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The town of Jackson, Wyoming often serves as the home base for travelers looking for adventure. Just outside the city limits, you’ll find world-class skiing at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and a variety of other snow sports and outdoor activities to do each winter. You also have Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park, and plenty of exciting summer activities just a short drive away. Many people vacationing in the area choose to stay in the town of Jackson because it offers great dining, shopping, and nightlife. But while it makes for a great base town, there is a lot to see and do in downtown Jackson, Wyoming, as well. In fact, it is worth spending at least one day exploring the enchanting town of Jackson.
This guide to downtown Jackson, Wyoming includes the top 12 things to do in the downtown Jackson Hole area, plus offers dining and lodging recommendations.
Downtown Jackson, Wyoming – the top things to do
Jackson is a charming small town in western Wyoming. With its wooden sidewalks, saloons, and cowboy feel, it truly is a scene out of the Wild West. A popular tourist destination and a gateway city to two of the United State’s most scenic national parks, the town of Jackson is located in a valley commonly known as Jackson Hole.
Whether you are spending an entire vacation in Jackson Hole, or simply passing through on a road trip from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone, downtown Jackson, Wyoming is worth spending at least a day exploring.
Snap a picture under the antler arches at Jackson Town Square
Jackson Town Square is a great place to hang out, relax and enjoy a sunny day during summer time or even a snowy evening during winter. You’ll find plenty of people gathering in the picturesque park or posing for a quick family photo under one of the 4 arches made entirely of elk antlers. In winter, the antler arches are tightly wrapped in white lights. The entire town looks like the setting for a Hallmark Christmas movie in winter. I guess that’s why Jackson, Wyoming is considered one of the best Christmas destinations in the world!
Have a fun outdoor adventure at Snow King Mountain
Perhaps the very best place to visit in downtown Jackson, Wyoming, Snow King Mountain is a local, steep ski mountain in the winter with a lot of fun summer activities for adventure lovers. With a treetop adventure, zip-lining, a mountain coaster (similar to the one in Steamboat Springs, Colorado), an alpine slide, a maze and more, Snow King is a playground for kids and grown ups alike! You’ll want to buy a day pass to take full advantage of all the mountain offers.
Take a stroll on the wooden boardwalks
The main streets of downtown Jackson, Wyoming are lined with lots of small shops and restaurants. But you won’t have to worry about weather impacting your day. The town’s wooden sidewalks are all covered with awnings. So even when it is raining or snowing outside, visitors can walk store-to-store without inclement weather putting a damper on their day. Even if you don’t feel like shopping, it is nice to take a stroll on the wooden boardwalk that adds to the western feel of the town.
Go Shopping in Jackson, Wyoming
Like any resort town, Jackson is full of souvenir shops, unique boutiques, coffee and sweets shops, and plenty of eateries and restaurants. Because winter time can be brutal in Jackson, furs are a hot commodity in town. In fact, this area of the country was once a major hub for fur traders, So you will find several stores in downtown Jackson, Wyoming specializing in expensive fur apparel and rugs. If fur isn’t your thing, you’ll find a variety of clothing and apparel stores that offer everything from t-shirts to outdoor wear and ski gear. And if you are looking for something that is truly one-of-a-kind, stop into MADE. The shop is filled with handmade items and crafts from artists across Wyoming and the USA.
Visit one of the many art galleries
Art and photography galleries are popular in downtown Jackson, Wyoming. Many of the local artists sell and display their wildlife and nature photography in galleries throughout Jackson. One gallery not to miss is Thomas Mangelsen. The renowned nature photographer is a personal favorite of ours. His photography truly captures the world’s beauty at its finest. Although he has galleries in several cities and towns across North America, his first and original gallery is in Jackson Hole. You’ll also find the Jackson Hole region perfectly depicted in many of his photos.
Grab a beer at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar
It’s hard to miss the giant neon sign over the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. This saloon-style bar and restaurant is a great place to grab a beer or just take in the atmosphere. With saddles for bar stools, this Cowboy Bar truly fits the Wild West feel of downtown Jackson, Wyoming. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar also has a steakhouse, which is family-friendly, so if visiting Jackson Hole with kids, you can have dinner instead of drinks in the bar.
Try local game or visit one of downtown Jackson, Wyoming’s awesome restaurants
When it comes to dining in Jackson, Wyoming, you’ll find plenty of options from vegan cuisine to restaurants specializing in local game like bison and elk. If you’re a meat-eater, be sure to try one of the many local dishes, like elk chops, a bison burger or trout caught in the Snake River. You’ll find no shortage of restaurants in Jackson that serve up these local specialties. Gun Barrel Steak and Game House is perhaps the best place in downtown Jackson Hole to try game.
Walk through (or stay in) the oldest hotel in Jackson
While exploring downtown Jackson, Wyoming, be sure to stop into the historic Wort Hotel, located in the heart of the quaint town. It is the oldest hotel in Jackson, dating back to 1941n and is one of the best places to stay in Jackson Hole if you are looking for a hotel with character and charm. This iconic Jackson Hole landmark almost burned down in 1980, but it was quickly restored to its original beauty. The hotel offers both luxury and an authentic, cozy western feel. At Christmas time, the hotel lobby is festively decorated with poinsettias, lit garland and a large Christmas tree next to the grand staircase.
Inside The Wort, you will also find the Silver Dollar Bar and Grill, which is a great place to enjoy a refreshing drink or a meal.
Explore the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum
For families who are traveling with children the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum is a fun and interactive learning experience for kids. The museum offers a variety of hands-on exhibits for children of all ages. Some of the exhibits are designed to teach kids about the environment and conservation while others help them learn about their own strength, coordination, and skills.
Catch a play at The Jackson Hole Playhouse
Another great entertaining option for family-friendly entertainment in downtown Jackson, Wyoming is The Jackson Hole Playhouse. Housed in Jackson’s oldest building, the dinner theater is a fun place to spend an evening. The western musicals are entertaining and suitable for all ages. Everything from the venue, to the costumes, to the characters portrayed on stage will make you feel like you’ve stepped directly into the Wild West.
You can watch the fun, family-friendly theater performances on most nights of the week.
Watch the longest running shootout in the US
During the summer, volunteers from the Jackson Hole Playhouse also put on a shootout every Monday-Saturday at 6 p.m. in the streets near Jackson Town Square. The short theatrical performance is free and fun for the whole family, although the sound of the fake guns frightened our toddler. This Wild West tradition has been taking place since 1957, earning it the title of the longest running shootout in the United States. It’s a fun activity to do in downtown Jackson, Wyoming before dinner. Crowds tend to gather fairly quickly, so get there a little early to grab a front row seat to the shootout.
Take a Stagecoach Ride
Stagecoach rides through downtown Jackson, Wyoming are another fun activity that is only available from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The ten-minute ride takes you in a horse-drawn, red carriage through the town. You can book a ride at Town Square, near the corner of Broadway and Cache.
A sleigh ride through the nearby Elk Refuge is an alternative in winter time to the authentic stagecoach rides in downtown Jackson.
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This guide to the best things to do in downtown Jackson, Wyoming was first written in March 2016 and was updated in September 2021 for accuracy and current information.