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Winter Guide to 7 Days in Vail, Colorado

The perfect seven-day winter itinerary packed with the best of Vail is more than doable. It’s considering #winning. It features oodles of time skiing or snowboarding mixed with luxury hotels and shops, outdoor winter adventures and events, and epicurean delights. Make no mistake, a winter Vail vacation is not just about schussing all day long. There. Is. So. Much. More. The following itinerary will help you squeeze as much as you can into seven unforgettable days and make the most of your ultimate Vail winter vacation.

Day 1: A Soft Landing in Your Winter Wonderland

Arrive at Eagle County Airport, located 35 miles west of Vail Village. This welcoming regional airport offers the ultimate in convenience, letting you bypass the crowds at Denver International Airport. Once you have your luggage, take a private limo from Epic Limo Vail and they will whisk you to your hotel in no time.

If you weren’t able to fly into Vail’s airport, don’t worry. The shuttle service from Denver International Airport (DIA), Epic Mountain Express  offers a comfortable and convenient ride, which will get you to Vail in about two hours. The complimentary WiFi on board the van is just the beginning of the pampering.

Whether you are staying at the newly remodeled Hythe in Lionshead, the Sonnenalp in Vail Village or Manor Vail in Golden Peak, your entry to Vail will be infused with the warm hospitality that is synonymous with the most luxurious European alpine resorts. Regardless of which amazing accommodations you choose, we highly recommend that you make a reservation with Ski Butlers to meet you in your hotel room or condo. Their gear rental experts will fit you with skis, snowboards, boots and helmets, alleviating the need for you to stand in line at the rental shop.

When visiting Vail, remember to stay hydrated. Vail’s elevation, at 8,150 feet, may leave you slightly winded at first. Drink a lot of water (more than you would at sea level) and try to avoid consuming too much alcohol during your first couple of days. The Recovery Lab, an oxygen bar in The Ritz-Carlton Club in Lionshead, is open to all Vail guests who need a boost acclimating to the elevation. Their popular treatments include concentrated oxygen and various infused aromatherapy options. The Recovery Lab also offers a menu of services for athletes seeking the ultimate in performance enhancements and recovery through innovative and non-invasive treatments such as a hyperbaric chamber, compression boots, NuCalm, IV therapy and more. Revive as you arrive in Vail!

Day 2: Your First Day on the Hill!

happy-skiers-on-vail-mountain

You’re so excited to get up on the mountain that you find yourself practically on the first chair, close to 8:30 am. Your private ski instructor, who knows how to find the best snow conditions on the slopes at all times and most likely has been teaching skiing for more than 20 years, is the perfect guide to Vail Mountain. You are in good hands.

Depending on where you’re staying, they’ll get you up the mountain via Gondola One in Vail Village, the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead, Riva Bahn Express Lift in Golden Peak or the Cascade Village Lift in Cascade Village. Vail is a massive mountain with 5,317 acres to ski and ride so hiring an instructor is not only a great idea for the technical tips, but they also serve as a mountain guide with line-cutting privileges (yes, the ski school lift lines are usually much faster).

After a few, warm-up groomers on the front side of the mountain and a couple fluffy powdery runs in the legendary Back Bowls, your instructor takes you to lunch at The 10th, where you’ll don slippers and enjoy an inspired meal. The 10th is a nod to the founders of Vail who fought in Italy’s Appenine Mountains during World War II as part of the famed 10th Mountain Division. The battle at Riva Ridge, valiantly fought by the men from the 10th, was pivotal in the war. To honor these great American heroes, ski Vail’s Riva Ridge top to bottom after lunch.

A relaxing hot tub followed by a couple beers at The Red Lion readies you for a gourmet dinner at Vail’s iconic Sweet Basil in Vail Village. “A trendy hot spot for inspired New American eats in the swanky dining room or drinks at the buzzy bar”, Sweet Basil is a must for all who visit Vail. 

Day 3: Tons of Winter Fun in One Day

Wake up to a perfect Colorado bluebird day and after a hearty breakfast at The Little Diner in Lionshead, your private instructor meets you in the hotel lobby for another adventure-filled day on Vail Mountain. There is so much more terrain to explore, including the immense China Bowl, and a few fresh inches of snow fell overnight. Two Elk restaurant, with spectacular views of the Gore Range and Mount of the Holy Cross, is the perfect lunch spot today.

When your time on the mountain is done, you meander over to the Vail Nordic Center where fat tire biking and snowshoeing await. The rugged peaks of the Gore Range, the same spectacular vista you were in awe of at the top of China Bowl, continue to offer quintessential photo opportunities. Who knew bike tires could be so thick? And, who knew this could be so much fun!

Dinner at the swanky Slope Room (located in the hip and cool Gravity Haus), is a trendy Vail Village hotspot serving up New American Cuisine. Everything on the menu is delicious and will replenish you for another day on Vail Mountain.

Day 4: Cruisers, Champagne and Charcuterie

Vail Mountain, your instructor and fresh snow are waiting for you. Today finds you skiing the sumptuous, smooth corduroy cruisers off Avanti Express Lift – Berry Picker, Cookshack and Avanti. You turn around to admire your perfect “S” turns that your instructor just taught you. You’ve made a huge breakthrough and it’s time to celebrate!

Champagne and charcuterie at Vail Village’s Almresi transport you to the Swiss Alps. Your ski legs need a break to it’s time to shop until you drop in the village’s upscale boutiques such as Gorsuch, Pepi Sports, Perch, Valbruna and Squash Blossom. After finding the perfect new ski outfit, you hit the après-ski scene. A cocktail at Root & Flower inspires you to try one of the outdoor ice rinks at Solaris Plaza or Arrabelle Square. Who knew there would also be a free concert at the rink? By now, you’re starving and decide to carbo-load on delectable pizza at Blue Moose, Vendettas, or Pazzo’s. 

Day 5: Did Someone Say, “Mush”?

Today is the day to explore outside of Vail and venture into the surrounding winter wonderland. There are so many options for adventure, including the other side of the Continental Divide in Leadville with a scenic horse-drawn sleigh ride and high adrenaline dogsledding. Prefer to steer your own fun? Snowmobile with guides at Vail Backcountry Tours or Sage Outfitters.

Whether you’re sitting on a sled behind furry mountain mushers or steering your own sleek snow machine on endless miles of pristine trails, your day off of Vail’s ski slopes is an unforgettable experience. Only a hearty homemade Italian meal at La Bottega and a rich bottle of red can satisfy your appetite.

Day 6: A Perfect Way to End the Day

No, it can’t be! It’s your last day in Vail and you’ve got to go big. Your private instructor takes you back to powder skiing in Blue Sky Basin. Lover’s Leap awaits your intrepid group of Vail mountain aficionados. It snowed again overnight, and you’re making fresh tracks on each new run. As you make your way from Blue Sky back to the front side of Vail Mountain, your body is telling you it’s time for a massage.

The Arrabelle Spa in Lionshead has openings for an alpine-inspired treatment. Their tranquil spa and mountain-modern aesthetic is both soothing and rejuvenating. A sumptuous steak dinner at Elway’s in The Lodge at Vail sets you up to be steps away from all the best nightlife. It just so happens a special event is taking place in town and there’s a free street concert. As you dance away the last night of your Vail winter vacation under the stars, you realize you never want to leave. 

Day 7: Until We Meet Again

In Vail, CO

Ugh….you have to pack and get ready to leave. Luckily, you have some time to run around to a few shops and pick up some mementos from the week. Baby bear gold earrings from the Golden Bear, a Vail kitchen tea towel from the Colorado Snowsports Museum, and a cowboy “Grit” hat from Kemo Sabe will help you remember the best week ever spent in Vail. Not wanting to travel on an empty stomach, you squeeze in a breakfast burrito at the Big Bear Bistro. As you make your way back to the hotel in your new Kemo Sabe hat, you take a last lingering look at the Gore Range. One more picture of this perfect vacation for your phone screensaver. Your limo is waiting. Your reluctance to leave this magical place is giving way to anticipation of a return trip to Vail. ASAP.