The town of Vail is the base village to Vail Ski Resort, the third largest ski mountain North America. The town is modeled after European ski villages, and is generally separated into three areas- Lionshead, Vail Village, and Golden Peak. Situated at 8,150 feet above ski level, the town is 90 miles from Denver, or around a 2 hour drive without traffic. Although the town is small, there’s lots to see and do! Plan your trip with the help of local, Angie.
THE LOCAL: Angie
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HER: 29 year old Angie lived in Vail from 2010 to 2012 before settling in Denver. Some of her closest friends have planted roots in the mountain town and have chosen to live there permanently. For Angie, her career as a teacher is more suitable for the big city, but she still needs her weekend getaways. So, she still drives up often to visit friends, hit the slopes and breathe that fresh, mountain air. Through these trips (and with her friend’s local advice), she keeps up with the newest, coolest spots while still frequenting the iconic Vail hangouts.
1. Favorite Street to Wander/Stroll in Vail? Bridge Street in Vail Village
2. Best Coffee Shop/Bakery? Northside Coffee & Kitchen- Go for their donuts!
4. Favorite Sunny Day Agenda?
Assuming it’s summer… Earn your brunch by hiking to Game Creek. After showering and a short relax session (hopefully in a hot tub somewhere!) go to Garf’s for some drinks and sports, then pick a spot for dinner and party the night away. The Red Lion is a good bet for live music, or if you’re feeling funky, head to Samana for some late night dancing! If you’re in the mood for something a bit fancier, head to Flame for cocktails at the Four Seasons, followed by a sushi dinner at celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Vail restaurant, Matsuhisa.
5. Essential Travel Tip?
The best way to experience Vail is to stay out past dinner. I know it can be hard, but don’t stay in after a full day of hiking, biking or skiing- you’ve got to sack up and hit the town! Also, Vail keeps a pretty extensive event calendar on their website, so check it out before you go to see if there’s something fun happening in town!
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE VAIL ATTRACTIONS
1. Vail Mountain– Thumbs Up. Duh! If you’re coming to ski, the mountain usually opens at the end of November and ski season runs through the first or second weekend in April. In off-season, you can explore Vail’s trails on foot, bike, or horseback. There are three sections to the mountain- The Front-Side, Blue Sky Basin and the Back Bowls- and the resort has a wide range of run for all types of skiers.
2. Blue Sky Basin- Thumbs Up (if there’s enough snow) And if it’s a powder day, beware of skinny skis… there’s no groomers back there!
3. Sightseeing Tours/ Jeep/ 4-Wheel Tour- Thumbs Down. My advice? Stay in town unless you have a bunch of time on your hands. There’s enough to see and do, so unless your heart is set on getting out for one of these tours, you won’t be bored staying in village and around the mountain.
5. Betty Ford– Thumbs Down. I wouldn’t make this a special trip, but if you happen to be walking through Ford Park, you can always go through it, as it’s open year round and admission is free.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE VAIL RESTAURANTS
1. The Little Diner– Thumbs Down. I like this place, but it’s too small! (I wouldn’t put it at number one)
2. Westside Cafe– Thumbs Up, but on one condition. If you have a car, Northside’s breakfast is better!
3. Mountain Standard– Thumbs Up. Order something from their Raw Bar- all of it is delicious.
4. Sweet Basil– Thumbs Down. This is the same restauranteur as Mountain Standard, so I wouldn’t do both. Sweet Basil is more fancy, but not as creative. However, it’s the older of the two, so if you prefer traditional, go to Sweet Basil.
5. Game Creek Club– Thumbs Up