The Ultimate Guide To Vail, Colorado

Who needs the Swiss Alps when you have the Colorado Rockies?? Boasting over 5,500 acres of terrain, Vail is the second-largest ski area in the United States and arguably one of the best mountain destinations in the world. Vail lives up to it’s ritzy reputation, with its European style villages, chic global travelers and slope-side restaurants that present you with fleece-lined slippers to replace your ski-boots on your way in.

For the real scene, spend your aprés time off the slopes in Vail Village, where you can catch live concerts (in normal times), dine at white tablecloth restaurants and experience the lively Après Ski bars (the real reason we are all here anyways, right?). The second you walk off the slopes you’ll be greeted by outdoor pop-up bars that are serving up cold or HOT cocktails. So snag that hot toddy and slip off those ski boots and settle in for some great people watching. Just a 5 minute walk down the road is another village called Lionshead, which is a bit smaller and quieter but still just as quaint, with restaurants and shopping of its own!

JETSET Tip: For lift tickets, if you’re going to be skiing more than 3-4 days during the season, go ahead and buy the Epic Pass – this is a one time fee that gets you unlimited skiing in over 25 resorts across the country including Vail, Beaver Creek, Tahoe, Park City, Breckinridge and even a few in Europe/Japan!

When To Visit Vail, Colorado

Vail is picturesque any time of year, but snow bunnies from all over the world flock here for the best powder between December and March. But don’t sleep on summer!! During the summer months, the ski trails turn into extensive hiking and mountain biking trails! The prices are highest around the holidays, as is typical most places. 

How to Get to Vail

The closest airport to Vail is Eagle County Regional, but there are limited flight options due to it only serving 11 major cities. For cheaper flights, fly into Denver. From Denver either rent a car or take the Colorado Mountain Express shuttle, which costs $60-100 per way and runs on the hour. The 1.5-2 hour drive gives you a little taste of the views yet to come!

Where to Eat in Vail

Fine dining is not hard to find here, but reservations are! So plan in advance. 

JETSET tip: If like me, you often forget to make reservations in advance, so go put your name on the list at multiple places the minute you get off the slopes and usually you’ll get in somewhere within the next 2-3 hours.

Matsuhisa 

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Located in Vail Village and brought to you by Nobu so you know you’re in for a posh experience. This is also my favorite restaurant in Aspen!

Fall Line 

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Where you can experience Caviar topped truffle tots…need I say more??

Sweet Basil

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A trendy spot for cocktails that go down easy and food that pleases all, like Tiger Prawns and braised Colorado lamb.

La Tour

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A classic steak house where you can also find CBD infused cocktails along with an extensive wine list! To accommodate the pandemic, they have created adorable and cozy little outdoor igloos that you can reserve for up to 5 people. 

La Tour igloos

Root and Flower 

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Top notch wine bar that also does great craft cocktails and small plates. Perfect for apre and light bites, or a tapas style dinner. 

Mountain Standard

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I like to call this place “casual upscale” because you can both go here to grab a burger and onion rings or have a gourmet experience, it caters to both.

 

Vendettas

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Casual but quality pizza, pasta  and classic drinks to hit the spot after a long day on the slopes. If you’re trying to decide between pasta and pizza, get the pizza. 

Vendetta’s Aperol Spritz

El Segundo 

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A classic no fuss taco and burrito joint that serves up the good portions. Get the Baja Mahi Burrito.

Moe’s Original BBQ

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A Lionshead village fan favorite. You can’t go wrong with some southern sustenance after a tiring day on the mountain, Moe’s serves up BBQ, brisket, Po Boy’s and more as well as southern style cornbread and sides. 

Where to Après Ski in Vail

Garfinkel’s-Lionshead

Known as ”garfs” to the locals, is the go-to Après ski spot in Lionshead where you might just stay “apre apre”

Bad Kitty Lounge-Vail Village

An “underground” bar that is outfitted in retro chic wallpaper and bright turquoise chairs, will have you feeling like you stepped into a trendy 70’s lounge. From local draft beers, a wide selection of whiskeys, and any cocktail you desire, this is the perfect spot to hang while you wait on a reservation for dinner. They also allow you to bring in food from outside if you continue to buy drinks!

 

10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits-Vail Village

Hot cider spiked with Bourbon, flights of their local Rye or traditional moonshine…this place is a MUST if you’re a whiskey lover. Get cozy with their wood and leather mountain lodge interior, or take your drink to go as you wander around the village!

The Red Lion-Vail Village

If you’re looking for the stereotypically rowdy après-ski scene in the center of Vail Village (oversized pint glasses, live cover bands, and sports games), this is your spot

Coffee

For the coffee purist, head to Two Arrows Coffee, for the best views with your morning cup-a-joe try Yeti’s Grind and for the local hole in the wall make sure to stop by Loaded Joes.

Where to Stay in Vail

When it comes to where to stay, you have the two main villages of Vail and Lionshead, both of which are steps from the Gondolas. But if you prefer to stay in an airbnb slightly outside of the village you will still be within about a 10 minute walk of a lift or you could take the free mountain shuttle that will get you all over town. If you are there for a romantic getaway, I’d recommend staying at a hotel, but if you’re traveling with a group it makes more sense to rent a slope-side mountain home. 

Where to Stay in Vail Village

The Four Seasons Resort Vail Village

For the best luxury hotel experience in Vail, Four Seasons is the way to go. With a to-of-the-line Spa and several in house bars and restaurants, like the trendy Remedy cocktail lounge, you’ll barely even need to leave. They even have on-site rentals and ski lessons, and don’t even think about worrying about airport transportation.

The Sonnenalp Hotel

Exuding Swiss charm, this boutique hotel is known for its luxurious spa and classic mountain lodge vibes. It is located right in the center of Vail village, walking distance to all the best aprés ski spots in Vail. 

The Arrabelle at Vail Square

For upscale accommodations with old European charm, this centrally located hotel has a heated pool and hot tubs in their 10,000 square foot spa area as well as an open air ice rink and multiple fire pits. 

The Best VRBO’s for Groups in Vail

Modern Chalet in Vail Village, walking distance to it all.

Creekside Mountain home, sleeps 16.

Ultra-Luxurious Chalet, sleeps 16

Penthouse in the heart of Vail Village

Where to Stay in Lionshead

Just a 5-minute walk from Vail village is Lionshead, which has access to one of the main lifts/gondolas. 

Marriott Lionshead

Updated accommodations and an unbeatable location, you’ll be the first on the Eagle Bahn Gondola in the morning. 

Ritz Carlton Club Vail

You really can’t go wrong with a Ritz-Carlton, am I right? This resort features heated outdoor pools and hot tubs.  All the suites with fully equipped modern kitchens, living areas and large bathrooms. The Eagle Bahn Gondola is a 5-minute walk and you can rent ski equipment on-site.

The Best Group Airbnbs in Lionshead

Lionshead Village Condo, sleeps 10

Luxury Family Condo, Sleeps 10

Gorgeous Luxe Mountain Home with Hot tub, sleeps 10

Cascade Village Home, 5 minute drive to Vail Village, Sleeps 14

Contemporary Mountain Lodge with hot tub, 5 Minutes from Vail, Sleeps 14

Check out these other blog posts

What to pack for Vail, Colorado

The Ultimate Aspen Travel Guide : Where to stay in Aspen, where to eat in Aspen & more

The best luxury houses to rent in Aspen for a group

How to survive a long flight –  Jetset Christina

The best outfits for flying

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