The Best Après Hot Spots
Five mountain towns where the skiing and riding are matched by equally entertaining off-the-slopes escapades.
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These five party-loving towns all have great skiing. Best of all, the fun doesn’t stop when the mountain closes.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
When to Go: New Year’s
Jackson Hole‘s legendary steeps are rivaled only by the notoriety of its watering holes. The Mangy Moose, Village Café, and Million Dollar Cowboy Bar (which always has a country-and-western band and line dancing) are ski-world landmarks. Don’t have New Year’s plans yet? Ring in 2015 at the resort’s Gondi Gala, where $75 gets you live music and midnight champagne toasts atop the Bridger gondola inside the Couloir Restaurant. Hopefully, it’ll be a repeat of last season, when Jackson Hole received over 500 inches of snow, making it one of the deepest snowpacks on record.
When to Go: Mid-January
With classic dive bars like the Gold Pan and swanky new joints like Après Handcrafted Libations, which specializes in small-batch whiskeys and beers, Breckenridge‘s nightlife is always lively. Take it all in during the Ullr Fest (a celebration of the Norse god of snow), held the second week of January. Parades, crazy costumes, and wacky games like the frying-pan toss dominate the six-day event. There’s skiing, too; the best is at Peak 6, which Breck opened last season and encompasses 543 acres of varied terrain—from intermediate bowls to cliffy, hike-to chutes.
Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
When to Go: Late January
There are two reasons to journey here when the town hosts the X Games at the end of January. First, Aspen‘s already hopping party scene gets amped up with the infusion of all the athletes and their entourages. More important, the slopes are virtually empty, since most people are taking in the X action at Buttermilk. If it snows, head to Highland Bowl, where you can lap 40-degree steeps in the north-facing G-Zones. Like to carve? Snowmass’s intermediate trails are perfectly groomed.
Park City, Utah
When to Go: March
Spring in Utah can mean either hot sun and corn snow or surprise storms with two feet of powder. From March 20 to 29, Canyons Resort adds to the fun with great music at Spring Gruv, a series of free outdoor concerts and festival events (including the requisite pond-skimming contest) at the base of the ski area. The 2015 lineup will be announced in January; past performers have included the Mother Hips, Toots and the Maytals, and Los Lobos.
Whistler, British Columbia
When to Go: April
From Mondays’ eighties nights at Tommy Africa’s to Thursdays’ skate nights at Garfinkle’s (there’s a ramp inside the bar), Whistler goes off all season long. But its prime time is April, when locals have a saying: “Party in April, sleep in May.” From April 11 through 20, Whistler hosts the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, an event that mashes up invitational freeskiing competitions, live music, and unique cultural happenings like the 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown, a contest that challenges directors to create short films over three days.