You won't find frozen burgers and mystery chili at these ski resort restaurants.
When I was growing up (okay, it wasn't so long ago…) we mostly brown-bagged our lunch to the ski resort. I remember it so well: Mom packing up our PB&J sandwiches and perhaps a thermos of soup into "the knapsack," my brother and I drawing straws for who had to hang it outside of the mid-mountain lodge in the morning and telling the other where it was by lunchtime. I had no desire to buy lunch in the cafeteria, at the ski lodge or at school. If I happened to find a dollar in my ski coat I wouldn't hesitate to buy the (then) 99 cent skittles, but no part of me wanted to eat those cafeteria burgers or chili that came in the crunchy bread bowls. I guess I've always been a foodie at heart.
These days, ski lodge cafeterias are a different story: a new, improved, deliciously different story. Major destination ski resorts have shifted from treating on-mountain dining as a basic necessity to a gourmet experience – much like the food scene in ski culture's European roots. And it's not just on-mountain resort dining that's changed: across North America, ski resort towns are now bursting with eclectic, high-end restaurants run by award-winning chefs that pride themselves on crafting excellent dishes in healthy, sustainable ways. These days, it's cool to be eco-conscious, health-conscious, and community-conscious – and outside of major cities, mountain towns are leading those trends that are (hopefully) here to stay.
Ski vacations are about the skiing, but also about the entire experience: from lodging to spa-ing to shopping to enjoying all the activities the resort town has to offer. These days, they're also about the phenomenal food. Dine out, order in, reserve at that bistro all your friends have been talking about, and grab a samosa from that super cheap and oh-so-delicious food counter you keep reading about in all the reviews. If you'd like to craft your ski vacation around food, we say go for it, and this guide is here to help. Read on for the ultimate guide to the foodie ski vacation.
Whistler Blackcomb just got dubbed SKI Magazine's #1 resort for the second year in a row – and a "foodie" category didn't even contribute to the ranking. Whistler seems to be unstoppable as the destination ski resort in North America. After the Peak-to-Peak gondola connected Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, the resort became the largest in North America, offering over 8,000 skiable acres of terrain. It also boasts 2 purpose-built villages with extensive shopping and over 100 restaurants. The on-mountain dining is not your average cafeteria food: both fine dining spots and casual venues boast fresh, often locally sourced eats that cater to varying dietary preferences. To really get a taste of Whistler, explore the village. You'll find multicultural cuisine in every price range, and fine dining establishments that make an art of Pacific Northwest cooking. Don't leave without trying some wild game and fresh oysters.
Best For: Farm-to-table foodies with an affinity for big mountain skiing.
Stay…at the Sundial Boutique Hotel for 1-2 bedroom suites at the base of Whistler gondola.
Ski…anything off 7th Heaven Express for stunning views and good groomers.
Fine Dining…Head to Bearfoot Bistro for elegant farm-to-table fare and the coolest vodka tasting room in the world.
Cheap Eats…The Green Moustache offers health-minded foodies 100% organic fare in huge portions under $11.
Après…at the Longhorn Saloon with cold beers and legendary nachos.
Nightlife…Cut some serious rug at Garfinkel's with inspired DJs and hip(ster) crowd.
Don't Miss…the Cornucopia festival in mid-November for local tastings and world-class wine talks.
Whistler has accommodation for every budget, and plenty of on-site restaurants; opt for lodging that's close to Whistler village for the easiest access to dining and nightlife.
Expect the usual red carpet treatment at the Four Seasons; the Sidecut Bar boasts a relaxing lounge for après eats and drinks.
Opt for a personalized stay at the Sundial Boutique Hotel, which boasts a rustic elegant décor and suites with personal slopeside hot tubs.
The Aava Whistler Hotel has comfy rooms and friendly staff; the biggest perk is location – 2 minutes walk from Whistler Village restaurants, all at a value price.
Gourmet farm-to-table dining has become the norm in Whistler; chefs prepare traditional west coast cuisine sourcing from local farms when possible.
The chefs at Alta Bistro strive for fresh, in-season fare; expect dishes like slow cooked Vancouver Island venison with mustard cress and horseradish salsa or crispy local snapper with seasonal veggies in a red wine reduction.
Bearfoot Bistro not only boasts the world's coldest vodka tasting room – it's also home to a cozy bistro serving up comfort American bistro fare; the confit & grilled pork jowl with bourbon glazed hushed puppies is not to be missed.
Chef/owner Rolf Gunther keeps flavors stunningly simple at Rimrock Café; start with oyster shooters followed by wild B.C. salmon on lobster mashed potatoes, and save room for a daily changing dessert.
Remember that if you're coming from the States, the exchange rate is highly in your favor; that said, we'd pay for these delectable eats in any currency.
The Green Moustache prides itself on being 100% organic, gluten + dairy free; opt for the $11 Buddha bowl, a heaping portion of quinoa, rice, nuts, seeds, sprouts and fresh veggies topped with signature house dressing.
Locals flock to Dups Burritos for fresh, tasty Mexican fare under $10; the veggie stuffed "chimichonger" will set you up for an entire day on the slopes.
El Furniture Warehouse is a Canadian favorite, with locations in Vancouver, Toronto, and more: expect tasty comfort food for – get this – under $5.
Whistler is known for its dance clubs, and you won't find a shortage of world-class DJs dropping beats for young crowds until the wee hours; consider getting on the guest list ahead of time for the hottest spots.
Head to Tommy Africa's for a rockin' dance floor, vibrant DJs, and staff known for their friendliness; this is the place to go all out in the Whistler club scene.
Garfinkel's goes off on Friday and Saturday nights; DJs mostly spin tech house and latest hits for a 20s and 30s crowd.
Kick back with good pub fare and a local brew at Tapley's Neighborhood Pub; with TVs for game watching and local live music, it's a relaxed step away from the clubs.
Activities & Events
Whistler loves to make events of their food – you'll find festivals throughout the year that focus on local tastes and fine wine; for a break from the scene, opt for one of the outdoor adventure offerings run by the resort.
Cornucopia is the celebration of food and drink in Whistler; attend tastings by top regional chefs, drink seminars, and bar/restaurant special offerings during the 10 day festival in November.
The mid-mountain Steeps Grill & Wine Bar hosts the Winemaker Dinner Series twice per season; enjoy a full course dinner paired with internationally renowned wines with mountain views.
Take a break from the tastes with one of Whistler's winter thrills, like ziplining above the mountainscape.
The exchange rate is the best it's been in 10 years for the US Dollar; Americans, now is the time to vacation in Canada.
Whistler loves families; offer foodie kids their own adventure with Kids' Night Out while you get some time away on the town.
Park City Mountain Resort makes this list for its continued commitment to mountain town comfort fare. That, and its extensive terrain, close proximity to Salt Lake City, and absolutely charming downtown. A former silver mining town set in the Wasatch Range, Park City has plenty of stories from bygone Wild West days. The historic Main Street, which is dotted with chic boutiques and bistros, boasts colorful Victorian buildings and plenty of local proprietors ready to share a few nuggets of town history with visitors. Stop into the Wasatch Brewery – Park City's first since the Prohibition – for a Polygamy Porter, then mosey down Main to a cozy dinner at one of the town's fine dining spots. Park City is particularly focused on sourcing ingredients from local and regional farms – so much so that menus can change weekly. Our advice: get as many tastes as you can!
Best For: history and culture buffs who like a story behind their food.
Stay…at the Treasure Mountain Inn for eco-hip rooms and prime downtown location.
Ski…the glades to skier's left of McConkey's Express firs thing on a powder day.
Fine Dining…Enjoy southern comfort inspired fare sourced from regional farms at Purple Sage.
Cheap Eats…Davanza's is the local favorite for high-end pizzas at value prices.
Après…Indulge in Gruyere chees fondue and specialty cocktails at the Troll Hallen Lounge.
Nightlife…Downstairs is the hottest spot for music and dancing; the VIP service is well-known.
Don't Miss…a tour of High West Distillery & Saloon, an iconic Park City business and building.
For closest proximity to restaurants and shopping, stay on historic Main Street, which is at the base of Park City Mountain Resort.
Award-winning Hotel Park City boasts elegant rooms, spa, an on-site gourmet restaurant; all suites offer private balconies with mountain or valley views.
The Treasure Mountain Inn is one of PC's best kept secrets: the eco-friendly, centrally located boutique hotel is ideal for ski vacationers strolling around town.
The Park City Peaks Hotel offers standard, modern rooms a free shuttle ride away from downtown and the resort; there's a free buffet breakfast if you're saving your pennies for dinners out.
Park City restaurants offer a refreshing blend of southwestern comfort fare and western inspired bistro dishes; make reservations at least one week in advance.
For a contemporary bistro setting and eclectic fare, book a table at Riverhorse on Main; the macadamia nut crusted Alaskan halibut is an all-time favorite.
You'll find classic Western comfort food in a refined 19th century building at Purple Sage, a Park City mainstay; indulge in the sugar and chili cured duck or corn battered Utah trout.
Grappa is set inside an old boarding house at the top of Main Street – ambiance is warm and intimate; classic Italian dishes like osso bucco in creamy polenta and red wine tomato jus fill the menu.
Park City prides itself on good food, regardless of the cost; you'll find plenty of fresh, affordable plates along Main Street.
Head to local favorite Davanza's for no-nonsense wood oven fired pizzas; personal pies are usually $12 – order the Spicy Luau to start the night off right.
The Bridge Café & Grill specializes in fresh all-day breakfasts with a touch of Brazilian flair; opt for a $10 Burrinho stuffed with eggs, black beans, peppers and cheese to set you up for the day.
Kick back with a Polygamy Porter and upscale pub grub at the Wasatch Brew Pub; burgers start at $11, and $15 favorites like shepard's pie can be split for two.
You'll find a few dance clubs, but most Park City nightlife revolves around the quintessential mountain town bars and saloons; live music is big on weekend nights.
Enjoy live music and late night pub fare at The Spur Bar & Grill; they also host some of the best drink specials in town.
The No Name Saloon consistently gets voted the #1 bar in Park City; dip into the vintage space for a spirit and a small bite, and prepare for a rowdy crowd after 9pm.
Head to Downstairs for an intimate venue that hosts surprisingly big DJs and live music acts; lounge seating is available for reservation – and something we'd recommend on busy nights.
Activities & Events
Park City is chock full of foodie history; take advantage of local tours to get the inside scoop on everything from restaurant chefs' philosophy to the evolution of Utah liquor laws.
Gourmand Tours will offer you the best tastes of Park City in a few short hours: try specialty dishes from top chefs and soak in the culinary history of downtown PC.
Enjoy a scenic sleigh ride with Snowed Inn; simply see the sights or take the option to dine at a destination lodge for dinner prepared by an on-site chef.
Tour the original High West Distillery & Saloon for a taste of local spirits and prohibition history.
Utah still maintains certain liquor laws that may catch you off guard -- review them here to get in the know.
The Sundance Film Festival takes place towards the end of January, and it's a great time to visit: hotels book up quickly, but the streets are festive and the slopes are empty since most people aren't there to ski.
Telluride is where the rich and famous go to see without being seen; needless to say, it's a pretty special spot in that it boasts all the elegance and culture of cousins Vail and Aspen, but none of the "scene." You can rent a luxury slopeside chalet and hire a private chef to prepare meals, or stay in downtown Telluride and hop from bar to lounge to specialty food shop. If you'd like to ski in between (which we highly recommend), you'll find plenty of groomers and glades with very few crowds. We love that most restaurants are owned by folks who came to Telluride in search of great snow and the good life, then found creative, delicious, lucrative ways to build their lives here. Indulge in the classic Colorado history, and don't miss sunbathing with a schnapps on the deck of Alpino Vino.
Best For: Understated elegance, challenging terrain, and a taste of the best wild game in Colorado.
Stay…at The Hotel Columbia for central downtown location and cozy, modern digs.
Ski…the intermediate runs in Prospect Bowl for smooth corduroy in the morning.
Fine Dining…Indulge in a 5 course Italian meal at mountaintop Alpino Vino.
Cheap Eats…Head to Baked in Telluride for $3 small bites and gourmet-to-go breakfast sammies.
Après…at the Tomboy Tavern with the 20oz Bear Trap Bloody Mary, topped with shrimp, bacon, celery and olive medley.
Nightlife…Drop by the historic New Sheridan Bar for a bourbon and local live music.
Don't Miss…the Tasting Telluride Food Tour for one-on-one time with top restaurant chefs and a peek into Telluride culture and history.
You can stay in Mountain Village for closest access to the slopes, or downtown Telluride for close proximity to restaurants and shopping; a free gondola runs between the two. Options listed here are all located downtown.
The Hotel Telluride offers the quintessential luxury resort experience, with plush, spacious rooms, outdoor hot tubs, gym, spa treatments, and complementary shuttle to the gondola.
Little touches like heated bathroom floors make the difference at The Hotel Columbia; most rooms have balconies, gas fireplaces, and river or mountain views – the lifts are a 1 minute walk.
The New Sheridan Hotel is a Telluride classic, and just 3 blocks from the ski lifts; the building is old, but rooms are outfitted with modern amenities (and you're stumbling distance from the popular hotel bar).
Telluride harbors a slew of award-winning chefs who pride themselves on finely crafted food made from the freshest ingredients; even the on-mountain dining (which ski resorts are not usually known for) is impressively tasteful.
Set in a refurbished historic home in downtown Telluride, 221 South Oak offers guests American bistro dishes made entirely from scratch; start with Kobe bone marrow in blackberry wine, followed by duck breast with confit and sweet potato dumplings – perfection.
Alpino Vino offers one-of-a-kind dining at its European inspired alpine hütte; dine at 11,966 ft with a five course Italian dinner, fine wine pairings, and unparalleled views of the Wilson Range.
Book a table at Allred's for elegant Telluride at its finest; the restaurant sources everything local and organic when possible – try the cider brined pork chop with stone-ground white cheddar grits and sautéed brussels sprouts.
"Cheap" is always relative to place, but in pricey Telluride, you'll be delightfully surprised by high quality, low cost restaurants; go for quality over quantity with small or split portions – you won't need much to satisfy your palette here.
If you've never heard of "Detroit style pizza," you've got a chance to try it at award-winning Brown Dog Pizza; split a $25 large Smoke Dog pizza with friends – it's topped with a delectable combination of fresh basil, pepperoni, and banana peppers.
Grab a gourmet breakfast to go from Baked in Telluride; the $7 chorizo and egg burrito is a local favorite, while the (under $3!) samosas are an ode to the best of Indian street food stands.
Caravan is new on the Telluride food scene, and boasts classic Middle Eastern food sourced from wholesome, organic, and local ingredients; try the $12 Colorado lamb kofta shish-kebab or the $8 falafel sandwich.
Telluride isn't big on the dance club scene (okay, that's an understatement…), but you will find fun-loving local bars rocking that classic mountain town style.
Drop by The Last Dollar Saloon (aka "The Buck") for a hot whiskey and rambunctious local crowd on Friday nights.
Check the calendar for the historic Sheridan Opera House, which brings in huge music acts like The Wood Brothers, The Infamous Stringdusters, and acclaimed solo artists throughout the year.
Step back in time at the New Sheridan Bar, which has served patrons in its original form since 1895.
Activities & Events
Telluride is a haven for foodie activities that integrate art, wellness, and culture; take a day away from the slopes to see the sights on "Colorado casual" time.
Indulge in a night at Dunton Hot Springs, which offers guests private cabins, wellness classes, gourmet meals and access to 6 therapeutic natural hot springs.
Long time locals Lois and Howie Stern lead the Tasting Telluride Food Tour, a 3-hour adventure of food tastings and stories behind Telluride's food scene.
Don't miss the First Thursday Art Walk at the beginning of each month; take a free, self-guided tour of twenty downtown restaurants and galleries displaying local art.
If you're renting a condo or private home, consider booking a personal chef to prepare a gourmet meal for you one night.
The free gondola between town and Mountain Village closes at midnight; if you're going to party until the wee hours, consider staying downtown.
Stowe has gained a reputation in the past 5 years as a New England foodie destination, and the fact that it's also a finely run ski resort is simply a perk. Located in northern Vermont, the town is 20 minutes off I-89 and easily accessible for those driving north from the tristate area. If you've ever seen a postcard of a cutesy Vermont town with churches, covered bridges, and icicle lights hanging over the main street, it was likely Stowe. The fine dining scene is cozy and elegantly casual, often in dining rooms that have been renovated from 19th century farmhouses. Stowe has upped its luxury ante recently with the development of the Stowe Mountain Lodge, the only 5-star hotel at the mountain itself. While you can find food suited for any diet, Stowe reads more good, whole food than GF/DF/SF fad. Even the cheap eats are usually locally sourced or organic.
Best For: New England locavores looking for a close getaway – and fantastic cheese.
Stay…at the famous Trapp Family Lodge European hospitality and chalet-style suites.
Ski…cruise down Upper Sterling for a warm-up, then lap the glades off Sensation Quad.
Cheap Eats…Ask any local and they'll send you to McCarthy's for no-nonsense sandwiches under $10.
Après…The Matterhorn is the place to après for craft drafts and a little mountain town debauchery.
Nightlife…Get rowdy at the Rusty Nail; weekend nights go off with live music and dancing.
Don't Miss…a tour of the Ben & Jerry's Factory in near by Waterbury; you'll get a secret taste of new flavors and maybe score some free shwag.
Most lodging is located in downtown Stowe, 3-5 mi from the resort; ask when booking about ski shuttles to the mountain, as parking can be a pain on weekends.
The resort's ski-in/ski-out gem, the Stowe Mountain Lodge offers guests the 5-star experience with decked out rooms, 2 restaurants, pool and wellness spa.
Book a room at the European-style Trapp Family Lodge for cozy digs a few miles from the slopes; the suites boast wood-burning stoves and mountain view balconies.
Commodores Inn is cheap and comfortable, with close proximity to downtown and a free ski shuttle to the slopes.
Stowe area restaurants are quite varied; for the quintessential Vermont fine dining experience, opt for the small-scale restaurants with highly personalized touch.
Dinner at Hen of the Wood is worth the drive into neighboring Waterbury; chefs are so keen on fresh, local fare that menus change daily, and the warm, intimate setting feels like an upscale living room.
Solstice is Stowe Mountain Lodge's in-hotel restaurant offering refined comfort food in an elegant setting; don't miss the lobster & truffle risotto with foraged mushrooms and mascarpone.
Stowe keeps things classic when it comes to good, affordable food; these spots are local and tourist favorites.
McCarthy's has been serving up high-end diner fare for over 40 years; breakfasts feature local eggs and Vermont cheese, while the $10 paninis are big enough for two.
Eat fresh, organic, and local at the Green Goddess Café; stop by for $8 breakfast sandwiches or hearty lunch specials – The Local is our favorite with grilled turkey, VT cheddar, and pesto aioli.
Throw it way back at the Depot Street Malt Shop, which features '50s style burgers, fries, and shakes under $10.
Stowe doesn't boast a ton of nightlife, but the few bars that feature live music attract the best crowds; when in doubt, ask a local where the party is that night.
Get pub grub and live music most nights at the Rusty Nail; this place gets rockin' on Thursday through Saturday nights – be prepared to party, late.
Head to The Matterhorn for après, then go back for live music on weekend nights starting at 9:30; you can also snack on late night sushi.
You wouldn't normally expect a pizza joint to host decent nightlife, but Piecasso is a reliable spot for the occasional live music event and a pretty cool lounge scene.
Activities & Events
Vermont loves showing off its food – especially via tours; enjoy the state's hospitality and charm with these food tastings and tours.
Take a Moonlight Snowshoe Tour with Umiak Outfitters; a guide will lead you to a sugar house in the woods for snacks, cider, and hanging by the fire.
You can't drive through Waterbury without taking a Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour; located just off the exit en route to Stowe, the world famous ice cream factory hosts daily tours and tastes of up and coming flavors.
Visit the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for an inside look at donut making, cider pressing, and bee keeping; there's also a delicious bakery and luncheonette serving delectable eats.
I-91 is succeptible to traffic on Fridays from 6-8pm; if you're driving from the tristate area, cut out of work early or leave late.
Vegans, if there were ever a state to indulge in real cheese, Vermont is the place. Just sayin'.
Best For: A foodie haven comparable to San Francisco, mountain town style – and authentic exposure to the soul of skiing.
Stay…at the recently renovated Snow King Hotel for downtown location at value price.
Ski…the intermediate terrain off the new Teton Lift for a fresh start in the morning.
Fine Dining…Book far in advance for a prime table and prime steaks at the Snake River Grill.
Cheap Eats…sneak away to Teton Thai for the $11 lunch special on busy weekend day.
Après…at the (in)famous Mangy Moose Saloon with local beers and live music.
Nightlife…Shoot some pool and kick up your heels to live country music at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
Don't Miss…the World Championship Hill Climb at the end of March.
Stay in Teton Village for ski-in/ski-out access to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, or in downtown Jackson for close proximity to bars, restaurants, and most nightlife; hotels off the beaten path usually offer free shuttle service to the resort and town.
The stars and high flyers stay at the Amangani, which is perched on a butte with stunning views of the Teton Range; rooms are lovely, suites are more spacious, and a private ski lounge at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort makes for convenient access to the slopes.
Hotel Terra is not only hip and modern – it meets the highest standards for eco-friendly practices; enjoy the rooftop hot tub overlooking the slopes and the in-house spa services.
The recently remodeled Snow King Hotel offers comfortable, light-filled rooms 1 mile from downtown Jackson; there's also a restaurant and shuttle service to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Don't let the jeans and cowboy kicks fool you: Jackson Hole knows fine dining; these places book up fast on weekends, so reserve tables in advance (or take your chances at the bar).
There's nothing quite like the Snake River Grill, with its delightfully understated elegance and finely crafted western cuisine; start with black mission figs with blue cheese in a balsamic reduction, then move on to mains like braised elk osso bucco in creamy polenta and pistachio mint pesto.
Peter Stiegler offers traditional Austrian fare in a cozy European setting at Stiegler's; expect classics like duck breast blue danube and veal bratwurst with housemade sauerkraut.
Trio boasts the best American bistro fare in town, with a lively urban feel and bar overlooking the open kitchen; try the pan seared buffalo tenderloin with cornmeal crusted squash and coriander tomatillo sauce, and save room for the wood oven baked s'more for dessert.
You'll find Jackson Hole's best international food options in the cheap hot spots around town; if you're looking for something specific, ask a local before your smartphone.
Here's a local secret: drop by Teton Thai for the lunch special to avoid crowds and eat excellent Asian cuisine; order the $11 Pad Kee Mao at a spice level 2 for a little tingle in your taste buds.
Call ahead to place your $7 breakfast burrito order at D.O.G., then pick up on the way to the slopes; the choices are meat or veggie, mild or spicy – they're as big as your face, and will rock your world.
Snake River Brewery, aka the Brew Pub, offers upscale pub grub and, of course, their rotating taps of beers; warm up with the $8 French onion soup on a cold day.
Jackson Hole offers solid boozing and dancing options during weekends and holidays; the Mangy Moose is the only option in Teton Village, while you'll find more in downtown Jackson.
I was never a regular at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, but I won't deny the perks of a spacious dance floor and live country rock music; you can literally "saddle up" to the bar for your Bud Light or house white wine.
The Silver Dollar Bar is an historic landmark in downtown Jackson; drop by on Tuesday bluegrass nights for two-stepping with local cowboys in ten gallon hats.
Step into The Rose for craft cocktails in an urban lounge setting; just across the hall is the Pink Garter Theater, which brings in regional and national music acts weekly.
Activities & Events
Jackson Hole is gorgeous, but it's really the people who make the place; take advantage of local events to get a sense of the tight-knit (and good food obsessed) community.
Taste finely prepared elk, bison, and the famous Wyomatoes with Jackson Hole Food Tours; guides recommend booking at the beginning of your stay so you'll have time to dine at your new found favorite restaurants.
The Town Downhill, aka "Mini Hahnenkamm," is a local favorite; watch seasoned ski racers speed down Snow King (some on powder skis for the "fat and baggy" division), then mingle afterward with food and live music.
If you happen to hit Jackson Hole at the end of March, don't miss the World Championship Hill Climb, which regularly draws about 10,000(!) spectators; tickets are $15 for the day, and you can enjoy local beers and eats while getting a peak into extreme snowmobile culture.
Pick up a free copy of Dishing at any of the restaurants or hotels around town to find the latest restaurant profiles and Jackson Hole foodie articles.
If you have any dietary restrictions, let the hostess know when booking your reservation; at fine dining joints, the server and kitchen will be briefed ahead of time to ensure you get the most specific menu options.