Jackson Hole is one place where you can experience many different types of vacations. We asked long-time local experts to share their thoughts on potential itineraries for vacations focused on family time, the valley’s arts and culture, and the great outdoors.
Exploring with kids in Jackson Hole is a blast—there’s so much to do!
First off, you have to fuel-up for the day. Kids love the waffles and bacon at Cafe Genevieve, and I am a big fan of their Huevos Rancheros. Breakfast finished, head over to Snow King to participate one of the many, fun activities there, whether it’s the Treetop Adventure, a game of miniature golf, riding the mountain coaster, or hiking up the mountain, then taking the chairlift back down. New this year, the Wyoming Stargazing planetarium will be located at the base of Snow King throughout the summer months.
After you’re off the mountain, head to the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum to participate in one of their hands-on, family fun programs, including Wacky Wednesday Science, Curious Kids Classes, or Sensory Explorations. Hands-on in nature, these programs are offered weekly throughout the summer, and they encourage children to ask questions about and make new connections with the world around them. Make sure you schedule enough time here for the kids to free-play after the program. Children love to “fly” the airplane, shop in the grocery store, build simple machine roller coasters on the magnet wall, and build hovercrafts in the wind machine.
After all of this exploration and discovery, odds are, the kids will be hungry again, so walk over to Persephone and enjoy a salad, sandwich, and/or maybe a chocolate croissant, before heading out to the Teton Raptor Center. Located in Wilson, this nonprofit offers family Raptor Encounter Programs at 2 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays, all summer long.
At this point, it might be time for a nap, but if the kids need to let off some more steam, head to Teton Village’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, where you can take the tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain to take in the views, and, if you’re lucky, spot a marmot or a pika sunning on the rocks. The resort’s base area also has a myriad of activities for kids, including mountain biking trails, a playground, and a splash pad. Adults can join in the fun, or merely observe, over a picnic and bottle of Il Borro’s wine from the Bodega.
If it’s a Monday night, head back into town to catch the 6 p.m. Shootout at the Town Square. This free mini-drama runs daily throughout the summer and is put on by the Jackson Hole Playhouse.
For dinner, be sure to reserve a lane at Hole Bowl. A game of bowling provides a fun way for the family to end the day, and the food at the alley’s Pinsetter Café is excellent, too!
Arts & Culture
Local Expert: Shari Brownfield, fine art consultant at Shari Brownfield Fine Art and board member at both the Center of Wonder and the Jackson Hole Art Association
The first thing I’d do, over breakfast at Persephone, where their food is art, is check Dailywonder.org. There are so many different art related events in the valley—from ceramics classes to air fairs, gallery shows, and concerts—there are so many options, no matter the season. This website consolidates every arts-related activity in the valley, and even provides a platform through which you may purchase tickets, when tickets are required, of course.
Ideally, there’d be a morning class at the Art Association of Jackson Hole—I wouldn’t care if it was painting, ceramics, leather stamping, or fusing glass; it’s cool to learn something new from local artists. If there wasn’t a class, I’d go to the Art Association’s Gallery to see the current show. They’re wide-ranging and always feature local artists.
If the weather’s nice, I’d take a tour of downtown’s public art. You can interact with Filament Mind in the lobby of the Teton County Library for hours. Local artist Wendell Field’s mural at the Snake River Brewery is fun and colorful. You can take a self-guided tour of our public art by downloading a map at jhpublicart.org.
I’d want to spend several hours touring downtown’s art galleries and shops. It is possible to visit thirty to fifty different establishments and experience art in different ways. I’d divide my time between both traditional and contemporary galleries, as well as shops like Workshop and Penny Lane Cooperative, which sell pieces by multiple, local artists.
If DailyWonder.org shows that Dancers’ Workshop has a public rehearsal scheduled—don’t miss it. They sometimes offer one-off dance classes that are fun, too.
Of course, there is the National Museum of Wildlife Art. I could entertain guests all day on a stroll through the Sculpture Trail—in addition to the diverse pieces scattered along it’s, you’ll be mesmerized by amazing views of the National Elk Refuge, Snow King, Sleeping Indian, and Cache Creek. Do be sure to go inside. The collection is amazing, and it interprets the genre of “wildlife art” broadly. Timing is key; my preference is to have lunch or enjoy a glass of wine and charcuterie on the fabulous, outdoor terrace at Palate, the Museum’s restaurant.
Of course, a hike is a must when in Jackson. When taking friends, the hike varies with their fitness levels, but we’ll almost always have breakfast at the same place: Sweet Cheeks Meats. Since a goal of owners Nora and Nick Phillips is to use every part of every animal (and the spare parts they have are constantly changing), the daily breakfast remains a mystery until the couple posts a photo of it on Instagram (@sweetcheeksmeats) at around 7 a.m. Whether it’s a burrito made with Oaxaca chorizo gravy, a beef banger on brioche, or a cheddar scallion buttermilk biscuit with pulled pork and a fried egg, you can count on this breakfast filling you up. It’s always about $5.
When it comes to hikes, I’ve got several favorites that range from easy to challenging.
If you couldn’t see downtown Jackson from the top of Crystal Lite, a small butte above East Jackson and in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, you’d never guess it was only 1.2 miles from the Town Square. Mule deer are almost as plentiful as wildflowers, and there are views of the Tetons, the National Elk Refuge, and town. Hike .9 mile out-and-back to the top of Crystal Lite, or make it a 1.9 mile “lollipop” loop. Begin at the Nelson Trailhead in East Jackson.
There are many gorgeous, high alpine lakes in and around Jackson Hole. Ski Lake is the easiest of these to access—four miles with about 900 feet of gradual climbing. You could spot a moose along the way, too. The trailhead is about half-way up Teton Pass, at Philips Canyon. Also on Teton Pass, but on the west side, Mt. Taylor is a challenging-but-doable hike that takes you past wildflowers and ancient white bark pine trees to an impressive high alpine ridge and mountain summit. Round-trip, it’s 8.2 miles and 3,200 vertical feet of elevation gain. Start from the Coal Creek Trailhead on the west side of Teton Pass.
When not hiking, I love taking guests SUPing (stand-up paddleboarding) on Grand Teton National Park’s String Lake, on a ride up the tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, or on a bike ride along the valley’s extensive pathway system. The ride from downtown Jackson to Jenny Lake, in GTNP, is 36 miles round-trip and relatively flat. If you find the pathways enjoyable, you can also ride from Jackson to Teton Village, or to Wilson.
There’s nothing I crave more than a burger, after a day of hiking. Sometimes I’ll go for the quick and easy Liberty Burger. When I have my heart set on a burger and my favorite dessert in town, I’ll go to Snake River Grill. The burger isn’t on the menu here, but they’ll make one; you just have to ask. And then I end the meal with Eskimo Bars. The burger at Teton Pines, which I think is one of the most overlooked restaurants in the valley, is fabulous, and is always accompanied by a fun mix of toppings, like melted gouda, fire-roasted tomato bacon relish, and herbed aioli.
After dinner, even though there’s usually plenty of daylight remaining, we’re all so knackered, we go to bed early. Or maybe relax on the deck with a drink.