Vail is a very popular mountain ski town at the base of Vail Mountain, located 100 miles west of Denver International Airport. There are three different base areas (Vail Village, Lionshead and Golden Peak) surrounded by countless higher-end shops, quality restaurants and lively bars, making it a great place for families, couples and skiers (or non-skiers) alike. With no car-access heated streets, free in-town shuttles, and scenic Gondola rides for those who just want to take a ride to the top without skiing down, you’ll enjoy all that the town has to offer in comfort.
Note that traffic along I-70 toward this part of the Rockies can be rough. Weekend-warriors should leave the city before 7am and get back on the road before 4pm (or simply until after dinnertime) to avoid some serious stop and go.
Where to Ski or Snowboard
Amazing Skiing at Vail (Photo Credit)
For those that ski and snowboard, Vail Mountain is one serious winter playground offering 195 runs on over 5,200 acres of skiable terrain. Don’t worry if you’re a first timer or a veteran, you’ll find terrain including Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert runs. Snowboarders won’t love the notorious cat tracks, but there are incredible back bowls (like Blue Sky) that are primed for heavy powder days. When it does snow a lot, be sure to arrive on the mountain as early as possible, as the resort tends to get crowded as the day progresses. Note that there are paid, heated garages at the base of the mountain, but some free street parking is also available along the frontage roads (if you’re down to walk a little or take a bus).
Many people don’t know about the complimentary mountain tours for skiers or snowboarders, provided by Vail Resort volunteers. They’re free, so whether you choose to check out the entire mountain or The Blue Sky Basin, you’ll get to see a first hand look at the best runs at the resort.
Where to Buy Marijuana
Because every city or county in Colorado is allowed to make their own marijuana laws, they can allow recreational stores -- or ban them, as Vail has done. As a result, the closest recreational dispensaries are located past Vail in Eagle-Vail/Avon along Highway 6, known as “The Green Mile.”
Located on the western end of the Green Mile, Roots Rx is a smaller recreational dispensary that prides itself on offering high quality products in a comfortable atmosphere. Check out their 2 additional locations in Aspen and Basalt.
High Country Healing has grow operations above 10,500 feet, which allows them to grow over 50 quality strains. With a great team of friendly budtenders who are ready to help you P.Y.O.B. (pick your own bud), you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.
Rocky Road Remedies offers a higher-end cannabis experience with a dispensary complete with large glass windows and beautiful wood accents. With one-on-one conversations with budtenders, every user will find the products they’re looking for, including their in-house vaporizer brand, Terp Pens.
Another chic, trendy dispensary in the Eagle-Vail area, Native Roots offers quality product and even their own line of concentrates (Native Roots Extracts). Although they started as a medical dispensary on 16th Street Mall in Denver, they’ve since grown to over 14 high-end locations across the state.
Where to Stay
Vail Village (Photo Credit)
Although beautiful hotels like the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa, Four Seasons Resort or the Tivoli Lodge provide quality accommodations for travelers, there are more affordable options like private residences. If you plan on consuming, we’d recommend checking out a 420-friendly lodging option instead. At a reasonable rate, you can find a tour company who will set up your room with a desktop vaporizer, vaporizer pens, free transportation to a local dispensary and much more.
Additional Hotel Options:
Where to Find Après Ski
- Bart & Yeti’s (American, Price $5-$20) – Amazing beer & irresistible burgers
- Garfinkel’s (American, Price $10-$20) –Wide selection of beers & a great patio.
- The Red Lion (Bar, Price $10-$20) – Busy bar at the base of the mountain with live music.
- Shakedown Bar (Bar, Price $10-$15) – Great happy hour with live music.
- The Tavern (American, Price $20-$30) – Happening spot with microbrews and quality food dishes.
Where to Eat
Garfinkel's (Photo Credit)
The restaurant scene in Vail is great, as you have quite the array of spots to choose from – both in taste and price. We’d personally recommend checking out the following:
- Mountain Standard (Southern, Price: $10-$35) – Trust us. Try their shrimp & grits
- Westside Café & Market (American, Price: $10-$15) – Known for its incredible breakfast options
- Sweet Basil (Fine Dining, Price: $25-$50) – Try the duck dish & finish with a piece of toffee pudding cake
- Campo De Fiori (Italian, Price: $31-$50) – Order their homemade pasta dishes and you won’t be disappointed
What to Do
Whether you want to party, shop, ski, hike or camp, Vail has it all. Here are a few of our favorite activities to try around town:
- Snowboard/Ski at Vail Resort: Although tickets with cost you (daily passes are between $114 for a child to $165 for an adult), Vail Resort offers massive amounts of terrain for a full or half day of skiing for any skill level.
- Tubing: With multiple lanes and a lift to take you to the top, you’ll whiz down the mountain with a smile on your face.
- Ski Biking: Try biking on skis at Adventure Ridge, for one serious good time. Whether you go during the day or take a guided tour at night, it’s easier than it sounds and is fun for ages 10 and up.
- Spa Treatments: After a long day of skiing, make an appointment at one of the many spas in Vail Village, including Sonnenalp Spa, RockResorts Spa at The Arrabelle or Bloom Spa.