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From SKI’s 2021 Resort Guide: Vail, Colo., No. 14 in the West
Let’s face it, Vail Mountain deserves better than this rank. The manicured groomers are near perfect every morning, the lift system seems to add more capacity every season, and there are 5,317 acres of terrain for everyone. “Massive place,” says one reader. “The scope and breadth of runs are difficult to match.” This season, the ski area moves its early-season high-efficiency snowmaking equipment to the slopes underneath the Mountain Top and Wildwood chairs, so expect better terrain to open sooner at the start of the winter.
When the rest of the mountain fills in, resist the temptation to follow the weekend crowds to the backside. Instead, skip the notorious lift lines and lap the lonely glades of Northwoods or Game Creek Bowl. Visiting Vail on a weekday? Lucky you. Expect to have the powdery goodness of Blue Sky Basin, China Bowl, and Siberia Bowl almost entirely to yourself. “Vail, and especially the Back Bowls, is my happy place!” says one reader. End the day exploring ski history at the newly renovated Colorado Snowsports Museum or with some local liquor in the 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Tasting Room in Vail Village.
Vail, Colo. Stats
- Skiable acres: 5,289
- Trails: 195
- Summit Elevation (feet): 11,570
- Lifts: 31
- Vertical Drop (feet): 3,450
Where to Stay in Vail
Christiania at Vail
The Christiania at Vail is a European-inspired lodge with a diverse collection of condominium vacation residences. This place is a great value; it is conveniently located in the heart of the Vail Village and comes with a breakfast every morning to start your day off right. The quaint mountain cottage will transport you back to the Austrian Alps, with over 20 lodge guest rooms and suites with a Bavarian-inspired ambiance. Relax in your own living areas, or in the lodge’s outdoor heated pool. Take advantage of how close all the world-class dining, shopping, and drinking venues are. An ideal place to set up camp to explore all Vail has to offer.
Vail Marriott Mountain Resort
Situated at the base of Vail Mountain, steps from Eagle Bahn Gondola, the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort is set against the backdrop of Colorado’s breathtaking views and natural beauty. Come and settle into your new home with reimagined rooms with new beds, decor, and artwork, or nestle around the fireplace in your room. Make time for the full-service spa, fitness center, or heated pool—a great way to spend time after tearing up the slopes.
The Arrabelle at Vail Square
This hotel combines the same level of comfort with old-world European charm that has inspired Vail’s timeless character. Designed around the hub of entertainment, The Arrabelle features a plaza at the heart of Lionshead Village with an open-air ice rink, outdoor fire pits, shopping, and dining. It also includes direct access to Vail Mountain via the Eagle Bahn Gondola, which is just steps away. Head to the rooftop to soak in the hot tubs while taking in the stunning views.
Lion Square Lodge
At the base of Vail Mountain, Lion Square Lodge is a great place for family vacations, couple retreats, group events, and more. Walk out the door and you are ready to grab your skis and head to the nearby Eagle Bahn Gondola. The lodge offers cozy and inviting hotel rooms to spacious and deluxe condos. Come refuel at the El Sabor restaurant located on the lobby level. Unwind in the sauna, outdoor heated pool, or three outdoor hot tubs.
Where to Eat in Vail
- Sweet Basil: Sweet Basil serves modern American cuisine in the heart of Vail. The menu features seasonal dishes for both lunch and dinner daily and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
- Westside Café: The Westside Café is a Vail’s favorite for all three daily meals but is especially known for its delicious breakfast fare. Stop in for the variety of benedicts, pancakes, biscuits, and more.
- Pepi’s: If you don’t eat schnitzel at Pepi’s, were you ever even really at Vail? A mainstay Austrian restaurant in the middle of Vail Village, Pepi’s serves traditional Bavarian cuisine, from Jägerschnitzel to bratwurst, in appropriately Alps-esque ambience.
Where to Après in Vail
- Bart & Yeti’s: Bart & Yeti’s is the Vail’s favorite local hangout, serving both new and familiar faces for over 38 years in the heart of Lionshead. Try their burgers, ribs, wings, or BBQ complemented by an ice-cold beer.
- Shakedown Bar: The Shakedown Bar is one of the best spots in Vail for live music, après-ski, happy hour, and great nightlife. Located at the top of Bridge Street, this bar is dedicated to delivering a rocking evening out and a destination for dancing.
- Root and Flower: One of Vail’s most versatile watering holes, Root and Flower offers over 50 by-the-glass pours of wine, an extensive bottle selection, and classic cocktails.
Must Do Activities in Vail
- Colorado Snowsports Museum: At the Colorado Ski Museum the artifacts tell the story of the birth, rise, and explosion of skiing in Colorado. Visit the seven different exhibits to learn the great history of our sport.
- Adventure Ridge: The Adventure Ridge is a snow park that’s full of great adventures for the whole family. Enjoy the ski bikes, mini snowmobile track, tubing lanes, bungee trampoline, snowshoeing, or zip lining. The gondola runs from morning till night, so you have all day to make the most of your time.