The best way to unwind after a day on Vail Mountain skiing or snowboarding is to head to après-ski happy hour. What is après-ski, you may ask? Après ski is a French term from the 1950s that literally means “after ski” or “after skiing.” And in Vail, the après-ski offerings at bars and restaurants are endless. Whether you’re looking for a large, sunny mountainside deck or a more intimate fireside location, this ski town has the perfect offering for your mood.
We’ve broken down our ski-season favorites by area throughout the villages and invite you to find your own favorite happy-hour locale (but no need to choose just one!). This list could go on and on, but it gives you a starting point to explore.
Après Ski in Vail Village
Pepi’s — Pepi’s deck, with its large orange umbrellas, is one of the most iconic spots in Vail. Situated in a prime location in Vail Village, this Bavarian restaurant is the place to see and be seen for lunch, afternoon snacks and dinner. Its extensive patio seating features maximum afternoon sun and options under cover.
The Red Lion — At the top of Bridge Street, discover another iconic location by looking for the signature red-and-white-striped umbrellas. Come early to secure the best seat and order a few cocktails, like The Lion’s Bull (infused with cranberry juice and energizing Red Bull), while you people watch. The Red Lion features a casual menu and drink specials, plus regular live music.
Vendetta’s Italian Restaurant — A decades-old destination for locals and ski patrollers, the V Bar is a perfect place to share ski stories with friends. This sunny patio is tucked away on Vail Village’s Wall Street. With its casual, friendly vibe, you’ll feel like a local yourself. Pull up a chair and unwind with a cheese-drenched Popeye’s Passion pizza (served with pepperoni and sausage) and a rotating draft-beer selection.
Los Amigos — Possibly the sunniest deck in Vail Village, at the base of Gondola One, Los Amigos offers rugged mountain views and thirst-quenching margaritas in flavors like passion fruit. Sit back and soak in the rays … it’s the perfect location to watch skiers attempt the famous Pepi’s Face and relax as the kids play at Pirate Ship Park.
El Segundo — This Vail newcomer boasts a large deck overlooking Gore Creek. A high-energy, sophisticated, semi-traditional taqueria and tequila bar, El Segundo is the perfect place for apps and drinks (do try the Kiss from a Rose white sangria).
Alpenrose — Located along Meadow Drive, Alpenrose has a delightful patio filled with charming, Bavarian style (yes, you’ll feel like you’re sitting at the base of the Alps). Enjoy warmth and hospitality with traditional Bavarian beverages, like German hot mulled wine, and savory snack plates.
King’s Club — Tucked inside the Sonnenalp Lodge, King’s Club is loved for live music, comfortable seating and a roaring fireplace. Sip a zesty Old Fashioned or warming Hot Toddy while you relax by the flickering fire and listen to live music from local performers.
Bad Kitty Lounge — This little hideaway bar is tucked down under the main drag on Bridge Street in Vail Village and is known for its speakeasy decor and vibe. Enjoy a freshly crafted specialty cocktail or a spin on an old favorite in this tiny drinking hole.
Barrio Social — This new high-end bar in Vail’s West Village offers a sleek interior that flows outside onto the patio for optimal people watching and sunshine. Drinks (and food) are inspired by travels through the Iberian Peninsula, with Spanish and Portuguese wines, cinders, sherries and ports.
Treff Café — Found at the Sonnenalp Lodge, this European street bar serves authentic German fare, creative cocktails and more.
Gorsuch Ski Café — Grab a cafe table outside at the top of Bridge Street or inside and cozy up with a specialty cocktail (Irish coffee, anyone?), liquor, schnapps, wine or beer.
Honorable mentions: The outdoor patio scene at the top of Bridge Street has become the place to be, as many restaurants have spilled out to the street and often host live music. Notables include 7 Hermits Brewing Company, Blü Cow and Big Bear Bistro. Solaris Plaza is home to many restaurants offering outdoor dining options and fire pits with an exciting, cosmopolitan energy — don’t miss the Vail Brewing Co., Deca+Bol, Yeti’s Grind and Matsuhisa.
Après Ski in Lionshead Village
Garfinkel’s — It’s all about the location here. Garfinkels’ expansive deck overlooks Vail Mountain and the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Featuring casual food and Colorado craft beer — from Odell to Ska to the gluten-free Holidaily — it’s the perfect Vail bar for before or after a mountain adventure.
Lionshead Chophouse — Situated at the base of the ski resort near Eagle Bahn Gondola and Chair 8, the Lionshead Chophouse is enjoyed for its sunshine and live music by longtime Vail musician Phil Long. Order craft beers, unique martinis and delicious, small plate snacks while you’re here.
Tavern on the Square — With live music nightly during peak season and an outdoor patio with breathtaking mountain views, the Tavern is a delightful place to kick back after a day on the mountain. Just steps from the Eagle Bahn Gondola in The Arrabelle, it offers an exciting array of après delicacies and a jolly atmosphere.
Bart & Yeti’s — One of the only local pubs left in the Vail Valley, Bart & Yeti’s doors opened nearly four decades ago, and it features one of the most welcoming decks in Lionshead. Tucked in the Lifthouse Lodge, this laidback bar-and-eats joint is a staple to visit every time you’re in the neighborhood.
Après Ski in Golden Peak
The Fitz: Elevated Bar + Bites — This Manor Vail patio at The Fitz sits just above the creek. The stunning gem of a location serves modern and seasonal American cuisine — from tangy chicken wings to steak fries and mushroom pasta.
Après Ski in West Vail
Gessner Vail & Fireside Lounge — Located in the Grand Hyatt, in Cascade Village, the bar at Gessner features an expansive line up for local microbrews, wines and spirits in a chic atmosphere. The Fireside Lounge provides inventive après-ski food, drink, music, breathtaking mountain views and a can’t-miss social scene.