The Vail Valley is a 30-mile valley made up of various small towns and residential communities with approximately 30,000 residents. Of these small towns, Vail and Beaver Creek are the ski centers of the Valley where many festivals, celebrations, and events are held.
Vail Village is a Swiss-style Alpine village with a European atmosphere, but with the spirit of the old American West. Skiing is king in Vail during the winter, and now summers are equally popular with music and food festivals, the famous Teva Mountain Games, and large outdoor sports tournaments such as the National Soccer Championships and the World Mountain Biking Championships.
Vail is an internationally renowned ski resort with a welcoming pedestrian ambiance and is a Mecca of rich recreational and cultural pursuits. Bordered by glorious mountain vistas and bustling with activity, Vail is filled with shops, galleries, and restaurants, easily accessible by the free bus system, miles of recreational biking and walking paths, and Interstate 70.
Living in Vail is an extraordinary experience. Waking up to over 320 gorgeous sunny days a year in Vail is invigorating, especially with the vivid blue Colorado sky set against the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. Meanwhile, all the opportunities for adventure are just steps outside your door, with National forest wilderness areas close by. From the spectacular Vail pass at 10,662 ft all the way down to the Glenwood Canyon, the Valley is a unique opportunity to drive along the Colorado River from its birthplace high up in the mountains through the roaring canyon rapids and beauty of Glenwood Canyon. The Vail Valley has so many opportunities explore and festivals to enjoy year-round that a trip to Vail is to always an adventure.
Activities and Offerings in Vail
Think of an outdoor activity and you will find it is among the numerous activities offered in Vail in both winter and summer. Winter is by far the more internationally known season because of the epic skiing on Vail Mountain, ice skating, tubing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, backcountry hut trips, and cross country skiing are popular too. The beloved American Ski Classic, 26 years young, brings together skiing legends, sports and entertainment celebrities for friendly races and fun on the slopes.
In summer, you can go rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, fly fishing, and more. For a full list of activities, visit my “Activities in the Vail Valley” page.
The Vail Valley is home to 13 golf courses within a 30 mile radius. With dramatic mountain vistas and challenging terrain, golfing in Vail is a very popular summer activity. Just be careful of the daily summer shower in Vail that arrives about 2 pm every afternoon with a bit of rain and some thunder. As the saying in Vail goes, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes” and you should be able to get back to your game. Click here for a more information on Vail’s Golf Courses.
Mountain and road biking are also very popular in the summer. There are bike paths that run from one end of the valley to the other. Many valley residents like to challenge themselves and bike over Vail pass to Silverthorne or Breckenridge in the summer. There are also extensive mountain biking trails all over Vail and Beaver Creek Mountains, and Vail is host to many mountain biking competitions every summer.
Even though Vail is a small town, it boasts world class cultural offerings with ballet, symphony concerts, theater, and musical performances. Many artists and performers are world renowned such the New York Philharmonic Orchestra or members of the Russian Ballet or wildly popular stars like Kid Rock. For a complete list of cultural events, visit the Vail Valley Foundation.
There are festivals year round in Vail, from Oktoberfest to the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, the Vail International Dance Festival, to Vail Street Beat concerts throughout the winter. There is always something to bring you to Vail and keep you busy and entertained while you are here! For all the festivals and activities available in the valley, please look at the festivals and events under the “Visit the Vail Valley” tab on this site, as well as my Activities in the Vail Valley page for information. And don’t miss the ever popular 4th of July Celebration in Vail – a whole weekend of parades, free concerts, and sporting events that draws great crowds and have the largest fireworks display in the state of Colorado!
Vail is also home of the largest farmers market in Colorado, the Vail Farmer’s Market. Great food, live music, and many booths with local specialties, art, and children’s entertainment are set up every Sunday for everyone to come and enjoy. The Minturn Farmers Market is very popular as well, and is often referred to as the more “authentic” market with a small town atmosphere.
Skiing in Vail: Aspen Doesn’t Hold a Candle
With 33 lifts and a whopping 5,289 acres of snowy paradise, Vail is an incredible skiing experience. The mountain has several distinct areas from the front side at Lionshead and Vail Village, to the infamous Back Bowls, to the new addition of Blue Sky Basin. There is always a great run to take for every snow condition from fresh powder to groomed snow. Also, there is always run for every type and ability level of skier, from “never -ever” to “I’ve skied since I could walk.” For more detailed information on skiing in Vail and my favorite runs as a long time local, please explore my page “Skiing on Vail Mountain.”
Rowdy or refined, Vail’s après ski is legendary. Matchless dining, shopping and spa treatments are the perfect antidote for tired bodies. The variety is astounding and you’ll want to return soon to sample it all. For additional information on Vail après ski suggestions, visit Vail PM for many links to entertainment, dining, and activities in Vail, complete with a calendar of events and the latest deals on dining and lodging.
Also, Vail is home to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame. This museum has extensive displays of the history and evolution of skiing throughout the 20th century. It is here that you can discover the legacy of the 10th mountain division and the WWII veterans that started a rough and rowdy ski town called Vail. This is a great museum for anyone who enjoys skiing and is able to appreciate the long journey of how skiing came to be the way it is today.
Shopping in Vail
There are many unique stores throughout the valley to do shopping for vacation mementos, art and sculpture, jewelry, clothes, winter gear, and much more. Check out the Specialty Shopping Guide and the Vail Shopping Guide for lists and maps of stores throughout the valley. If you have a specific need, please give me a call for advice!
If you are searching for ski equipment, you have definitely come to the right town. There are numerous stores that specialize in high-performance ski equipment that can offer you rentals, demos, or equipment to purchase. Please peruse the Vail Ski Equipment Shopping Guide for stores in the area, but if you want a local’s advice, call me.
Restaurants and Dining In Vail
The restaurants in Vail offer an amazing array of delicious choices set in the most beautiful Alpine ambiance. There are so many amazing choices when you think of dining in Vail, and many people return year after year to eat at their favorite Vail restaurant like Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at the Ritz Carlton in Bachelor Gulch, Beano’s Cabin in Beaver Creek, or the legendary Sweet Basil in Vail Village. These are just three of the many great restaurants in the Valley, and if you would like to see a full list of restaurants, please look at the Vail Dining Guide.
So, there you have it. Living and visiting in Vail, the small town with world class entertainment, recreation, and cultural opportunities. The Full Package!