Possessing—even flaunting—refinements sure to satisfy those seeking a world class experience, the city has never lost its cowboy soul. Framed by the backdrop of the impossibly craggy Teton mountain range, and with Yellowstone National Park a mere day trip away, the area offers activities, lodging and refreshment that will thrill cowgirls of every persuasion, from the serious western art collector to the winter sport enthusiast.
Jackson’s location, nestled between the majestic Grand Teton and the Gros Ventre mountain ranges, creates a discrete geographic as well as cultural sense of place, the epicenter of which is the town square. Encompassing a city block of park, the square beckons visitors to enter through monumental arches fashioned of shed elk antlers (collected from the National Elk Refuge adjacent to town).
Flanking the square, and found throughout much of the village, fine galleries, boutiques, and restaurants are accessed via charming wooden boardwalks that provide shelter from snow and sun, and elevate pedestrians above the street-level “horseless buggies.” Cowboy boots are de rigueur, whether paired with jeans (and often jewels) or a couture elk skin ball gown.
Lodging options are as varied as the wildlife around Jackson, ranging from over-the-top luxury to more budget-friendly options. For an unforgettable experience in the heart of town, The Wort Hotel is a must. Hit the hotel’s Silver Dollar Bar & Grill Friday evening when a live band is playing for a surprisingly local experience in this visitor-focused enclave. Boot-clad gentlemen and lovely ladies of all ages execute the well-practiced dips and spins of country swing dancing.
Enjoy people watching or join in—city slickers of all abilities are warmly welcomed on the dance floor. Fuel your night out with the bar’s elk sliders (don’t skip the ale-battered onion rings!) and The Wort Hotel’s Famous Corn Chowder, two favorites of Cowgirl editors.
The National Museum of Wildlife Art, just 3 miles north of the Town Square and opposite the National Elk Refuge, houses a diverse collection of paintings, sculpture and photography. Pieces such as the arresting “Gray Wolf Standing on a Bluff” by master Carl Rungius are housed within a stunning organic architectural form; the museum’s rock walls and towers visually recede into the natural landscape. In winter months observe elk herds in the refuge from the museum’s Rising Sage Café (bring binoculars). An enjoyable viewing of the museum’s galleries can be accomplished in a few hours to one-half day.
For a museum-quality experience in town, Trailside Galleries sets the bar for world-class fine art, much of which speaks to the western experience. At any one time, the gallery may display an original Charles M. Russell oil painting to exquisite pieces from modern artists. When Cowgirl visited, the gallery owner graciously invited us to view original pieces hung in her private office, including a favorite contemporary wildlife artist, Lindsay Scott.
To cure your “museum legs” scoot across E. Broadway Street from Trailside and recharge at Persophone Bakery, a little spot that somehow seamlessly marries über-hip and quaint. A masterfully executed double Cappucino with housemade vanilla bean syrup and a chocolate chip cookie were just the nibble needed to inspire our afternoon exploration of town.
Many other notable galleries are clustered within a few blocks of the Town Square, among them Altamira Fine Art, representing, among others, contemporary artist John Nieto and the Tayloe Piggott Art Gallery-Jewelry Store. Tayloe Piggott curates the most uniquely gorgeous and unexpected jewelry, recently showcasing a ring of fossilized woolly mammoth ivory and diamonds by Monique Péan we couldn’t help but swoon over.
World-class skiing and a lively aprés-ski scene complete the Jackson winter experience. From the family friendly Snow King Mountain/Resort on the edge of town to the see-and-be-seen Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in posh Teton Village (watch for moose on the road to Teton!). Both resorts have summer and winter offerings, spas and shopping, ensuring that both skiers and non-skiers alike are catered to.
Once again, classy Jackson has not disappointed. With more eateries, galleries, boutiques and outdoor activities to sample, in a natural Environment of remarkable beauty and ruggedness, we succumb to her spell, and begin planning our next visit.
(Originally published in the December 2014 issue of Cowgirl Magazine).