The first stop on my sister and I’s national park road trip was Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I had no idea what to expect, but my sister spent two weeks in the town in 2010, the same year that I took a similar trip that would change my life. She stayed with childhood friends of my grandmother’s who live here part of the year. They let her borrow their car to explore the Tetons and beyond. Assuming it would be a ski town like some of the more kitschy I’ve visited, I didn’t expect to fall in love with Jackson.
Most people cite Grand Teton National Park and its surrounding natural wonders as the reason they visit Jackson. Others mention the ski slopes and winter sports. But what is there to do for a self-proclaimed city girl whose most recent camping excursions were two years ago in Australia? This is what sets apart Jackson from the dozens of similar towns around it. There is the main square with dozens of great restaurants, shops, and even a brewery! I could have easily spent more time here without once entering the park. So if you’re not outdoorsy, like me, there is plenty to keep you entertained as my friend Christine recently discovered.
Where to Eat
What are you craving? You’ll certainly find it in and around Jackson. While most stops on our road trip involved eating cheap noodles or cold sandwiches at the various national parks lodges, I was completely spoiled here. Breakfast at a French-inspired bakery? Sure. Cold-pressed juices? You got it. Authentic Thai fare? Absolutely.
Persephone Bakery– My friend Marina made me a list of recommendations and this one came at the top. I was surprised to find such a hip establishment in a place like Jackson, but sure enough, they’ve got Intelligentsia coffee, freshly baked croissants, and hearty breakfasts like my breakfast sandwich pictured above.
Cowboy Coffee– Skip Starbucks in favor of a local establishment. Enjoy coffee beverages, large sandwiches, and even buffalo chili. The fast WiFi makes it a favorite of digital nomads and freelancers like myself. The walls also feature local art for purchase.
Hatch Taqueria And Tequilas– Tacos are always a must. They have six different varieties, including my favorite pastor, all made from gluten free and non-GMO products. Hatch also has Jackson’s largest selection of tequila and mezcal, meaning their margaritas are well worth it.
Teton Thai Plate– Another recommendation from my friend, you might miss Thai Plate unless you saw the sign in the alley. Seating is mostly outdoor and is BYO. Dishes include authentic larb, tom yum soup, and curries.
Pearl Street Bagels– While not exactly New York style, this bagel shop has been around since 1990. Grab a bagel with flavored cream cheeses or in sandwich form. They also have Great Northern coffee and Harney and Sons tea.
Q Roadhouse and Brewing Co.– I was surprised at this roadside eatery, which offers house-brewed beers and a selection of dishes ranging from simple barbecue to Korean-inspired kimchi fried rice.
I didn’t make it to Cafe Genevieve, Picnic, Local, or Lotus Cafe, all of which I heard good things about.
Where to Drink
Want to share a beer with a real-live cowboy? Jackson is certainly the place to do it. Sammi and I even turned it into a game, playing a “punch buggy” version but with cowboy hats. Look for old-school establishments dating back to the early days of the West or chic wine bars that look equally at home in a big city.
Snake River Brewery & Restaurant– Our first stop after driving for over 10 hours in the snow (!) from Denver and checking into our hotel was Snake River, which offers the two most important things: food and beer. Sammi enjoyed her pizza, while I had my first attempt at a bison burger. Not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed the Jenny Lake Lager more than my dry burger.
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar– The neon sign is a landmark day and night. Once inside, you’ll see saddles in the place of bar stools and silver dollars underneath the bar top. It’s more touristy than anything, but a must-see for first-time visitors. Stop for a game of pool and their own Million Dollar Cowboy beer.
Silver Dollar Bar & Grill– Another bar from the same era as MDCB, this one is located in the historic Wort Hotel. It’s named for the silver dollars underneath the bar. It has a long tradition of hosting celebrities, millionaires, politicians, and locals.
Grand Teton Distillery– Come by the tasting room for a free sip of the company’s liquors, including vodka, whiskey, and moonshine. They’re made in Idaho but taste just like the Tetons. Keep a bottle for yourself as a souvenir!
Bin22– Part wine shop, part restaurant, this is the best place in Jackson to get a glass of vino. Wander the aisles in search for the perfect varietal or specialty groceries like prosciutto and cheeses. They also sell craft beer for those who want a different taste.
Healthy Being Juicery– Ready for something healthy? Jackson has its own juice bar off the square, offering cold-pressed juices, healing elixirs, and plant-based foods.
Where to Stay
There’s no shortage of places to stay around Jackson Hole, starting with backcountry campsites and going up to luxury resorts. You can also choose your proximity to downtown Jackson or the Tetons.
Jackson Hole Lodge– On our first night in town, we stayed at this budget hotel in a suite with a full kitchen, porch, two bathrooms and all the amenities. They’re located within walking distance of shops and restaurants and have an amazing hot tub facing the street.
Gros Ventre Campground– Grand Tetons National Park has many campgrounds with different amenities, but Gros Ventre is well located between the park and town and has a bathhouse. You also might see some wildlife!
Fireside Resort– We passed this resort a few times on our way to and from seeing our friends. Accommodations include Pinterest-worthy modern cabins. Additional amenities include Jeep rentals, WiFi, and flat-screen televisions.
Village Center Inn (The Hostel)– For budget-friendly accommodations in Teton Village, check out The Hostel, which offers both private and dorm rooms. Amenities include a game room, WiFi, and tea and coffee daily.
Four Seasons Jackson Hole– Located in Teton Village, this luxury resort isn’t exactly in my price range, but the apres ski vibes at the Four Seasons are real. They have a number of restaurants as well as family-focused activities.
Rentals– If you’re traveling with a group, rentals are the way to go. You can stay in a house with a half-dozen of your closest friends and family for the weekend or longer.
What to Do
Jackson Hole Antler Arch– Snap a photo in front of the iconic arch made up of local antlers shed by elk. There are four around the square, so don’t let the crowds of tourists in front of one keep you away. Late in the day is your best time to go.
Shopping– City girls love their shopping and Jackson has a number of unique places to find everything you’re looking for. Jackson Hole Pendleton sells one of their iconic blankets in a Grand Tetons pattern only available here. MADE offers unique handmade gifts like mugs, prints, and jewelry. Valley Bookstore sells independent and local authors and Mountain Dandy is the modern man’s boutique.
Have you been to Jackson Hole, Wyoming? Leave your tips below!
I recieved a discounted stay at the Jackson Hole Lodge, but all opinions are my own.