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 November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    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 November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best five things to do on a romantic trip to Jackson Hole?

    Jackson Hole’s natural beauty makes it the perfect backdrop for a romantic rendezvous. Whether you dine in a sky-high restaurant or take a dip in hot springs, bring your sweetheart to these date-worthy spots:

    1. Dine sky-high. Taking the Bridger Gondola up to Couloir Restaurant is just the beginning of a great evening. During your four-course, prix fixe meal at 9,065 feet, you can look out over the twinkling lights in the valley far below while enjoying the restaurant’s elegant-but-not-stuffy atmosphere. Entrées range from tenderloin of buffalo to pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras or spicy grilled ono with coriander.
    2. Take a Dip in the Hot Springs. Sneak off in the early morning or later in the evening for an intimate plunge in the naturally heated water at Granite Hot Springs in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. A soak in these warm waters is good for the skin and with nothing but nature surrounding you and your mate, you’ll have hearts in your eyes in no time.
    3. Soar above it all. A hot-air balloon ride silently sails between 1,500 and 4,000 feet over the valley floor. Though the altitude depends on wind conditions, you will likely be at eye level with some of the mountains. Champagne and strawberries make the adventure even more enchanting. Rides often take off near Teton Village, but outfitters offer hotel pick-up.
    4. Camp out. Splurge and spend a night in one of the historic cabins at Jenny Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park. Having hosted its first visitors in 1920 - nine years before Grand Teton National Park was first established - Jenny Lake Lodge has had decades to get everything just right. And it has.
    5. Take a hike. Hop aboard the tram that will carry you to the top of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and then do the 10-mile, mostly flat (since you’ve taken the tram up, most of the hard work is done) hike to Marion Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Nestled in a verdant cirque at 9,000-some feet, Marion Lake gets only a handful of hikers a day.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

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

    There are tons of things to do with kids in Jackson Hole. Whether you’ve got toddlers or teenagers, there’s something you can do as a family. Here’s our list of the five best things to do with your youngsters in Jackson Hole:

    1. Kids Ranch. During the snowy winter, kiddies can have a go at the slopes at the Kids Ranch, the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s kids’ program. Kids Ranch employs some of the best ski and snowboard instructors around. Kids Ranch has programs for all ages - there’s even babysitting for those who can’t walk yet - up through the teenage years. In 2011/2012, the program did $1 million of updates - mostly behind the scenes - to its equipment and infrastructure.
    2. Cowboy dinners. Kids love the jokes and songs performed by the Bar J Wranglers at their Chuckwagon all summer long. One of the Bar J Wranglers chimes the dinner bell every night at 7 o’clock on the dot. Guests line up paralleling mile-long buffet tables, dented and dinged tins, plates and cups in hand. Giving guests a choice that most cowboys likely never had, there is barbecue beef, barbecue chicken, pork rib and rib-eye. All dinners also come with a potato, beans, a warm homemade biscuit, spice cake, lemonade or coffee and, of course, entertainment. When not in Jackson Hole for the summer season at the Chuckwagon, the Bar J Wranglers tour the country performing their unique cowboy poetry and songs.
    3. Hit the trails. Let your litter frolic in the great outdoors at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Over the last few years, the mountain has become as much a summer destination as a winter one, especially for families with kids. In 2011, a lift-served downhill mountain bike park opened. Kids love riding the wide, smooth beginner trails. There is also a bungee trampoline in the resort’s base area, a disc golf course and easy hiking trails.
    4. Gobble up barbecue. The poolside barbecue at Jackson Lake Lodge allows parents to enjoy great scenery and classic summer fare - all-you-can-eat grilled brisket, barbecue chicken, corn on the cob, carnitas, hamburgers, veggie burgers, salad, watermelon, cobbler, and brownies - while kids splash around an Olympic-sized pool. Of course the kids get to eat too. There’s often live music as well.
    5. Soar through the valley. There’s no minimum age at Jackson Hole Paragliding, just a minimum weight of 50 pounds. For brave ones who meet the criteria, a tandem paragliding ride over the Tetons will surely be one of the coolest things they’ll ever do. Flights leave from the top of Rendezvous Mountain at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The pilot attached to you directs the take-off and controls the chute, so riders really don’t need to know anything but how to follow instructions.
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

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

    There is a wide range of things to see and do in Jackson Hole throughout the year. You should know that almost all of the activities in this ski town are for the outdoorsy, nature lovers. That being said, there are plenty of things to do indoors, just not as great as the outdoor attractions. Depending on the season, the five best things to see and do can range from sleigh rides to white water rafting. Here is our list of the five best things to see and do in Jackson Hole, no matter what time of year:

    1. Hit the slopes. In the winter, go skiing at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, one of the most challenging and beautiful ski resorts in the country. Fifty-percent of its 116 runs are expert, but that also means that half of the mountain resort is dedicated to non-advanced skiers and snowboarders - that’s 1,250 acres, which is larger than most ski resorts’ total terrain. The resort has recently invested $4.5 million in improvements. Its Mountain Sports School offers lessons for all abilities and advanced skiers wishing to take advantage of the 3,000+ acres of backcountry terrain accessible from the resort can hire guides there as well.
    2. Set out on a sleigh ride. Adjacent to the town of Jackson, the National Elk Refuge is home to nearly 10,000 elk every winter, which come down from the mountains to feed at lower elevations, where there is less snow. Sure, elk are scared of people - and for obvious reasons - but they are not afraid of sleighs, so you can be driven right into the middle of the herd. Sleigh rides start and end at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.
    3. Take a hike. Hit a few of the hundreds of miles of trails in Grand Teton National Park during the picturesque summer months. Sure, you’ll get some amazing photos of the Tetons; but nothing beats a run-in with the plethora of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for elk, moose, eagles and even black bears that call this national park home. But we recommend you admire from a distance.
    4. Hop on the lift to the summit. For a very different view - and without having to hike - take the chairlift up to the 7,800-foot summit of Snow King Mountain. You’ll be looking down on Jackson’s quaint downtown and out at the major peaks of the Teton Range. FYI: Snow King is in one of the other ranges that ring Jackson Hole, the Gros Ventre Mountains.
    5. Grab your paddle. Tackle the Snake River’s scenic and white water sections. The scenic section from Deadman’s Bar to Dornan’s in Grand Teton National Park just may be one of the most beautiful stretches of river in the country. Keep your eyes peeled for moose along the riverbank. The Snake River Canyon, 20 miles south of Jackson, has eight miles of class II and III white water guaranteed to get your adrenaline going.
  • On November 11, 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 11, 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 11, 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 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which five Jackson Hole restaurants are best for brunch?

    Jackson Hole isn’t much of a brunch place. In fact, there are no brunch menus in the valley. There are plenty of Jackson Hole restaurants that do fabulous breakfasts though.

    1. The Alpine House. Of course, the breakfast at the Alpine House is healthy considering that the inn is owned and run by two former Olympians. The daily breakfast buffet is organic and usually includes housemade granola, housemade pastries and muffins, gourmet meats and cheeses, artisan breads, fresh fruit, yogurt, juices, and locally roasted organic coffee and espresso drinks. There are usually two hot options — malted waffles, eggs benedict — to choose from daily too.

    2. Jenny Lake Lodge. The prix fixe, all-you-can-eat breakfast at Jenny Lake Lodge is definitely worth the hike. The roasted buffalo hash with its finger-size hunks of meat, cinnamon roll French toast, eggs benedict topped with housemade hollandaise, and huckleberry pancakes come with sides of history (the log lodge dates from 1922) — and convenience — out of all the lodges in the park, this is closest to the big peaks and any trailhead.

    3. Breakfast on a boat. Breakfast on Elk Island in the middle of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park starts with a boat ride. The guides on these boats, which depart from the Colter Bay Marina, are knowledgeable and, once you’re at Elk Island, the food is great — corn-dusted trout fillets, cowboy potatoes, and some breads. The best part of this breakfast, though, is the view. There are no better views of Mount Moran than those from Elk Island.

    4. Bread Basket/La Canasta del Pan. The quick-and-easy (and inexpensive) bread basket/la canasta del pan is a split personality of the best kind. You can have your pan dulce and your chocolate croissant too. There are French and Mexican influences in the bakery’s kitchen, which makes everything from scratch every day. The mild cheese-filled Danishes are the best north of the border.

    5. The actual breakfast items at Jackson Hole Roasters are limited to baked goods, but local coffee snobs don’t seem to care. Not only is the coffee here roasted in a historic log cabin, which conveniently sits right next door, but JH Roasters shelled out $11,000 for a Clover, a single-cup coffee brewer which lets the barista — and these baristas know what they’re doing — brew every cup of coffee based on the characteristic of the coffee bean.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Jackson Hole?

    Once a rough and tumble mining town, Jackson, and its surrounding area of Jackson Hole, has grown increasingly upscale over the past decade, and now offers a range of upscale places to stay, many with full-service spas and creative restaurants (you’ll find lots of game on the menu here). If you’re in Jackson to ski, choose a hotel in Teton Village, the tiny cluster of buildings situated at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Or stay in the charming, old-west town of Jackson, located 12 miles from Teton Village and closer to the Jackson airport, Teton National Park, Yellowstone and the area’s top attractions. Wherever you choose to stay, be sure to take time to explore the “hole” (or valley, in Old West-speak) and its gorgeous mountains and rugged charm.

    1. Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole. Tucked at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain resort with ski-in/ski-out access, Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole manages to deliver Five-Star service with laid-back Western charm (something that’s harder to do than it looks). From the charming doormen in their 10-gallon cowboy hats to the knowledgeable ski concierges (who will warm your boots for you when you come in for lunch at the Westbank Grill), the staff here works hard to take care of guests while making them feel at home at the same time. In winter, the outdoor heated pools are attended by servers in white fur hats, who offer everything from schnapps-spiked hot chocolate and s’mores to heated robes and towels. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, with working fireplaces and leather club chairs to lounge in, and oversized bathrooms stocked with L’Occitane products.

    2. Amangani. Situated just inside the southern entrance of Grand Teton National Park, Amangani is a hot-spot for the rich and famous. Atop a dramatic butte with views of the valley (you’ll want to spend some time in the heated pool taking in those amazing views), this chic, secluded resort delivers an atmosphere that’s almost hushed in its luxury (you’ll feel like you’re the only one here). This Four-Star hotel is the epitome of the après ski lifestyle. Though there isn’t ski-in/ski-out access at the hotel itself, Amangani showcases this luxurious amenity at its Ski Lounge, seated at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The hotel offers complimentary shuttle rides to and from the mountain, which is just 20 minutes away.

    3. Hotel Terra. An eco-minded boutique hotel located adjacent to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s new “Big Red” tram, Hotel Terra has contemporary, streamlined rooms, sixty of which were added in 2009 along with an awesome outdoor pool. The silver LEED-certified hotel flaunts contemporary, Western artwork, such as sculptures made of reclaimed barn wood, alongside its eco-friendly touches like oversize Low-E windows, which retain heat in the winter and reflect it in the summer. Sure the rooms may seem urbanized at first glance, but look closer and you’ll see the Western touches such as the cow print pedestal in the Urban Studio guest rooms. Don’t miss out on a fabulous dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Osteria.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where can I go to watch sports in Jackson Hole?

    Jackson Hole isn’t so much a place for watching live sports. Locals and visitors prefer to do them. There is an amateur local hockey team — the Jackson Hole Moose — that occasionally plays matches against other teams from the Mountain West at Snow King Center during the winter. There are halfpipe competitions every so often at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, too.

    To watch football and soccer games, Sidewinders has the biggest and most televisions of any bar in the valley. Snake River Brewery also has a handful of televisions, but the building’s acoustics make it difficult to hear. If there’s a game you need to see, try Sidewinders. They’ve got pretty good pizza and nachos too.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to hear live music in Jackson Hole?

    For a small town, Jackson Hole has many places to hear live music by both touring and local musicians. Inside the Wort Hotel in downtown Jackson, the Silver Dollar Bar & Grill is one of the most consistent venues for live, local music in the valley. The schedule is constantly changing, but Tuesday nights are often given over to bluegrass. Wondering where this place’s name came from? The bar has 2,032 silver dollars inlaid in it.

    On a butte 700-feet above the valley floor, the Granary, inside Spring Creek Resort, is only a 10-minute drive from downtown Jackson, but feels much further away — in a good way. Little but the Tetons can be seen through its giant picture windows. The Granary Lounge has live music of the jazz variety most weekends.

    Performing every Sunday night at the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson, the Stagecoach Band first took the stage 40-some years ago. Missing only the Sunday nights that have happened to coincide with New Year’s Eve and Christmas, the Stagecoach Band is famous. Everyone from grizzled cowboys to former Olympians makes room in their schedules for dancing Sunday night at the Stagecoach. Nowadays, the band is as strong as ever. They played their 2,000th performance in August 2007. There’s a roster of over 20 regional musicians to choose from. The band’s first second-generation member joined a little over six years ago. Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton and Jerry Jeff Walker have all joined the band on stage.

    Out in Teton Village, the Mangy Moose Saloon brings great regional and national acts to the valley. Medeski, Martin & Wood, G. Love and Special Sauce, Maceo Parker, Blues Traveler, Reverend Horton Heat, and Martin Sexton have all played at this intimate — but often raucous — space.
Next