Coveted as one of the largest ski resorts in the world and boasting more than 12 kilometres of mountains and slopes, there’s a reason why the locals say, “You haven’t skied until you’ve skied Vail.” As well as being a world-class snow-sports destination, Vail is also known for its deluxe mountain resort, which comes replete with luxurious accommodation and dining, first-rate retail therapy and spas on every corner. Whether the powder is knee-high in winter or the action-packed outdoors are calling in summer, the bustling Colorado town is a hotspot for holidaying families, couples and individuals all year round.
While an undeniable attraction of Vail is its impressive skiing slopes, museums, art galleries, spas and even a winery are on offer to entice holidaymakers away from the slopes. If, however, you are seeking some serious snow time, the variety of Vail’s trails is sure to keep you amused for days. It’s said that the front side of the Vail ski area provides some of the most groomed terrain in the world, which means each run consistently provides a top-quality experience for skiers and snowboarders alike.
Keen to ditch the skis and just enjoy the snow? Vail’s Adventure Ridge offers activities such as zip-lining and night-time tubing. Outside of snow sports, the Claggett/Rey Gallery is home to paintings and sculptures crafted by some of the finest Native and Western American artists in North America. Alternatively, unwind in a hot tub surrounded by fresh white powder in one of the many rustic-chic spas in the Vail Valley.
In summer, Vail becomes a haven for the creatives and plays host to an annual dance festival, jazz festival and arts festival.
Eat and Drink
Distinctly European fare alongside classic American cuisine is on offer in Vail. If you’ve got the cash to splash, the neighbouring town of Beaver Creek is the place to go for a delicious yet pricey mountain meal you’re unlikely to forget. If budget is a priority, Vail Village and the town of Minturn offer a great range of budget-friendly dining options.
If a day of skiing hasn’t tired you out and you’re keen to explore some après-ski activities away from the slopes, you’ve come to the right place. Vail’s après-ski scene is legendary and has something for everyone – from quiet bars to all-night dance clubs and live music venues. Vail Village is the nightlife hub, so head to the heart of it after you’ve pulled off your ski boots. But remember to drink lots of water – alcohol consumption in high altitudes can make for a dreadful hangover if you’re not properly hydrated.
Where to Stay
If your main priority is being in close proximity to the slopes and you don’t mind paying a bit extra, Vail and Beaver Creek host the pick of the bunch accommodation-wise. The European-style chalets make for an idyllic base for skiing and walking holidays, or you can take your pick of upscale chain resorts depending on your budget.
There are also some great apartment options for families. Accommodation prices drop as you move down the valley towards Minturn and Edwards. However, you’re also moving further away from the slopes and the central hub of Vail.
Whether it’s a holiday souvenir, a luxury item of clothing or a timeless piece of jewellery, there’s an abundance of quality shopping venues to entice you in Vail. Lionshead and Vail Village are home to the majority of Vail’s shops and boutiques, offering brands from Tory Burch for luxury fashion to Patagonia for protective outerwear. The artwork available in Vail is well worth checking out, and perfect for a non-ski-related take-home gift or souvenir.
Vail Like a Local
If you’re visiting Vail in summer, the Meadow Mountain trail is a wonderful walk that locals often recommend to visitors. For skiers in winter, staying close to the front side of the ski area can pay dividends as you’re greeted with fewer crowds, less waiting around and much more powder.
When you’re not hitting the slopes, head to the nearby town of Minturn for a bite to eat and a chat with the locals, or drive past Minturn towards Red Cliff. A village with a population of fewer than 300 people, Red Cliff serves up food, beer and local culture in spades.