Visit in the Off-Season
The weather in May and October can be pretty unpredictable, but visiting during these months can give you the best of Jackson Hole at substantially lower prices. Area restaurants offer off season specials like 2 for 1 dinner promotions, hotels cut their rates and stores throughout the valley offer pretty enticing sales. The National Parks are open for the majority of both months, animals tend to be very active and perhaps best of all, crowds are non-existent. May is my favorite time to visit, because while October has the changing leaves and the animals preparing for winter, May has the newborn babies!
Share a meal
If you know where to go, there is no shortage of ways to save money in Jackson Hole on your dinner. You can come up eating like a king for a fraction of the price. The Blue Lion, located just north west of Jackson' Town Square is famous for their rack of lamb. This generous serving can be split for no extra charge, add one side salad or bowl of soup (the meal comes with one) and two people can enjoy a first rate, filling dinner for about $18 per person before tax and tip. Split an order of nachos at Merry Piglets on Town Square, Cascade Grill in Teton Village or Sidewinders in the Town of Jackson or Signal Mountain Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, for a filling meal for around $4/person (if you split with 4 people). At Snake River Brewing Company, you and a dining companion can split one of their wood fired pizzas, a large salad and a tasting flight of their award winning microbrews for around $15/person.
Visiting one of the Happy Hours in Jackson is a great way to get to know locals and save money. The most famous one in Jackson would probably be at the Cadillac, where draft beers and mixed drinks are 2 for 1. Martinis and specialty drinks are 1/2 off. Add an order of mussels (the order is huge), or just order a Billy's Burger from next door (they serve their burgers in the bar), and you are looking at a very affordable, and fun early dinner. Next door at the Cowboy Steakhouse (downstairs from the famous Cowboy Bar), you can get a burger and a beer for $6 before 6:30. This burger is one of the best in town, and the deal is unbeatable. The Granary at Spring Creek has the most scenic Happy Hour in Jackson Hole (fantastic views of the Tetons, especially at sunset). Snake River Brewing Company, Cutty's, Sidewinders and the Lounge at Snow King all also offer Happy Hour, with great menus that compliment it. And of course, apres ski specials abound at almost every bar in Teton Village.
Don't sit down at breakfast
There are some great breakfast places in Jackson Hole (The Bunnery, Shades Cafe and The Virginian are my favorite), but you can save money while still having plenty of energy for the day by just picking up some food to go for breakfast. Jacksons Whole Grocer has what many consider is the best deal in town. A doughnut and a cup of their organic, free trade coffee for $2 (and you can pick up a sandwich at their deli, which is fantastic, for lunch). For something a little heavier, Down on Glenn has a breakfast burrito that has a cult following in Jackson Hole. For $5, a light eater could easily split this in half, but if you are hungry, you won't be after finishing!
Visit Jackson Hole Restaurants online for more information on these ideas!
Take advantage of simple pleasures
A hike to a picnic in the park (get a bagged lunch at Creekside Deli) has got to be my favorite inexpensive activity. This area provides so many gorgeous backdrops; it is really up to you to pick one! A stroll through the National Museum of Wildlife Art, a tour on the Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride, a scenic chairlift or gondola ride and skating at Snow King's ice rink...all of these cost under $15 per person.
Know where to go
Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or a hot toddy fireside at the Four Seasons and enjoy unparalleled people watching, in the summer, you can get a bird's eye view of Town Square on the deck at Town Square Tavern, and enjoy wines by the glass, locally brewed beer or a cocktail at the same time. After a day of cross country skiing (or picnicking) in Grand Teton National Park, stop by Dornan's in Moose, WY for one of the best wine shops in the valley. You can enjoy food and drinks in the bar in the winter or rooftop in the summer. A heaping order of sweet potato fries or waffle fries with a gorgonzola cheese sauce at Trio is a great late afternoon snack at one of the hot spots in Jackson Hole (if you want to splurge, eat dinner there and enjoy their creative and fresh dinner options), that is complimented by their innovative drink menu and respectable wine by the glass selection. I think 4 out of 5 locals will agree that the best deal in town is the Grilled Cheese Sandwich at the Rendezvous Bistro. This restaurant is among the best in the valley, the service and freshness of their menu is outstanding, and their wine selection is pretty fantastic as well.
The Visitor's Center just north of Town Square has some of the best souvenirs for yourself, your friends and family. You can pick up wildflower seeds that grow in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, Huckleberry treats, posters, children's games, books, puzzles and stuffed animals and books and educational materials for adults. My hands down favorite though, is the Tom Mangelson Gallery on Town Square. He is my favorite photographer, and while his prints can be pretty expensive, picking up a set of note cards, a mouse pad or a planner will give you art that you can treasure and share (if you sign up for the mailing list, you also get a catalogue of his gorgeous photos a few times a year!). View all Jackson Hole shopping options!
Plan your vacation with an expert
What's the best time to book? Best days to fly? Best places to stay for your budget? I can tell you with 8 years of Jackson Hole vacation planning experience behind me. 99% of the time, you will not save money by booking through Expedia, Travelocity or other similar companies. By calling a local vacation planning expert, you take advantage of free night offers, discounted lift tickets and a local that knows the ins and outs of saving money in Jackson Hole. Find a vacation package here.
What's better than free?
Not much! A stroll through the art galleries in downtown Jackson will give you a wide range of art to explore, from sculptures, to wildlife photography, water colors and oil paintings, traditional still life portraits, Native American Art and more. The Center for the Arts in Jackson Hole often has free gallery opening and receptions for artists. Guided tours of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort are available (for free). These meet at the top of the gondola every hour, and guides take groups and orient them to the layout of the mountain, pointing them in the direction of some of the harder to find, and skill appropriate runs. Throughout the year, free events are taking place, check out our events calendar to plan!
If you have any insight, please share it! I have only touched on my favorite economical ways to enjoy Jackson Hole, but undoubtedly there are many more!