This gem of a destination is a gateway to Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest and, just a bit farther to the north, Yellowstone National Park. While the high season might be summertime with its verdant valleys and bountiful sunshine, don’t overlook the winter season in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Whether it’s your first trip or you are a repeat visitor to this special place, there are plenty of local activities to keep you and your kiddos busy — even if you don’t ski.
Related: How to plan an epic road trip through Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks
National parks and wildlife safaris
A must for any trip to this part of the country is a visit to the national parks, and from Jackson Hole — you are in luck — Grand Teton National Park is 15 minutes north of downtown Jackson, and Yellowstone is about an hour north. In fact, Yellowstone was the first national park to be designated and protected in 1872, long before the National Park Service was established in 1916. Known for its famous geyser, “Old Faithful,” the park is open year-round, but during the winter months, some roads are open only to commercially-guided snow coach and snowmobile tours.
If visiting both parks is on your list, be sure to purchase the America the Beautiful National Parks pass for $80 — valid for a year, it allows you unlimited visits to all national parks in the U.S. and can easily pay for itself when visiting both of these parks over multiple days.
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BECKY BLAINE/THE POINTS GUY
Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris has been offering guided private and small group tours since 2007. Our half-day private tour was arranged through the Four Seasons Jackson Hole, and it was nothing short of amazing. We counted 10 different species of wildlife throughout the day as we drove through Grand Teton National Park and into the National Elk Refuge. Our guide, Lee, formerly a Yellowstone biologist, pointed out elk, bison, moose, mule deer and more.
Each time we had a sighting, he would stop the vehicle, set up the Swarovski spotting scope and let us take photos. I am not a wildlife photographer, but with Lee’s help, I took a photo of a ram, pictured above. Even my 8-year-old approved of the tour and enjoyed spotting animals.
Mountaintop waffles and gondola rides
Skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling or sleigh rides. You can do it all in this area.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village offers skiing and riding, and also operates lifts, gondolas and an aerial tram. Lift tickets are available on the website, and the resort honors major ski passes, as well. If planning a visit, be sure to check the website and see if you can score the Golden Ticket — 50% off lift tickets for skiers and snowboarders who own a valid 2023-24 season pass from resorts around the world, available on select dates.
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Lessons and camps are also available if you or your kids are new to skiing and snowboarding. The trail status and grooming reports are posted daily on Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s website.
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BECKY BLAINE/THE POINTS GUY
Ever had a waffle at 10,450 feet elevation? Don’t miss the chance if you’re in Teton Village. Take the aerial tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain to Corbet’s Cabin for a sweet treat and amazing views of the mountains and valley below. Be sure to bundle up, though, if you aren’t skiing down; it gets pretty chilly that high up.
Art imitates (wild)life
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The Buffalo Trail by Richard Loffler. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WILDLIFE ART
The National Museum of Wildlife Art — just 2 1/2 miles north of downtown Jackson — is a world-class museum showcasing more than 5,000 artworks representing wild animals from around the world and overlooks the 25,000-acre National Elk Refuge.
Works by prominent artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Robert Kuhn, John James Audubon and more are featured, while the permanent collection chronicles the history of wildlife in art from 2500 B.C.E. to the present. The museum also offers an interactive children’s gallery for the youngest visitors. Adult admission is $18, and children 4 and under are free.
Outdoor ice skating
There’s something magical about skating at night under a string of twinkling lights. Take a spin on the ice in two locations — outdoor ice rinks are set up for the winter season in both Teton Village in front of the Hotel Terra and downtown Jackson in the town square. Skate for $18 per person, including skate rentals.
See the Milky Way
Jackson Hole and the national parks are dark sky areas with relatively little light pollution and a high elevation, making viewing the night sky an absolute must. Wyoming Stargazing, a 501(c)3 organization that advocates for the preservation of the night sky and education, offers free public stargazing events on Thursday nights. You can also book private stargazing tours and night photography classes in Grand Teton National Park.
Coming soon (June 1, 2024) is North America’s first ski resort observatory and planetarium at the summit of Snow King Mountain Resort. Accessible by gondola, the observatory will house one of the world’s largest telescopes — a 24-foot AstroHaven dome featuring an awe-inspiring 1.0-meter PlaneWave telescope.
Where to stay and spa
So many properties are family-friendly and pet-friendly in the Jackson Hole area. The atmosphere is relaxed and laid back just about everywhere, so you really can’t go wrong with any of these standout properties that offer services and amenities to make for a memorable and relaxing stay.
A boutique property at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort with 132 rooms, Hotel Terra is the first LEED-certified hotel in Teton Village. The hotel boasts a full-service spa to relax after a day of skiing and a rooftop outdoor hot tub to soothe tired muscles. Enjoy house-made pasta and brick oven pizzas in the on-site restaurant, Il Villaggio Osteria. Be sure to save room for dessert and order the decadent Nutella cheesecake (or take it to go for later).
The luxurious Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole offers 152 guest rooms and suites with cozy fireplaces, plus the only ski-in/ski-out restaurant — the Handlebar — at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village. Residences of two to five bedrooms offer a home away from home feel, and the resort’s ski concierge can assist with equipment rentals or storage of your own gear while on property. The year-round heated pool with three, hot-spring-shaped whirlpools is a great way to relax after a day on the slopes or book an Alpine Glow Rejuvenating body wrap, which helps reduce muscular inflammation and soothes dry skin.
Just blocks from the historic Jackson Town Square is Snow King Resort, the town’s largest full-service resort and spa, offering 203 guest rooms at the base of Snow King Mountain Resort. The resort unveiled a new 9,000-square-foot Grand View Spa in the summer of 2023, featuring six treatment rooms, an infrared sauna, a scenic outdoor deck and hot tub, and Wyoming’s first halotherapy salt lounge.