People walking past shops in Vail, Colorado

Vail Guide

(Credit: margaret.wiktor/Shutterstock)

Why you should visit Vail

Vail takes the crown for luxury winter getaways, attracting powder hounds with 200 trails spread across 5,300 acres of skiable terrain in the stately Gore and Sawatch mountain ranges. Add to that the bounty of exquisite resorts, classy cocktail bars and high-end restaurants, and it’s easy to see how Vail has earned its reputation as one of the country’s most glamorous cold-weather destinations.

But there’s more to this Colorado town than snow and sumptuousness. Despite its reputation, Vail maintains an intimate and family-friendly vibe, primarily on the west side of the town, known as Lionshead. Here, you’ll likely encounter a more down-to-earth destination compared to the lavish restaurants and shops that populate the east side (Vail Valley Village).

Ski Resorts Near Vail

What to do in Vail

Vail is best known as a luxury ski destination, but there’s plenty to do in this swanky mountain town all year round.

Given Vail’s incredible scenery, it’s no wonder that many of the area’s top activities take place outside. Fuel your adrenaline by river-rafting on the Colorado River, or ride down Vail’s very own Whitewater Park . For the best views, take a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Beaver Creek, Eagle River Valley and Bachelor Gulch with Camelot Balloons . If you prefer to stay on the ground, take advantage of the wildlife within Vail and fly fish along Gore Creek with Minturn Anglers . Have you heard of GOGA or goat yoga? Take part in an experience unlike any other with Vail Stables as you do yoga in the midst of small, playful goats.

Stay warm at Bol , a 10-lane bowling alley where you can enjoy fine dining while knocking down pins. Shop ‘til you drop at the area’s extensive collection of unique boutiques, though you’ll also find chain shops like North Face, Patagonia, and Oakley. After you have built up an appetite, unravel the culinary scene in Vail on a food tour with Vail Valley Food Tours .

Where to stay in Vail

Vail is known for its luxury lodging. The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a Rock Resort , located in the heart of Lionshead Village, provides their guests deluxe amenities from complimentary GoPro’s to document your trip to their ski valet service. The Grand Hyatt Vail is another stunning property with ski-in/ski-out accessibility at the base of Vail Ski Resort. If are looking to your stay somewhere lavish and beautiful but you are also wanting a lot of space, Four Season Resort and Residences Vail and The Ritz-Carlton Club Vail are lovely options. The house villas within the resort have living spaces, kitchens and multiple bedrooms.

If you don’t want to pay the high price tags associated with most Vail hotels, you might want to look for lodging in nearby Minturn, a 10-minute drive from Vail. Here, the contemporary boutique hotel, Hotel Minturn , which is located just steps away from the town’s main drag, is where you’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops.

Where to eat in Vail

Vail is a foodies destination with spectacular and innovative eats for every cuisine. The city is also known for its high-end prices, especially when it comes to dining. If you are looking for a tasty bite without breaking the bank, it is recommended to visit this mountain town during the spring as restaurants tend to have discounted menus at that time.

At The Little Diner , you can savor breakfast delights all day long with pop-over dutch pancakes, blintzes, and crepes. Alpenrose , a family-owned bakery, and restaurant will make you feel at home with European comfort food, live music, and a charming atmosphere. Here you will find dishes from schnitzel to raclette. If you are looking for some fresh, quality sushi at a reasonable price, go to Osakis . For a ski-in/ski-out spot, check out The 10th at the base of the Look Ma run. Sit by the fire and enjoy a bistro burger or Ahi tuna nachos. For some Indian flavors, enjoy the spices of masala and paneer at Annapurna , located inside of the Evergreen Lodge.

You can’t forget dessert. Mosey over to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for some caramel apples and fudge.

Family-friendly activities in Vail

Despite catering to the luxury ski set, Vail welcomes kids of all ages with a bevy of family-friendly activities.

If you are staying in Vail during the warmer months, the kids will love joining Paragon guides on a full-day trek through the backcountry with llamas. Meanwhile, tubing is a popular year-round activity at Vail’s Epic Discovery Park home to a special summer tubing hill.

Head over to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens at Ford Park the highest elevation botanical garden in the world featuring a collection of alpine and mountain plants. In the park, you can also catch some outdoor concerts and festivals throughout the year at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater . And if you find yourself greeting nasty weather, learn about the history of different snow sports at the Colorado Snowsports Museum .

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