East Coast Après Guide: The Best Ski Bars in New England
Ski Expert Victoria B. gives a rundown of the best après-ski bars in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, so you can let loose after hitting the slopes.
Table of Contents
- New Hampshire
New England is home to countless ski destinations ranging from sprawling Vail properties like Stowe to tiny rustic wonders in Massachusetts’ Berkshires. While skiing some of North America's iciest and steepest trails is a quintessential East Coast experience, you can’t call yourself an East Coast skier without hitting legendary après spots after a long day of ripping glades or one of the region's legendary terrain parks. The best part of après is you don't need a lift ticket, and skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels—beginners, intermediates, and pros—can partake. Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont are home to plenty of long-standing, après-ski institutions serving cold New England-style IPAs, amazing comfort food, and showcasing unique live music options. Whether you’re looking for a wild night or a lowkey dinner and drinks, here are some of the best après ski bars to let loose after a long day of ripping some of the best ski resorts of the Northeast.
Top Spot: The Rack - Carrabassett Valley, ME
Just down the street from Sugarloaf—Maine’s highest summit with 1,240 acres of skiable terrain—is a time machine to the 80s where skiers and riders can go from last chair to last call. The Rack is a legendary bar and restaurant where you can catch open mic nights and live music until 3 am on weekends. It has been named the best après-ski bar in America by a number of publications. The Rack not only offers a plethora of cheap cocktails and local beer options but a full pub-style menu including popular barbeque options and pizza; it's not fine dining but it's delicious. During warmer months, put your lawn games skills to the test with The Rack’s abundance of games including corn hole, tetherball, and mini-golf.
Their motto, “Serving questionable locals…and those soon to be,” calls all East Coast skiers and daring out-of-towners to get up to Carrabassett Valley, Maine, and dance the night away to some live bluegrass. If you find yourself in Maine in the summer, be sure to check in before heading to The Rack as they close seasonally in the spring! They open when the snowmaking starts in the late fall.
Honorable Mention: Matterhorn Ski Bar - Sunday River, Newry, ME
Coming in at a close second is Matterhorn Ski Bar at Sunday River in Maine. The longstanding saloon was once named the best après-ski bar by Ski Magazine. The entire venue is decked out in retro ski gear and Sunday River memorabilia. You can spot locals sipping Maine’s own Allagash White wheat beer out of the ceramic mugs that line the bar. They offer an extensive list of cold beers, a full food menu (try the wings and burgers), and rockin’ live music accompanied by club-like lights on the dance floor. Matterhorn also boasts a large wood-fired oven for mouth-watering pizza and garlic knots. If you head to Matterhorn on a busy weekend night for a cover band performance, be prepared to pay a modest cover charge.
Top Spot: Barrington Brewery & Restaurant - Great Barrington, MA
What Massachusetts lacks in vertical, they make up for in their abundance of amazing après spots. Barrington Brewery & Restaurant is no exception and is located near Butternut Ski Area and Tubing Center in the Berkshires. Barrington Brewery & Restaurant has been serving up house-made brews and pub fare since 1995 and was the first brewery on the East Coast to heat their water using solar power. This is another venue with tons of New England character—from the mugs hanging above the bar to the vintage coasters pinned to the walls. Many of the food offerings are hyper-local and priced inexpensively. Be sure to try the Cheddar Ale soup next time you’re at Barrington Brewery & Restaurant!
Honorable Mention: Crazy Horse Bar & Grill - Charlemont, MA
Crazy Horse Bar & Grill is the only ski-in option on this list, located above the main lodge at Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Western, Mass. You can go straight from the slopes and warm up with a whiskey hot cider and chow down on affordable comfort food options like homemade mac and cheese and braised short rib. Crazy Horse does events like Thursday open mic nights and live music and is open throughout the summer season for mountain bikers and other tourists to unwind after exploring the Berkshires.
Top Spot: Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub - Glen, NH
Located down the road from Attitash and 20 minutes from Wildcat in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains is Red Parka, a pub filled with visitors and locals alike. Like many of the other award-winning spots on this list, Red Parka has a famed mug club where longtime goers can order local brews. Red Parka is unique in the sense that it has both a sit-down, family-friendly restaurant and a separate pub where the après magic happens, including live music on weekend nights. Both the restaurant and pub serve up reasonably priced steak and barbeque food options, including a prime rib special on Fridays and Saturdays. Definitely hit Red Parka for some “Good food & good times” and some Mount Washington Valley-made beers. If you're in the area in warmer months, the Red Park offers a great outdoor patio.
Honorable Mention: Woodstock Inn Brewery - North Woodstock, NH
The Woodstock Inn Brewery is a more tame option compared to some of the other establishments on this list, but it’s the perfect spot if you’re looking for a more relaxed post-ski vibe. Located down the street from Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and accessible from many different mountains, the Woodstock Inn Brewery offers some of New Hampshire’s best microbrews and pub fare. Their Pig’s Ear Brown Ale has won countless awards, and they offer many après happy hour deals on food and drinks. Additionally, you can conveniently book a rustic, New Hampshire-themed room at the attached inn and go on a guided tour of the brewing facility. If you find yourself in Woodstock in the summer months, be sure to stop by and see the dancing black bears at Clark’s Bears, before grabbing a Blueberry Lemon Pale Ale at Woodstock Inn Brewery.
Top Spot: Pickle Barrel Nightclub - Killington, VT
Not only is Killington’s Pickle Barrel Nightclub the top après location in Vermont but it also holds a special place in my heart as my personal favorite après spot. Located near "The Beast of the East", home to New England's most skiable acres and largest vertical drop, the Pickle Barrel is one of the region’s most energetic nightlife venues outside of Boston. The venue is under 30 minutes from Ludlow and Okemo and boasts three levels of dance floors that all converge with a clear view of the stage. On a weekend night at the Pickle Barrel, you’ll find New England’s best live bands playing hits from every decade and a crowd ranging from visiting college students to long-time Killington vets.
Over the years, the Pickle Barrel has hosted world-renowned acts ranging from Snoop Dogg to The Whalers to Wu-Tang. The Pickle Barrel also offers the convenient “Barrel Rider” free shuttle service that picks up and drops off patrons from the condos and hotels up Killington road, allowing you to safely party until closing time. Be prepared to pay cover or buy tickets for big events and spend a few extra bucks on drinks but it’s well worth it! Up the road, you'll find the Wobbly Barn, another fan favorite for wild après.
Honorable Mention: Matterhorn - Stowe, VT
New England seems to have a thing for excellent old-school ski bars called Matterhorn. Vermont’s Matterhorn at Stowe Mountain Resort is a few minutes down the road from the resort where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of Spruce Peak and visit the large restaurant and bar that gets bumping on the weekends. Their interesting motto states, “You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever” and you can channel your inner youthful self at their multitude of pool tables and arcade games. The bar features countless draft beer lines including local favorites from Von Trapp Brewery, made right in Stowe. This spot was once voted the #1 après bar in America by USA Today and has been around since 1950. Vermont isn’t exactly known for its sushi but Matterhorn breaks down the stigma with an extensive sushi menu including fresh Bigeye tuna overnight shipped from Honolulu.
Next time you find yourself shredding these rural New England resorts, do yourself a favor and check some of these après spots off of your winter sports bucket list. Sure, the terrain might be better in Aspen, Colorado, Park City, Utah, or the Alps in Switzerland, but New England offers the true peak of classic après fun. Make sure to check out Curated’s “A Guide to Ski Lingo” before you try starting a conversation with fellow skiers at your next après outing. For more après, check out these options in Montana and these in Colorado. If you have any questions or want personalized gear recommendations, feel free to reach out to me or any other Ski Expert on Curated. Cheers!