One of the great winter sports traditions is the apres-ski party, where ski- and snowboard-weary weekend warriors congregate to wind down after a tough day on the slopes.
For some the apres may simply mean sipping a cold brew or a hot toddy by an inviting fire in the base lodge. For others, apres is when the day’s real action begins.
It’s for the latter group that we have compiled a list of our favorite resorts to get you in the post-powder party mood.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that a resort that’s been referred to as “Vegas with snow” would be party central for the Lake Tahoe region. Heavenly gets guests into an early party mood with its DJ Cat, a retired grooming machine on which a state-of-the-art sound system has been mounted and which roves around the ski hill. The action really kicks in with Unbuckled, a daily late-afternoon party at the Tamarack Lodge that features food specials, half-priced drinks and DJs. Afterwards, there always the all-night casinos a few steps away from the resort’s main base area.
Skiing and snowboarding almost seem an afterthought at this Catskills Mountain resort. Located about two hours from Manhattan, visitors to “Hunta”, as it is known in the local vernacular, probably get more exercise lifting a glass of Jagermeister than shredding the ski hill. Check out Slopes in Tannersville, which calls itself “New York’s Infamous Winter Party Destination” and is open until 4 a.m.
This Quebec resort is less than 90 minutes from Montreal but a world away from your typical Canadian vibe. Where else can you find two casinos in your base area, one of which is ski-in, ski-out? You can get the party started at Le P’tit Caribou, perhaps the most famous ski bar east of the Mississippi whose motto is “Where the legends party”, and finish things off at Bar Cafe D’Epoque, which features innovative DJs and cage dancing.
The home of the annual Sundance Film Festival is no stranger to showing folks how to have a good time in Utah once the sun goes down. Check out the No Name Bar on Main Street, the oldest saloon in town whose “philosophy”, if you will, is “beer makes you smart”. Another great establishment is the High West Distillery and Saloon (fabulous ryes and whiskeys), which is situated a few steps from the bottom terminus of the Town Lift and is probably the only ski-in, ski-out distillery in the world.
When you set the world record for the longest ski shot (666 people simultaneously knocked back a shot of booze from a 973-foot-long device made from 219 skis), your spot in the Apres-Ski Hall of Fame is ensured. However, this Colorado resort is famously known as the cold alternative to Florida for college spring breakers with the month-long Spring Fever Festival. Also, check out the annual week-long Ullr Fest, where party-goers don Viking horns and shot-ski records are set.
Aptly known as the Beast of the East, Vermont’s ski largest resort is also New England’s party headquarters. The action is centered around Killington’s Access Road, where you’ll find such legendary — and sometimes infamous — establishments as the Wobbly Barn, a steakhouse cum night club; the Pickle Barrel, which has four bars and two stages, and Casey’s Caboose, which hands out free wings during happy hour.
America’s “glamour” resort for more than a half-century, Colorado’s nexus for the rich and famous is also a party-hearty place for the rest of us. With a town that has more than 100 bars, restaurants and clubs, you can pick your poison, but the Red Onion, a favorite locals’ hang; the Aspen Brewing Company, and the J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome (think Hunter Thompson) stand out above the rest.
When you’re the largest, most-visited resort in North America — and were part of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games — you should know how to throw a party. And this British Columbia town does. Catering to both locals from Vancouver and travelers from around the globe, Whistler lets the good times roll at such places as the Savage Beagle, Maxx Fish, Tommy Africa’s and Moe Joes. If the lines for the clubs seem overlong, remember many of them have a back-door policy: If you can find the back door, you can usually get in faster.
Because the Oregon ski hill has limited overnight lodging and amenities, you’ll have to go to Bend to meet your party needs. And they will be met, particularly if you like beer — there are more than 20 breweries in a town dubbed Beer Town USA. A favorite apres activity is to participate in the Bend Ale Trail, in which drinkers get a beer passport and collect stamps from as many breweries as possible.
This down-home Colorado resort, a.k.a. The Legend, doesn’t need fancy nightclubs or craft breweries or skanky bars or whatever to get the party started. They do it in the parking lot, particularly in the Early Riser parking lot, which is locally known as The Beach. It’s a tailgating vibe — people even have room to set up a picnic table — and known for celebrating any old thing that comes to mind. And the partying lasts a pretty long time: A-Basin doesn’t generally close until June.