Want to plan the ultimate ski 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.
6 Tips for Planning your First Colorado Ski Trip
Helpful tips to maximize your time when planning your first Colorado Ski trip.
So, 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 two-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.
Here is how we got to Vail, where we stayed, and my favorite restaurants and après!
How to get to and from Vail, CO?
To plan the ultimate Vail ski trip, getting there is half the battle. From my own personal experience, I’d advise to NOT use the Greyhound bus for two reasons:
- 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.”
- Once the bus arrived, COVID precautions were not being followed. As a result, 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. I’d advise to check with your hotel if they offer free pickup around the town.
Map of Places We Visited in Vail
Where did we stay in Vail?
For one week, 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. While we were there in January 2021, masks were not required in the tub. Many other amenities are also available such as gym (with weights, machines, Pelotons, ropes, etc.) and spa.
Restaurants in Vail Main Village and Lionshead
Restaurants in Vail’s Main Village
- The George Restaurant & Pub | This place is a must go. Known around Vail, this spot has the BEST Happy Hour deals found in Vail. We went multiple times throughout our trip for après and for late night dinner and drinks. Great value. Host and servers were friendly and awesome people.
- El Segundo | Come here for their tacos and tasty cocktails! After a day or two, I came back a second time for their ahi tacos. Definitely pricey, but hey, I was on vacation.
- Vendetta’s | If you’re hungry and looking for a cozy spot to eat, Vendetta’s is the place to be! 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. In my opinion, I’d order the extra third sausage. After eating it, I definitely wished I ordered a third sausage. Servers were fun; 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.
Restaurants in 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, but I’d recommend their Eggs Benedict and substitute the hash browns for corned beef hash. Also, I really enjoyed their Taxi Driver Special with hash browns, pork, green chiles, and cheese. Lastly, if you have a sweet tooth, the Dutch Baby is a popular item. In my opinion, it was nothing special for me; I could’ve lived without it.
- Annapurna | Quality and delicious Nepali and Indian cuisine. Get their goat curry! Fair warning: their medium may be more hot than you think. Whenever I have a conversation about Vail, this restaurant is mentioned from others as well.
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? If you’re looking for things to do other than skiing or snowboarding, check out the Ice Castles in Dillon (tickets required) or a nearby hot springs, like Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Book early, because both spots get filled pretty quickly during the wintertime.
After spending 2 weeks in Colorado’s ski season, I can now 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! 🙂
Hope these ideas were able to help you plan the ultimate ski trip to Vail, Colorado!
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