What’s better than a dive?
If you know a thing or two about ski towns, you know that the locals (and tourist) like to play just as hard as they ski or even harder.
I mean, what’s better than an ice cold beer or two and a good ol’ shot of whiskey to warm you up after a long day on the mountain?
If you’re anything like me finding a good hole-in-the wall après bar to belly up at is just as much of a priority as making it out for first chair. Here are some of my favorite dive bars (in no particular order):
1. The Snorting Elk Cellar – Enumclaw, WA
Our first stop is the Snorting Elk Cellar located at Crystal Mountain in Washington State. Known as an “integral part of the Pacific Northwest ski scene” this cozy, Austrian inspired ski bar boasts 18 taps of locally brewed beer and an extensive list of ski-friendly drinks and cocktails.
If that isn’t enough to entice you then maybe try Snorting Elk Frost, a special recipe beer from Elysian Brewmaster’s, crafted just for the Snorting Elk to satisfy your taste buds. The Snorting Elk Cellar also hosts Local’s Night every Wednesday featuring a different brewery from the PNW. If you’re hungry grab a seat near the fireplace and check out a fat stack of nachos or specialty pizza.
2. The Great Northern Bar – Whitefish, MT
The Great Northern Bar in Whitefish, MT is the perfect rendezvous after a long day on the slopes. Good old-fashioned, homemade cooking will fill you up without putting a huge dent in your wallet. And with 29 beers on tap there is sure to be a drink that everyone will love.
Every week Thursday-Saturday, The Great Northern has live music (plus every Tuesday and Wednesday in the summer) that covers just about every genre you could imagine. Pool tables, shuffleboard, ping-pong, Golden Tee and a slew of arcade games will keep you entertained while you wait for your meal, or the kids (welcome before 9pm!) entertained while you throw a few cold ones back after riding all day.
The Great Northern isn’t just a place for regulars and tourists to hang, the bartenders and kitchen staff can be found belly up on their days off.
3. Bulldog Saloon – Whitefish, MT
Purchased in 1983 by Buck and Linda May, the Bulldog Saloon was re-named to honor the Whitefish High School Mascot. Now run by the next generation of Mays, Eric and Amy – this family run business has made a name for itself as a “fun sports bar with great burgers”, and a great place for ski bums to kick back with a few cold ones after riding from first char to last.
A staple in downtown Whitefish, this popular dive has a menu suited for everyone and plenty of TV’s, so if you’re looking to catch a game you’re in luck. Keep in mind if you’re in the mood for drinking be sure to ask about the BFP (Big Fu*king Pitcher) you’ll need a couple of buddies to finish it, and maybe a couple more to help you walk back home.
4. O’Shucks Bar and Grille – Park City, UT
Popular with the ski crowd, O’Shucks Bar and Grill is known for their dirtbag atmosphere, endless amounts of free peanuts and a great party. If you’re not looking for anything fancy after spending all day on the slopes, this is the place for you.
Kick back at the bar with a beer and a shot or two while you’re buddies battle each other in Big Buck Hunter or a casual game of pool. If you’re hungry, be sure to check out their hot dogs and burgers (cheeseburgers are $3 on Wednesdays, so are 32 oz Schooners) and if you feel like making some new friends, rub elbows with some of the snowboarders you’ll find hanging around the joint. We’re positive you won’t be disappointed if it’s a true dive you’re after.
5. Village Café – Teton Village, Jackson Hole, WY
If shot-skis, pool and getting hammered are your thing, then the Village Café is your place. Perfect for après affairs, this “former” dive and snack bar originally opened in the Village Center building and served skiers for almost five decades (under one name or another) until it was demolished in 2013 to make way for luxury condos.
Now, you may not be able to buy beer from a walk-up window anymore, but the Village Café is back and fully functioning out of the Inn at Jackson Hole. This staple serves whole wheat pizza by the slice, is family-friendly and features a fully stocked bar for you to wet your whistle. A favorite for both locals and tourists, the Village Café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner year round.
6. Last Dollar Saloon – Telluride, CO
Whatever your après activity the Last Dollar Saloon is awaiting your arrival. This historic dive bar is nicknamed “The Buck”, and with good reason. Happy hour is every day from 3:00pm-5:00pm and all drought beer pints are $1 off, they also have $2 PBR’s and four different craft beers from Telluride Brewing Co. for $4. And if that isn’t enough, they feature 8 beers on tap for you to choose from, and have Telluride’s largest beer collection featuring over 60 different local, domestic, craft, imported and seasonal options.
If beer isn’t your thing, don’t fret they also offer up $5 margaritas, who wouldn’t be happy about that? If you’re looking for a cool place to catch a drink and some good conversation, head on over to “The Buck” the next time you’re in Telluride.
7. Minturn Saloon – Minturn, CO
Located between Vail and Beaver Creek, Minturn Saloon sits right in the middle of Ski Country and is awaiting your arrival. This funky joint is the most historic restaurant in Vail Valley and offers up a wide variety of food including Mexican options, wild game birds and ribs!
If you’re planning on shooting the mile, the Minturn Saloon is the spot to grab a nice cold beer after taking a run on the world famous “Minturn Mile” off Vail Mountain. We’re not the only ones to recognize this hidden gem, Men’s Journal issued a list of the Best Après Ski Bars in the World in 2013, and Minturn was one of three places in the US to make the list!
8. Cotton Bottom Inn – Holladay, UT
If you’re looking for a place to kick back with a frosty mug after a long day of skiing, the Cotton Bottom Inn is your spot. Located in a scenic foothills canyon, the Cotton Bottom has been drawing in eclectic crowds since 1966 and is known for the finest garlic burger in town, a reputation the family takes great pride in.
In the winter months the bar is always hoppin’ (no pun intended), and you’re likely to find locals and out-of-towners rubbing elbows, putting dollars in the jukebox and enjoying a friendly game of pool. If you’re lucky enough to be around for a Monday night football game you can enjoy a double cheeseburger and Coors draft Banquet Beer for only $8.50.
9. Mitchell St. Pub – Petoskey, MI
Being from the Midwest, I couldn’t leave this gem out. Mitchell St. Pub is the perfect atmosphere to kick back with your buddies after a long day skiing Nubs Nob. Treat yourself to a pile of peanuts (toss the shells on the floor), throw back a few cold ones or take a peek at the menu.
A local’s favorite, the Mitchell St. Pub is our preferred pub in Petoskey and is packed from floor to ceiling with the coolest collection of antiques. With a huge selection of beers and an extensive wine list featuring local Michigan wineries, there is something for everyone to satisfy their palate.
If you’re lucky enough to be there on a Friday night keep an eye out for down-state Marcy hanging out by the jukebox, kicking off an eclectic mix of music and yelling at the bartender.
10. Tourist Club – Truckee, CA
Rounding out our list is the Tourist Club. If you enjoy people watching, no doubt the Tourist Club in Truckee will be your after ski stop. With a sign that reads “Free Beer Tomorrow” this down and dirty joint has something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking to shoot some stick and toss back some shots, or take a seat at the bar and listen to some live music – the Tourist Club will not disappoint. Known as a place where the drinks are strong, the locals are present and there’s a fair amount of taxidermy on the walls – this bucket list bar is a true ski-town dive, it even has its own stripper pole.
If you’re looking for something a little fancier than the 10 locations listed above, check out our blog on Gourmet Restaurants at Top Ski Destinations.