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Après-Ski: The Fun Begins When The Skiing Ends At These New England Destinations

Special To The Courant

Ooh, la la. It’s hardly a surprise that it’s the French who coined the term, “après-ski” considering they’re among some of the first Europeans to have widely embraced the sport back in the 1900s.

“After ski,” as it translates, describes the imbibing, merriment, and social activities that follow a rousing day spent on the slopes.

From good restaurants and welcoming bars, to snowmobiling and skating, these New England destinations offer a variety of après options, certain to tempt skiers and non-skiers alike, into calling it quits early just to begin the fun.

Okemo Mountain, Vermont

Located in the charming village of Ludlow, Okemo Mountain Resort is one of the most popular ski destinations in New England, and for good reason.

Its luxurious accommodations, great ski conditions and array of après-ski options draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

When skiing ends, thrill-seekers can ride aboard the hair-raising Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, a wild ride, twisting and turning down the mountain. Passengers can control their own speed — fast or slow, each ride is unique.

With its regulation-sized hockey rink, The Ice House is the perfect place for ice skating whether it’s date night or a family outing. Skate rentals are available and there’s a warming area with a fireplace to heat up chilly skaters.

Set at the base of Okemo Mountain, Jackson Gore Village is home to the Coleman Brook Tavern, one of only 800 restaurants in the world to offer nearly 800 wine selections and 7,000 bottles, so you’ll want to get started early.

The Coleman Lobby Bar, also located at Jackson Gore Village, allows for more casual hanging out, while trading ski stories, snacking on do-it-yourself s’mores, and imbibing on a wide selection of mixed drinks and fine liquors.

Guests can also wander outside and warm up by the roaring outdoor fire pit, encircled by rustic, Adirondack-style furniture.

Serving up drinks, “Macho Nachos,” quesadillas, paninis, and other casual fare, The Sitting Bull is a fun spot located inside the Clock Tower base lodge.

The kind of place where you can get some grub in your ski boots, Sitting Bull offers live music from 3 to 6 p.m. on select Saturdays starting after Christmas.

Home of “warm beer, lousy food,” and “grumpy owner,” Tom’s Loft Tavern, located in a red, barn-style building on Mountain Road, is an Okemo après-ski favorite. With its down-home feel and satisfying comfort food, it’s the ideal spot to toss down a few drinks while back-slapping the folks standing next to you at the bar.

While Okemo offers plenty of après-ski activities, Bonnie MacPherson, director of public relations for Okemo Mountain Resort, said that at the end of the day, it’s the skiing that makes Okemo a premier destination.

“It’s all about the snow, and Okemo’s dedication to snowmaking and grooming is what keeps skiers and riders coming back, time and time again.”

Bretton Woods and Loon Mountain, New Hampshire

Home to New Hampshire’s largest ski area, Bretton Woods offers more than 460 acres of skiing, snowboarding, along with several terrain parks and a vast, 100 kilometer cross-country trail, sure to please Nordic enthusiasts.

Located in the heart of the White Mountains, there’s a little something for everyone including high-flying zip line tours, guided backcountry adventures, sleigh rides, and snow tubing.

“This year, especially, we have a lineup of fun and exciting après-ski activities that guests can enjoy after a day out on the mountain designed to evoke that ‘classic mountain retreat’ sentiment,” said Craig Clemmer, director of sales and marketing at Omni Mount Washington Resort.

While après-ski activities typically tend to be adult-focused, at the Bretton Woods Base Lodge kids can enjoy some activities of their own, including organized kids ‘après ski parties offering entertainment and refreshments, hosted on select Saturdays during vacation and holiday periods.

Kids also have their very own snowmobile park, where — with instruction and safety gear — they can ride like the wind (to be free again) through constructed trails.

For adults, the Slopeside Pub & Restaurant, with post-and-beam décor, craft beers, and superb mountain views, is the place to be for drinks and appetizers at the end of the day.

Just 45 minutes south of Bretton Woods in Lincoln, N.H., is Loon Mountain. One of New England’s most accessible and family-friendly mountains, Loon features 61 trails across three peaks, and boasts a 2,100 vertical drop.

“We are located in the center of the White Mountains, which is an incredibly beautiful area,” said Greg Kwasnik, communications manager for Loon Mountain Resort.

“There are a ton of great places to eat, places to stay, activities apart from skiing; it’s really a great location if you want the whole mountain experience.”

Surrounded by abundant scenery (think Kancamagus Highway and Franconia Notch) Lincoln offers plenty to do including the Loon Mountain Adventure Center, which offers off-slope activities like ziplining, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and an indoor climbing wall.

Opened by two former Olympic skiers, Gordi’s Fish & Steak House, is a great spot for lunch or dinner and skiers will appreciate the décor, which is largely comprised of ski memorabilia and photographs.

A special après-ski menu is offered daily from 4 -5:30 p.m. during the winter months and includes sliders, buffalo wings, and calamari.

Widely considered to be the original Loon après-ski destination, the Paul Bunyan Room at the Octagon Lodge offers live bands and two dozen varieties of draft beers.

Babe’s Blue Ox, located in the upper level of the Governor Adams Lodge, is another popular destination, especially on Sunday mornings when patrons can whip up their own concoctions at the Ox’s signature Bloody Mary Bar.

Finally, a day of skiing on Loon Mountain wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Black Mtn. Burger Co., a crazy-good burger joint located on Lincoln’s main strip.

With an impressive beer menu and appetizers like fried mac and cheese balls, it’s the Smitty Burger that might be best suited to a monster, post-ski appetite.

A giant hamburger layered between not one, but two, grilled cheese sandwiches, it should probably come with a defibrillator, but guarantees that, if nothing more, you won’t leave hungry.

Killington, Vermont

Dubbed “The Beast of the East,” Killington is the largest ski resort in the Northeast, and has been drawing scores of enthusiasts since it opened in the 1950s.

A white-hot destination when the weather turns cold, Killington offers snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, as well as the Killington Tubing Park; Skyeride, a 600-foot-long outdoor ride 100 feet up in the air with fabulous views; and the Beast Mountain Coaster, a thrilling alpine coaster guaranteed to get your blood racing.

The Killington Grand Spa is the perfect place to indulge in a little pampering after a rigorous day spent on the mountain. Offering spa treatments like warm stone massages and the “Black Diamond Sports Massage,” it will help rejuvenate those sore muscles and have you back on the slopes in the morning.

Wide, snow-ready tires make winter biking possible at Fat Bike Vermont, based out of Alpine Bike Works on Route 4 in Killington.

Fat Bike Vermont offers both tours and rentals, and enthusiasts can choose to ride along the groomed paths of the Killington Golf Course, or take a wintry, off-road adventure of their own.

Open since 1963, the legendary Wobbly Barn is the place to go for booze, music, and steaks.

For a low-key dinner, hit the Wobbly Barn early in the evening. Stop by later if you want to join a boisterous crowd of skiers enjoying a night of merrymaking.

No designated driver? No problem. The Wobbly Wagon shuttle service delivers unsteady patrons back to many area lodgings, depending on their location.

A 20-minute, snowcat sleigh ride up a mountain is required to reach the Ledgewood Yurt, located off of Northbrook trail.

Offering fine cuisine and communal seating, guests are treated to a five-course meal inside the cozy, Mongolian-style hut, outfitted with a wood burning stove.

Set in the original drive terminal of Killington’s first four-passenger lift, the Motor Room Bar is for guests 21 and older, and only accessible by snowcat.

“The view is amazing,” said Kristel Fillmore, communications PR and social media manager at Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners, LLC.

“It’s floor-to-ceiling windows, and it’s a maximum of 10 people per excursion,” she said, making the experience not only one-of-a-kind, but intimate too.

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