48 Hours in Vail
Vail’s reputation as a ski resort needs no explanation; it’s hugely famous as a top destination for winter sports, and people travel from all over the world to ski and snowboard there. But this beautiful mountain town, nestled into the Rockies in White River National Forest, is so much more than just a ski resort. The booming tourist industry means there are plenty of options for accommodations, from a luxury ski lodge to a cozy bed and breakfast, so if you’ve got a weekend to spare and you’re itching to get out of town, head to Vail and discover all it has to offer.
Day One: Vail Village
Start your day off on the right food with a delicious breakfast at Big Bear Bistro. Big Bear’s menu features delicious breakfast burritos, sandwiches, omelets, pancakes, and baked goods, and they serve breakfast all day long. Once you’re fed and ready for the day, go for a walk in Vail Village, a pedestrian-friendly part of town with cobblestone streets and a decidedly European vibe. While wandering the streets you may discover the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame, which features exhibits about the history of skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. Art lovers will find themselves in heaven, surrounded by a plethora of amazing art galleries in Vail Village. You can spend hours shopping for souvenirs and exploring some amazing creations at the Claggett/Rey Gallery, Vail International Gallery, Artful Sol Gallery, Raitman Art Gallery, or any of the other galleries in the village. Shopping in Vail Village ranges from high end shops like Oakley and Lululemon to local businesses like Vail Village Antiques and Gifts or the Covered Bridge Store.
All that shopping and wandering is sure to build up your appetite, so enjoy lunch at a local eatery like Up the Creek, which uses farm fresh ingredients to craft delicious sandwiches and meals. For an after meal drink, take a walk across Gore Creek to Vail Brewing Co., where you’ll find delicious beers in a cozy, casual environment that encapsulates the rugged, adventurous lifestyle of the Colorado Rockies.
Spend the rest of your afternoon wandering the shops and streets of Vail Village. For dinner, check out Sweet Basil, a Vail classic that has been satisfying customers with their trendy setting and delicious menu since the 1970s.
Nightlife in Vail can range from the relaxed tasting room at 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits to dancing and live music at Shakedown Bar. Root & Flower has an extensive wine list, while Frost offers high end craft cocktails. Be sure to check for local events and happenings before you visit, because there’s always something fun and exciting happening in Vail to keep you busy in the evenings.
Day Two: Lionshead Village and Vail Mountain
Head west along Gore Creek and you’ll find Lionshead Village, a similar community to Vail Village. Enjoy some breakfast classics at The Little Diner to get fueled up, and then head out to explore the incredible beauty of Vail Mountain. If you’re visiting in the winter, during ski season, you’ll definitely want to learn what makes Vail the largest single mountain ski resort in the US, with 195 trails on 5,289 acres of skiable terrain. But even if you’re visiting Vail in the summer, the mountain provides an incredible setting for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. There are seventeen hiking trails on Vail Mountain, and depending on the time of year, you’ll find abundant wildflowers, incredible views, and maybe even some Colorado wildlife. Take the Eagle Bahn Gondola up to the trailheads, where you can hike on your own or hire a local expert to lead the way and teach you about the local area. There are also plenty of great hiking options other than these; Gore Creek, Booth Falls, and the North Trail are all incredible options for seeing the region on foot.
If you chose to hike or ski on Vail Mountain, it’s a perfect opportunity to enjoy lunch at The 10th, located at the top of Gondola 1, with incredible views of the Gore Range, or Bistro Fourteen, accessible at the top of Eagle Bahn Gondola, with high ceilings and huge windows that show off nearby Mount of the Holy Cross - the 14er for which the bistro is named.
Spend your afternoon conquering more of the hiking trails or ski runs at Vail Resort, or head back down into Vail Village and check out Betty Ford Alpine Gardens which, at 8200 feet elevation, is the highest botanical garden in the world, and is open to the public year round.
Enjoy a gourmet dinner at Tavern on the Square in Lionshead Village, located just moments away from the base of Eagle Bahn Gondola, in the Arrabelle Resort. The patio, which is open year-round, offers great views and a beautiful setting for an intimate and delicious meal. Spend your evening relaxing and reminiscing about your favorite moments from your mini-trip to Vail over a cocktail, or preparing yourself for the trek back home.