Plan your Ski / Snowboard Trip to Vail, Colorado

One of my goals when moving to Washington was to get better at snowboarding. This meant being able to carve down the mountain, nose first.. which ultimately meant I had to finally stop relying on falling leaf! During my first winter in WA, I definitely went more times compared to previous seasons, but I still wasn’t able to gain the confidence I wanted when going down the mountain.

Snowboarder standing in front of Legendary Back Bowls in Vail, Colorado
Mountaintop Express Lift at Vail Ski Resort, CO

Fast forward to this season. I decided to commit to the sport and bought an Epic Local Pass. Doing so gave me the ability to go to Steven’s Pass as many times as I wanted, as well as plan a 2 week ski trip out to Colorado, having the first week filled with drives to Breckenridge and Beaver Creek, while the second week we stayed in Vail.

How to get to and from Vail?

From my own personal experience, I’d advise to NOT use the Greyhound bus for two reasons:

  1. The bus ended up being 7 hours late, and customer service was not helpful with their updates. Their only update was so vague coming along the lines of, “It will be here in several hours, but I cannot guarantee that.”
  2. Once the bus arrived, COVID precautions were not being followed. There was a massive line of (angry) people trying to board the bus. How were we all going to sit inside for 2 hours while keeping 6 feet distance?

As we watched the large line boarding, we ended up booking a last minute ticket for the local Colorado bus line: Bustang (using the CDOT West Line). Doing so was half the price of the Greyhound, and I felt much safer knowing there was enough spacing in between passengers.

Another option is the Epic Mountain Express shuttle. Although this is the pricier option, it is well worth knowing the private shuttle is there to personally pick up your party and possibly 2 or 3 more. We used this shuttle bus when traveling from Vail to the Denver airport.

Transportation around Vail

Free buses are available, whether you’re staying at Lionshead, West Vail, or Avon. The Vail Transportation Center is the commonplace where all buses meet.

Uber is available, but I feel it was fairly limited. Check your hotel if they offer free pickup around the town.

Where did we stay in Vail?

Balcony view of snow and trees at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort in Lionshead
Vail Marriott Mountain Resort

We stayed at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort in Lionshead. When checking in, they gave us welcome beers and s’more sets.

The Eagle Bahn Gondola for the ski resort is basically downstairs and a few steps away. Ski and snowboard rentals are available at this hotel, as well as rentals for Go Pros, sleds, and other winter activity gear.

Due to COVID, the hot tub can only be reserved for 15 minutes. Masks aren’t required in the tub. Many other amenities are also available such as gym (with weights, machines, Pelotons, ropes, etc.) and spa.

Favorite Restaurants in Vail Main Village and Lionshead

Vail Main Village

  • The George Restaurant & Pub – The BEST Happy Hour deals found in Vail. We went multiple times throughout our trip for après and for late night dinner and drinks. Host and servers were friendly and awesome people.
  • El Segundo – Come here for their tacos and tasty cocktails! I came back a second time for their ahi tacos. Definitely pricey, but hey, I was on vacation.
  • Vendetta’s – Cozy and warm Italian restaurant; great for lunch after a long morning of snowboarding. They give a good amount of food. I was able to share a salad, appetizer, and an entree, and we were both filled.
  • The Blü Cow – Known for their Swiss Hot Dog, filled with 2 pork/veal brats. I’d say order the extra third; I definitely wanted more. Servers were fun; they drank with us, and it was a good time hanging in there.
  • 7 Hermits Brewery – Great for après and near Gondola One. There are lots of outdoor seating and heat lamps.

Lionshead

  • Moe’s Original BBQ – Grabbed this as a quick to-go before the Epic Mountain shuttle bus came to pick us up for the airport. Their brisket was definitely one of my faves, and I wish I had another day for more.
  • The Little Diner – A bit pricey for breakfast in my opinion. I’d recommend their Eggs Benedict and substitute the hash browns for corned beef hash. I really enjoyed their Taxi Driver Special with hash browns, pork, green chiles, and cheese. The Dutch Baby was nothing special for me; I could’ve lived without.
  • Annapurna – Quality and delicious Nepali and Indian cuisine. Get their goat curry, and fair warning: their medium may be more hot than you think!

Other

Need a quick board wax? I stopped by Big Mountain Tuning for a quick $40 wax that took less than an hour.

Need to buy groceries? Stop by The Market at Vail for anything you need, such as bread, eggs, milk, or snacks.

Willing to travel outside of Vail? Check out the Ice Castles in Dillon (tickets required) or a nearby hot springs.


Final Thoughts

Snowboarder sitting on snow at Game Creek Bowl in Vail, Colorado
Game Creek Bowl, Vail, CO

Now I can see why Colorado is definitely a hotspot for winter vacationing. A beautiful vast array of mountains blanketed with snow, long and wide runs for skiing and snowboarding, and vibrant and beautifully lit towns. In between two weeks of eating good, drinking well, and carving it down the mountain, I’m happy to say that I can now SEND IT, even on blacks! 🙂

Need tips for planning your first Colorado ski trip? Check out my latest post.

As always, feel free to comment below if you have any questions!

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