Andrew Harper general manager Meta Carson just returned from a five-day trip to Jackson, WY, where she stayed at The Rustic Inn, a handsome lodge with eight Spa Suites in an attractive creekside location, and The Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa, a stone-and-timber lodge in the center of Jackson, a short stroll from the shops and galleries of Town Square.
Delve deeper into her vacation out west, below:
Insider's Tip: If you are setting out on your own to explore the area, be sure to stop by Creekside Market and Deli. This is where the local outfitters get food for clients they are taking to the park, and they open early, which is great. They have breakfast items, beautiful made-to-order sandwiches and tons of local beverages and treats for your adventure. Someone told me this little place sells the most turkey in all of Wyoming!
Overall impressions: Jackson, in the shoulder season, is a really wonderful place to visit. The town is small and walkable, and there are many places to shop and eat. There are a few places where you can rent bikes, to take on the trails outside of town and in Grand Teton National Park. Being there in the fall instead of summer made for an amazing experience, as the millions who pack the parks in the summer had all gone home.
Favorite moment: Spotting a grizzly bear and tracking him through the park! Our guide spotted "Buddha Bear," as the locals call him, while we were visiting Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park. We were able to drive to another location, hoping the bear was lumbering along a predictable path — and he was! Using the scope provided, we were able to watch him closely, plodding through the grass and water along Jackson Lake.
We also saw elk, moose, eagles — the wildlife is just amazing.
You can't stop thinking about: The beauty of the area. And how few people were there! Parents, pull your kids out of school and go to Jackson during the shoulder season [April-May and September-October]. I can't imagine how diminished the experience of this wilderness would be when roads are choked with literally millions of people.
Favorite meal or meals: The breakfasts at the Rusty Parrot were incredible — many locals come to have meetings there, and enjoy the amazing food and service.
Favorite restaurants, museums or sightseeing: After having our fill of western fare, we asked the local fishing guides where they liked to eat, and Teton Thai Plate was recommended to us for something more casual, very near the town center. It's a hole-in-the-wall place that is BYOB, but the food was really amazing.
Where or what to drink: Dust Cutter Huckleberry Lemonade, locally produced by Jackson Beverage Co., and for sale everywhere. Really great stuff!
Daytrip suggestion(s): We got up early one day, and drove to Yellowstone, taking in many of the iconic sites in the western park, making our way across to the canyon and back to Jackson again. Some of the stores inside the park were closed, but we had stocked up at Creekside and were quite happy enjoying the park at our own pace.
Brought back/souvenir: Too many pictures.
What to pack: Cameras, binoculars, backpacks and clothes for the ever-changing weather. And if the kids are with you, audiobooks for some of the longer stretches on the road.