You only turn fifty once, and back in March it was time for my hubby to step up to the plate and punch his ticket to the BIG 5-0! He was a little ambivalent about the whole deal, and the state of the union at the time didn’t exactly allow for a gathering much larger than our family of seven, so off we went to Jackson Hole for some celebrating in the snow.
If you’ve never been to this gem of a town in western Wyoming at the base of the Grand Tetons, you must put it on your bucket list. Quiet, understated elegance rubs elbows with cowboys and ranchers in an adorable community that sports two world class ski resorts, Teton Village and Snow King. The famously photographed town square with the iconic antler arches is home to quaint shops, art galleries, and world class dining. It’s nothing short of charming with the original drugstore/soda fountain turned restaurant, Jackson Drug, which serves up homemade ice cream, malts, burgers and sandwiches all day to a hungry crowd of both locals and tourists on one corner, and Snake River Grill on another. In between you’ll find favorites Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, and The Local, while just a short walk off the square to the east you’ll find beloved Persephone Bakery, and back on the western side a block or two off the square is our new favorite dinner location, Glorietta. Dining options in town are endless, so strap on your boots and prepare to spend a day circling the square for breakfast, lunch and dinner while you pop into the exceptional local home and clothing boutiques Belle Cose, Altitude, Pendleton, Bella Fine Goods, and my personal favorite, Terra. Owner Dana Sanders Souther has curated a selection of only the best, from Lingua Franca sweaters and JW Bennett hats, to the best denim and shoes. Her gorgeous apothecary wall of luxurious botanicals from the likes of Vintners Daughter, Fortuna Skin, Voyage et Cie will seduce even the most discerning skincare enthusiast. In my opinion, it’s one of a kind the country and Dana has truly created a must see stop in town.
With our entire family in tow, we required a little more room than the average hotel can typically provide, so we splurged on one of The Residences at the Four Seasons for the birthday boy. With a huge fireplace and plenty of room to spread out after a long day on the slopes, it was the perfect spot with an abundance of refined alpine coziness and unparalleled customer service. Right at the base of the mountain in Teton Village, the ski-in/ski-out access at the Four Seasons is your gateway to the multiple lifts and tram, and is home to the best après ticket in the Tetons, The Handle Bar. Again, exceptional dining can be found all over the village, so don’t be shy about wandering to favorites like The Mangy Moose, Il Villaggio Osteria or Spur Restaurant and Bar. We celebrated Brian’s special birthday dinner at Old Yellowstone Garage at the Caldera House, and loved ending up back to the Four Seasons each night for s’mores and wine at one of the patio fire pits, or soaking in the steaming hot tub to ease sore muscles. One absolute standout that became a daily occurrence was a slope side lunch at Westbank Grill. We would meet every day for the most incredible quail egg carbonara, elk chili, or Waygu burgers and maybe a Moscow Mule or two before heading back up the mountain for a few final runs in the afternoon.
In our six day stay we only had a couple of disasters (which is pretty good with a family of seven!), one of which provided endless visual fodder for a few members of the family that happened to witness me catch an edge and go sliding down the mountain backwards on my backside where I nearly lost my pants in the process. I finally came to a snow covered halt, relieved I had not banged my head, crunched my neck, broken my back or hit a tree. Once the kids flew down to find me relatively unscathed (other than my ego because I “NEVER” fall) the laughter roared and they could not wait to rush back and report to Brian what they had just witnessed. It was the best birthday gift he could have received and kept him laughing for hours. He now considers himself a “better” skier and will not let me forget it. We’re not competitive at all!;)
The only cloud that happened to cast its shadow on us was our youngest skier careening straight into a tree at the end of a long day and breaking his collar bone. Harrowing and quite heartbreaking to helplessly try and ease his pain, shock and fear, he proved to be a pretty incredible patient and managed to brave the plane ride home with nothing more than ibuprofen and a sling. In spite of our two “incidents”, we are a pretty capable crew (although it doesn’t sound like it) and this youngest kid proved to be the toughest one of the bunch and thankfully hasn’t sworn off skiing.
Even if you’re not a skier, Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone are some of the country’s most breathtaking, majestic, mountain scenery. Any season is the right season to experience the beauty and magic of this region.