Vail Ski Resort Guide – Memorable Things to Do in Vail, Colorado


Each time that I have had the opportunity to visit Vail Mountain Resort for a ski trip, I am amazed at the quality of the facilities, the variety of services and the charm of the town of Vail itself.  It is a special place that is home to world-class skiing and snowboarding among other winter activities.

Vail is known for its expansive offerings on and off the mountain and is a joy to explore.  This article will highlight some of the most memorable things to do and some tips that I hope will help you as you plan your next visit.

Getting there

Vail is located approximately 100 miles west of Denver International Airport.  During our travels there, we have had very good experience hiring a shuttle from the airport to Downtown Vail.  It typically takes 2.5 hours and shuttles run multiple times per day at a relatively reasonable cost.  Eagle airport is about 25 minutes away and also has shuttles.

If you are driving by car there are parking garages that are operated by the town of Vail or you can park at your lodging.

No matter how you get there, once you arrive a very convenient way to get around is to utilize the town bus system which is very fast, convenient and FREE – Highly Recommended!

Mountain & Terrain

The sheer expanse of terrain that Vail offers is breathtaking in it’s own sense.  With well over 5,000 acres of impressive ski-able area, it’s no wonder it rivals any resort in the world. The over 190 runs will keep even the most seasoned skier or snowboarder occupied and challenged and the over 30 lifts that they offer will get you around very comfortably, quickly and efficiently.

Although still connected, Vail Mountain is divided into different areas including Lionshead, Vail Village, China Bowl, Golden Peak, Blue Sky Basin and the Back Bowls.  Each of these areas contain runs featuring different ski levels ranging from beginner to intermediate to advanced and even expert.

I most often enjoy runs in the intermediate range while also enjoying some beginner runs as well as the occasional challenging advanced run that Vail offers.  The majority of my time on the mountain has been spent on the front side of the Mountain in Lionshead, Vail Village and China Bowl.  I hope to exlpore the other areas in the future.

There are so many great runs that I could mention but some of my favorites are:

Vail Village – Avanti, Capuccino & Blue Ox

Lion’s Head – Lost Boy, Simba, Born Free & Lodgepole

Golden Peak – Flap Jack, Tin Pants & Wiskey Jack

I am certain that you will find your own favorites depending on your preferences, experience and skill level!

Equipment Rental

There are multiple equipment rental shops at the base of many of the areas of the mountain including Vail Village, Golden Peak and Lion’s Head.  The experienced staff does a great job getting you set up with the appropriate gear based on your ski level.

Lift Tickets and Other Resorts

Lift tickets can be purchased at the base of the mountain before you board the lift.  Depending on your ticket package and if you are ambitious, you can purchase multiple day passes and use them not only at Vail but also at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin Resorts.

At least one day, we utilize our lift ticket package and go to Beaver Creek which is another excellent resort very close to Vail.  It has some amazing runs and terrific facilities as well – Highly recommended.

Skiing and Snowboarding Lessons

Vail professional offer lessons for not only beginners but intermediate and even expert skiers looking to fine tune their skills. Particularly if you have never skied before, I would recommend lessons to get the basics down before you tackle the mountain on your own.  You will be glad you did!  Private lessons are also available for anyone interested.

Nordic Sports & Other Activities

If you are interested in trying snowshoeing, cross country or telemark then the Vail Nordic Center is where you want to be!  All of these sports offer an amazing way to see the terrain and the wilderness.  You get the health benefits all while taking in the surroundings and some of the most spectacular vistas. Group tours and private lessons are available.  Snow tubing is another fun activity that offered on the mountain.

Dining on the Mountain

I would recommend taking some snacks like granola bars with you during breaks but when that is not enough, there are some very good accommodations for food.  Two Elk Restaurant, Game Creek Restaurant, Bistro on Fourteen, the 10th and more are strategically located on and around the mountain and are excellent places to take a break as needed and fuel up for the remainder of the day!

Dining and Exploring Town

Vail is linked by 3 distinct base areas: Vail Village, Lionshead and Golden Peak.  The buildings and grounds are amazing and include many terrific shops, places to eat and even an ice skating rink!

Some popular restaurants in Vail include the Tavern on the Square, Sweet Basil and Lancelot, La Tour, Larkspur, Pepi’s and Mountain Standard. If you are interested in getting breakfast there are again several options but I would recommend a place called the Little Diner that is very popular and excellent. There are no doubt several others to explore but these are just a brief list of some of the favorites.


While there are so many more things that I could mention, I hope this guide has been helpful and shed some light on Vail Resort and the town.  As you can tell, I highly recommend visiting this area.  Once you do, I am certain you will be captured by the charm, history and excitement of the area and begin to realize why Vail is described as “Like Nothing on Earth.”

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By Ryan Shields

Ryan is the Senior Editor here at Outdoor Home and Garden. He has a degree in Horticulture and has worked in the field of Facilities Management for over 16 years.

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