With 5,317 acres of skiable terrain, Vail is one of the world’s most renowned ski hills. What people often do not know is it boasts just as strong of a summer scene. Located two hours west of Denver on I-70, Vail is an easy mid-week summer getaway to satisfy your adventure cravings with Colorado’s finest summer vibes.
Nestled into a quiet valley, Vail is surrounded by The Gore Range to the North and Holy Cross Wilderness to the South, meaning whether you’re valley low or standing atop Lionshead Gondola, towering mountains greet you wherever you find yourself. From afternoon patio drinks at Austrian restaurants to family fun on Vail’s mountain top coaster to downhill mountain biking, Vail offers an adventure for everyone.
Hit the road early to make it in time for a coffee at Vail’s newest coffee shop, Two Arrows. Nestled in a quiet alleyway around the corner from Bridge Street, Two Arrows boasts colorful brews and delicious morning pastries. It’s the perfect slow morning start to your Vail day.
Choose Your Adventure:
From there, choose your own adventure. Afternoon thunderstorms tend to move in between 12-3pm, so get your mountain top experiences in early. For the avid hiker, hit up one of East Vail’s trails like Pitkin Creek or Gore Lake. This will take most of your afternoon so plan accordingly. For the outdoor mosy-er looking for a stroll through the woods, consider taking Vail’s gondola up to hike village to village on Fireweed, or stay lower in elevation and enjoy a stroll along Gore Creek on Vail’s river path.
Other adventure activities include: Free Solaris Yoga, Game Creek Zipline, downhill mountain biking, Vail Pass bike tour, or rent a tube for the kiddos and float down the Gore Creek for a fun cool down.
Recuperate from your morning of adventure by feeding your body and soul with Vail’s world-class cuisine. A summer meal in Vail has to be accompanied by a scenic patio and a great drink. For casual mountainside dining with a front-row seat to all the action, consider Los Amigos or Garfinkel’s. Or for a historic Vail experience, consider the infamous Austrian restaurant, Pepi’s, one of Vail’s first restaurants. Another delicious European option with an equally great patio is the Alpenrose.
More to do:
After your undoubtedly delicious lunch, escape the afternoon heat and mountain monsoon, by wandering through Vail’s many art galleries, fine jewelers, Western shops. or outdoor clothing stores. Patagonia, Smartwool, and Marmot are just a few of the many outdoor retail stores to fuel your adventure. Top the afternoon off by a wander through Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, featuring flowers and plants from Colorado’s high alpine and high deserts. Vibrant flowers and cool streams will accompany you as you discover some of Colorado’s most famous and most endangered plant species.
After a day of adventuring, take a pause, go back to the hotel, and put on your favorite outfit for a night of music, dance, food, and drink ahead. Vail boasts of multiple music festivals throughout the summer, all held at the stunning Gerald R. Ford amphitheater. Surrounded by the towering pines of the White River National Forest, the amphitheater has covered assigned seats, or for a lower ticket price with an equally great experience, bring a blanket, a picnic, and sit on the lush green lawn.
Depending on your visit, you can catch The Boston Symphony Orchestra with Vail Bravo, The International Dance Festival boasting of artistry, movement, and music, or get a little rowdy with the free Hot Summer Nights concert series. Before the concert, graze Vail’s fine dining scene along Gore Creek at some of Vail’s most famous dinner spots, such as: Sweet Basil, The Left Bank, Mountain Standard, The Sonnenalp, or again, Pepi’s.
Regardless of how you choose to spend your evening, top it all off with a nightcap from Bridge Street’s famous nightlife. If you’re looking to continue the party from the amphitheater to the streets, consider Shake Down, Bridge Street Bar, or The Red Lion to experience Vail’s iconic winter apres scene, but the summer version. Sing Sweet Caroline and Wonderwall with international guests from around the world while sipping on a good drink and breathing in the crisp mountain air.
Looking for a hand-crafted cocktail with an equally great atmosphere with a few less sweaty bodies? Consider Two Arrows (yes, it transitions from a coffee shop to a cocktail bar) or my personal favorite, Root, and Flower. They both feature made-to-order cocktails and fine wines with Vail’s best bartenders in an approachable elegant atmosphere.
Depending on the night, you might catch an intimate evening with Vail locals conversing over delicious bar snacks and Root and Flowers famous Gin and Tonic, or catch a DJ or Tiki night and shake your booty late into the late hours. Lastly, if a lounge scene is more your vibe, or you’re looking to take a load off your dancing feet, consider the basement scene of the George, or Vail’s newest lounge, Bad Kitty. Yes, that’s the name. Finish your night by taking the edge off at Vail’s famous pizza joint, Vendettas, with a late-night slice of pie before meandering your way back to your temporary mountain home.
Where to stay:
Lodging at Vail can get pricey. Depending on your budget, it can be less expensive to stay in one of the surrounding communities such as: Minturn, Edwards, or Eagle-Vail. Minturn features a hostel and plenty of bed and breakfasts, Eagle-Vail will be your AirBnB private home option, or Edwards features The Riverwalk Inn. Looking to stay in Vail? Consider Gravity Haus, The Lodge, or The Four Seasons to experience luxury, Vail.
Vail is a world of whimsy, epic mountain adventure, and world-class cuisine. Immerse yourself in the sensory experience of mountain adventure in an internationally famous atmosphere. Vail hosts enough adventure for a lifetime, but for a weekday getaway, fit in the best of Vail for a whirlwind of refreshing mountain life that is sure to satisfy your craving for summertime bliss.