As part of our big move across country, we drove from Chicago to San Diego. One stop that we instantly fell in love with was Vail, Colorado. Since then, we’ve been vying for the chance to go back and properly explore this picturesque town. As luck would have it, we had some dear friends relocate to Denver recently creating the perfect excuse to visit them AND this charming mountain village during its prime season!
February 8, 2019 – Après Ski
We flew into Denver the evening before and spent most of the morning exploring the city. We got coffee from Metropolis Coffee in Lower Highlands (i.e. LoHi) then crossed the Highland Bridge on foot over the highway and river into Lower Downtown Denver (i.e. LoDo). We explored Union Station, an active train station turned marketplace bursting with activity and people lined up for coffee, ice cream, flowers – you name it! We put our name down at Snooze AM Eatery, a breakfast restaurant that originates from Colorado with additional locations in California, Arizona and Texas. Ironically, we’ve eaten at the their location in La Jolla, CA as well.
While we waited the hour for our table, we continued our walk around town. We went to the Milk Market, another cute spot composed of several restaurants and bars, to pick up donuts from Morning Jones for a quick visit with my Denver colleagues.
Fueled by a delicious brunch, we made our way back to LoHi to sync up with our friends for the drive to Vail. They recommended we leave by 1PM on Friday to avoid traffic and weekenders heading to the mountains. Intel was spot on and we were in Vail an hour and a half later.
After checking into our VRBO in East Vail and dropping our bags, we drove to Vail Village just in time to catch après ski. [Note: parking in the garage is free after 3pm.] We wandered around the Village, got hot beverages to hold at Yeti’s Grind and rented Kevin snowboard gear from Christy Sports before heading to grab drinks at Remedy Bar in the Four Seasons Resort and Residences.
We went there looking for happy hour (self proclaimed best in town) and were disappointed to learn that it’s not offered during ski season but we liked the cozy atmosphere and snagged an awesome table so we stayed for drinks anyway. I got the “World Famous Remedy Haute Chocolate” and can attest to that claim, though it is quite heavy and rich so be prepared!
That evening we had dinner reservations at Fall Line Kitchen & Cocktails. Overall, We loved the modern, retro, ski lodge ambiance and I had one of the best mocktails of all time – which I assume translates easily to delicious cocktails – but the food is definitely not worth the price and the service is adequate. In hindsight, we probably should have gone with Sweet Basil, where we also had reservations, but their menu is fairly limited and in the end, we liked the options better at Fall Line.
February 9, 2019 – Snowshoeing & Spa
The next morning we saw the boys off to snowboard in Vail for the day before heading to Beaver Creek for some snowshoeing with my friend Carolyn. We planned to take the 10-12:30pm tour offered daily (10AM & 1:15PM) through the Nordic Sports Center [$116 for tour/lift pass + $37 half day equipment rental] which was a 25 minute drive from East Vail. We left ourselves an hour to get there which, in hindsight, wasn’t enough once you account for parking and the shuttle up to Beaver Creek Village. We made it in the end but it was uncomfortably close.
Once we rented our snowshoeing gear – poles, boots and snowshoes – we took the Strawberry Park Lift up to almost 10,000 ft. elevation and assembled into two groups. This being our first snowshoe experience, and me being five months pregnant, we hung back with the leisurely nature walkers aka, “the slow group.” Now having experienced it, we definitely could have kept up with the faster paced group which covered more ground but then we wouldn’t have been able to take as many pictures/boomerangs. [Note: Be sure to consider the effects of elevation before embarking on this tour as some people in our group struggled to breath regularly and were forced to stop frequently.]
The tour and mountain views were equally incredible. McCoy park is a series a groomed trails that are restricted from alpine skiers, at least until next year when they plan to create additional ski runs in the park. Aside from the occasional cross country skier and squirrel, we had the place to ourselves which made for a peaceful and serene snowshoe experience among the alpines.
We had so much fun snowshoeing that we lost track of time and before we knew it were back on the lift down to Beaver Creek Village. Our plan was to meet the guys on a break from snowboarding for lunch at Big Bear Bistro so we hustled back to Vail Village. This small sandwich spot near the lifts is nothing special but was free of crowds, casual and exactly what we needed after our active mornings.
After lunch, the guys returned to the slopes and we made our way to Sonnenalp for a little pampering. I received my first ever prenatal massage while Carolyn opted for the Mountain Radiance Scrub. After our treatments, we took full advantage of the spa amenities lounging around in the indoor/outdoor heated pool and hot tubs. I actually wish we had more time here because it was such a relaxing atmosphere. However, there were quite a few kids and young teens using the facilities which made for a louder and more crowded spa environment than I typically prefer.
Alas, we were forced to leave once the boys finished snowboarding and came to take us back to our VRBO to shower and get ready for dinner at Terra Bistro. In contrast to our previous dinner at Fall Line, we loved Terra Bistro. We shared the brussels sprouts and gnocchi to start, both of which were amazing, then each got our own entree. For dessert, Kevin and I shared the crème brulee which I’m a sucker for anytime I find it on a menu. Overall, I highly recommend Terra Bistro and would definitely go back!
February 10, 2019 – Vail Village
Sunday we took our time packing up and checking out of the VRBO. We had brunch reservations at Vintage, a European inspired eatery in a quaint, almost feminine, setting. The food and service were both good but nothing novel. Based on ambiance alone, I think this would be a cute spot for a girls brunch/lunch/dinner in Vail.
After brunch we walked around Vail Village. Compared to when we arrived Friday during après ski, it was quiet and much less crowded. We wandered into a few stores, stood for awhile and watched the skiers and snowboarders come off the base of the mountain, then got a hot chocolate for the road from Loaded Joe’s. We hit the road just before 1PM and still hit traffic on our way back to Denver so make sure to plan travel accordingly, especially if you have a flight to make, as it took us about 3 hours.
All in all, we had the best time visiting Vail and now want to explore all of the ski towns around Denver. I imagine we’ll be back very soon!
Accommodations & State Specific Details
Stay: VRBO House Rental
We had a tough time finding affordable accommodations in Vail but ended up finding a reasonable condo in East Vail at the Racquet Club through VRBO.com. East Vail is about a 10 minute drive to Vail Village.
The house itself is simple, perhaps a bit outdated but clean with the basics and a fireplace. It was a bit small for two couples – one true bedroom and one loft with two twin mattresses, but it has 1.5 bathrooms and sufficed for the price. The host was extremely gracious, which made the check-in process seamless, and communicative even providing local restaurant recommendations ahead of time.
To Vail: We flew into Denver International Airport then drove to Vail. It took us about 1.5 hours in total.
Around Vail: We used my friend’s car to drive between East Vail and Vail Village/Beaver Creek. We parked in the main parking garage but it does fill up so be sure to get there early to secure a spot. Once at Vail Village, we walked around on foot. There’s also a free shuttle bus that stops every 15 minutes during the day in East Vail with a stop directly in front of the Racquet Club.
Currency: US Dollar (USD)
Outlet Adapter: The standard voltage is 120 V. The standard frequency is 60 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type A and B. Standard United States adapters.
Passport/Visa Requirements: N/A
Weather: We visited Vail in February during peak ski season and temperature averaged between 20-30°F. We didn’t get any snowfall while we were there but it is common during that time of the year. We had a mix of cloudy skies and bluebird conditions.