men who pioneered the ski industry after their service to World War II, specifically who trained on Ajax. The brewery also has tours, growlers and a $3.50 happy hour pints to dedicate an evening to drinking.
The city broke the world record for longest shot ski earlier this year with 219 skis spanning 973 feet. If you’re not acquainted with skiing culture, a shot ski is an old ski with multiple shot glasses glued on top, then people line up holding the ski to take a shot collectively. So, if 888 people taking shots at once doesn’t prompt you to think Breckenridge is a great place to drink then I’m not sure what will.
Crested Butte, Colorado
This one’s humorous. What happens when Bud Light takes over a city for their “Whatever, USA” party? Crested Butte gets colored in blue, that’s what! Back in 2014, Anheuser- Busch paid the city $50,000 in exchange for Bud Light lined shelves in bars and décor replaced with everything blue, plus all attendees decked out the color. Crested Butte survived the hangover but it definitely made a lasting impression that this is the real life “Whatever, USA.”
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
“Ski hard, party hard” is the motto we give this ski town because it has some of the scariest black diamond runs in the nation, the highest vertical rise in the country at 4,139 feet and known to have the steepest overall slope in North America at Snow Mountain. With these stats, a day at the slopes calls for a beer – or something stronger. Hit the Mangy Moose, Jackson Hole’s finest and oldest dive bar, celebrating 50 years this upcoming year. Live music is often held at the two-story building that’s also consistently named one of the best après ski spots in the nation.
On the right side of the Willamette National Forest, Bend is less than 30 minutes to Mount Bachelor where it’s ski area also happens to have the highest skiable elevation in all of the Pacific Northwest. Skiing aside, Bend has 21 breweries. For a fun, citywide drinking game, play the Bend Trail Ale game during your trip. Download the app and collect stamps from 10 different breweries to receive a prize; but, instead of keeping that prize you have to gift it to stranger.
It’s the biggest ski resort in Vermont and holds the nickname, “Beast of the East.” The resort is made of six mountains and a party scene to match. The Pickle Barrel is a well-known nightclub that has four bars on three levels, plus live music.
Hunter Mountain, New York
To escape the hustle and bustle of New York City, Hunter Mountain in the Great North Catskills is 2 hours with three local mountains and 57 runs. And while it isn’t a serious skiers dream, it makes up for it in a party. Slopes Nightclub and Hotel is coined “New York’s infamous winter party destination” serving $6 Jagerbombs and staying open until 4am.
Only 13 miles north of Lake Tahoe, this California town has a wide variety of runs for skiers to choose from depending on expertise. Northstar is the closest and then there’s Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, Tahoe Donner and Soda Springs. As for drinking, if you’re looking for some true small town charm, hit the Tourist Cub. It’ll round out your trip with the ultimate ski-bum dive bar, and there’s even two wine bars: Uncorked and Pour House Wine Shop & Tasting Bar.