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Checking Off Your Fall Bucket List in Vail

You know what it means when cooler weather sets in? It’s time to visit Vail. That’s because Vail is more than just a place to fulfill your standard fall bucket list. It’s a magical destination that comes with the ultimate fall bucket list you couldn’t fulfill anywhere else.

And we’re not just talking about the fall festivals and outdoor activities, either. We’re talking about the enchanted vibe in and around this Bavarian-inspired mountain town, an energy that will get your heart pumping and soothes your soul — all with a stunning display of fall foliage to boot.

Escape to Vail for a weekend getaway and you’ll see what we mean firsthand. Simply pick a date, clear your calendar, pack your bag — and go! Luxurious accommodations in Vail will be your home away from home, from alpine-chic hotels to cozy private vacation homes and condos. And the lineup of fall activities is as vast as the Rocky Mountains are wide.

1. Enjoy the Crisp Weather at Oktoberfest

A group of people hold up beer steins in traditional German hats at Vail Oktoberfest

Vail Oktoberfest ranks as the top fall festival you don’t want to miss. The town already boasts a European flair, and Oktoberfest turns up the volume on fun. Vail Oktoberfest runs for two weekends in September. Bonus points if you stay for both!

This fall festival treats you to all things Bavarian — from authentic food to music to beer — all with a gorgeous mountain backdrop. So, don your lederhosen and get ready to perform the Chicken Dance.

2. Sample Tasty Fall Treats in Vail

A man passes a plate of food to a woman at an outdoor table with a mountain in Vail in the background. The mountain is covered in bright yellow aspens

No autumn bucket list is complete without a big nod to the taste buds. Fall treats are one of the most delectable highlights of the season, and you’ll find plenty of them in Vail.

Farmer’s Market

Whether you’re looking for the perfect pumpkin or your new favorite cozy sweater, the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show serves up a scrumptious array of both edible and non-edible delights. The market is in full gear every Sunday from mid-June through the first weekend in October.

Edibles range from roast pumpkin seeds to fresh jellies and jams, while the non-edibles run the gamut from clothing and jewelry to all types of artworks. It’s the perfect place to find that special something from Vail to take back home.

Hailed as the largest farmers’ market in the state and boasting more than 140 vendors, you can’t go wrong putting this extravaganza of goodness on your autumn bucket list.

Pro Tip: Come with a little extra room in your suitcase so you have space to bring goodies home.

Get tips for attending the farmers’ market all season long.

3. Admire the View with Outdoor Activities

Two people face each other on bikes, stopped, looking at the bright yellow aspen trees in Vail, Colorado

Vail was made for outdoor activities. When you engage in those activities during a fall visit, you’re adding jaw-dropping beauty to the mix. Embracing the great outdoors lets you embrace the crisp air, the fall foliage and the decidedly magical vibe.

Bike Riding

Thrill-seekers and leisurely riders alike will find just the right fall bike ride in Vail. Those looking for excitement can ride one of the many trails around Vail Mountain. You can even take your bike up the mountain in a gondola, and then zoom on down.

Leisurely riders are apt to dig the miles of paved recreational trails. Take a sweet ride along Gore Creek, or to the various parks and shops.

Whatever terrain or speed you choose, you’ll get an eyeful of fall foliage that is apt to make you stop and take a photo (or 60).

Pro tip: Renting a bike in Vail is as easy as pumpkin pie, with dozens of bike-rental shops offering bike options for any age and style of rider.


Fall hiking in Vail gives you a more languid and slow look at all the glorious fall foliage. And you can do it from any altitude or angle you like. The same miles of trails that worked for a bike ride certainly work for a hike.

You’ll also have the option of steeper or narrower terrain that’s more suitable for hiking boots than bike tires. Vail Mountain is home to a number of signature hikes that explode with the most vibrant hues of yellow and gold. Bring your binoculars for possible wildlife viewing. And, of course, your camera.

Jeep Tours

You can think of a fall Jeep tour as the Colorado version of a hayride – but better. That’s because you’ll be trekking out into the high-alpine environment where no hayride tractor would even try to go. That, and you don’t have to sit on a pile of itchy hay.

Jeep tours definitely go on the list of most memorable outdoor activities in Vail, especially when the Rock Mountain vistas are vivaciously hued with all the amazing fall foliage. A handful of tour companies are at the ready, geared up to take you out into the heart of the wilderness.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is another must for your autumn bucket list in Vail. Horses are synonymous with the west, and you’ll find a number of ranches and riding options for all skill levels across the board.

Saddle up for a guided trail ride on which you and your horse can meander through the stunning fall foliage at a pace that suits you best. Riding options range from a short trek through the Rocky Mountains to a longer stroll along the Colorado River.

Scenic Gondola Ride

If you thought an autumn scenic drive in a car was cool, just wait until you get an autumn scenic ride on a gondola. Vail has two gondolas at your service, both of which serve up breathtaking bird’s-eye views of the fall foliage peppered on and around Vail Mountain.

  • Gondola One: Runs from the Vail Village area to mid-Vail
  • Eagle Bahn Gondola: Runs from Lionshead Village to Epic Discovery atop Vail Mountain

Bonus points if you take them both!

Pro tip: Epic Discovery is a mountaintop adventure park that’s open from mid-June to early October. Check dates and hours, and visit early in the fall season if you want to add it to your agenda of family-friendly activities.

Leaf Peeping

When it comes to glorious fall foliage, New York may have the Hudson Valley — but Colorado has Vail. Both are known for their amazing autumnal displays, and each has their own special charm.

Leaf peeping refers to the art of basking in the beauty of the fall foliage. And one of the greatest charms of Vail’s leaf-peeping experience is that it happens automatically. Once the leaves start changing, there’s not a place in town you can go where you won’t catch a glimpse of the spectacular show.

4. Take in the Scenery with a Fall Picnic

Two people hike along a trail surrounded by saige brush and tall, yellow aspen trees and soaring mountains in Vail Colorado,

What’s the best way to enjoy tasty fall treats in Vail? Surrounded by the natural beauty with a relaxing fall picnic. Grab a blanket, some eats and a cozy sweater and head out to one of the jillion serene spots in and around town.

Or let someone else do all the work for you. For even greater relaxation, coupled with the most scrumptious foods, have your picnic curated by Picnic Vail.

Picnic Vail will curate the most memorable picnic at the spot of your choice. They’ll bring and set everything up and take everything away when you’re done. All you have to do is show up, sit back, and enjoy.

Book a Fall Weekend Getaway in Vail

The Sebastian hotel in Vail, Colorado at sunset

Now that you see the lineup of delightful fall activities waiting for you in Vail, it’s time to make a dent in that ultimate fall bucket list and book a trip today. Heck, you may fall in love with the area so deeply that you’ll stick around to complete the whole thing. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as you’re a fan of fresh air, magical vibes and having tons of fun.