There’s an authenticity here if you know where to look.

Maybe it’s the celebrity status of some of the town’s guests. Maybe it’s the rich ski history or the sheer size of skiable terrain. Whatever the reason, there’s a mystique about Vail. But there’s more to Vail than rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, eating $17 hamburgers and sipping $15 glasses of wine. It’s also home to unexpectedly friendly locals and a tranquil atmosphere that’s present all year long. With proper planning and the right attitude, a relaxing, delicious and beautiful vacation awaits you.

Getting Around

The community has four major focal points: East and West Vail, Vail Village and Lionshead. The village is perhaps the best-known area and includes the famous Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant, family-owned since 1964. Lionshead, to the west of Vail Village, tends to be a bit quieter and has its own distinct neighborhood vibe. No matter where you stay in Vail, the ski lifts are always just a few steps or short bus ride away.

Here’s two more great things to know about the bus system. First of all, it’s totally free. Second, Vail’s fleet of electric buses helped it become the first destination in the world to earn a Mountain IDEAL certification for sustainability. Recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the IDEAL standard is based on more than 40 criteria for environmental stewardship.

So in addition to being convenient and useful, the buses won’t subtract from your wallet nor add carbon to the atmosphere.

 

 

Ski the Big Mountain

At 5,289 acres of skiable terrain, Vail is one of the largest ski areas in North America and the biggest in Colorado. Even when the base areas are busy, it’s easy to get away from the crowds. The Back Bowls at Vail are a favorite of many locals, who often spend much of their day there. The ski school is world-class as well, making this is an ideal resort for newbies and longtime skiers alike.
Vail’s rich ski history dates back to 1962, but the sport’s Colorado roots stretch back about 100 years before that. There’s no better place to learn the whole story than by visiting the Colorado Snowsports Museum (formerly the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame). The facility, which reopened on June 23 after a $2.6 million transformation process, is located in Vail Village. It’s free and open to the public. The sport may be old, but all the museum’s exhibits are new. Plan a trip at www.SkiMuseum.net.

 

Photo by Zach Mahone

Eat Well in Vail

When it comes to dining, Vail has set the bar higher than most ski towns in North America. Any self-respecting foodie must visit this picturesque town and Instagram
all their tasty meals.

Taste of Vail offers an insider snapshot of the culinary scene across the Vail Valley. At this four-day April event and its September companion, the Fall Food & Wine Classic, local chefs work extra-hard to impress. But restaurants in Vail never disappoint at any time of the year. The town attracts elite culinary talent from around the world. Eateries like Flame, Terra Bistro and La Tour serve exceptionally creative meals in a setting that’s hard to match. Vail’s high-end dining scene seems to have influenced all the restaurants in town, because a bad meal is hard to find.

An inexpensive meal might even be more rare in Vail, however. For those looking for a place that won’t break the bank, The Little Diner is a good place to start. It’s the sort of restaurant you can visit multiple times during a single trip, with breakfast standing out as the signature meal. The Little Diner serves up huge Dutch Babies, German pancakes and other homestyle food.

The founding location of Moe’s Original Bar B Que stands next door to The Little Diner. Established by three guys from Alabama in 2005, the Vail restaurant has since grown into a popular chain with locations throughout Colorado and beyond. It’s perfect for families looking for hearty, affordable fare in Vail. It’s also an excellent happy hour spot, and locals fill the few barstools quickly during aprés ski.
No trip to Vail is complete without a stop at Expert Burger. Located in Lionshead, they offer the ideal binge after a long day on the slopes. The burgers are fantastic; the truffle fries are heavenly.

 

Photo by Four Seasons Vail

Top of the Lodges

There are many places to stay in Vail, ranging from hotel rooms to homes. Traveling with the family is easy at Vail Spa in Lionshead. All the two- to four-bedroom residences here have full kitchens and fireplaces. This property is in a quiet corner of Lionshead and features beautiful inside and outside pools and hot tubs.

Vail Spa is within walking distance of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, as is Antlers Vail. This versatile property features an outside pool and hot tubs next to the river. They have studios available for singles or couples, as well as large condos for families. In addition, Antlers Vail boasts a conference area and wedding space.

For those looking for leisure and luxury, Four Seasons Vail is an optimum choice. Located at the edge of Vail Village, it’s known for its top-notch service. Wastepaper baskets in guest rooms seem to magically empty themselves. With a five-star spa and large, heated outdoor pool, this resort experience is one of the best in Colorado.

Four Seasons Vail has two onsite restaurants, Flame (a steakhouse) and The Remedy, which serves one of the best pretzel platters in the state. A wintry stay is perfect when accompanied by Four Seasons’ famous Haute Chocolate. It’s not simply hot chocolate but a food experience that the entire family will love. Mom and Dad can make their Haute Chocolate extra-special by adding a side of nice whiskey or schnapps.

Photo by Four Seasons Vail

For those who love to be in the middle of everything, Solaris is the answer. This luxury condo-style property features spacious units and an incredible inside pool, and it’s in the heart of Vail Village. Want to take in a movie? Just walk downstairs to the Cinébistro. Love to bowl? Head downstairs to Bol Vail for dinner and a game. The building is also home to Vail Brewing, Matsuhisa (Vail’s favorite sushi restaurant) and more. Plus, it sits in front of the village’s ice rink.

Whether it’s a ski getaway in the winter or a bike outing in the summer, Vail is a destination where everything is accessible and close by. A vacation here is exquisitely easy and satisfyingly scrumptious.