Taste of the Wild West in Jackson

Remote, rugged, and bursting with creative energy, Jackson, Wyoming has been on my bucket list for years. Joe and I just returned from a great weekend in this funky little town and it was a perfect long weekend getaway.

Since we're only a state away we decided to drive, so the trip really began on the road trip. The Denver > Jackson drive isn't quick and with all of our snack and picture stops, it ended up being almost 10 hours door to door. I love a good road trip -- road side diners, jamming to the radio and random photo ops - but there isn't a lot to see in Wyoming until you're about two hours outside of Jackson. Some of the highlights along the way include a little town called Dubois that looks like it could be a set in Westworld, Wind River Indian Reservation and phenomenal mountain views once you hit Grand Teton National Park.

Since we were traveling with our families, we rented a private condo but given all of the great hotels in the area, I don't think it's something I'd do again. Also, being Jackson Hole-newbies we also didn't know that the area is very spread out. I'd suggest picking a hotel within walking distance of the kinds of things on your itinerary just to maximize your weekend. Properties range from ultra-chic Amangani to luxury options right in town like The Lodge at Jackson Hole. For those looking to stay closer to the ski resort, even in the summer months, check out Hotel Terra Jackson Hole in Teton Village. The eco-friendly, luxe accommodations are LEED-certified, feature organic mattresses, and are just steps away from some of Jackson’s most beautiful terrain. If you came to fish and hike mainly, the Jenny Lake Lodge is right in the foothills, literally across the street from Jenny Lake and has been a haven for nature lovers since 1920.

Speaking of Jenny Lake, and since my mom and Joe's dad are big into fishing, we spent a lot of time on the water. String Lake is tiny but so crystal clear that pictures just don't do it justice. It's perfect. Set right at the foot of the Tetons, it's unbelievably picturesque. Jenny Lake, is a short hike from String Lake, equally clear and big enough to require a little ferry that brings tourists to and from the far side of the lake.

Now onto the good stuff...the restaurants. I did a lot of googling before we left and the restaurant scene in Jackson is awesome. Vogue is a big fan of Persephone Bakery and it's picture perfect. The French boulangerie bakes their own artisanal breads and pastries in addition to a breakfast and lunch menu featuring seasonally inspired cuisine.

The real dinner highlight was Orsetto Italian Bar and Eatery - it's modern, fresh and delicious. The menu is the kind of food that I'd be perfectly happy eating every night of my life: fried olives, bruschetta, tangy salads, homemade pastas... I'm convinced I was an old Italian woman in a past life but be that as it may, you can't miss this place. Other must-try restaurants include Nora's Fish Creek Inn - they make Banana Bread French Toast that will blow your mind - and Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. The Cowboy Bar is a place I'd been dying to try and the level of cowboy-kitsch did not disappoint. There's live music every weekend and actual saddles in place of bar stools for guests to 'saddle up' to the bar.

And finally, the shopping is phenomenal. Twenty Two Home is the kind of interior design store that had me wishing I was in a different tax bracket and on our way to dinner one night, I wandered into MADE Jackson Hole and fell immediately in love. A unique little store, MADE is filled with handmade items from over 360 artists from across Wyoming and the USA. From paper products to jewelry, pottery and leather goods, shops like these are my catnip.

So yeah...Jackson totally lives up to the hype. Now we can't wait to go back when there's some snow on the ground.

© 2017 by The Weekender.