It can be hard to find a winter destination that works for families with kids of all ages. But Vail, Colorado, delivers in spades with its free transportation system, endless outdoor adventures, and family-friendly restaurants. Kirsten Maxwell of Kids Are A Trip shares five reasons families will love Vail in winter and encourages you to book those trips now!
Easy to reach and to get around
Vail is exactly 100 miles west of Denver. Most families will fly into the Denver airport, where they can rent cars or take the Epic Mountain Express shuttle. Driving a rental car will take close to two hours, and the shuttle will take 3 to 3.5 hours. Another option is flying into the smaller, but super convenient, Eagle County Regional Airport in nearby Eagle. The airport is 40 minutes away from Vail, giving families easy access to their accommodations.
Once you reach Vail, the town is super easy to get around. My best advice is to park the car and use the Vail Transit Bus system. It’s one of the largest free transportation systems in the United States and will effortlessly transport you around the town, with major stops at Vail Village, Lionshead and the Golden Peak Corridor. (You’ll find this really helpful when you want to get to the slopes, go out for meals or go shopping in town.)
A family-friendly layout
Vail is made up of three separate Bavarian-themed villages: Lionshead, Vail Village and Golden Peak. Lionshead and Vail Village are pedestrian friendly, with only the local buses allowed on the streets. This is a God send for families with young children, as they can aimlessly wander for the most part, and not worry about traffic.
Lionshead is at the base of Vail Mountain, providing easy access to the slopes, the Epic Discovery gondola, ski school and ski equipment rentals. This village has lodging, restaurants and shopping.
Vail Village is the heart of all the action, with restaurants, hotels and shopping, as well as the local movie theater and transportation center. It’s an extremely safe area, and parents will feel comfortable letting older children go off and explore on their own.
Golden Peak is on the other side of Vail Village, and it’s perfect for access to the Golden Peak ski runs and ski school, as well as easy walking distance to town. This is where you will find a large portion of rental units, including our favorite, Manor Vail Lodge, right across from the Gold Peak ski area. The property has condos with kitchens, making it easy for families to have an easy meal at home.
Tons of outdoor adventures
Vail is known for its skiing, but did you know there are plenty of other adventures to have outdoors? How about fly fishing in Gore Creek? Yes, you can fish in the winter if you don’t mind the freezing cold water! Head to Adventure Ridge at the top of Vail Mountain for snow tubing, an alpine coaster and ski biking. You can ski, too, of course—the mountain has 195 trails of all levels, and more than 5,300 skiable acres! There’s also Vail Mountain Nordic School for backcountry snowshoe or cross country skiing. Another option is snowmobiling. Sage Outdoor Guides will take you a half hour away to explore trails with their expert snowmobile tour guides for the adventure of a lifetime. Perhaps the Wednesday Art Walk is more your speed. Guides take you around Vail Village on a tour of the public art collection. (Kids will not be bored; the art if very kid friendly).
And indoor adventures, too
If being out in the elements isn’t your cup of tea, or you just need to warm up, there are many indoor activities everyone can enjoy. Check out the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame Museum for a fun look at local ski history. Head over to Cinebistro for movie and dinner delivered right to your seat. Or if you want to be active indoors, head to Bōl, a restaurant that just happens to have a 10-lane bowling alley. (This was one of our favorite spots on our summer trip to Vail).
Plenty of family-friendly hotels and restaurants
Of course, the most important things for a fun family vacation are comfortable lodging and good food. And in Vail, you’re in luck! Vail has an endless number of dining options and plenty of places to stay. Whether you are looking for a traditional hotel room or a condo with room to spare, you’ll find a place your family will love.
Where to eat in Vail with kids:
Tavern on the Square: Just steps from the Eagle Bahn gondola, Tavern on the Square is a great spot for delicious food and drink, before or after your time on the slopes. Their patio is perfect for an après ski hangout.
Blue Moose Pizza: In the heart of Lionshead Village, the Blue Moose serves its signature New York-style pizza, in addition to salads, sandwiches and pasta. This place is super kid friendly, from its menu to the paper tablecloths made for coloring.
Moe’s Original BBQ: If your family is in the mood for good carryout food, Moe’s is the place to go. There are all sorts of barbecue dishes, kids meals and even family platters to make for an easy night eating in!
Alpenrose: This restaurant celebrates the town’s Bavarian vibe and is very family friendly. Think giant pretzels, sausage and noodles, etc—what kid wouldn’t like these dishes?
Where to stay in Vail with kids:
If you are looking for family-friendly lodging options, these are some of the best bets.
The Sebastian – Vail: Battle Mountain Kids Camp offers everything from winter crafts to making slime. The property is known for its amazing staff and service, and is well situated between Vail Village and Lionshead.
Looking for more Colorado ski inspiration? Check out this list of the best family ski resorts in Colorado.
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