Vail Resort Guide
Insider tips from our team
On the Slopes
The Front Face - About a third of the total acreage and a great mixture of green, blue, black and double black terrain. Beginner and intermediate runs make up around 50% of the Front Face. If you are seeking more advanced terrain, you should head over to the most easterly side where a selection of long and exacting double black diamond bump runs are to be found.
The Back Bowls - There are no designated trails so you see it, you ski it! Most of the runs here are designated black but the level of difficulty is based as much on the snow conditions as the pitch of the slopes. Even if you’re building your confidence on the blues, don’t avoid the back bowls as there are some great cruisers back there. Try Blue Sky Basin, which is more of an intermediate/advanced area and is accessed by a blue run through the Back Bowls called Poppyfields which is generally groomed.
Be warned - When you get off the Skyline Express for Pete’s or Earl’s Bowl, you are seven miles from Vail Village so make sure that you allow plenty of time to return.
Ski school - The children’s ski school is located at Golden Peak and this is where the main nursery slopes are. The Lionshead area has green runs at the top of the gondola, so if you’re staying in Vail Village you’ll have to take your children to either Golden Peak or Lionshead. Vail Village does have ski school at the base but for adults only.
Childcare - The daycare facility in Vail, the Small World Playschool, is run by the resort and located at Golden Peak. They take children from 2 months to 6 years old and are open daily from 8 am to 4 pm.
Family Fun - Adventure Ridge, accessed via the Eagle Bahn gondola from morning until late evening, provides high adrenaline fun in a snowpark the size of a football stadium. Activities include the Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster which winds its way 3,400 ft down the mountain, tubing on a multi-lane hill and snowbiking for ages 10 and up. Relax before or after your adventure in Bistro Fourteen, which offers casual dining with contemporary American cuisine, a bar and stunning views. It's also a great spot for après with $3 beers and live music at weekends.
Transportation - Many parts of Vail are within easy walking distance of the lifts via the pedestrian village. If not the resort shuttle around Vail Village to Lionshead is excellent. If you want to ski some other resorts then you can access Beaver Creek(about 10-15 minutes away) by bus which will cost around $6 per person. If you want to ski any of the other resorts on the lift pass or do a Colorado Safari you will need to hire a car but remember that parking in Vail is usually around $25 per day.
Weather - Being in the interior Rockies, Vail can get very cold in January and February so bring layers but with 300 days of sunshine each year you are guaranteed to find a sunny spot to warm up in.
Supermarket - The best value and biggest supermarket is Safeway on North Frontage Road, West Vail. There is a big liquor store right next door. Alternatively, there is a General Store in Lionshead Village.
Shopping - Vail has over 187 shops and boutiques so plenty to keep even the most hardened shopper entertained. However, if you want the real bargains head to Silverthorne Factory Outlet Shopping which offers Nine West, Levi’s, Timberland & Nike amongst other big brands.
EpicMix - This is a first-of-its-kind online and mobile application which allows Vail Resorts guests to have photos taken whilst on the mountain and then share them with friends and family for free. Its great fun and the photographers are located all over the mountain. It also records all your stats from your skiing such as how many miles you have skied and even your speed.
Bars and Restaurants
On the mountain, our favourite is the Two Elk Lodge. Get there for an early lunch as it gets very busy. It also has a great sun deck overlooking the back bowls.
Some of our restaurant recommendations:
- Los Amigos - best Mexican
- La Bottega - excellent Italian food with an extensive wine list. Make sure you pre-book this one.
- Russell’s - excellent steakhouse - A favourite! Again, pre-book.
- Osaki’s - excellent food but expensive.
- Sweet Basil 0 relatively expensive but imaginative cuisine.
- Game Creek Club - on-mountain restaurant located in Game Creek and accessible only by luxury snowcat. Members only for lunch but open to anybody (who can afford it) for dinner.
For a complete list of places to eat please see the Vail Dining Guide.
Reservations - If you’re travelling over peak dates highly recommend pre-booking restaurants.
Best après - The Red Lion, located in Vail Village, a real favourite for years, with great beers, live music and yummy nachos! Los Amigos for great margaritas and a sun spot overlooking The Vista Bahn. Garfinkels and Mezzaluna are the main hot spots at Lionshead.
If you are trying to keep to a budget we really recommend staying in Breckenridge and hiring a SUV to explore Vail and the other surrounding resorts. Alternatively, if you have flexibility as to when you travel then before the 21st December and after the 1st April, you get great early and late season snowfall and won’t be paying the premium high season prices.