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The Best Things to Do in Vail in July

Summer around the Vail Valley is the best time for a rainbow of wildflowers, electrifying in-town events and extraordinary adventures. That’s why so many people choose to visit Vail in July. When you’re not trying Vail’s most memorable activities, head off the beaten path for a bit of solitude.

Top 5 Things to Do in Vail in July

So, what are the best things to do in Vail, Colorado, in July? We suggest hiking lesser-known trails, getting wet on a raft, attending an event, leaning into arts and culture, and going on a curated adventure just for you. Below, check out some activities we recommend — plus some locals’ tips for crafting your getaway.

1. Hiking Trails

Vail sits within a sprawling network of hiking trails that invite exploration within the Rocky Mountain wilderness. The hardest part is choosing which one to embark on. Luckily, there are tons of options from scenic tree-lined walks to high-intensity hikes. These are a few lesser-known ones:

Lost Lake Trail (Easy): The Lost Lake Trail is a 7-mile out and back, which means you can make the trek as long as desired. Along the trail you’ll spot cascading waterfalls and bubbling streams as well those majestic mountain views you came for. Gradual inclines make this path a solid option for a lighter hike.

Strawberry Lane Trail (Moderate): The Strawberry Lane Trail is right near Vail Village, so it’s great for a quick, but somewhat strenuous outdoor excursion. The well-marked path features a steep incline, abundant peak views, peaceful forest walkways and plenty of Colorado wildlife.

Pitkin Lake Trail (Difficult): For a bigger challenge with dazzling alpine outlooks, try the Pitkin Lake Trail. On this 10-mile out-and-back trek, you’ll come across rushing stream crossings, meadows with tapestries of seasonal blooms and a tranquil alpine lake.

Looking for an easy stroll to accommodate your whole group? Check out some of these scenic walks for all ages.

Locals’ Tips: Remember to follow Leave No Trace Principles on the trails, like sticking to the designated paths, keeping track of your trash and never feeding wildlife. Also, be sure to keep an eye on weather and trail conditions before you go (thunderstorms tend to roll into the valley after lunch).

Woman hiking through tall grasses in the mountains near Vail. She wears a day pack and carries hiking poles.

2. Water Sports

When the weather gets warm, it’s time to dive into some aquatic adventures near Vail. With the quick-flowing Eagle River running through the valley, and other spots nearby, Vail is the perfect jumping-off point to Colorado whitewater rafting. Let’s dive into some excursions you can check out when you visit:

Whitewater Rafting: Plunge into an exhilarating raft adventure. The best way to explore the rivers is to get in touch with a local outfitter like Lakota Guides or Sage Outdoor Adventures. Every year, their expert guides lead travelers through the Lower Eagle River, Dowd Chute and more for an unforgettable day on the water.

Paddleboarding: If you’re looking for something a little more peaceful, try stand up paddleboarding (otherwise known as SUPing). Some local outfitters can set you up with the gear you need, like Stand Up Paddle Colorado or Piney River Ranch. For a day of relaxation on the water, launch at Piney Lake and you’ll be surrounded by views of the enchanting White River National Forest.

Kayaking: Kayaking is another excellent option for nearby rivers and lakes. So, you can spend your day splashing through rushing rapids or paddling on still, serene water. Get in touch with Alpine Kayak for all the rental boats, paddles, jackets and other gear to get started.

Locals’ Tip: After your day on the water, head to West Vail for a cheesy slice at Local Joe’s Pizza and Delivery. Our favorite pie is the Gnar Supreme, piled high with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, olives and peppers.

3. Vail Events

Local events are one of the best ways to experience the town’s culture. From must-see classical music performances to side-splitting comedy shows and lively seasonal festivals, be sure to check out what’s happening in Vail the week you visit. Some annual highlights include:

The Amp: Lay down a picnic blanket, grab a drink and relax while listening to some tunes. Each summer the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (also known as The Amp) hosts brass bands, country groups, classical collectives and more on the scenic green. It’s all part of the free Hot Summer Nights concert series, which takes place on select Tuesday evenings from June to September. Take a look at their lineup of other exciting acts and festivals throughout the summer, including Bravo! Vail Music Festival and Vail Dance Festival. Check out these insider tips for Vail events at The Amp.

Annual Athletic Series: Ready, set … go! Challenge yourself at altitude with one of the many athletic events in Vail this summer. Or just bring your sportsmen’s spirit and stop by to cheer on local runners, bicyclists, climbers and more. Some notable races in July include the Vail Whitewater Race Series in Vail Village, where paddlers can compete on kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and two-person rafts.

More Events: An exciting event is always on the horizon in Vail. Be sure to check out other happenings on our events calendar to see upcoming shows, athletic races, classes and more.

Locals’ Tip: Support local! The festivals and markets are a great opportunity to try tasty treats and check out other cool creations from our region’s craftspeople and small businesses.

Sunset over a packed Vail summer concert at The Amp. A crowd of people sit on blankets as they watch something on a big screen mountain to the amphitheater's roof.
©2018 ShowLove Media || All rights reserved || Photo by John-Ryan Lockman

4. Arts & Culture Activities

Artists flock to Vail to capture the breathtaking summit landscapes of colorful Colorado. Luckily, that results in a town brimming with local galleries and art centers. Visitors can get involved in our art scene through these creative experiences:

Art Walks: Get a free tour of the local art with the Art in Public Places program. Wander through the village for eclectic sculptures and other artistic gems. You can participate in one of the guided walks or conduct a self-guided tour with the organization’s Art in Vail interactive map.

Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show: What’s better on a Sunday than wandering to the village to pick out some fresh fruit and original artwork? From June to October, Vail hosts a weekly farmers market featuring 40 food vendors, and plenty of regional products and crafts. Savor the smell of fresh-baked pastries and stroll through the stalls filled with local produce and unique art pieces.

Galleries: Get to know Vail’s inspired painters, sculptors and photographers. Head downtown to see the local artists’ galleries like the Raitman Art Galleries, Vail International Gallery and Vail Village Arts. These are all great spots to find a souvenir that reminds you of all the vivid alpine vistas every time you look at it.

Locals’ Tip: See our parking guide to find the best places to leave your vehicle. Even better? Ditch the car and opt for a free bus ride to get around town.

5. Curated Adventures

Finally, don’t forget to plan some only-in-Vail experiences. Vail offers tons of unique outdoor opportunities, classes and curated adventures that will make your trip truly unforgettable. Some great options include:

Llama Treks: For an amazing outing and unbeatable photo op, get in touch with Paragon Guides to take a llama to lunch. Popular for families and groups, participants take llamas along for a full-day hike and picnic lunch on the trail. Find more things to do in Vail in July.

Yoga and Meditation: Take some time to breathe and enjoy a tranquil moment among the craggy peaks with one of the many yoga and meditation classes in Vail. Find local yogis and book an outdoor yoga class through Dryland Fitness & Spa, the Vail Racquet Club & Fitness Center and Aquarian Uprising.

Picnic Vail: For a next-level outdoor culinary experience, check out Picnic Vail. Their team curates an alfresco lunch that captures the essence of the mountains at the location of your choice. It includes a luxury picnic setup with hide rugs, cozy pillows, fine glassware, conversation cards and mouth-watering meal boards by the Grazing Fox. These boards are next level, featuring delicacies from Colorado artisans like Elevation Charcuterie, Bjorn’s Propolis Colorado Honey and Hovey & Harrison bakery.

Locals’ Tip: Get in touch with businesses early to reserve the best time slot for your group’s schedule.

Young child walking with a llama in the forest in Vail. The llama carries a pack of supplies. Green trees surround them both.

Find Your Next Summer Adventure

Excited yet? Well, this list only scratches the surface when it comes to things to do in Vail in July and throughout the summer months. Explore all the featured activities and adventures available for your next trip to Vail, Colorado.

If you’re ready to start planning your Vail excursion, check out our dining guide and lodging resources to find the best bites and places to stay when you visit. See you this summer.

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