What is Jackson Hole’s cultural scene like?

For an area its size — about 13,000 year-round residents — Jackson Hole showcases quite a rich cultural scene. For seven weeks every summer, the Grand Teton Music Festival performs chamber and symphony concerts at Walk Festival Hall in Teton Village. While in the fall, the two-week-long Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival draws artists and collectors from across the country for exhibits, sales, a design conference, food events and even an art auction.

The rest of the year, the heart of Jackson Hole’s art scene is the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The museum has a 4,000-piece permanent collection that includes works from John J. Audubon to Picasso. While wildlife and western-themed art do rule both at the NMWA and in Jackson Hole as a whole, don’t expect just boring and predictable landscapes and animals at the NMWA. Recent exhibits include Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild; Collection Spotlight: Rembrandt Bugatti and the Antwerp School; A Change of Seasons: Wildlife in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter; and, perhaps most popular in recent times, Wild New Ways: Maurice Sendak’s Animal Kingdom.

The Jackson Hole Center for the Arts, in downtown Jackson, is home to 15 local, state and regional not-for-profit arts organizations, a performing arts pavilion with a 500-seat theater, a Music Center, and theater rehearsal space.

The Center for the Arts schedule is constantly changing. If you’re looking for a gallery show, music concert, special screening of a movie, a ceramics master class or a dance performance, you should check out the Center for the Arts first. Sometimes performers are local, other times they’re the New York City Ballet.

  • On May 24, 2012
    Dermot Waters answered the question: Dermot Waters

    What is the best Jackson Hole nightlife?

    If you don't go to the Mangey Moose for Apres Ski or the Cadillac for happy hour, then you haven't been to Jackson. Everytime I've been to either of those places, it turns into happy hours.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best five Jackson Hole food experiences?

    Sure, Jackson Hole may be best known for its world-class ski resorts; but there are plenty of fabulous dining experiences to be had. Here is our list for the five best Jackson Hole food experiences:

    1. Jenny Lake Lodge. The all-you-can-eat prix fixe breakfast feast at luxe Jenny Lake Lodge is worth the trek. The roasted buffalo hash with its finger-size hunks of meat, cinnamon roll French toast, Eggs Benedict topped with house-made Hollandaise, and huckleberry pancakes come with sides of history (the log lodge dates from 1922) Â- and convenience - out of all the lodges in the park, this is closest to the big peaks and any trailhead.

    2. The Mural Room at Jackson Lake Lodge. With both views across Jackson Lake to the mountains and dramatic murals of the region’s history, the Mural Room is a great venue. That doesn’t mean the food is an afterthought though. The menu includes regional specialties - buffalo prime rib and rack of lamb - all prepared fresh at the lodge’s on-site butcher shop - in an elegant, albeit large, setting.

    3. Snake River Grill. Of course calling Snake River Grill Jackson’s best fine dining restaurant is subjective. But Food Network host Giada De Laurentiis seems to agree. She even carried the superlative further, calling the Grill’s Eskimo Bar dessert the best thing she had ever eaten. It’s no wonder, the Grill makes every part of it - the brownie, the vanilla ice cream, the hot caramel sauce - itself.

    4). Q Roadhouse. With the most sophisticated menu of any roadhouse we’ve ever seen, you’ll find dishes like ginger lime salad, grilled South Carolina quail, quinoa pagnotta, and sweet tea brined chicken fried chicken. The sautéed barramundi with chipotle-lime buerre blanc, and crab-radish pico de gallo is so good, you’ll be licking the sauce off your plate.

    5. Bar T 5. Don’t be disappointed when you don’t smell the food cooking as you pull into the Bar T 5’s parking lot. The food is still 2 miles away. You won’t use your car to get there though. Load into horse-drawn, cowboy-commanded covered wagons for the trip up Cache Creek in the Bridger-Teton National Forest just a mile from downtown Jackson. Pulling into the Bar T 5’s dining room - tables along the banks of burbling little Cache Creek - that’s when you’ll start smelling dinner. Line right up, dig in and then sit back as the Bar T 5 band does its thing -cowboy songs, poetry and jokes.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is Jackson Hole’s restaurant scene like?

    Jackson Hole’s restaurant scene is the biggest, fanciest and most diverse in the state. Within a one-block radius in downtown Jackson you can find a New York-style pizza joint serving up thin crust slices, and a walk-up eatery that, in the morning, sells breakfast burritos the size of your head, and, come dinner time, makes Nepalese-style dumplings, called momos. If the restaurant scene is lacking anything, it’s mid-priced eateries. There are plenty of sandwich and salad shops and lots of restaurants with $10 cocktails, but not so much in between.

    Restaurants here come and go quickly, but locals are fiercely loyal to and supportive of the good ones. The Snake River Brewery is just as popular for its food as its beer. The Snake River Grill has been generally regarded as the valley’s best fine dining restaurant for two decades.
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  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best five kid-friendly restaurants in Jackson Hole?

    Jeans might get you into any restaurant in Jackson Hole, but some still have more formal atmospheres that encourage you to leave the kids behind. When you and the kids are hungry, here are your best bets to eat in Jackson Hole:

    1. Betty Rock Café. At Betty Rock Café you order at a counter and then take a seat and wait for the friendly staff to bring your food - soup, turkey chili, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, milkshakes, paninis, and sweets - to you. There’s ample outdoor seating in the summer and Thursday nights are all-you-can-eat pizza. Pies range from the simple to caramelized onions, green apples and prosciutto.

    2. BBQ at Jackson Lake Lodge. From late June until late August, there’s a poolside BBQ at Jackson Lake Lodge. You? Hanging out under the lodgepole pines licking sauce from your fingers listening to a local musician. The kids? Splashing around in the Olympic-sized pool or playing in the playground. Everyone? Enjoying all-you-can eat grilled brisket, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, carnitas, hamburgers, veggie burgers, salad, watermelon, cobbler and brownies.

    3. Moo’s Gourmet. What kid doesn’t like ice cream? Open year round, Moo’s Gourmet uses only natural and organic ingredients to make everything from simple - vanilla and rocky road - to crazy - chocolate cabernet sauvignon and white chocolate macadamia nut coconut lime ice creams. Wyoming’s only creamery, Moo’s also does baked goods and sundaes.

    4. Snake River Brewery. Yes, Snake River Brewery’s main business is brewing beer, but it has an area upstairs away from the bar set aside for families. Televisions up here are often tuned to cartoons, the perfect accompaniment to a pizza or PB&J sandwich, both of which are on the pub’s kids’ menu.

    5. Calico. Do you want good, fresh food as much as you want the kids to be happy? There’s no better place than Calico. Its giant yard includes a garden the restaurant culls as many ingredients as it can from but there’s still ample grass for kids to play Frisbee, ride bikes, throw footballs, run around and do whatever else they do while you enjoy your dinner in peace on the covered deck overlooking the lawn.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best five romantic restaurants in Jackson Hole?

    Jackson Hole has many romantic restaurants, and they are all romantic in different ways. One kind of romantic restaurant the valley is missing is a super formal one requiring men to wear a jacket and tie. It’s doubtful as to whether many people actually miss this though.

    1. Cascade. In the summer, Cascade has a quiet, sunny patio. Come winter, there’s a roaring fire and plush banquettes to snuggle into. Year round, the food is good and seasonal: smoked pheasant ravioli, porcini dusted steelhead, Zonker stout-braised buffalo short ribs and all-natural free-range chicken.

    2. Jenny Lake Lodge. Open May through October, Jenny Lake Lodge sits in a lodgepole pine forest at the northern end of Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. The main lodge, which includes the dining room, dates from the 1920s. It’s also cozy and romantic, but in a more rustic way than private home way. The dinner menu here is always five courses; the five courses change nightly however. Breakfast here is fabulous as well. Whichever you choose - breakfast or dinner - make sure to make reservations. The lodge will turn non-guests away if they don’t have reservations.

    3. Couloir. To get to Couloir, you have to take the Bridger Gondola up from the base at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Year round, the ride comes with wool blankets to snuggle under during the 8-minute ride. If you’re not in the mood for tenderloin of buffalo, pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras or spicy grilled ono with coriander, Couloir has a great bar where you can just enjoy a drink.

    4. Kitchen. A feast for all the senses, the Kitchen serves a wide menu of small plates, sushi, and one of the town’s best burgers (grass-fed beef) in a sophisticated-yet-cozy space you’d never guess was in Wyoming. The red deer with cherries and oyster mushrooms is very tasty too. Couples can canoodle at a two-top in the back while groups make their noise up front.

    5. Osteria. Grab one of the eight seats at Osteria’s salumi bar and enjoy dinner and a show: you get to watch as imported meats and cheeses, brought to Jackson from the country’s finest purveyors, are hand-sliced to order. Or watch the wood-oven fired pizzas come to life. Or, if you need more privacy to feel romantic, sit in the main dining room, which is open, but surprisingly intimate.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best Jackson Hole museums?

    The best museums in Jackson Hole are the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, and the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum. These are also the only three museums in Jackson Hole. The Colter Bay Museum is in Grand Teton National Park. The other two are in Jackson.

    Founded over 50 years ago, the Jackson Hole Museum is a place where you can learn about Jackson’s all-women town council, as well as the Old West. Opened in 2011, the new Jackson Hole Museum is roomier, nicer and has even more exhibits than the old building. It is also open year round, which the old museum was not. Exhibits still capture the spirit and the culture of the early days of Jackson Hole, Grand Teton and the Yellowstone region. There is memorabilia from early dude ranching days, as well as valley homesteaders. There are also wildlife exhibits and cowboy and pioneer clothing for kids to play with.

    In Grand Teton National Park, the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum is partially closing for renovations and restoration after summer 2011. While the majority of the more than 2,000-item collection of Plains Indian artifacts in Tucson, Arizona are being restored, a few artifacts will be on exhibit in a much reduced space. Though Native Americans never lived year round in Grand Teton National Park, the museum’s collection was donated to the government by the Rockefeller family with the stipulation that it be displayed in GTNP. The pieces in the collection date mostly from the Reservation Period (1850 - 1880) and come from Central and High Plains tribes.

    Over the past two decades, Jackson Hole has slowly become one of the largest art centers in the West and the National Museum of Wildlife Art — with a 4,000-piece permanent collection that includes works by artists from John J. Audubon to Picasso — is the art scene’s centerpiece. In 2012, an outdoor sculpture trail and terrace, designed by noted Oakland landscape architect Walter Hood, is set to open. Another way to enjoy the NMWA is at its Rising Sage Café, which serves sandwiches, salads, soups and sweets alongside sweeping views out over the National Elk Refuge.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What should you pack for a trip to Jackson Hole?

    Packing for Jackson Hole can be complicated considering that summer days can be 80 F during the day and dip into the low 40s at night. Winter days can be many — many — degrees below zero on the valley floor, but 25 F halfway up the mountain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Temperature inversions in the winter are not at all uncommon.

    Year round, the key to navigating these temperature extremes is layer, layer, layer. It’s just the layers’ thickness that varies depending on the month. A warm down — or synthetic down — jacket is a good thing to have year round, as absurd as it sounds.

    Although Jackson Hole has plenty of fancy restaurants and hotels, jeans are acceptable to wear anywhere in the valley. If you mention a tie, it had better be in reference to fly-fishing. Because of the high altitude, hats and sunscreen are recommended no matter what month you are visiting.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best five free things to do in Jackson Hole?

    Jackson Hole is one of the wealthiest areas in the country. Still, there are lots of free things to do here. With much of the attractions in the great outdoors, there is an endless amount of free things to do in Jackson Hole. Take a peek at our list of the five best free things to do in this ski town:

    1. Catch a symphony rehearsal. From early July until mid-August, the Grand Teton Music Festival offers chamber music and symphony concerts that can cost upwards of $50. But, sneak out to one of the rehearsals that the festival orchestra opens to the public, free of charge. Several days a week, you can take in the heavenly melodies at the morning or afternoon rehearsals.
    2. People-watching. All year long, the Jackson Town Square offers great people watching. Summer crowds include cowboys, Harley riders, and tourists from around the world. In snowy winter, you can spot Olympic-hopeful skiers in town to train.
    3. Dance the night away. A fixture in downtown Jackson since 1937, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has free country-western dance lessons at 7 p.m. Thursdays throughout the summer. Swing on by this Jackson Hole legend to learn everything from country swing to the two-step. Trust us, your friends back home will be quite impressed with your new moves.
    4. Take a hike. Between Memorial Day and mid-September, you can embark on the 7.2-mile hike up the Summit Trail at Teton Village. Once you’ve done all the hard work, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort rewards you with a free tram ride down to the base of the mountain.
    5. See the bison. A herd of about 1,000 bison live in Grand Teton National Park. Thankfully, they can often be found in a part of the park that is completely free to enter. Set out on a drive to the small town of Kelly and continue north on Antelope Flats Road. You can usually find bison somewhere along this 20-mile drive. But beware, the bison are wild and are much faster than they look. They can run up to 35 miles per hour and jump fences that are six-feet tall. So we recommend you admire from a distance.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Jackson Hole in one day?

    The best way to see Jackson Hole in a day is to concentrate your energies on the town of Jackson and the southern part of Grand Teton National Park. Start with a quick breakfast — a fresh bagel and coffee —  at the locals’ favorite Pearl Street Bagels in downtown Jackson before driving north to Kelly. You’re headed to this tiny town inside Grand Teton National Park to look for bison; so make it your mission to keep your eyes peeled. If the ground’s covered with snow, you can save the drive to Kelly — you won’t see any bison out there because they’ve migrated to lower elevations — and instead take a sleigh ride into the National Elk Refuge, where thousands of elk winter alongside a few hundred buffalo.

    After you’ve seen a few members of the country’s largest herd of free roaming buffalo, head for the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park. Just before the entrance station, make sure to stop at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. It’ll give you a better idea of what you want to see inside the park along with some of the history and also a close look at the lives of some of the animals that live in the park. If it’s summer, see if there’s a scenic float trip down the Snake River that has room for you. During the winter, ask the Visitor Center if there’s a free ranger-led snowshoe tour heading out.

    If you want to explore a bit of the park on your own, head towards the Bradley and Taggart Lakes Trailhead, three miles up the road from the southern entrance station. Trails circle the lakes year round. In the winter, the road is closed beyond this trailhead/parking area. Unusual for the Tetons, the trails here are gently rolling rather than steep climbs.

    After you’ve finished in the park, head back towards Jackson. If you didn’t stop at the National Museum of Wildlife Art to catch the winter sleigh ride, stop on your way back into town.

    If it’s summer, your goal is to make it back to town by 6 p.m. The Jackson Hole Shootout Gang has been pitting good against bad six evenings a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day for nearly 60 years, making it the longest running gunfight in the country. The script changes a little every year, but you can bet there will be a damsel in distress, an escaped outlaw, a few cheesy stunts and more than a little shooting (blanks, of course).

    From the Shootout, walk across the Square to the Million Dollar Cowboy Saloon, where the bar stools are topped with saddles and real cowboys mingle with tourists. There’s a steakhouse in the basement, but just go for a drink in the bar. You’ve got dinner reservations at Couloir restaurant out in Teton Village. At 9,065 feet at the top of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s gondola, Couloir’s views are as tasty as the food.
     
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Jackson Hole in two days?

    The best way to see Jackson Hole in two days is to spend one day in Jackson and the second in Grand Teton National Park. If you don’t mind switching hotels, go for a night in downtown Jackson. Spend the second night at some sort of lodge in Grand Teton or you can opt for the Four-Star Amangani, which is located just inside the southern boundary of the national park. If you’re visiting during ski season, maybe spend the first night in Jackson and the second in Teton Village, where the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is. We suggest the Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole at the base of the ski resort.

    Day 1: Start with a leisurely breakfast at the Alpine House Inn. You’ll want to fuel up fully to prepare for wandering around Jackson’s historic downtown. When you need a break from shopping and perusing the numerous art galleries, lunch is at Betty Rock Café. After lunch, make for the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which has a permanent collection of over 4,000 pieces of western and wildlife art from artists from Audubon to Picasso.

    For an afternoon dose of culture, head to the Million Dollar Cowboy Saloon, where the bar stools are topped with saddles and real cowboys mingle with dudes. After a local brew, you’re headed to Rendezvous Bistro, a couple of miles south of town for some chichi American comfort food, for dinner.

    Day 2: Because you’re headed into Grand Teton National Park today, grab a quick breakfast at the locals’ favorite Pearl Street Bagels in downtown Jackson before heading north. En route to the park, take a short detour to Kelly. Your mission is to spot bison. After you’ve seen a few members of the country’s largest herd of free roaming buffalo, head for the southern entrance to Grand Teton National Park. Make sure to stop at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. If it’s summer, see if there’s a scenic float trip down the Snake River that has room for you. During the snowy winter, ask the staff at the visitor center if there’s a free ranger-led snowshoe tour heading out.

    Keep heading further into the park, your end destination is Jackson Lake Lodge for dinner in its Mural Room, which serves regional specialties in an elegant setting with massive picture windows looking out on Jackson Lake and Mount Moran, the highest of the park’s northern peaks.
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