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Travelers flock to Jackson Hole, Wyoming from around the world, as a gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in the summer and the country’s best skiing in the winter. Truth be told, there’s no wrong time to go. Having lived in the area for several years in the past, I grew to love fall in Jackson Hole. There’s nothing quite like seeing the changing of the leaves one day, followed by a light snowfall the next day.
Locals cherish Jackson Hole’s shoulder season, when their stomping ground vacates and they can enjoy the area’s serene natural beauty. They care deeply about the preservation of this magical land, which is why it’s very important to travel responsibly and tread lightly when you visit. Coming during the non-peak travel season also means you’ll get the chance to see Jackson Hole in a more raw, authentic way.
Here’s what to see and do in Jackson Hole before snow covers the ground until spring.
Spend your first few days at the Anvil Hotel, a charming 50-room boutique hotel in the heart of historic downtown Jackson with a modern-meets-classic western lodge vibe. Rooms are curated with everything you need, including cozy Woolrich blankets and hooks to hang up hiking and ski gear. In the lobby, find a curated mix of handmade jewelry, apothecary items, leather bolo ties, locally made Sing Hat Co. hats, stylish denim jackets, and more. There’s also free-flowing Snake River Roasting Company coffee and select Persephone Bakery pastries for grabs to start the morning off right.
Take advantage of guest bikes and cruise out to the National Elk Refuge, created in 1912 as a safe refuge for a herd of nearly 11,000 elk. It’s also an opportune vantage point from which to snap a few pics of the Grand Tetons. Cruise back to town for an afternoon of gallery strolling, lunch, and shopping. Altamira Fine Art is home to western contemporary pieces, including works by R. Tom Gilleon, Stan Natchez, and other local artists; next, hop over to Tayloe Piggott Gallery and get lost in Tuck Fauntleroy’s aerial photography of the remote American west, captured over the last decade during a specific time each spring.
Grab lunch at Cultivate Cafe (a Lockhart Cattle Co. beef burger or a hearty bowl with local ingredients is the way to go), or Sweet Cheeks Meats, the only butcher shop in the area known for their Royale with Cheese (aka the breakfast burger). As post-lunch shopping goes, carve out at least an hour for MADE and Mountain Dandy—sister shops showcasing wares from American artisans. Fashion lovers can head to Womenfolk, a collection of outstanding vintage curated by Greer Freed and Amberley Baker, while foodies check out New West Knifeworks, the place to go for American-made chef knives. And definitely step into Belle Cose to scoop up a few Alpyn Beauty skin care products. Founder Kendra Butler harvests clean and sustainable ingredients directly from the mountains around Jackson Hole. The Calming Midnight Mask is a skin saver you’ll become addicted to after just one night’s sleep.
As for dinner, there are many different ways to go when staying in town. The Snake River Grill has been an icon in Jackson Hole for over 25 years, offering modern American fare in a log cabin setting. The steak tartare pizza and green chile onion rings will never leave the menu, but the kitchen continuously reinvents the wheel with seasonal, local ingredients. Bin 22 is ideal for sharing a few bottles of wine with friends (the spot also serves as a bottle shop) and sampling a few small plates like the seasonal house-pulled mozzarella, octopus, and charcuterie. Glorietta, an Italian trattoria, part of the Anvil Hotel, is another true gem. Order all the Italian eats, but don’t sleep on the libations, as the team behind Death & Co. is responsible for the cocktail program. Currently, the Blind Melon, crafted with sotol, grappa, honeydew, coriander, lime, mint, and black peppercorn, is a favorite. (And for those wondering why Death & Co. has a presence in the wild west, David Kaplan, co-founder of the iconic bar group, is from Jackson Hole and currently resides here with his wife and daughter.)
New to the dining scene, Coelette sits in a century-old cabin that was strikingly remodeled into what feels like a time warp to a 1960s New York City restaurant with dimly lit table lamps. It’s one of the most posh interiors in Jackson Hole to date. The bones of the original cabin are still present, but thanks to an interior collaboration between Ali Cohane of Persephone Bakery, Nona Yehia of GYDE architects, and interior designers John Frechette and Christian Burch of MADE and Mountain Dandy, it is by far the most stunning restaurant in town. As for the food, it’s hard to narrow it down, but the cabbage and Wagyu beef sweet potato gnocchi are musts. Little touches along the way, like Fernet-Branca cookies and digestifs in tiny, charming glasses, will keep you on your toes.
As of late, private dining is a hot commodity. If staying at a private residence (Outpost is a solid bet to find a gorgeous home), enjoy a beautiful dinner curated by some of Jackson Hole’s most creative talent. Chef Dan Janjigian, or “Jiggy,” of M Catering, is regularly requested for private dinners. For cocktails, Jessa Talermo, founder of Amrita: Handcrafted Beverages, consistently dreams up inventive (and often spirit-free) cocktails for dreamy dinners and small events. Vanessa Flory of Fleur de V is essentially a fashion designer of the floral world and takes pride in coloring outside of the lines—and when paired with Cara Rank’s unique collection of presentation plates, glassware, and more from XOWYO, you can plan a whimsical dinner party under the stars. Make it even more memorable and leave candid snaps in the hands of Lindley Rust, one of the most esteemed photographers in town.
A newcomer, Astoria Hot Springs Park, will soon be open to out-of-towners. It’s currently reserved for locals only, as the hot springs remain a sacred place with history dating back to before the 1800s. Many locals grew up visiting these hot springs regularly, as it morphed into a gathering spot for the community starting in the 1960s. The land was acquired in the late 1990s by a developer who planned to create a resort, but the Trust for Public Land stepped in and raised $6 million dollars to protect and restore this mystical land. Sit in a hot spring on a cold morning at sunrise, absorbing natural minerals and elements into your skin, with misty mountains and the Snake River as the backdrop.
After you’ve eaten and explored everything in town, it’s time to turn to Taylor Phillips, owner of Jackson Hole EcoTour Adventures, for wildlife action. Phillips runs photography workshops and wildlife tours on the regular, but you can also book a custom after-hours adventure. Think of it as a safari in North America, where the skilled team will take you out to the Lamar Valley to track wolves and wildlife in the parks, long after the tour buses flee.
The second part of your Jackson Hole vacation should be about relaxing in luxury. In Teton Village, check into the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property and Teton Village's only ski-in/ski-out resort. In the fall season, the resort is a stone’s throw from really great hiking. Immediately toss on hiking gear and take advantage of the resort’s backyard, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, for a stunning hike on the Wildflower Trail—a moderate 3.9 miles up to Bridger Gondola. You can then take the gondola back down and enjoy an aerial view of the valley. Sloshies (adult slushies) at Bodega are an important part of happy hour culture in these parts—be sure to grab one after your hike.
Teton Village is fairly sleepy right now which means you enjoy a full-on feast at Il Villaggio Osteria—an Italian eatery with a rustic countryside vibe. My staples here always include burrata, olives, guido sarducci and morbido pizzas, bolognese, and spaghetti alla norma. I also prefer to drink my dessert here, as Osteria is home to one of the largest and most unique amaro collections out west. They’ve got all my favorites, like Montenegro and Nonino, but a quick chat with the server will bring some really interesting amaros your way. Restaurant fans will be pleased to hear that pizzas can be shipped nationwide via Goldbelly.
Four Seasons’ guests can take the resort’s Lexus SUV to roam around Grand Teton National Park for the day. In addition to complimentary SUV access, the resort team will provide a park pass and a map to guide you around the Tetons. On my way to the park, I like to detour to Persephone Bakery’s West Bank location to pick up a crab tartine, cauliflower and kale hash, and a cold brew for a mini picnic before hitting Jenny Lake. The lake was created over 12,000 years ago by glaciers, and to this day, is a place of pure serenity. If time allows while driving through Teton Village, The National Museum of Wildlife Art has works by Andy Warhol, Robert Kuhn, Georgia O’Keeffe, and other renown artists—Herb Alpert’s Spirit Totems exhibit also dots the edge of the museum, perched on a hillside with insane views.
It wouldn’t be a proper stay at the Four Seasons without a dip in the heated pool and hot tubs, with unobstructed views of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. At dusk, you’ll feel like it’s just you in the village—an opportune time to grab a cocktail at the Ascent Lounge, sit by a fire pit, and enjoy the night skies. Dinner can go two ways: get dressed and hit Westbank Grill, or stay in a robe, order room service, and cozy up by the in-room fire for dinner.
You won’t be ready to leave Jackson Hole, but fortunately, the beauty never ends here; even the airport is wildly scenic. Once you get through security, post up by the fireplace in a leather chair, and you can take in awe-inspiring views of the Tetons before flying home.