For all the negative publicity that the 2020-2021 ski season received thanks to the pandemic, I really didn't see it that way. No ski season can ever be bad, right? None, that is, except for that ones that you don't find the time to ski during. Since I was able to get out as often as I usually do, this winter wasn't that bad at all. It was just different.
Different can be good. It certainly was for me. Sure I missed skiing in my beloved Vermont. Travel restrictions took that away from me. The same travel restrictions made it challenging to use my Epic Pass outside of the tri-state area. That is until the eventual rollout of the vaccine. Vermont began to loosen it's travel laws and I was able get back there and use my Epic Pass at two of southern Vermont's finest ski resorts, Okemo and Mount Snow.
With the temperatures climbing high into the 60's and even 70's, the skiing at both resorts was exactly what you'd expect it to be. Mashed potatoes and corn come to mind. Spring ski conditions are what they are but it's not about chasing pow this late in the season. It's all about the upbeat vibes and fun après-ski scene. One small caveat, most, on-mountain dining at Okemo and Mount Snow have been shut down all season and when they say the lodge closes at 4, they mean the lodge closes at 4. Forced to pivot, this ultimately worked out for the best as I paid a visit to two of my favorite Vermont après-ski bars, Tom's Loft Tavern and Dover Bar and Grill.
Okemo Was Fun Despite the Wind Hold
It's been a minute since I was last at Okemo. Having once held an annual media weekend, I used to frequent this resort regularly. Okemo is always so much fun. Not only do they do as good a job as anyone with their food and beverage, the skiing is very family friendly making it a sound choice for fathers with young kids like me.
This time around, I was joined by my oldest daughter and our good family friends who are also southern Vermont regulars. My daughters were raised on après so I wasn't too worried about finding a place that I was comfortable to bring here along to. Not to mention, it was a Monday so how rowdy could any place really be?
As I mentioned earlier, the ski conditions were full blown spring. Soft, slushy and limited to the lower half of the mountain due to a dreaded wind hold. Nonetheless, we made the best of the situation. After skiing for a few hours and having gotten a good look at all that was open that day, it was time for après-ski at Okemo.
Après-Ski at Tom's Loft Tavern
Fortunately for me, Okemo is home to one of my all-time favorite après-ski bars, Tom's Loft Tavern. The sign outside reads, "Warm beer, lousy food, grumpy owner." That's the Tom's Loft motto but as I like to say, only about two of them are true. Tom's has one of the best craft beer selections of any bar in the Ludlow area and beyond. Their food is also damn good. The grumpy owner part...well, that's up for debate.
Having met Tom and spent some time at the bar bullshitting with him I found him to be quite amusing. He's as real as they come, a true character. Maybe, to some, that comes off as grumpy. For me though, when a customer asks what's in the Chicken Caesar Salad and he responds, "Chicken, what the f&%k do you think is in it?" I laugh. Stories like this abound, they are what make Tom legendary. They are also why people perceive him as grumpy. Oh well, you can't please everybody and it doesn't stop people from showing up. On a Saturday in non-pandemic years the place is asses and elbows. Even for a Monday in the mid-afternoon, almost all the tables were taken by the post ski crowd.
Like I mentioned earlier, their craft beer selection is as good as anyone's and the food is top notch ski food. The portions are huge, the prices are very reasonable and the meals are delicious. I had a hankering for wings and they have some of the best. I'm a traditionalist and went right for the buffalo chicken wings and a Von Trapp Brewing Helles. It was the perfect pairing. The light, crushable beer was the perfect beer to quench my thirst. Not to mention, lagers always pair well with wings. Tom's wings never disappoint. Big, meaty and sauced to perfection they are some of my mountain town favorites.
My daughter ordered the kids burger. Honestly, I would've been happy with this too. The burger was a great size. The plate was also filled with hand cut fries. And, for only $8, there is no better deal given the size of the platter. Total score and the perfect way to finish off our day at Okemo.
Legendary Bars Deserve the Right Ski Clothing
Legendary après-ski dive bars like Tom's Loft Tavern and Dover Bar and Grill need to be on your list of places to stop in southern Vermont. When you do, you need where nothing other than one of our comfortable If You Don't Après Ski Hoodie or the matching If You Don't Apres Ski T-shirt if it's warmer. They are two of the top sellers in our ski clothing collection and either way you can't go wrong.
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