SUMMER & FALL 2023 ISSUE
While in Vail, be sure to take advantage of these incredible free offerings, activities and events to make the most of your vacation!
The Vail Library FREE Programming for Kids & Adults
The Vail Library, located between Vail Village and Lionshead, offers free events and opportunities throughout the summer for kids and adults. Kids love story-time and can find story-time and arts & crafts on most Tuesday and Wednesdays. Other kids’ programming includes scavenger hunts and interactive music. Adult programming includes Evenings of Engagement, Healthy Lifestyle series and more!
Enjoy Vail’s Event Line Up
Vail hosts events throughout the spring, summer and fall months and most are FREE to attend, with the option to purchase food, drink, art and more! Signature events include the GoPro Mountain Games, Sunday Farmers’ Market & Art Show, Vail Oktoberfest, Vail Automotive Classic and more.
Parks & Water
Parks & Playgrounds
Kids of all ages love playing at parks and Vail has many unique parks and playgrounds right in town or a short distance outside of town!
The Children’s Fountain
Located next to Fuzziwigs Candy Shop in Vail Village, the fountain is a shallow “pool” with spraying fountains. It’s perfect for wading, shallow enough to keep shorts dry or wear a swimming suit and submerge entirely on a hot day!
Get Wet Playing in Gore Creek
Once the winter runoff has subsided, kids and adults of all ages can enjoy dipping their toes (or more) into Gore Creek! The best places to access the creek are along the grass in front of Mountain Plaza, below Ford Park, in front of the Vail Library and along the bike path in front of the Lionsquare Lodge. Please be CAREFUL and make sure the current is not running fast – it is always best to stay on the edges and keep children close!!
Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark
Grab your skateboard and head to the Lionshead Parking structure and Vail’s skatepark! The park was designed with input from local skaters and constructed by California Skateparks, one of the world’s premier park builders. The skatepark includes four colorful mosaic murals created by artist Valerie Theberge. Open daily from dawn to 11 p.m. Helmets are required and safety equipment is recommended.
Kids Ride Free on Vail’s Gondolas
Vail offers two options for scenic gondola rides – the Eagle Bahn Gondola from Lionshead and Gondola One out of Vail Village. Tickets are required for adults, but kids 12 and under ride free with the purchase of one adult ticket.
Hiking & Biking in Vail
A vacation to Vail must include at least one hiking and one biking adventure. Vail offers trails for beginners, with very little elevation gain, to more advanced trails that take you high into the mountains. Regardless of your desired level, hiking and biking trails on Vail Mountain (unless you want to ride the Gondola up) and on the surrounding mountains are always free! Check out our complete hiking information and recommendations. Get rolling on 2-wheels with our biking information and recommendations.
Explore the FREE Vail Recreation Path
The Vail Recreation Path is a free and easy way to have fun with your entire family. Located right in the middle of town, the trail winds from West Vail to East Vail and has 1,100 acres of open space available to the public. The path stretches for 15 miles and is surrounded by 350,000 acres of national forest. A fantastic bike path, walking or running path with little elevation gain and lots of fun! Pack and picnic and find the perfect spot to take a break.
Solaris Plaza Free Lawn Sports
Solaris Plaza, located in the heart of Vail Village, is a gathering spot for kids and adults. With a large green turf, filled with free lawn sports, kids will be entertained for hours, while adults can enjoy a cold beverage and snack at one of the surrounding restaurants, bars and coffee shops.
Vail’s Nature Center
The Vail Nature Center is a preserved historic 1940’s homestead located in the heart of Vail. This 7-acre gem of mountain meadows and forested creek-side trails is the perfect place to get away from everything, while still being close to everything. Plus, there’s learning opportunities (don’t tell the kids) with exhibits and programs. Open to all ages, free (donations accepted). Wildflower Walks, Morning Bird Walks and Campfire Trails are all available for a nominal fee of $5 – $10 and well worth the minimal expense for these unique experiences.
Visit the beautiful Betty Ford Alpine Gardens & Education Center
The highest botanical gardens in the world at 8,200 feet with a unique collection of alpine, sub-alpine and other mountain plants and flowers. Open from dawn to dusk daily and free for all ages, the Gardens are a fantastic spot to start your day or unwind from a day of adventures. Start your visit at the Education Center, just west of the Gardens and Ford Park. Discover and learn about the alpine environment and its plants through self-guided informational displays. There are even interactive displays to involve the kids! And, don’t miss the state-of-the-art alpine house featuring plants from around the world. From there, head outside following the path through the gardens’ glorious plants and flowers as you meander on your own or with a knowledgeable guide. Programming and events at the Gardens include yoga, cooking classes, art classes, tours and workshops. A nominal fee is charged for these events and programs and well worth the cost for these incredible experiences.
Nature Discover Center & Free Guided Hikes
Explore an array of natural exhibits about local wildlife at Vail’s Nature Discover Center located at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Admission is free (must purchase a Gondola lift ticket). FREE 1-hour guided and educational nature hikes with a naturalist are offered Wednesday – Sunday at 11am and 2pm.
Free Culture, Art & History
Tickets to Vail Dance Festival & Bravo! Vail Music Festival
Bravo! Music Festival kids’ (under 12) lawn tickets are just $5 (almost free!) and adult lawn seats are just $29. Student lawn tickets for the Vail Dance Festival performances are just $10 and adult lawn seats are just $27! This makes for a very affordable night, compared to the cost of these tickets in a large city! Pack a picnic and you’ve got an unforgettable evening of entertainment and culture.
Vail Dance Festival Dancing in the Streets
The Vail Dance Festival showcases incredible performers with unique performances taking place for free at various Vail Village and Lionshead locations.
FREE Wednesday Art Walks
Enjoy a free one-hour public art tour of Vail each Wednesday (July 7 – September 1). Meet at the Vail Village Welcome Center at 11am! The tour winds its way through the Village with discussions of the history of Vail, the founding of Vail Mountain, and the importance of site-specific art. The Town of Vail’s public collection includes over 55 works of art and you’ll get a taste of many during this unique tour.
Vail History Tours
Join us every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am for a colorful history tour of Vail! The rich history of Vail comes alive with this popular walking tour covering the early days of Vail, entertaining facts and historic landmarks. Meet at the Colorado Ski Museum, a $5 donation per guest is requested.
Visit the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum for FREE
Located in the upper level of the Vail Village parking structure, learn about the history of Vail, skiing, snowboarding and the 10th Mountain Division with interactive exhibits and more!
Tuesday Hot Summer Nights Concert Series
Tuesday nights at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater are the place to be in the summer with free concerts starting at 6:30pm. Shows range from rock to country to bluegrass to funk and beyond! Locals and visitors are invited to throw down a blanket, bring a picnic (food & drink are available or bring your own, outside beverages are not allowed) and enjoy an evening of incredible music in a stunning setting. These concerts are family friendly with kids dancing in the grass – everyone is welcome!
FREE Pop-Up Music
Open your ears and you’re sure to hear live music filling the streets of Lionshead and Vail Village from June through September, 2pm – 7pm. Grab a seat and enjoy these free concerts.
Jazz @ Solaris Plaza, Sunday Evenings
The Vail Jazz Foundation invites you to enjoy live jazz at Solaris Plaza every Sunday evening, 6:30pm – 8pm. In the heart of Vail Village, Solaris Plaza is the perfect outdoor venue to dance, bring a blanket, sit of the steps or snag a table at one of the surrounding restaurants and enjoy the performance. Outside food is permitted, but outside beverages are not.
Bravo! Vail Music Festival Little Listeners Program, Family Concerts & Community Concerts
The Bravo! Vail Music Festival showcases world renowned orchestras and offers free opportunities for families and young listeners to experience the music first hand and up-close with the Little Listener series and Family Concerts. In addition, free hour-long chamber music Community Concerts performed by the Festival’s renowned musicians offer a wide variety of repertoire and are held in the beautiful Vail Interfaith Church in the heart of Vail Village. These educational and engaging performances require a ticket, but are completely free of charge!
Free Travel Services
Free Welcome Concierge Centers
We are here to help you with any and all of your questions prior to and during your Vail vacation. Our two welcome concierge centers are conveniently located in Vail Village (atop the parking structure) and Lionshead (ground level of the parking structure). Our knowledgeable staff can provide personal information on activities, events, lodging, dining, navigating town and more!
Free Year-Round Bus Transportation
Vail is home to one of the largest, free, public transportation systems in the country. Within the Town of Vail (Golden Peak to Lionshead), the bus is free. Guests can also travel anywhere from East Vail to West Vail, free of charge. We encourage guests to jump on the bus when venturing to outlying hiking and biking trails, as parking is limited at many trailheads.