We spend a lot of time in the Vail Valley, so I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite places and things to do in the area for those who might come visit.
First, the athletic stuff:
Best bike route: I have three that are favorites. For long, I like the Copper Triangle route. This is easy to do on your own with a few places to refuel en route. We ride it from Minturn to Leadville to Copper back to Vail. Takes a little over 5 hours (for me) depending on weather and how hard I push.
For a flatter, TT ride, I ride downvalley, out-and-back. It’s slightly downhill on the way out, but usually into a headwind. The way back is uphill, but with a tailwind.
For a shortish grind, we head up Vail Pass. A classic. Head down to Copper if you want to add miles, although that stretch of bike path can be full of yahoos on the weekends (i.e., people who do not understand riding on the right side of the path).
Best pool: Avon rec center. 25 yards, 6-lanes. Usually not too crowded. Buy a punch card to save money. They have a great leisure pool and lazy river, but the water slide gets a thumbs down for the overly strict height requirement. My 6 year olds are still too short.
Best run: Believe it or not, our running routes in Vail are flatter than our routes at home. It is mostly just up and down the valley. I usually run the bike path from Eagle-Vail to Vail or have someone drop me off in Vail and run back home. My favorite Vail running race is the Vail Half Marathon in July.
It’s a grind for about 9 miles, but you are rewarded with spectacular views and wildflowers at the top. There are two good tracks in the area – the old Battle Mountain High School track in Eagle-Vail (rubber) and the new high school track in Edwards (also rubber).
Best bike shop: Pedal Power in Eagle-Vail. Stay out of the village, where they mostly just rent cruisers and mountain bikes to people who take a gondola ride up the mountain and then ride down.
Now, the important stuff – food!
Best Fancy Dinner: If someone with deep pockets wants to treat, have them take you to Sweet Basil, Terra Bistro or Larkspur. All in Vail Village. Of those three, Terra is my personal fave, but the people-watching at Sweet Basil is really very good.
Best Family Dinner: In the summer, we like sitting on the patio at Vendettas in the Village. Other than Pazzos for pizza, not too many of the restaurants in the Village cater to families. So we usually skip it and eat at home or take the kids to Edwards, which has a lot of good, more casual restaurants. We like the Gashouse, Main Street Grill and Larkburger.
Best apres ski Vail: We don’t apres ski much these days, but if I did, I would go to Los Amigos at the base of the Vista Bahn. I know it’s an institution, but I’m not a Red Lion fan. Maybe if I were 15 years younger and liked crappy food…
Best apres ski Beaver Creek: The outdoor fire pit at the Ritz. Get there around 3:30 and enjoy roasting marshmallows outside by the fire and listening to live music. Probably intended for actual hotel guests at the Ritz, but that detail doesn’t deter us.
Best Shopping: I do most of my shopping at the Chapel Square area in Avon. There’s Sports Authority for the essentials, City Market for groceries, Valley Girl for trendy clothes, a great toy store and a few furniture consignment stores that I like to poke my head into. I like a good deal, so I am a fan of consignment. I used to like Holy Toledo in Minturn, but I recently discovered the Eagle Valley Thrift store in Edwards, and it is pretty good as well. I bought several pairs of high-end jeans there recently and paid less than I would have at Holy Toledo.
Family Skiing: We were die-hard Vail-lovers until the kids started skiing. Now we are all about Beaver Creek. It’s more convenient and kid-friendly. My kids love the “kid adventure zones” on the mountain like the bear cave, the gold mine, Ripperoos Retreat and the teepees. Vail doesn’t have any of these things. The Beav also has free parking (where you catch a shuttle to the lift) and less goofballs bombing down the slopes. For ultimate convenience, drop off the kids at Beaver Creek Landing and ski Bachelor Gulch. Warm and sunny and usually less crowded than the main mountain.
Kids’ Activities: This list really is endless, but some of our favorite things to do in the winter are sledding in Eagle-Vail by the driving range, tubing on Meadow Mountain (pricey but fun), and ice skating on Nottingham Lake or in Beaver Creek Village. In the summer, we like to hike in the Gore Range out of East Vail (Booth Falls is a favorite hike), go rafting on the Colorado River, or day trip to the hot springs pool in Glenwood Springs.
Let me know if you have any questions about any of the above or other things to do in Vail or Beaver Creek!