Top 10 Apres-Ski Scenes

by  ShermansTravel Editorial Staff | Updated on Jan 8, 2020
Aspen, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado / Jonathan Ross/iStock

Peak ski season is in full swing, with a winter wonderland welcoming enthusiastic snow-lovers to carve out many of the world’s best slopes. But, the exhilaration needn’t end when the pistes close: Let your hair down under that ski hat and discover our favorite après-ski scenes around the globe, including two Colorado  resorts that cater to both the refined and the rowdy, a glamorous casino-dotted ski town straddling the Nevada and California borders, and a Canadian gem that pulsates with live music and good times. Alternatively, check out the Eastern seaboard at Killington, where you’re guaranteed to have a great time. Of course, no list would be complete without a sprinkling of alpine villages – we're keen on four evergreen après-ski hot spots that have provided tried-and-true nighttime fun to generations of skiers. And, for those of you who refuse to let summer signal your last descent, we’ve even thrown in one South American ski town where you can get your après-ski fix between June and September.

1. Aspen, Colorado

Aspen is an après-ski magnet that attracts everyone from A-list celebs to average Joes. Of course, the unifying factor is the spectacular mountain scenery,  which providing serious skiers limitless opportunities to schuss their days away. What keeps them lingering well into the night, though, is the glitzy and glamorous après-ski scene that unfolds here each evening, animating the charmingly antiquated buildings of this former silver-mining town (a quirky authenticity that sets it apart from the Rockies’ other chichi ski mecca of Vail). Take in a concert under the crystal chandeliers of the Wheeler Opera House, built in 1889, delight your palate at one of the fabulous restaurants, or swap ski stories over a cocktail. Hit up The Little Nell for live music, or visit the lively, popular J-bar at the historic Hotel Jerome.

2. Bariloche, Argentina

If you’re hankering to ski some powder-packed slopes in the height of summer, head south to Argentina’s premier ski destination of Bariloche – by mid-June, temperatures here have dropped to around 30 degrees, which is perfect for maintaining a cover of snow on Cerro Catedral Mountain. Here, you'll find over 42 miles of trails and lift tickets are cheap (we’re talking from as little as $25 for adults). Snow bunnies who make the trek down south can revel in the vast of array of après-ski nightlife, dining, outdoor activities, and casino action that have made Bariloche one of the most-visited destinations in Argentina. The scene here is sure to keep you up late – things really get hopping around midnight – but you can start the night off by playing the slots at the Hotel Panamericano, which also hosts live shows in the evening. One of the best times to visit is during the weeklong National Snow Party (usually held in August), a celebrated snow-filled fiesta with torchlight parades, a chocolate party, and other quirky events.

3. Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France

Don’t expend all of your energy schussing the slopes surrounding massive Mont Blanc (the highest mountain in Western Europe) – you’ll need to conserve if you’re going to take part in the equally exhilarating nightlife that unfolds in this charming mountain town each evening. Chamonix’s reputation as one of the most happening après-ski resorts in the Alps is well-deserved. Its location on the crossroads of France, Italy, and Switzerland makes it a natural multicultural mecca for serious skiers and even more serious partiers. Bars and lounges lure ski bunnies away from the pistes with live bands and tempting drink specials from about 4 p.m. – and don’t plan on the party losing steam earlier than 4 a.m. Be sure to make the trek to the Canadian-run microbrewery, MBC, for the best ales and pilsners in town. Of course, with some of the world's finest skiing and luxury chalets, there's plenty of highbrow excitement, too.

4. Cortina, Italy

Nestled beneath the magnificent Dolomite Peaks, the picturesque alpine village of Cortina, Italy, is one of Europe’s most glamorous winter wonderlands; it's attracted international jet-setters since hosting the 1956 Winter Olympics. Although fairly calm (compared to the après-ski scenes at some of the other top peaks on this list), the nighttime scene is no less noteworthy. After schussing down the mountain’s 90 miles of trails, you'll spot well-heeled Italians heading to the swankiest spots for digestifs and cocktails. Favorites include Enoteca, an old wine bar where patrons can pair wines with cold cuts and cheese and Terrazza Viennese, an elegant café/bar serving pastries like crêpes flambé. 

5. Killington, Vermont

A nod also must go to this East Coast winter favorite, where legions of skiers and snowboarders enjoy snow-filled action at the base of the mountain. While Vermont’s largest ski resort lacks any sort of quaint alpine charm, the slew of restaurants, bars, lodges, and shops along the eponymous Killington Road are not to be missed. Two après-ski staples that everyone must sample – Wobbly Barn and Pickle Barrel – can both be found here. As its name suggests, Wobbly Barn is set in an old barn and serves as a popular haunt for happy hour. The party continues into the evening as live bands perform and the dance floor crowds. On the other hand, Pickle Barrel  doubles as a music venue and has hosted a variety of lesser-known and up-and-coming acts, like G. Love & Special Sauce, Howie Day, and Eddie Money.

6. Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Take the Vegas vibe out of the desert and plop it by some dozen downhill mountain resorts and you’ll get a feel for Lake Tahoe. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada range, on the cusp of California and Nevada, this winter retreat offers abundant snow play, neon-lit casinos, and the largest alpine lake in North America. The south shore (on the Nevada side) is where you’ll want to set up camp if you’re looking for the liveliest après-ski scene, since it’s chock-full of casinos, hotels, and shops. As the sister casino of a Vegas bigwig, Harrah's Lake Tahoe is a one-stop nightlife destination with nightly live entertainment and a club, Peek, that invites dancers to groove to pulsating beats 'til early in the morning. Another big evening draw is the Pub Tahoe, (located across from the Heavenly gondola), which hosts a large, rowdy crowd that parties all night long. 

7. St. Anton, Austria

St. Anton am Arlberg (or St. Anton for short) is best known for being one of the birthplaces of skiing. Here, you'll find superb alpine pistes, an attractive village of domed churches, cozy chalets, and an après-ski party scene that has simmered to perfection through the generations. The compact pedestrian zone means you can give your legs a rest off the slopes. You'll find dozens of bars, restaurants, and gasthofs (a German-style inn or tavern) within a few minutes' walking distance. Popular hotspots include Mooserwirt, which is always packed with people,  and The Underground on the Piste, a British pub that's your best bet for a pint of Guinness and live music. Late-night discos, karaoke bars, Austrian accordions, and even places where you can fox-trot until dawn promise a little something for everyone. In fact, you needn’t look further than the top of the slopes for a little aperitif to kick things off – huts serving up glühwein (hot red wine spiked with a local schnapps) make a tempting proposition on the pistes.

8. Telluride, Colorado

This Rocky Mountain resort is reminiscent of its rowdy mining-town roots (notorious outlaw Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank here), but not without a splash of 21st-century sophistication. While sister towns like Vail and Aspen demand refinement both on and off the trails, Telluride invites visitors to dig into the rugged slopes — and to throw one back at a neighborhood pub. Additionally, a central district of historic Victorian buildings have since been converted into bars, shops, and restaurants.  Don't miss the historic New Sheridan Bar, with its mahogany paneling and hand-carved bar that conjure images of the Wild Wild West over happy hour specials, and the laid-back Last Dollar Saloon (dubbed “the Buck” by locals), where you'll find jammin’ jukebox, a great selection of beer, and the best margaritas in town.

9. Whistler, Canada

As one of the premier resorts in North America, Whistler has little difficulty attracting snow bunnies to its slopes – and, after the sun goes down, it easily convinces them to stick around with one of the continent’s hottest après-ski scenes. Mountain views, outdoorsy revelers, and live music greet party-goers after the lifts close at the numerous bars and lounges that dot this scenic mountain town. The central village street of this perfectly planned community hosts the bulk of the action – there’s even a free shuttle at the base of each mountain to get you around until midnight. The Garibaldi Lift Company, located at the base of the Whistler Village gondola and Merlin’s Bar & Grill, which is at the base of nearby Blackcomb, are the stellar spots to sit back, relax, and get sippin’. Younger crowds flock for late-night dancing at TommysGarfinkel’s keeps the beats pumping, and the funky Amsterdam Café  offers up pub fare and people-watching.

10. Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland, has become the quintessential alpine resort, with over 195 miles of trails, luxurious hotels, fashionable boutiques, ritzy restaurants, and an array of bars and clubs on and off the mountain. Thanks to strict zoning laws, this fairytale-worthy Swiss town counts no building taller than a four-story chalet. More charming still are the horse-drawn sleighs and electric taxis, which serve as the town’s sole modes of transport (only doctors are permitted to have a car). Even before the lifts close, skiers can stop off at slope-side pubs, like Zum See to warm up with a mug of traditional glühwein (hot spiced wine) before making their way down to the base.  Once you shed your snow gear, dozens of bars and pubs in Zermatt proper will keep you out until the wee hours. A few favorites include Hotel de la Poste for dancing; Grampi's for a rowdy good time; and Vernissage, which touts a multi-level complex of bars, art galleries, and an old Hollywood-style movie theater.

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