Whether you’re a bonafide ski bum or are looking for something off the snowy trail, there are tons of amazing things to do in Vail, Colorado.
The town of Vail is located at the base of Vail Mountain and is one best-known spots in Colorado for skiing. But, as a Colorado local, I can tell you that there are just as many (if not more!) things to do in Vail in summer as there are in winter.
Overall, no matter what time of year you visit, the area is characterized by its active outdoorsy activities and incredible scenery. So slather on some sunscreen and get ready, because I’m here to spill the beans on the very best things to do on your next trip to Vail Mountain.
Let’s dive in!
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29 Best Things to Do in Vail, Colorado
Vail Ski Resort
Ski or board at Colorado’s largest resort
Vail Mountain is home to one of the largest ski resorts in the world, so they have plenty to offer every level of skier. Here, you’ll find ski and snowboard schools and lessons, plus a variety of runs ranging from beginner to advanced (although more than half the terrain is for advanced skiers).
👉 Pro Tip: If you’re planning to ski elsewhere in Colorado as well, then check out our extensive guide to the best ski resorts in Colorado!
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
Relax in the highest elevation botanical garden in North America
Visiting the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is one of my favorite things to do in Vail Valley! It’s a beautiful place to walk, sit, drink your coffee, and appreciate the beauty of the high elevation plants that surround you.
The gardens are free to visit, but there’s an adorable gift shop to check out as well. There’s also an onsite Children’s Garden where kids can do a scavenger hunt and play on the wide-open lawn and playground.
Colorado Snowsports Museum & Hall Of Fame
Learn the history of skiing and snowboarding in Colorado
📍 Map It: 231 South Frontage Road East, Vail, Colorado 81657 | Phone: (970) 476-1876 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $5 suggested donation | 👉 Browse Tours on Viator
The Colorado Snowsports Museum & Hall of Fame is the best place to learn about the town’s push to make Vail Mountain the best ski resort in the country. The museum has a ton of info about the people who made skiing and snowboarding history here, as well as walking tours that will guide you to interesting places around town.
📚 Related Reading: Planning to visit more of Colorado? Check out our Ultimate Guide To Colorado!
Recharge your batteries at one of the many spas
There are several spas in Vail where you can pamper your tired body after a day on the slopes or trails. RockResorts has spas at The Arrabelle Hotel and The Lodge at Vail, and there are other great spas at Sonnenalp, Vail Mountain Lodge, and the Four Seasons.
Vail & Lionshead Villages
Browse upscale shops and galleries
There are enough shops, restaurants, art galleries, and other sites in both Vail Village and Lionshead Village that you could spend a full day just wandering and browsing. With window boxes of flowers in summer and twinkle lights in winter (and thanks to the Scandinavian architecture of the buildings) you’ll feel like you’re in a quaint village in the Alps.
While you’re wandering, be sure to look for the public art throughout, and the engraved stones that include riddles and rebuses along Wall Street in Vail Village.
Vail Brewing Company
Relax with an après-ski beer
Looking to grab a craft beer after a long day of skiing or biking? Then head over to Vail Brewing Company! The establishment proudly boasts that it’s “veteran and ski bum owned,” and it’s a great place to relax and sample the local offerings. Also, keep an eye on their event schedule – they regularly host musical artists and other fun performances.
10th Mountain Whiskey And Spirits
Sample locally made spirits
A tasting room with award-winning offerings, 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits is the perfect place to try bourbon, rye, moonshine, potato vodka, or the local Alpenglow cordial. You can get a spirit flight, cocktails, or full bottles of their whiskey and spirits.
Things To Do In Vail in Winter
Skate in the heart of Vail Village
If you want a break from skiing to try some of the other great things to do in Vail, then try ice skating on for size. In particular, there are three places to go ice skating in Vail – the Alderhof Ice Skating Rink is in Lionshead Village next to The Arrabelle hotel at Vail Square, the Solaris Ice Rink is in the center of Vail Village, and the Dobson Ice Arena is an indoor rink open year-round.
Vail Nordic Center
Snowshoe or cross-country ski through the mountains
If you’re looking to rent cross-country ski, snowshoe, or telemark gear, then head to the Vail Nordic Center. They offer group and private tours, or you can head out on your own on one of the many trails at the Nordic Center or elsewhere around Vail Valley.
👉 Pro Tip: If you want to take a group or private tour, be sure to book well ahead of time, as slots tend to go fast.
Fly across the frozen land
Vail Backcountry Tours offers 2-hour, half-day, and private snowmobiling tours through the Rocky Mountains. On the tour, you’ll see beautiful meadows and gorgeous scenery right near Vail Village. Kids 6 and up can ride along, and anyone with a valid driver’s permit can ride alone.
👉 Pro Tip: If you’re going with a group, pick up a box of hand warmers to use throughout the day!
Winter Fat Tire Biking
Pedal bike through the snow
Try fat tire biking on the snow for a fun, yet somewhat bouncy, experience. You can rent bikes and helmets at the Vail Nordic Center, and there are designated trails where you can ride. There’s a restaurant at the Nordic Center as well, so you can warm up after an active day outside with soup or a hot drink.
Cross the snow with some very good boys
A day outdoors in the snow? Check! Views of the Rocky Mountains on all sides? Check! Ridiculously cute and fluffy dogs you can meet with before your ride? Check, check!
Dog sledding tours are available just a half-hour outside of Vail (on the way to Leadville) and it’s one of those memory-making events that will stay with you and your family for a long time.
👉 Pro Tip: If you want to spend some more time in Leadville, check out our picks for the best things to do in Leadville, Colorado.
Go Ice Fishing
Get out on the lake
Though you can absolutely plan your own trip, ice fishing in Vail is made easy with Vail Valley Anglers. The company plans winter trips to lower altitude reservoirs so you and your family can go ice fishing without having to worry about logistics and equipment. They also set up portable ice fishing huts, so you can stay warm and have a cup of cocoa when you need a break.
Things To Do In Vail in Summer
Another way to hit the slopes
There are lots of places to go mountain biking in Vail, Colorado, but one of the most fun is to take your bike up the mountain on either the Eagle Bahn Gondola or Gondola One and then ride down. The easiest way to do this is to rent bikes and helmets right in the village and then ride them over to the gondola.
And yes, there’s ice cream nearby, just in case you need a treat after.
👉 Pro Tip: As you’re planning your trip to Vail, check out our Colorado packing list to make sure you didn’t forget anything!
Hike with llamas
📍 Map It: 210 Edwards Village Blvd b107, Edwards, CO 81632 | Phone: (970) 926-5299 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 6:30 pm daily, July 1st – September 30th | Entrance: $575 first 2 people, $95 each additional person, $55 under 11
Ever wanted to take a llama to lunch? Then Vail is the place for you. Paragon Guides provides a quirky program where they provide llamas to help carry your stuff on an easy hike and, much more importantly, provide some hilarious, furry companionship on the trail. You’ll also get a picnic lunch while you’re at it.
See the Rockies while horseback riding
Going horseback riding is one of the best ways to see the rocky mountains on a sunny day. On a 1 ½ or 2-hour ride, you’ll be taken through breathtaking scenery where you’ll spot wildlife, wildflower-strewn meadows, and mountains.
See the slopes in summer
Riding the gondola is one of the best summer activities in Vail. You can either take mountain bikes on the gondola, go for a ride just to enjoy the scenery, or you can go hiking when you reach the top. Kids 12 and under get a free ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket, and there are also places to eat on the mountain so you can have a delicious, scenic lunch!
Enjoy a quiet paddle on the water
Explore one of Vail’s lakes with a day of paddleboarding on the water. Paddle Yoga Colorado not only rents paddleboards, but they also offer paddleboard yoga classes for groups, bachelorette parties, and they even do kids’ classes.
A day of adventure
Spend summer days in the Vail mountains at Epic Discovery where you can tackle the Adventure Courses, ziplines, Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster, tubing hills, a climbing wall, and more. This is a great spot for both adults and families, and kids will be busy all day long!
Gore Valley Bike Trail
Take a ride next to sparkling streams
A12-mile paved trail that goes through residential streets, open spaces, parks, and villages, riding the Gore Valley Bike Trail is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Plus, it connects with the Vail Pass Trail if you want more of a challenge.
Take A Hike
Hike to lakes and waterfalls
Hiking is by far one of the most popular summertime activities in Vail. In particular, Booth Falls, Deluge Lake, and Upper Piney Lake Trail are all moderate hikes with beautiful mountain views. However, keep in mind that you’ll probably want a day to acclimate before attempting any of them if you’re from a lower elevation.
👉 Read Next: 15 Best Hikes in Colorado
Float along the river
For a more heart-pumping activity, check out one of the many options for whitewater rafting near Vail. You can take kids on a slow float trip down the river or find an adrenaline-pumping whitewater ride to challenge yourself. Lakota Guides offers trips across the state, including some just a few miles from Vail.
👉 Looking for more Colorado adventures? My list of 33 fun things to do in Colorado is a great place to start planning your itinerary!
Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
Enjoy an evening of music under the stars
The Gerald R. Fod Amphitheater, near the Betty Ford Alpine Garden, is a beautiful outdoor venue where you can see popular bands, performances during the Vail Dance Festival, orchestras, and more. I do recommend booking your tickets in advance though, as you never know what’s going to sell out.
Vail Nature Center
Learn about local flora and fauna
The Vail Nature Center is housed in a 1940s homestead on seven acres of land in the middle of Vail. They plan hikes, birdwatching and beaver pond tours, creek tours, and stargazing parties. Pop in to see the exhibits, and then walk the trails along Gore Creek just outside.
👉 Read Next: 31 Best Things to Do in Breckenridge Colorado
Catch some dinner
While there are plenty of places to go fly fishing on your own in the White River National Forest, Vail also has lots of outfitters like Vail Valley Anglers that will load you up with gear. They’ll teach you to fly fish and take you to some great spots to practice.
Get off the beaten path
Going off-roading with a Jeep Tour in Vail will give you a completely different view of the scenery and the mountains. Timberline Tours has a variety of Jeep tours, from smoother terrain to more rugged adventures.
Vail Farmers’ Market
Browse handmade and homegrown Colorado goods
On summer Sundays, Vail Village is taken over by more than a hundred farmers market tents. You’ll find arts & crafts by Colorado artists plus plenty of produce, flowers, and other goods from local farmers. If you’re staying in Vail for a few days, do some shopping for dinner or grab a souvenir at the Vail Farmers Market!
You may not relax but you’ll have a blast
One of the more bizarre yoga crazes in recent years, Vail is the perfect place to downward dog with a goat. Vail Stables has goat yoga sessions along with goat happy hour. Hang on to your drink!
Vail Golf Club
Tee off in a beautiful spot
Play a gorgeous game of golf in Vail on the Vail Golf Club courses. The club also features a restaurant, pro shop, and instructors who give lessons. And yeah, your ball really does go farther when you hit it at a high altitude!
👉 Want More? Check out all our free Colorado travel guides.
Thanks for reading my list of the best things to do in Vail! If you need a place to stay in Vail, be sure to check out my guide to staying in Vail.
And if you’re planning on visiting other places in Colorado, then also check out my suggestions for the best small towns in Colorado!
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