Everybody has a certain band whose music you love, but that for some reason, you’ve never seen live. You were out of town when they came through. You’d already spent all your money on tickets to another show, etc.
Jackson Hole was “that band” for us as travelers. We’d headed in a lot of other directions all over the world while somehow never making it to a famous destination that’s less than a five-hour drive from Salt Lake City. We finally ended up there in 2011, found ourselves saying, “Why did we wait so long?” and have returned a few times.
We recognize there are plenty of experts around Salt Lake City who own the entire Jackson Hole collected-works box set, while we only have the first album and the greatest-hits compilation. For those looking to download Jackson’s infectious tunes for the first time, here are a few suggestions.
Living the wildlife: One of the many unique things about Jackson is if you simply start heading out of town on Cache Street, before you know it you’re already in the National Elk Refuge. And before you know it again, you’re into Grand Teton National Park. Teton Mountain Bike Tours (545 N. Cache St., 800-733-0788, TetonMtBike.com) is located right at the edge of town, so just walk your bike across the street to find a choice of trails from mountain to dirt to paved. There are well-marked paths and maps to bike on your own, or guided tours are also available.
Wildlife abounds around Grand Teton, particularly large animals such as bison, elk, moose and bears. Experience these “locals” on an expedition with Teton Science Schools (700 Coyote Canyon Road, 307-733-1313, TetonScience.org). The tour is conducted by a wildlife biologist, and proceeds help fund this nonprofit institution, which is dedicated to science education.
Another natural highlight of the area is the Snake River, which can be experienced either as a laid-back ride, or a thrill-a-minute adventure with Mad River Boat Trips (1255 S. Highway 89, 800-458-7238, Mad-River.com). They offer a number of trip options, including a relaxed 13-mile float trip and an intense eight-mile white-water trip.
The great indoors: For its size, Jackson has an astounding number of top-notch restaurants. The Silver Dollar Grill (50 N. Glenwood St., 800-322-2727, WortHotel.com) in the historic Wort Hotel features the famous Wort corn chowder with melted cheddar and bacon. After dinner, head to the other side of the hotel to the historic Silver Dollar Bar, so named for the serpentine bar with 2,032 uncirculated 1921 Morgan Silver Dollars inlaid on the top.
Also in the Town Square area is The Kitchen (155 N. Glenwood, 307-734-1633, TheKitchenJacksonHole.com), which has an excellent crudo bar to go along with popular entrees like pan-seared red deer. Don’t miss out on the luxury shrimp, which come crispy in a sweet & spicy aioli so good you’ll want to order a bucket to take home.
Take a drive up to Teton Village to Il Villaggio Osteria (3335 W. Village Drive, 307-739-4100, JHosteria.com) for a dinner that includes housemade sausages and hand-rolled pastas topped with fresh ingredients that change seasonally. Whatever the season, the basil martini offers a unique taste.
If you’re looking for something to take with you on your journeys out, try the breakfast burritos or fresh-made sandwiches at Creekside Meats, Market & Deli, (545 N. Cache St., 307-733-7926) or try the “pilgrim” at Back Country Provisions (50 W. Deloney St., 307-734-9420, BackCountryProvisions.com), a sandwich that’s like Thanksgiving on a roll.
For breakfast, the Bunnery Bakery & Restaurant (130 N. Cache St., 855-286-6379, Bunnery.com), which is known for its fresh pastries and housemade granola.
Where to lay your head: Here are just a few of the accommodation options. The Wort Hotel (50 N. Glenwood, 800-322-2727, WortHotel.com) is a Jackson classic that’s full of history. The Lexington at Jackson Hole (285 N. Cache St., 888-771-2648, LexingtonHotelJacksonHole.com) is conveniently close to Town Square but also puts you right on the road out to Grand Teton National Park. Homewood Suites (260 Millward St., 307-739-0808, HomewoodSuites.com) puts its own Jackson-flavored spin on this brand and is a good suite-style option. The Alpenhof Lodge in Teton Village (3255 W. Village Drive, 800-732-3244, AlpenhofLodge.com) has Old World charm set amid the mountains.
There’s an old saying that what you were looking for was right under your nose all along. Plan a trip a bit north and east this summer and find out just how good Jackson can be when you catch it “live.”
The Travel Tramps write regularly about their treks in City Weekly, as well as blogging at CityWeekly.net. Listen to Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin on the weekly Travel Brigade Radio Show at TravelBrigade.com and follow them on Twitter (@TravelBrigade).