Whether you’re wet, cold and exhausted from ripping on powder runs all day, or you’ve gotten stuck in a tree well, thrown your snowboard over your head while trying to climb out, then watched it slide away and disappear over a cliff (true story), there comes a time when even the most avid skier or snowboarder has to shrug and get off the slopes. And let’s be honest: Sometimes the best part of the day is a hot soak, some cozy socks and an evening spent exploring a new locale. This is especially true in Oregon. Here are some of the top places to eat, drink and relax around the state’s ski areas.
(Pictured: pFriem Family Brewers)
The mother of all après-ski is Timberline Lodge, the majestic wood-and-stone edifice at the base of the Palmer Glacier. Pad around in your socks and long johns while nibbling on a charcuterie plate on the second-floor balcony at the Ram’s Head Bar, or gussy up for more formal dining in the Cascade Dining Room, which has a much-celebrated Oregon wine list.
If you’re headed back to Portland at the end of the day, your options differ depending on whether you take Highway 26 or head north on Highway 35. If you take 26, El Burro Loco’s nachos loco and blood-orange margaritas are a yearly tradition for many skiers. The fresh wraps, smoothies and salads at Wraptitude are a welcome alternative to all the hot, gooey fast food along the highway. Everything at the Dragonfly Cafe & Bakery, hidden in the Mt. Hood Village RV Resort, is fresh and made from scratch — including homemade bread and jam made with local fruit.
Heading north from Mt. Hood takes you through beautiful Hood River County, full of farms, picturesque little towns and jaw-dropping vistas of Mt. Hood. It’s a great chance to stop by breweries like Solera Brewery in Parkdale and Ferment Brewing Company in Hood River. You’ll also pass through orchards that grow exquisite apples for the locally crafted ciders served at Crush Cider Cafe. The dining options in Hood River are many, but a pizza at Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom or Solstice is always a sure thing, as is everything on the seasonal, local menu at pFriem Family Brewers’ tasting room. Pick up a coffee at STOKED Roasters + Coffeehouse for the drive back.
(Pictured: Deschutes Brewery)
Mt. Bachelor and Hoodoo Ski Area
The skier pulling off boots at Mt. Bachelor has a world of options in Bend, whose reputation as a premier adventure destination is only eclipsed by its reputation for great restaurants and breweries. Set in an intimate bungalow, Ariana Restaurant is a popular choice for a Saturday-night splurge, while Spork, CHI Chinese & Sushi Bar and Barrio have won acclaim for their upscale casual fare. A trip here isn’t complete without a stop at one of the innumerable breweries. Boy, do you have options: Deschutes Brewery, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., GoodLife Brewing Company, Boneyard Beer and The Ale Apothecary, just to name a few. Even if you’re not spending the night at McMenamins’ Old St. Francis School, make it a point to sip a splash of their Monkey Puzzle whiskey on the rocks while gazing up at the night sky through the open ceiling above the tiled soaking pool.
Spending the day on the slopes at the Hoodoo Ski Area? Well, get ready to relax in Sisters, a tiny town complete with juniper trees and iconic wooden storefronts reminiscent of the Wild West. The opulent and picturesque FivePine Lodge is home to Three Creeks Brewing Co. and a short walk away from bustling establishments like Sisters Coffee Company, Sisters Bakery and The Cottonwood Café. More laid-back skiers might want to consider staying at a welcoming guest ranch like Black Butte Ranch — sprawl out in their luxurious cabins, and enjoy on-site farm-to-table dining, stunning mountain vistas and s’mores by the fire pit.
(Pictured: Prodigal Son by Susan Seubert)
No lines, affordable lift tickets and pristine, untouched champagne powder make the tiny Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort one of Oregon’s hidden gems. The lodge and the Starbottle Saloon serve up hearty meals and craft drinks — think homemade soup and chili alongside some of the finest beers Eastern Oregon has to offer, including pints from breweries like Pendleton’s Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub.
The resort itself is only a stone’s throw away from Baker City, where you can sip award-winning beers (and munch mind-blowing steak fries) at Barley Brown’s Brewpub and Taphouse. Marvel at the stained-glass ceiling in the Palm Court of the historic Geiser Grand Hotel, then walk through its lobby to the restored mahogany bar at the 1889 Cafe.
(Pictured: Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden)
Hot tubs are nice, but they hardly compare to Ashland’s mineral-rich and naturally heated — if slightly odiferous — water at Lithia Springs Resort, where Native Americans considered the springs to be sacred. After you’ve dried off, take your pick of a pub ale and chicken pot pie at Smithfields Pub & Pies, a wood-fired pizza at Pie + Vine or a hearty Chicago Italian beef “sammich” at the eponymous Sammich. If your swollen stomach will still let you move after all that, catch some live music at Brickroom or sneak into the lower level of Ashland’s famous Old Pink Church for a Prohibition-style cocktail at Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden.
(Pictured: Brewers Union Local 180)
The English pub fare, warm and attractive setting, and cask-conditioned ales make Brewers Union Local 180 well worth the visit, even if you skip skiing. Local, grass-fed burgers and milkshakes at the restored Stewart’s 58 Drive-In will delight your little ones. You don’t have to drive all the way to Oakridge for fresh, homemade Chinese food, but to find it there at Lee’s Gourmet Garden is a wonderful surprise. And if they haven’t frozen over — it can happen! — McCredie Hot Springs, off Route 58, is a popular post-skiing stop.
If You Go:
Winter in Oregon is beautiful, but keep in mind that some of the mountain roads can make for sketchy driving; others may close. Services can be erratic, so plan far ahead and know that cell service may be spotty, so download maps and trail directions.. Be sure to check road and weather conditions before heading out and carry snow chains or traction tires when advised.
Whenever you’re adventuring in the winter, wear waterproof layers, appropriate snow boots and don’t forget your sunglasses. Learn how to come prepared by brushing up on tips at How to Winter Like an Oregonian. Always follow Leave No Trace principals, including packing in and out, leaving what you find where it’s at, and respecting wildlife and other visitors.