Vail is one of my favorite destinations and I come here at least once a year. But a lot of people ask me: what else is there to do in Vail but ski?
Vail is the ideal destination. In the summer, it’s perfect for hiking or ziplining down the mountain. And, in winter, my favorite season to go to Vail, it’s a top destination for skiing. The season starts in November, but I prefer March because it’s a bit less cold out, which is better for the kids.
International jet setters have been congregating in this little town in Colorado for many years. Vail is the second-best skiing destination in the United States, but many people want to know what else there is to do there.
For the skeptics that think that Vail is just a ski town—let me just say that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are my recommendations for what to do in Vail besides ski.
Where to eat:
Vail is a gorgeous town, and the only thing I like more than the incredible scenery is the culinary scene. You can find delicious guilty pleasures, like tacos, as well as elegant 5-star meals.
For breakfast, I like to head over to The Little Diner. Their food is delicious and contains the necessary calories for skiing all day. One of the best parts of coming here is their yummy pannekoeken, which the kids love.
For anyone who can’t function without a cup of coffee, I’d recommend Yeti’s Grind. They have great specialty drinks, and if coffee isn’t your thing, you can warm up with some matcha or a nice hot cider.
For lunch, I like Sweet Basil. With over 40 years in the business, it’s a must-visit spot. The menu is always changing, so it’s exciting to see what they have every day. And, I can promise you that their wine list never disappoints.
Finally, for dinner, I’d try Game Creek, which has simply exquisite food. If it’s your first time, I’d recommend doing the tasting menu. The whole experience of even just getting to this restaurant is magical; first, you’ll take the Eagle Bahn gondola under the stars and then cross the mountains in a Snow Cat to get to the restaurant.
Where to drink:
The perfect ending to a long day is sitting down, taking off our many layers of gear, and relaxing with a good drink. Many of the town’s restaurants have excellent wine lists, but if you want to go somewhere with a bit more of a bar vibe, Vail has lots of options as well.
For example, there’s the Vail Brewing Co., where both locals and tourists hang out. This bar has a wide variety of beers and the warm wooden details and hanging lights of the space make for a very cozy feel.
If you prefer a good whiskey, I recommend 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits. All of the spirits at this bar are distilled locally, and they offer tours to anyone who wants to learn more about the process behind making this beverage.
What else is there to do?
I know that most people come here to ski, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do other things to pass the time. Vail has some of the best spas in the world, but that’s not all.
There is also a gorgeous botanical garden, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, named after the former first lady. Here, you’ll find a wide range of mountain plants. In the summer, you can enjoy all the blooms, and in the winter, it looks like a scene from a fairytale.
If you want to spend some time as a family, I recommend going ice skating at Alderhof at the Arrabelle Hotel in the heart of Lionshead. If you go at night, you’ll be skating under a blanket of stars—a truly unique experience.
As you can see, Vail is more than just a place to ski. I love coming here, and I think it’s the perfect place for spending time with family. I recommend adding it to your list of places to visit if it’s not already on there!
As I write this, I’m looking out the window at the gorgeous snowy landscape. I haven’t even left yet, and I already want to come back.