As winter's full force approaches, many people think about hitting the slopes for skiing or snowboarding. And when it comes to ski resorts in the United States, few can compare to Vail Mountain in Colorado. Vail is the epitome of luxury skiing, with its expansive terrain, top-notch facilities, and charming alpine village.
Vail Mountain boasts over 5,000 acres of skiable terrain, with 195 trails and 31 lifts. There's something for everyone here, from beginner runs to expert-only terrain. The resort has a reputation for its back bowls, which offer some of the country's most challenging and rewarding skiing. These bowls are vast expanses of open terrain, with plenty of powder and steep pitches to keep even the most experienced skiers on their toes.
One of the great things about Vail is that it caters to skiers of all abilities. The mountain is divided into three main areas: the front side, the back bowls, and the Blue Sky Basin. Most beginner and intermediate runs are located on the front side, while the back bowls and Blue Sky Basin are geared more toward advanced and expert skiers. But even if you're a beginner, keep the size of the mountain from intimidating you. There are plenty of gentle, wide-open runs to get you started, and the ski school is one of the best in the business.
One of the most delightful aspects of Vail Mountain is its charming pedestrian-only village, which is designed to resemble a traditional European ski town. The village is full of character and boasts cobblestone streets, quaint storefronts, and charming chalets that create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere.
After a long day on the slopes, many skiers and snowboarders head to the village to take advantage of its lively après-ski scene. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops, each with a unique vibe and style. Whether you're in the mood for a fancy sit-down meal or a casual bite, you will find something that fits the bill in Vail's village.
The bars in Vail are particularly popular; many offer live music, happy hour specials, and other events throughout the week. Some of the most popular spots include The Red Lion, which is known for its live music and festive atmosphere; Pepi's Bar and Restaurant, which has been a Vail classic for over 50 years; and Garfinkel's, which is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
In addition to the bars and restaurants, Vail's village also boasts a variety of shops and boutiques where you can pick up souvenirs, gifts, and other items. From high-end fashion to ski gear to local artisan crafts, there's something for everyone in Vail's village.
One of the most famous drinks at Vail Mountain is the hot chocolate, which is said to be some of the best in the world. It's a bit pricey at $38, but many say it's worth it for the rich, creamy, and decadent taste. The hot chocolate at Vail is so famous that it even has its own Instagram account! If you're looking for a special treat during your ski vacation, indulge in a cup of Vail's famous hot chocolate.
Of course, all this luxury comes at a price. Vail is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country, and lift tickets can be quite pricey. I have seen ticket prices from the mid $200s to almost $300, which is outrageous. Look at buying the Epic Pass or the Epic Local pass (which gives you 10 days with blackout days for less than $700). But for many skiers, the expense is worth it for the top-notch facilities, world-class skiing, charming village atmosphere, and, of course, to say you skied at the one and only Vail.
It's worth noting that parking at Vail can also be quite expensive, with daily rates ranging from $10 to $70 depending on the lot. However, it is said that free parking options are available in nearby neighborhoods, and there is a shuttle service to the resort. We were unable to find this and ended up paying to park. Additionally, the resort has some parking garages, all under 8ft in clearance, so if you have a truck or a car with roof racks, keep that in mind.
Vail Mountain is a must-visit destination for any serious skier or snowboarder. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, there's something for everyone here, and the luxurious amenities and charming village make it a truly unforgettable experience.