Looking for a mountain getaway for you and the kids? Vail, Colorado is a picturesque mountain town nestled in the Rocky Mountains, best known as the location of Colorado’s largest ski resort. The skiing IS superb but Vail is so much more than just a ski town!
Visitors will be delighted by the variety of excellent restaurants, activities for all ages, and entertainment options. The beautiful European style architecture adorning multiple pedestrian villages with a babbling river running through them, is the icing on the cake.
Vail caters to kids with events throughout the winter, a top rated ski school, and activities galore found at Epic Discovery. You name it, Vail has it. Snowmobiling, snow tubing, and dog sledding? Check. Sleigh ride dinners, ice skating, and a winter market? Check. The list is extensive and not everyone has weeks to spend in our little slice of paradise. It was with this in mind that the team at Vail Butler narrowed down the best activities to pack into one fun-filled weekend itinerary in Vail.
Vail is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains yet is surprisingly easy to access. Visitors typically fly into Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) then rent a car, hire private transportation, or ride a shared shuttle to reach the town of Vail 35 minutes away. EGE’s small size makes it easily navigable with children. There is just one terminal with 7 gates and security is a breeze!
Some prefer to fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) due to the more varied selection of flight times and origin cities. The flights to Denver are often less expensive but it is located over 120 miles (at least two hours) from the town of Vail, which means transportation to and from the airport add up. I-70 is the one and only highway from Denver to Vail and winter closures due to weather are frequent. We recommend avoiding the traffic and closures but flying into EGE instead.
Where to Stay
Vail has 4 distinct villages, each with their own appeal. The great news is, they’re all connected by a heated walkway and free shuttle bus. No matter which village guests choose, they can easily access the neighboring villages within minutes! Check out our Village Guide to learn more.
The town features a mix of vacation rental properties, luxury resorts, and a few midscale hotels. Of course, Vail Butler is partial to vacation rentals since guests can choose exactly the type of property and location that is right for their group. Choose from single family homes, luxury penthouses, and ski-in ski-out condominiums.
Start by checking into your hotel or vacation rental and unloading your luggage. The streets of Vail are made of cobblestone, which makes rolling suitcases with kids in tow difficult. It’s best to ditch the bags as soon as possible. Most rental properties and hotels will allow you to check in at 3 or 4 pm. If you happen to arrive early, request to have your bags held at the reception desk.
Activity: Explore the Town and Museums
Get acquainted with your home for the next few days when you stroll the streets of Vail. Stop in to the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Imagination Station, hands-on children’s museum in Lionshead parking structure.
Dinner: Sleigh Ride Dinner at 4 Eagle Ranch
Imagine the look on the kids’ faces when you tell them they’re going on a horse drawn sleigh ride! 4 Eagle Ranch’s sleigh ride dinner is a quintessential winter activity for those seeking to create unforgettable memories with their family.
Snuggle under warm blankets and a starlit sky during as you marvel at the beauty of your surroundings during the 30 minute sleigh ride. Follow with a night of comfort food and live entertainment inside the barn heated by an open-hearth fire. Or, spend some more time outdoors roasting s’mores next to the outdoor campfire.
Breakfast: The Little Diner
Vail’s “Legendary Breakfast Spot” is a 1950s style throwback diner cooking up everything from scratch daily. For breakfast and a show the kids will love, ask to sit at the bar. The entire kitchen is open so kids can watch the chefs cook up delicious meals. Choose from breakfast classics and regional specialties like crepes, burritos, and blintzes.
Activity: Half Day Ski School
Now that you and the kids are fueled up for the day, it’s time to hit those famous ski slopes. Social kids will love taking a group lesson through Vail Ski School. If you prefer to make skiing a full family activity, reserve a private instructor who can give you pointers on both your form and the best kept secrets on the mountain. Vail is truly a huge mountain with 5,317 skiable acres and 195 trails, so having a local guide and instructor is a great approach for first time visitors.
Lunch/Après: Red Lion
The Red Lion is a Vail Village staple just steps from Gondola One. Its energetic atmosphere and casual menu are crowd pleasers. Plus, there’s live music each day. It’s no wonder both the patio and indoor dining room are jam packed every afternoon.
Dinner: Date Night
After such a fun-filled day, the kids are probably beat! This is the perfect time to set them up for a night of low-key fun with a sitter and head out for a date night. Don’t feel bad leaving the kids for a few hours. The sitters in Vail aim to provide your kids with an enriching experience rather than simply putting them in front of a screen. They can bring your little ones ice skating, tubing, to the playground or the Nature Discovery Center, the Rec Center for a swim, gemstone panning, and more. It’s safe to say the kids won’t be bored!
The adults should treat themselves to one of Vail’s many delicious dining options like La Nonna, Matsuhisa, or Left Bank. Be sure to call ahead for reservations.
Night Cap: Root & Flower
Head to Root & Flower for a creative craft cocktail in a cozy setting.
Breakfast: Westside Cafe
This 20-year old restaurant serving comfort food made from locally sourced ingredients invites you to “relax, smile, and stay a while”.
Take a break from skiing to try a different form of snow transportation: dog sledding. A favorite dog sledding outfitter for groups with kids is Winterhawk because they are the only company to include a tour of the kennels. Kids will “meet the pack” of 50 Alaskan huskies and learn about their daily routine and training.
Lunch: Blue Moose Pizza
Lunch today is casual and something everyone loves: pizza. Blue Moose Pizza in Lionshead Village serves NY style pizza by the slice or pie, plus appetizers and salads. Not in the mood for pizza? Try Moe’s Original BBQ, a now national chain that got its start right here in Vail Village.
Activity: Ice Skating
There are two skating rinks in Vail, one in Solaris Plaza in Vail Village and the other less crowded is located in Lionshead Village a 2 minute walk from where you just ate lunch. The Lionshead rink is nestled in the heart of the village surrounded by beautiful buildings and twinkle lights. If it’s snowing, the atmosphere is truly magical. Rent skates
Try something different tonight when you dine at Alpenrose, a Bavarian style restaurant known for its homestyle cuisine and its passionate staff who make guests feel as though they are dining at a friend’s house.
Nightcap: Soak in the hot tub
Many accommodations have hot tub access. What better way is there to wind down after an exciting weekend in Vail with the kids than with a soak in the hot tub under the stars?
Other Helpful Guides:
5 Best Apres Ski Spots in Vail and Beaver Creek
Vail Valley Restaurant Guide
Vail and Beaver Creek Resorts: Village Guide