We’re on our annual family spring break! And currently stuck in a snowstorm, with Instagram and Facebook down and I’m not one bit mad about it. Because we’re in Vail, CO. One of my favorite places in the US. I found myself taking the day off with the girls and lounging around the house we’re staying at. Since posting on stories about our trip to the Rockies, I’ve gotten so many requests for tips about things to do in Vail. I decided to work on an official post with 10 things to do in Vail, CO for families.
10 Things to Do in Vail, CO for Families
First off I want to give you guys a little background of our relationship with the town. Brian has been coming to Vail ever since he finished college and met a friend while working in California who moved to the mountains. When Brian and I were dating he brought me here to visit his friends and ski for the first time, and I inevitably fell in love with the place.
The drive itself from Denver airport is gorgeous and breathtaking. Days after we got married we moved here for a year while Brian built a house (to sell, I wish it was for us to keep!) and where our first baby was born. Fast forward 8 years we moved the whole family back again for another project and the kids got to go to school and I got to work at a cute clothing boutique in the valley. That being said, we have a lot of fond memories of Vail and hold this beautiful small town dear to our hearts.
Vail consists of three exits. East Vail: where we lived with the kids, a very residential area.
Vail: that’s where all the action happens, from skiing to shops to dining, to lodging. In Vail, you’ll find three ski lifts. Golden Peak is where most of the ski schools are. Also known as Chair 6. Vail Village has a Gondola 1 that takes you halfway up the mountain. Then Lionshead that takes you up to Eagle’s Nest restaurant and to the mountain top.
And finally West Vail: where we first lived after getting married. I love the area because is where the sun shines the most. There’s beautiful homes but some restaurants and bars and a little shopping. It’s where a lot of the locals hang.
Ok now, so here’s our list of must-dos while visiting!
- Ski! Haha, that’s an obvious one I know, and don’t be discouraged if you are not an experienced skier/snowboarder. They offer small package classes for individuals, groups or families, that I believe are worth taking even if it’s just for fun. The Vail Mountain is the largest skiing mountain in North America. They offer a huge range of options from little ones and beginners all the way to world champion skiers. Definitely worth going up the Mountain. Included in this option there’s also a ski biking option that people usually do it for birthday parties and looks like a lot of fun. Wild fun that is 🙂 – see this video!Shop my favorite jackets:
- Go Up The Mountain. The Lionshead Gondola takes skiers and pedestrians up to the mountain top. There’s a restaurant up there. Eagle’s Nest offers lunch and drinks and lots of photo ops for the whole family. It’s a nice ride up and the views are truly breathtaking. Shop ski accessories: My favorite beanies are less than $20 and I found the coolest goggles for sunny and flat days.
- Aprés-ski. This is the French word for “after-ski” aka the happy hour of the mountains. This is the most “International” place I’ve ever been to. You can hear different languages all day. Therefore, kids are really welcome everywhere, including bars. Aprés is fun to do with family or alone really, that’s where everyone gathers after a day of ski. The mountain closes at 4 so make your way to aprés around 3:30 to be able to secure a table! The bars get packed after 4.
- Skating. At Solaris, they have a cute skating ring with massive lighting structures that are great for pics too. The ring is surrounded by a local coffee shop that features delicious gourmet coffee (I used to grab one a day when I worked at the Village!), specialty shops, an awesome sushi restaurant, an art gallery, and other little shops. They have tables around so parents can sit and enjoy a sunshine afternoon while the kids skate. Lionshead also has a ring right by the Arabelle luxury resort. Another option is Nottingham Lake in Avon. They might have some hockey going on at the latest.
- Shopping. Vail has some of the most gorgeous boutiques. You can find styles from large retailers such as Nordstrom to more specialty shops such as fur, ski gear, cowboy boots, and hats as well as mountain wear/hiking gear. There’s also a great variety of home decor shops with very unique pieces and western style rugs and artifacts.
- On-Mountain Dining: I must confess I’ve never done the mountain dining but would really love to. Families or couples ride the gondola then jump in a snowcat and head to the restaurant of your choice.
- Vail Library: this sounds boring but the Vail Library is one of our favorite libraries ever. We used to go there at least twice a week to pick up books and check out what was new. They have a great indoor playground for families with little ones. You can get books and take them to that space and let your kiddo run wild and have fun. It’s a great budget-friendly option since it’s free.
- Visit Vail in the Summer. Honestly, it’s a tough call between which season is better to visit. Summers in Vail are GORGEOUS! The perfect temps, so many street festivals, free concerts, and family activities as well such as biking and hiking. Nights get a bit chilly but the sun shines a lot in here, you’ll welcome the night chill 🙂
- Visit the surrounding towns. Beavercreek is a gorgeous resort in the town of Avon. It’s fancy and you might see a celeb cruising around! Gorgeous views and tons of options for skating, shopping, and dining as well. Minturn is an old mine town right by Vail and worth a visit. you’ll feel like you’re at the Old Wild West. They have lots of touristic attractions and good but low key restaurants. Another option for big shoppers is Silverthorne. They have three big lots of premium outlet malls and we love to pay a little visit there on our “days off”.
- Mountain Recreation. Need a break from Le Kiddos? Go to WECMRD. They have a ton of activities for the kids. Think gymnastics, a pool, amongst other fun stuff! BONUS:
- Feeling adventurous? Do the Minturn Mile...but that’s for experts only. Probably not a great family adventure!“Après in Vail might conjure up images of jockeying to the bar to grab a beer, then working your way to a crowded corner, hoping you don’t spill along the way. It can be fabulous fun, somewhat frustrating, or a bit of both.But if you’re looking for a more adventurous way to celebrate a great powder day, then skip the village scene and knock out the Minturn Mile. This legendary backcountry ski runs exits the back gate from Vail and drops down to Minturn, a funky little town with mining and railroad roots that date back to the late 1800s.” read more at rootsrated.comMake sure to stop and take it all in. Pull the phone and take the photo. Every day is a different day in the mountains and you might never get the chance to take that photo again. And if you’re shy, don’t be! Everyone is doing it too!! Trust me, you’ll be happy to have those memories to look back at. I sure wish we had more photos from the kids as little one’s skiing.
Now, it’s your turn! Have you been to vail or any other ski resort in Colorado? Tell us about it and send your tips, everyone will appreciate them 🙂
I sure hope this post was helpful and gave you some insight on what to expect and what to do in Vail! Happy Spring skiing season, I hope we’ll meet again on warmer temps 😉
Read other posts about our Colorado times HERE.