The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

What Is Après-Ski? A Quick Guide to Post-Skiing Fun

There is nothing better than rounding out a long day on the slopes, fresh powder whipping around you, than kicking off your skis for an ultra-comfy pair of snow boots and strutting into a bar for a refreshing drink. In fact, there are tons of ways to après-ski whether you prefer a glamorous ski resort cocktail bar or a slope-side dive.  If you’re already an avid skier but are not very familiar with après-ski culture, chances are you’ve been doing it for years.

The term itself literally means “after ski,” or what you do after you are done skiing for the day. Similar to the “island time” concept when vacationing on an island that moves at its own slower pace, there’s no official way to take part in après-ski. It can be almost anything you want it to be, and it can begin whenever you see fit, though the generally accepted start is just before or around five o’clock. It is a form of a happy hour, after all. With that in mind, let’s explore some of the current après-ski options that are out there.

What to do and wear

The only time you don’t make the rules for après-ski is when you are visiting a swanky spot such as a fine dining restaurant or elegant cocktail bar. Such après-ski venues typically impose a dress code. So plan ahead, and consider hitting the room for a shower and change of clothes before setting out for a night of luxurious celebration.

Other options are much more relaxed, even if you still want to make it feel special with a bottle of bubbly. Champagne has a way of making any occasion feel special. Many ski resorts have slope-side terraces where you can stay in your gear while enjoying a quick toast to close the day. Alcohol isn’t mandatory, though. Families with kids or those observing an alcohol-free month can easily opt for a cozy hot chocolate or a mocktail instead.

You can also pack a few extra layers to be comfortable and ready to go all night with a few clothing swaps. You can hit up the lodge’s lounge, dive bars, taverns, pubs, clubs, and so much more in your ski pants and even boots if you really want to wear them. However, you will most likely want to give your feet a break by swapping them out for more comfortable footwear. Other welcome changes of clothes include a lighter pair of gloves, a warm hat, and a jacket that’s lighter weight but warm instead of your ski gear.

Another must-have accessory for the foreseeable future is a mask or even two for those who are not vaccinated. Though the CDC has stated that it is safe to be in a room unmasked with other people, that guideline only applies if everyone is fully vaccinated. So if you want to let loose without worry, consider enjoying your après-ski at home or in your hotel room. You can always stock it with your favorite craft brews or bottles of wine. Not to mention, there are some great canned cocktail options these days.

Tips for après-ski

apres ski snack

While a great drink can make you feel invincible (by easing any aches or pains you might have after skiing for hours on end), there are some precautions to take. If you are skiing at altitude, you should take the night slowly. While some ski towns have joints that stay open all night long and well into the wee hours of the morning, you shouldn’t toss shots back with no end in sight. The altitude will likely make the alcohol affect you differently, and you definitely don’t want to overdo it. No one wants to miss the next day of skiing because they enjoyed the after-hours activities too much.

That’s why you should also include an appetizer, hors d’oeuvres, or a light snack either before or during your après-ski activities. Besides, having spent a full day hitting the powder hard, you should have burned quite a few calories which means you will probably be ready to enjoy a bite to eat.

Pay attention to the bars or restaurants you plan to visit. They should be following safe Covid-19 protocols such as proper spacing between tables and masks required when you are not at your table. Look for outdoor seating with heaters too for an even safer option. You can, however, stop by the local grocery store to pick up some great snacks or items to make an excellent in-room charcuterie board. Not only does it tend to feel particularly indulgent to tear into a delicious treat with your feet kicked up while you lie in bed, but shopping at a local grocery store can immerse you in your destination. Shopping at a grocery store or even a convenience store will likely lead you to local delicacies and bites that you cannot otherwise find at home.

Resorts with amazing après-ski culture

Though we are not out from under the pandemic despite the amazing vaccination rate so far this year, the CDC did recently announce that domestic travel is completely safe for fully vaccinated people. That means you can make your way to some of the best ski resorts in the United States without having to self-quarantine or get tested upon arriving at your destination or home again. With that in mind, it’s time you consider some of these resorts for your next ski trip.

East Coast: On the East coast, you’ll want to head to New York or Vermont. Both states have some of the best skiing on the right side of the country, though eastern ski slopes do tend to be icier than the delightful fluffy powder the West coast gets.

Vermont has several laid-back, low-key resorts for a fun time enjoying the winter sport without any pretense. Try Mad River Glen, Smugglers’ Notch (a classic!), or Stowe Mountain Resort. With regard to New York, you can find a great range of après-ski options at Whiteface Mountain Resort. For another lively New York option, look into Holiday Valley which is nestled in Ellicottville, a small town with a huge après-ski reputation.

West Coast: The West coast has seemingly endless possibilities for amazing skiing in really impressive towns. From Vail and Breckenridge to Jackson Hole and Park City, you can find easy-going joints or high-end luxury for your après-ski. It really just depends on your preference of location. So look into Vail Ski Resort, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and Park City Mountain. You’ll have no trouble finding a wonderful stay for your skiing vacation. In fact, you will likely have more trouble choosing between the destinations.

Editors' Recommendations