Jackson Hole has got outdoor adventure down to a T. Whether you’re a fan of hiking, biking, skiing, or snowboarding, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to get up close and personal with nature in this little slice of Wyoming paradise. But it’s not all about the great outdoors. Look carefully enough, and you’ll find no shortage of galleries, museums, and wineries delivering first-class entertainment to those who prefer their fun to come with four walls and a door. If you’re struggling to draw up an itinerary for your first visit, help is on hand with our 20 best things to do in Jackson Hole for first-timers.
20. Take a food tour
Jackson Hole might be famous for skiing, snowboarding, and a host of other outdoor activities, but it doesn’t fall short on indoor entertainment either, particularly of the gourmet variety. If all the hiking, biking, and riding has given you an appetite, why not book yourself onto a Jackson Hole Food Tour? The experience takes three hours from start to finish and promises to sate even the biggest of appetites.
19. Experience the Jackson Hole Rodeo
Jackson Hole, lest you didn’t know, is in Wyoming. And Wyoming, lest you forgot, is cowboy country. And where better to experience cowboy country than at a real-life rodeo? Shine up your cowboy boots and head to the Jackson Hole Rodeo for an evening of thrills, spills, and first-class entertainment. The rodeos take place every Wednesday and Saturday from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, with additional rodeos every Friday throughout July and August.
18. Admire the art at Tayloe Piggott Gallery
Even those of you who’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between a Picasso and a Matisse will be inspired by the intriguing Tayloe Piggott Gallery. As, simply put, the best art gallery in Jackson Hole, it offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the works of local artists like Mike Piggott, Grate Waller, Stephen Keeney, and Suzanne Caporael. The jewelry exhibits are a must-visit for closest magpies. Exhibitions change frequently, so be sure to check the website before your visit to plan accordingly.
17. Take a drive
Jackson Hole is the kind of place where having a car really works to your advantage. Localadventurer.com has some great suggestions of where to hit the road, including Moose Wilson Road (an 8-mile stretch between Grand Teton National Park and Moose that comes with great views and an excellent chance of spotting a moose); Inner Park Loop Road (a 20-mile road that leads you through the National Park right under the Tetons); Jenny Lake Scenic Loop (a short, 3-mile road with some world-class views); and Kelly Loop (a 116-mile road with plenty of opportunities to spot some local wildlife, including bison, Mormon Row, Moulton Barn, and more besides).
16. Discover nature at Tetons Science Schools Wildlife Discovery Expedition
Educational experiences can sometimes be a little dry. A bit boring. Just a touch worthy. But not at Tetons Science Schools Wildlife Discovery Expedition, a fantastic destination for the whole family that guarantees hours of entertainment, and yes, learning. Depending on just how tight your schedule is, you can book a half-day, full-day, or even a multi-day adventure. Whatever you choose, you’re certain of a great time as you explore, experience, and learn more about the various flora and fauna that call the Grand Teton National Park home. Expect bison, elk, moose, big-horn sheep, bears, eagles, and a heap of fun to boot.
15. Visit the Town Square
As landmarks go, you’ll find few in Jackson Hole that match up to Town Square- at least according to the reviewers on Trip Advisor who’ve been there, seen that, and got the t-shirt to prove it. ‘Great place to sit and people watch and so convenient to all the shops. Love the creatures in the park!’ says one, while another raves ‘Always fun, & always lots of friendly families & couples from all over enjoying the park, the shops & restaurants, etc. Go for a stagecoach ride in a Wells Fargo stagecoach! Take your photo beneath one of the antler arches at each corner of the square!”
14. Treat the kids at Jackson Hole Children’s Museum
Traveling to Jackson Hole with the kids in tow? Then don’t miss a visit to the fabulously fun Jackson Hole Children’s Museum. The center offers a smorgasbord of amusements, all designed to both educate and entertain. Through a combination of role-play activities and interactive exhibits, kids get the chance to learn more about the world around them. Highlights include a magnet wall, the Climber and Imagination Playground (a great place for kids to simply be themselves and have a whole heap of fun in the process), and the Tot Spot- perfect for the littlest of little ones.
13. Wonder at the birds at Teton Raptor Center
Nature is something Jackson Hole has in abundance, and nature is most definitely the star of the show at the wonderful Teton Raptor Center. Via its mission statement of advancing raptor conservation through education, research, and rehabilitation, it offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the lives of these majestic birds of prey. If your budget can stretch to it, booking a spot on the $149 Feathered Float raptor viewing experience is something you won’t forget in a hurry.
12. Enjoy the slopes at Grand Targhee Resort
There are better ski resorts in town, for sure, but for novices and beginners who want to experience the slopes without breaking a leg in the process, Grand Targhee Resort makes a great choice. Offering more than 2,500 acres of ski terrain (a large portion of which is suitable for both beginners and novices), it offers gentle slopes, stunning views, and a fabulous way to experience the best of Jackson Hole’s outdoor adventures regardless of whether you’re a master of the slopes or not.
11. Ski at Snow King Resort
Love skiing? Then you’re going to love Snow King Resort. As Wyoming's first established ski resort, it’s been delighting outdoor enthusiasts since 1939. Boasting more than 400 acres of terrain (a good percentage of which is suitable for night skiing), it makes for an outstanding destination. While novice skiers might want to stick to the gentler slopes offered at the likes of Grand Targhee, for those who like a challenge, it’s hard to beat. The views, meanwhile, are worth the visit alone.
10. Shake your thirst at Jackson Hole Winery
There comes a point during every family vacation (and even the occasional couple’s one) when you really, really need a drink. And we ain’t talking a cooling glass of Mountain Dew, either. If you’re gagging for a refreshing glass of something cool, long, and very, very alcoholic, a trip to Jackson Hole Winery might be just what the doctor ordered. With gorgeous views over Grand Teton Park, a fine selection of award-winning wines to sample, and a very funky little barn to while away a few hours of drinking time, it’s a very adult, very relaxing experience indeed.
9. Take a sleigh ride at the National Elk Refuge
Jackson Hole isn't just a prime destination for vacationers, it’s also a hotspot for some of the country’s most majestic wildlife. As the temperatures start to drop, legions of elk make their way to the National Elk Refuge, a non-enclosed sanctuary that offers respite against the harsh winds of winter. If you want to see these stunning creatures for yourself, you can either take a car ride through the refuge or, if you really want to make the most of the experience, take a guided sleigh ride, an option that comes very much recommended if you visit during the Christmas season.
8. Take in a show at Jackson Hole Play House
Jackson Hole might have nature galore, but it’s not exactly lacking in the culture department either. Check it out for yourself by taking in a performance at the outstanding Jackson Hole Play House, a place where you can enjoy a first-class dinner and a show at the same time. Giving its location in the oldest building in Jackson, it’s as fine a destination for history buffs as it is for culture-vultures.
7. Lift a glass at Jackson Hole Still Works
Hankering after a cold brew? Then don’t miss a visit to Jackson Hole Still Works, the only raft distillery in Jackson Hole. Specializing in vodka, gin and whiskey, its range of signature spirits needs to be tasted to be believed. All spirits are made from locally sourced ingredients, adding a bit of extra-special magic to the tasting sessions. Take a tour, taste some samples, and whatever you do, don’t forget to take a few of their bottles home with you – each is decorated with work from local artists, making them a great gift for anyone with a taste for both regional art and extremely tasty alcohol.
6. Snowboard at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
As US New’s top pick of things to do in Jackson Hole, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has a lot to live up to – something it succeeds in admirably. Boasting numerous dining options, hotels, an adventure park, and, of course, world-class skiing and snowboarding, it’s a vacation destination in its own right. In winter, you get to ski the slopes to your hearts content; in summer, you can ride them in style atop a mountain bike (or simply hike them, depending on your preference). Whenever you visit and regardless of how long you stay, the one thing you can count on is never being bored.
5. Experience nature on an Eco Tour
Assumptions can lead to all sorts of problems. That said, one of the safest assumptions we can make is that any visitor to Jackson Hole has at least a passing interest in nature. In which case, splashing out on a Jackson Hole Eco Tour Adventure is probably going to do more than just float your boat. The company offers a tremendous number of tours and adventures for those looking to get up close and personal with nature, with some of the most popular taking in both the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. If you’d rather spend your time watching nature than watching where you’re driving, this is most definitely one for you.
4. Visit Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum
For history buffs, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum is hard to beat. Established in 1958 by a local historian and amateur archaeologist, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of both Jackson Hole and the surrounding national parks. In addition to its permanent exhibits, there’s a fascinating range of ever-evolving temporary and special exhibitions. If you’ve ever wanted to find out more about ranch culture, the fur trade, or the pioneers who turned Jackson Hole into what it is today, this is the place to do it.
3. Soak away your cares at Granite Hot Springs
As localadventurer.com notes, Granite Hot Springs is one of Jackson Hole’s key attractions, and a must-visit if you're in need of some serious R&R. It does come with a small fee ($8 adults, $5 children), but few would dispute it’s worth the cost. Soak, unwind, and enjoy the mineral goodness – and while you’re at it, don’t forget to take in the views over Granite Creek Falls: as ‘baths with a view’ go, it’s hard to beat.
2. Hike at Grand Teton National Park
No visit to Jackson Hole is complete without at least one visit to Grand Teton National Park. With over 230 hiking trails ranging across every difficulty level, not to mention some of the best mountain views you’ll likely experience in your entire life, it's unquestionably one of the US’s best national parks, not to mention one of the chief highlights of a visit to Jackson Hole. If a tour of the park gives you a taste for exploring the wildness further, you’ll find the Yellowstone National Park just a short drive away.
1. Visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art
Vacation Idea ranks The National Museum of Wildlife Art highly amongst their list of things to do in Jackson Hole, and so do we. Whether you’re a nature lover or an art enthusiast, you’ll find no shortage of things to enjoy at this outstanding museum, which includes a whopping 14 galleries, a sculpture trail, a library, a Children’s Discovery Gallery (featuring a reading nook, animal costumes, a puppet show, and more besides) and a museum shop. If you time your visit right, you might even be lucky enough to take in one of the regular art events or workshops the museum hosts throughout the year.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn