Vail is a gorgeous, fleeting 1.5-hour drive from Denver and the road trip is equally as beautiful as the destination. As the road winds through towering cliffs and mountain pass, you probably won’t believe the beauty your eyes are falling on. Vail is majorly a charming ski village with only a few roads throughout the two main villages. Though small, there is plenty to do and see here and tons of accommodation, too.
Made for the boarders and skiers, Vail is for the ones who want a relaxing mountain escape, the wealthier crowds and anyone looking for a weekend getaway close to the city of Denver. Read on to find out everything you need to know about visiting Vail and why it should be on your list for a weekend trip.
The easiest airport to get to is Denver. You can also fly into Vail’s Eagle Airport but it is much more expensive, not direct and options are limited.
I highly recommend taking the flight into Denver and traveling to Vail from there. One incredible perk of visiting most mountain towns in Colorado are the options for shuttles. Specifically, Vail has a direct shuttle from the airport for around $70-85 one way, depending on the time of year.
The Epic Mountain Express shuttle leaves at 8:30 am and then most hours on the hour starting at 10 am on Thursdays to Sundays. During the week the shuttle leaves at similar times with fewer timelines. It is important to note that the last shuttle leaves Vail at 7 pm and will arrive at DIA at 9:30 pm. You can see all the schedules here Epic Mountain Express Shuttle.
If you are lucky like me and have a friend in the Denver area, you won’t have to worry about finding a shuttle and can access Vail Village in under 2 hours on one simple interstate.
DISCLAIMER: If you plan on leaving Vail later in the day on Sunday, prepare for hours of extra traffic.
WHERE TO STAY
There are endless options for accommodation in Vail. Gorgeous, rustic, yet modern mountain resorts decorate both Lionshead and Vail Villages, at prices that aren’t as steep as you might expect. Although we visited Vail just before their peak season, we stayed in moderate luxury at a very reasonable price.
Lionshead is the quieter of the two villages, but don’t let that sway your decision. It offers the same charm, activity, and accommodation found in the main Vail Village. The Eagle Bahn Gondola, Chair 8, Lionshead Children’s Ski School and Arrabelle Square ice rink all reside in Lionshead.
Aside from the slopes, scenic gondola rides and skating rink, there are numerous shopping opportunities and dining in Lionshead Village. Upscale dining offerings include The Vail Chophouse and Tavern at Vail Square, while local bars include Garfinkel’s and Bart & Yeti’s.
Lionshead is a short 10-15 minute walk to Vail Village or a free shuttle ride away. The Vail Village shuttle takes you throughout both villages and is completely complimentary. It is an easy way to travel throughout both villages.
VAIL MARRIOTT MOUNTAIN RESORT
I absolutely loved this hotel, a winter castle with a mountainous backdrop and light snowfall. Yeah, dreamy. The interior is just as gorgeous, with rustic decor and a modern flare we were absolutely obsessed. There is a Starbucks and restaurant in the lobby, an outdoor pool and hot tub, incredible views and a prime location. I highly recommend this hotel, the pricing was decent too.
ARRABELLE AT VAIL SQUARE
Just down the path from Marriott, this charming resort & spa is considered a luxury hotel and is quite dreamy. Located in the heart of Arrabelle Square, this hotel puts you right in the middle of everything. It is timeless elegance with Austrian inspired architectural style. It is romantic and old-timey, a true luxury ski retreat.
ANTLERS AT VAIL
If you are looking for a cheaper stay that will offer you a cozy room and nice amenities, this is your place. It doubles as a condo so the standard room is a studio suite with a full kitchen, dining area, and a fireplace. The one downfall is that the decor is a little outdated, but the rooms are still cozy and mountain-esque. There is a heated outdoor pool and a hot tub, spacious lobby, large conference rooms and is located a short walk from Eagle Bahn Gondola and Lionshead Village.
THE RITZ-CARLTON CLUB
Notoriously luxury, the Ritz is a renowned hotel across the world. Here in Vail, it is technically a residence hotel so rooms are condo-style and are incredibly luxurious. A true hideaway amongst the Rocky Mountains.
Classic European architecture, pedestrian-only heated streets, small-town character, and the Rocky Mountain backdrop makes this the most dreamy winter retreat possible. Decorated in charm, the small-town feel only exists in its looks and style. The diverse dining and luxury accommodation offers a verging of world-class living with a retained peacefulness of a modest town. Vail Village accesses Gondola One via Bridge Street by foot or through shuttles offered by hotels and resorts, making mountain access effortless.
VAIL VILLAGE HOTELS
Vail is home to some of the most iconic and famous luxury and boutique hotels in the world, here is my top list of accommodation in Vail Village
THE LODGE AT VAIL
This is the original hotel in Vail and is so charming.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT
WHERE TO EAT
World-class dining is easy to find on every loop in Vail. While many dining options call Vail Village home, you can find local favorites and upscale dining options sitting slope-side in Lionshead Village. From special pizzas at Vendetta’s and cozy comfort food at local Garf’s too unique cocktails next to Eagle Bahn at The Chop House or sushi at Nobu’s specialty restaurant Matsuhisa, the options fit every taste bud.
THE VAIL CHOP HOUSE $$$
Steakhouse & Seafood
Contemporary and rustic, located slopeside with panoramic views and live music
TAVERN AT VAIL SQUARE $$$
Fine Dining New American & Craft Cocktails
Slopeside eatery offering America’s favorite cuisines with a year-round patio
GARFINKEL’S (GARF’S TO THE LOCALS) $
Sports Bar & Grille
Cozy pub where the locals grab bites and brews after a ride down the slopes
THE LITTLE DINER $
Cozy and casual, this place is perfect for a quick brunch counter-side
BART & YETI’S $$
Pub & Bar
Long-time favorite by locals, one of Vail’s only local pubs left
Brought to you by Nobu, posh settings and dramatic views make for a high-end experience
MOUNTAIN STANDARD $$$
New American Gastropub
Embodying everything Vail offers, this swanky eatery offers craft food and beer in a ski lodge space
SWEET BASIL $$$
A trendy hot spot for cocktails that go down easy and dining that pleases all
Longtime pizza joint with classic Italian fare in a lively setting
WHITE BISON $$$
Creekside views with a cozy interior, this chic eatery specializes in big game meats and comfort food
ROOT & FLOWER $$
Top-notch wine bar with excellent wines, craft brews and cocktails with small bites to pair
THE GEORGE $
Restaurant & Pub
With an atmosphere slightly divey, you get a hometown feel with some classic comfort foods
WHAT TO DO
This might seem pretty obvious, skiing and snowboarding attract adventurers and athletes from across the nation. Coloradans spend their days doing runs down the Black Diamond or beginners test their skills at the ski school.
If winter sports aren’t your jam, luxury retreats with spas and cozy resorts offer total relaxation. If you want to experience the mountain without flying down it on foot, you can take a scenic gondola ride or snow tube for a little more adrenaline. No matter what your style, there is something for you to do here.
Vail is also an awesome summer destination with gorgeous hiking trails and other outdoor activities to enjoy.
SKI & SNOWBOARD
Rentals can be found at the following locations:
Vail Sports Arrabelle
Vail Sports Lionshead
Vail Sports Mountain Plaza
Vail Sports Golden Peak
Burton, Vail Village