Top Things to Do in Vail, Colorado

The little town of Vail, Colorado—a mini-replica of Austria that oozes with charm—has plenty of marvelous sights and attractions that will keep any vacationer busy for days on end. A skier’s paradise made by skiers for skiers, it is home to Vail Ski Resort—the largest ski resort in the state—and offers high-end ski amenities, an eclectic dining scene, picturesque views, and exciting events.

In the winter, you can choose from a wide range of activities, from skiing and snowboarding on over 5,000 acres of terrain, to snowshoeing, snowmobiling, snow tubing, and ice skating. Sleigh rides are available as well, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can have a team of super-fast canines pull your sled on the snow.

The fun doesn’t stop once it gets warmer, as there’s also hiking and camping, kayaking, rafting, and fishing. You’ll find a good number of 4x4 trails and hiking trails in and around town, which offer fantastic views of the Eagle County landscape.

Vail may be mostly known for its world-class skiing, but the town is so much more than that. Some of the town’s top attractions are well worth the trip on their own.

The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

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Stroll through breathtaking flower gardens at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the highest botanical garden in the world. Sitting in the Rocky Mountains 8,200 feet above sea level, the Vail botanical garden features a magnificent collection of exotic alpine and mountain wildflowers and plants.

The carefully designed flower beds teeming with rare and unique plants, along with the quaint stone pathways, rock gardens, bridges, waterfalls and natural-looking pools, ponds, and birdlife make for a tranquil and unforgettable experience.

The Colorado Snowsports Museum

The Colorado Snowsports Museum is one of two Vail museums you can explore, with the other one being the Education Center at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Here, you will learn about the history of skiing and snowboarding in Colorado, from their birth and rise in popularity to their world-class status.

Six galleries of precious artifacts and footage await you here. The highlights include the Winter Olympics, the history of the U.S. Ski Team, the evolution of skis and ski fashion, and notable athletes from Vail. There’s also an exhibit featuring the 10th Mountain Division—the mountain troopers of World War II—whose memorial statue stands a mere five-minute walk from the museum.

The museum doesn’t charge admission, so it’ll be a great addition to your itinerary if you’re looking for free things to do in Vail.

Epic Discovery

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For a full day of adrenaline rush and family-friendly fun, head over to Epic Discovery Park atop Vail Mountain. With all the summer activities they offer, you might even need a full weekend to explore everything. The zipline tour alone can take a few hours, as it involves seven ziplines as well as a ropes course.

Just some of the activities offered here are rock wall climbing, summer tubing, bungee trampoline, gondola rides, and the Forest Flyer Alpine coaster—a mountain roller coaster where you coast around in your own individual car with its own accelerator and brakes.

Vail Brewing Co

Some trips are never complete without a trip to the local brewery, especially an award-winning brewery like Vail Brewing Co. Apart from their interesting variety of quality beer, the location of their tasting room is exceptional. It sits right in the middle of all the action in Vail Village, one of Vail’s two main entertainment areas.

There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, and if you’re lucky, there’ll be live music or some form of entertainment like hosted trivia nights the day you go. It’s also family-friendly, so you’re free to bring the kids along, and dogs are welcome on the patio as long as they’re on leash.

Goat Yoga

If you’re looking to do something truly unique, perhaps a yoga session with goats will scratch the itch. As you try to do your yoga passes on your mat set up outdoors next to a goat pen, tiny, adorable Nigerian Dwarf goats will surround the class and maybe interact with you. One may even sit in your lap in the middle of a sit-down yoga pose. Just a heads-up, some goats will hop on people’s backs while they’re doing the downward-facing dog pose, so you’ll want to be ready for that.

Walking Tours

Going on walking tours is one of the best ways to explore a new, unfamiliar city. Not only does it offer an opportunity to interact with the locals and see the local culture up close, but it’s also a great way to meet fellow travelers. Whether it’s a paid guided tour, a free guided tour, or a self-guided tour, you’re bound to learn some really cool things about the area and even learn a few tips to make your stay even more satisfying.

Vail Village

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The architecture in Vail Village is a sight to behold. It looks straight out of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie in the winter when the snow has piled up on the charming shops and restaurants and the entire village abounds with pretty Christmas lights. The streets are heated and car-free, so you’ll be able to enjoy your walking tour to the fullest.

If you want to do some more exploration after walking through Vail Village, head over to its neighboring village, the Bavarian-inspired Lionshead Village. It has a skatepark, an interactive children’s museum called Imagination Station, and an ice rink that doubles as an event space in the summer.

Art in Public Places

Among Vail’s many culturally-oriented programs is Art in Public Places, a collection of works of art installed in public places for both residents and guests to enjoy. The collection includes over 60 installations, including paintings and murals, wood and concrete carvings, sculptures, entire playgrounds, and unique forms of art you may have never seen before. The program’s website has an interactive map for those who want to do the tour on their own.

The Vail Farmers' Market and Art Show

If you’re visiting Vail between mid-June and early October, make sure not to miss the Vail Farmers’ Market & Arts Show, which showcases local produce and meats, artisanal products, and homemade treats. There’s also live music as well as chef-crafted farm-to-table dinners. If you’re interested in the event, the website has all the vendors listed including their offerings.

Nature Walk

Apart from llama treks, Vail also offers a few free guided nature walks through the Walking Mountains Science Center. There’s the hour-long hike on top of Vail Mountain, the hour-long wildflower walks where you’ll learn about the area’s native flowers, and a walking tour along a creek.

Don’t have the time or energy to explore the town on foot? Perhaps you’ll be interested in joining a Segway Tour—a more efficient, convenient, and all-around-better way of exploring the best sights and top things to do in Vail, Colorado.

Local Tastes of Vail: Bourbon, Beer, BBQ, Burger, and Burrito Food Tour

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A trip to Vail, CO isn’t complete without experiencing its culinary delights. Exploring the local dining scene, after all, is one of the best ways to learn about a place’s culture. And if you enjoy good ol’ American fare, you’re in luck, as Vail has plenty of stuff that will keep you coming back for more, including its big B’s: BBQ, burgers, and burritos.

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to American cuisine, but that’s kind of the problem–where do you go?

You could either look it up and tediously compare the reviews, or you could take a look at this list we carefully crafted for you. Better yet, why not try all of them on a self-guided Vail food tour? We put together an itinerary, and added additional stops for bourbon and beer, making it a dedicated Bourbon, Beer, BBQ, Burger, and Burrito Tour.

We have one curated for when you want to stay in the Vail Village / Lionheads area and another for when you want to venture farther out. We also included a Locals Bar and Restaurant Tour at the bottom for more variety and to give you the option of mingling with the locals. Take your pick.

Vail Village / Lionshead Village

It’s pretty easy to get around here so it doesn’t matter where you start your Vail food tour, but Little Diner would be a good starting point, especially for breakfast or brunch. From there, you could either go to Vail Brewing Co next or 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits depending on whether you’d like to have a beer or a bourbon while you digest your brunch. Moe’s Original BBQ is up next. Depending on what time you go, you could either grab a late afternoon snack or early dinner. We suggest going to Los Amigos last since it closes at 11:00 PM while everything else on the list closes earlier.

Google Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Cost: $

Address: 616 W Lionshead Cir, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 7AM-2PM

Diners are one of the most sought-after eateries by American tourists. As Mashed has stated, they are “oases that Americans can step into for the chance to feel at home anywhere in their own diverse country.” The Little Diner is no different, except the quality of the food and service is better than you’d expect.

The most popular items at the Little Diner are the hash browns, which are super crispy and crunchy yet fluffy on the inside, the Eggs Benedict with its delectable hollandaise sauce made from scratch, biscuits and gravy featuring a gravy that balances out all the flavors of the biscuits and eggs, and the Dutch baby, a large fluffy pancake with light, airy edges and a custardy center.

While the breakfast items are definitely enticing, make sure you try one of their burgers. This is, after all, a Bourbon, Beer, BBQ, Burger, and Burrito Food Tour. Apart from the usual options, there’s also the Mushroom Swiss Burger, the Avocado Cheeseburger, and a 100% vegan Beyond Burger.

Having your first meal of the day here will start off your Vail food tour with a bang. The only thing you could really fault the Little Diner for is the long wait, even in the off-season, but that's a testament to just how good Little Diner is.

Google Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Cost: $

Address: 141 E Meadow Dr #209, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 11:30AM-10PM

A delicious selection of meticulously crafted beer, chill vibes, clean bathrooms, friendly brewery staff, great service, and hard-to-beat prices await you at Vail Brewing Co. The cozy lighting and welcoming atmosphere make it easy to relax, and there’s also a fire pit onsite to keep you warm in the winter. There’s plenty of outdoor seating as well.

The hazy IPAs, blondes, and sour are a must-try. You can grab a flight of three, six, or 12. They also brew and serve Kombucha, which is perfect for designated drivers or individuals in your Vail food tour party who don’t partake in alcohol.

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Google Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Cost: $

Address: 227 Bridge St, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 11AM-11PM

A premier distillery and tasting room in the heart of Vail Village, 10th Mountain pays homage to the mountain lifestyle, as well as the 10th Mountain Division soldiers who trained in Vail to fight in World War II. Characterized by exposed bricks and quaint wood accents, the distillery brings together tourists and local skiers, and serves bourbon, rye, brandy, potato vodka, cordial, and moonshine. You can order your favorite cocktail here, a flight of spirits, or entire bottles of liquor. Whatever the case, make sure to eat before you go, as they don’t serve food here.

Google Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cost: $$

Address: 616 W Lionshead Cir, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 11AM-8PM

Moe’s may be a chain restaurant with locations in 13 states, but it’s a solid choice nonetheless, especially if you enjoy–or have never tried Alabama-style BBQ. The pulled pork is arguably the winner here, but the smoked wings are a strong contender. The Shrimp Moe Boy (po’ boy) is pretty popular as well. Add in the scrumptious sides, especially the mac and cheese, cornbread, and banana pudding, and you’ll have a banger of a meal.

If you’re a little hesitant to include Moe’s in your Vail food tour, maybe the fact that it got a shoutout on The Simpsons in 2015 will convince you.

Google Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

Cost: $$

Address: 400 Bridge St, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 11AM-10PM

Last, but definitely not least, is Los Amigos Taqueria & Bar. The oldest Mexican restaurant in Vail, it’s been serving good Mexican food at reasonable prices since 1972. The outdoor patio offers an excellent view of the mountain, plus it’s right next to the gondola so you can literally watch the skiers plunge down the slope while you sip your delicious margarita.

If you’re religiously following this itinerary and you either have a late dinner or a big meal at Moe’s, your stomach most likely won’t have room for a burrito. If that’s the case, just try one or two of the margaritas and people-watch, and come back the next day to complete your self-guided Vail food tour.

Vail Valley

Since the places below are farther apart, you might want to break your Vail food tour into a couple of days. You could even combine it with another tour to get the most out of your trip. You can go on a walking tour, or, if you don’t like the idea of walking too much on your vacation, you could take a professionally guided Segway tour. Don’t worry if you’ve never been on a Segway before, as they’ll actually teach you how to use it before you start the tour.

Anyway, here’s where you should go for the Bourbon, Beer, BBQ, Burger, and Burrito Tour in Vail Valley

Serving: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Go for: The Bison Burger, the spicy Bloody Mary, the bison Eggs Benedict, the biscuits and gravy, the bison meatloaf

 

Google Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cost: $$

Address: 41290 US-6 B-2 & B-3, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 7AM-9PM

Serving: Beer, kombucha

Go for: Great atmosphere, friendly staff, live music, trivia night, the food truck outside (Rocky Mountain Taco)

 

Google Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Cost: $

Address: 41290 US-6 B-2 & B-3, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 11:30AM-10PM

Serving: Lunch, dinner, Mexican food

Go for: Burritos, large portions, reasonable prices, tacos

 

Google Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Cost: $

Address: 2211 N Frontage Rd W, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 11AM-8PM

Serving: Lunch, dinner, Mexican food

Go for: Burritos, large portions, reasonable prices, tacos

 

Google Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Cost: $

Address: 2211 N Frontage Rd W, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 11AM-8PM

Serving: Lunch, dinner, BBQ

Go for: Ribs, pulled pork sandwich, pig wings, wide selection of ice cold beer

 

Google Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Cost: $$

Address: 474 Main St, Minturn, CO 81645

Hours: 11AM-9PM

Locals Bar and Restaurant Tour

If you want to socialize with the locals, or are curious about where they typically go for food and drinks, this food tour is for you:

Serving: Lunch, dinner, wine, beer, international cuisine

Go for: Cheese and charcuterie board, happy hour, live music, bruschettas

 

Google Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cost: $$

Address: 56 Edwards Village Blvd # 104, Edwards, CO 81632

Hours: 11:30AM-9PM

            Sunday Closed

Serving: Lunch, dinner, beer, cocktails

Go for: Margaritas, fresh homemade tortillas, Taco Tuesday, burritos

 

Google Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars

Cost: $$

Address: 1060 W Beaver Creek Blvd, Avon, CO 81620

Hours: 11:30AM-9PM

Serving: Lunch, dinner, beer, wine, cocktails

Go for: Watching sports, pool tables, pingpong table

 

Google Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars

Cost: $

Address: 250 S Frontage Rd W, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 4-11PM

Serving: Lunch, dinner, beer, wine, cocktails

Go for: Chicken sandwich, parmesan fries, craft beers, the Cuban sandwich

 

Google Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Cost: $$

Address: 56 Edwards Village Blvd #112, Edwards, CO 81632

Hours: 12-9PM

Serving: Lunch, beer, cocktails, ciders

Go for: Chicken wings, the atmosphere, sandwiches, nachos

 

Google Rating: Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Cost: $$

Address: 553 E Lionshead Cir, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 11AM-8PM

Serving: Lunch, dinner, beer, wine, cocktails

Go for: Great views of the mountain, the French dip, the bison burger, the prime rib

 

Google Rating: Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Cost: $$

Address: 536 E Lionshead Cir, Vail, CO 81657

Hours: 11AM-10PM