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10 Tips for Planning the Perfect Vail, Colorado Summer Vacation

Like other areas of Colorado, Vail has become a must-visit hotspot where you can discover just the right adventure to suit your — and even your entire family’s — personality and tastes. This includes activities that range from horseback riding to golf-course hopping and from hiking up a mountain to lounging in a hot tub — all in the heart of one of the best mountain towns in Colorado. Check out these 10 tips for planning the perfect Vail summer vacation.

Infographic of 10 planning tips for Vail, Colorado, show people deciding how to spend their vacation: Showcasing fashion, lodging in a just-for-you getaway, enjoying family fun time, flying or driving with ease, getting a natural high, ditching the car, savoring couples delights, grabbing an adventure, exploring delicious food and making memories.

1. Showcase Your Fashion Sense

When you head to your typical summer vacation spot, you get to show off a limited wardrobe like your bathing suit, your shorts … you get the idea. In Vail, you get to show off a greater spectrum of your fashion savvy, thanks to the mountain’s variable weather conditions.

The summer weather in Vail can hit the mid-70s during the day, and then dip to the 40s during the night. That means you can don your rugged hiking hoodie for a morning trek, your chic sundress for lunch, your favorite athleisure wear for dinner and then that cozy wrap for an evening gazing at the stars.

Tip: Bring easy-to-pack layers for the greatest versatility and comfort.

2. Get a Natural High

With an elevation of 8,150 feet, Vail lives up to its name as a mountain village. You get a natural high from the altitude and the Gore Range views. To prepare for all the wildflower-covered panoramas, pack your phone chargers — your camera is going to get quite a workout.

Tip: To prepare yourself for high elevation, take the following precautions to avoid altitude sickness:

  • Give your body a day to acclimate before strenuous activity.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is a must.
  • Don’t climb more than 1,600 feet in a single day.
  • Get plenty of calories but opt for lighter foods if possible.

A woman pauses for a break while hiking in Vail. She sits amongst wildflowers and reaches into her hiking pack.

3. Fly or Drive with Ease

Getting to Vail is another treat, with stunning views as soon as your reach the mountains. If you’re driving to Vail, you’ll likely be traveling along Interstate 70, which brings you right to town. Vail is located less than 100 miles from Denver and, depending on where you’re coming from, you have several options. For a scenic route, you can take Hwy. 522 to Hwy. 17, which winds you through the Arkansas River Valley and over the Continental Divide.

Flying to Vail lands you at Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE), which you can easily access from the major hubs of Denver or Dallas/Ft. Worth. Daily flights are the norm, so you can plan your trip for whatever day suits you best.

Tip: The busiest travel days for driving are Fridays and Sundays. Select a mid-week travel day to avoid traffic at the airport and on the highway.

4. Ditch the Car

Speaking of honking angrily — once you get to Vail, you can ditch your car altogether. Thanks to the free bus service, rental bikes and pedestrian-friendly villages, you can get around Vail without a car at all.

Tip: Grab a local area map at the start of your journey at the Vail Village or Lionshead welcome centers, and bring your walking shoes.

5. Find Your Perfect Lodging

Vail gives you a plethora of lodging options at the base of the mountain. You can pretty much find every type of hotel, along with an equally vast array of amenities. Got a family in town? Try renting a condo. Is it just the two of you? A luxury mountain resort hotel sounds dreamy. You’ll find dozens of options in Vail Village and Lionshead, the two villages nestled at the base of Vail Mountain. Whether you’re the type who likes the alpine vibe or the sleek-and-chic modern feel, you’re apt to find a place to stay that you simply won’t want to leave.

Tip: Leave your schedule open a few extra days after you expect your Vail vacation to end just in case you want to extend your stay.

Grand Hyatt Vail exterior with pool in the foreground in Vail

6. Explore Delicious Dining

From signature crepes to hearty burritos, you’re going to find a smorgasbord of foods to love in Vail. Whether you’re in the mood for a fine-dining experience or are looking for a casual spot with a kids’ menu, dozens of restaurants are at your service.

Locally sourced ingredients are a highlight at some, while others focus on specialty cuisine from around the world. How does authentic wiener schnitzel sound, paired with German beer in a sturdy stein?

Tip: Due to the popularity of some of Vail’s restaurants, it’s a wise idea to make dining reservations ahead of time. At the very least, call ahead to make sure the restaurant is open on the day you want to make sure they have a seat for you.

7. Enjoy Family Fun Time

You know how you’re always trying to get your kids away from the screens and into nature? Once they taste the outdoor activities Vail has to offer, you may have a tough time getting them back inside. One of the biggest draws for families is the Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster at Epic Discovery. And yes, it’s what it sounds like: A coaster that follows the natural contours of the mountain to take the whole gang on a thrilling ride through green forests and rock formations.

If the mountain coaster isn’t a good fit for your family, you’ll find plenty of other outdoor activities that are. Kid-friendly bike rides, scenic gondola rides, wildflower hikes, playgrounds and water features, and Vail’s Nature Discovery Center can be checked off the list. And those are just a few of your family fun options.

Tip: Explore all of Vail’s family-fun options and be prepared to wear out the little ones.

Children inspect the forest floor on Vail Mountain with the Nature Discover Center. Grasses are tall and green and the kids are crouched over looking at their findings.

8. Savor Romantic Getaways

How about date night every night? Luckily, Vail’s mountain villages have sensational night life, whether you’re a fan of dancing to live music or kicking back and enjoying a hand-crafted cocktail.

And you don’t have to wait until nighttime to savor meaningful time together. Daytime activities for couples abound. Scenic strolls, cultural events and exploring the Vail art scene should be on your list, as well as outdoor summer concerts, a luxurious spa day and all the golfing you can handle.

Tip: Check out the full slate of Vail activities for you and your special someone.

9. Plan an Adventure (or six)

What should you do in Vail if you’re the adventuresome type? A better question might be: Where should you start? Vail is the epitome of outdoor adventure, and you’ll never be at a loss for something exciting to do any time of the year.

The summer adventure options are downright enthralling, ranging from kayaking to rock climbing, mountain biking and fishing. Off-road adventures are another option, taking you in open-air jeeps to extreme heights where you’ll find remote trails begging you to explore.

Tip: Take a gander at additional outdoor activities in Vail.

A family riding bikes on a beautiful trail in Vail with the sun shining.

10. Make Memories

Simply setting foot in this mountain village will give you memories that last a lifetime. In addition to the breathtaking mountain views, the town has several claims to fame for summer visitors:

  • Vail enjoys nearly 300 days of sunshine a year with little to no humidity.
  • It’s home to the very first gondola in the United States. Today, you can take scenic rides on Gondola One in Vail Village and the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead.
  • Hiking is the top activity enjoyed by summer visitors. There are more than 23 miles of paved recreational path in Vail and nearly 200 miles of hiking trails throughout Eagle County.
  • The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are the world’s highest botanical gardens at 8,200 feet.
  • Vail is the summer home to four of the world’s greatest orchestras for performances in July: The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic and more during the Bravo! Vail festival.

Tip: Ride the gondola. It takes you to some of the best views in town — especially during wildflower season.

What are You Waiting For? Start Packing!

Now that you have a good idea of everything Vail has to offer, all that’s left to do is pick your lodging, make your reservation and start packing. Don’t forget to bring lots of layers, drink plenty of water and bring an appetite for fun.

Discover More Vail Trip Ideas

Looking for more itinerary inspiration for your Vail summer vacation? Check out these resources: