If you are looking for an epic family ski vacation, then skiing in Vail, Colorado, might be the perfect winter destination for you. Not only is it some of the best skiing in the world, but it is more than just a ski resort.
Vail is such a special place because it is a year-round destination. In fact, we have discovered there are just as many fun things to do in Vail in the summer as there are in the winter. But for this post, let's talk about why you should consider skiing in Vail, Colorado with your kids.
With the backdrop of the incredible Rocky Mountains, its beautiful alpine village will make you think you stepped right into the Swiss alps! It is one of the best winter wonderland places to visit in the United States.
Vail is more than just a ski destination. It is a ski resort experience!
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Why Ski Vail
I am often asked for the best place to ski in Colorado with kids. And, while we love many ski resorts and try new ones each year, skiing in Vail, Colorado is a special experience. It has epic terrain, including the Legendary Back Bowls (which get their name for a reason).
With excellent Vail ski school, restaurants, apres-ski activities, and non-ski activities, as well as great accommodations, Vail is a ski resort perfect for families.
Colorado is full of great ski resorts like Beaver Creek, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Vail, Arapahoe, and more. But Vail stands out as one of the most extraordinary Colorado ski vacation experiences, and it's kid-friendly.
Along with skiing in New Hampshire and other New England ski resorts for families, Vail and Steamboat Springs are two of my family's favorite places to ski. In this post, I'm sharing why your family will love Vail too.
About Vail, Colorado
Vail, Colorado only has about 5,035 permanent residents and approximately 5,000 part-time residents that stay in local vacation properties. But this small mountain village is full of massive amounts of fun and adventure.
The people of Vail take pride in the quality of life the small-town feel provides, as well as the many cultural and recreational activities this area offers. Vail Mountain gives your family plenty of hiking and other warm-weather activities in the summer, with skiing, snowboarding, and many other cold-weather activities in the winter.
Vail, Colorado, is made up of a few areas – East Village or Golden Peak, Lionshead, Vail Village, and the West Village or Cascade. Lionshead has the Gondola, which is your easiest way up and down the mountain, and there are shops and restaurants too.
Vail Village is the heart of the resort town, and Golden Peak is furthest away but still has some great places to eat and stay. Cascade has many of the businesses in town and includes two grocery stores, a hotel, a hardware store, and some popular places to eat.
When you go skiing in Vail, Colorado, you get a small-town feel with big attractions and activities.
Why Skiing in Vail, Colorado is Great for Families
There are so many reasons the Vail, Colorado ski resort is great for families, but here are some of the best ones.
- Accommodations with kitchens that allow you to ski in and ski out
- Ski programs for beginners – They even have a mascot, the Ripperoo
- 35 beginner trails at the Vail ski resort – marked with a green circle
- Fun activities for kids – ice skating, dog sledding, snowboarding, the Mountain Coaster, horseback riding, Fireside S'mores, adventure zones, and more
- The Small World Nursery offers childcare, and although it stayed open for the 2021-2022 season, it its open for the 2022-2023 season.
- Kids under four ski free.
- Visit the bookstore, indoor climbing, historic Minturn, CO, Vail Farmer's Market, and the Colorado Snowsports Museum & Hall of Fame for indoor activities.
- Awesome family-friendly restaurants with kid’s menus
- The different villages in Vail have pedestrian paths perfect for strolling, shopping, and more.
- Family-friendly activities like family snowshoeing, snowcat tours, ATV tours, Vail backcountry tours, ski and snow tours, Nordic skiing, and more
- Indoor/outdoor pools and hot tubs are open all year
- Adventure Ridge – the outdoor activity adventure zone
What To Do When Skiing in Vail, Colorado with Kids
When you're skiing in Vail with kids, there are some great activities you want to take advantage of.
Vail Ski School
If you're skiing at Vail with beginners, you'll want to check out the ski and ride programs. Whether you're an advanced skier or a beginner, ski lessons are tailored to your skill level. So, whether it's your first time, or you need to learn how to ski or master tree skiing, there are plenty of options for everyone.
Vail goes beyond ordinary ski school and makes it fun for kids and beginners of all ages to learn how to ski.. There's also a terrain park and racecourse at Golden Peak too.
There are also specialty schools where you get to experience on the Back Bowl or the Ultimate Four, which means there are no more than four kids in a class.
If your children are new to skiing, you'll want to read my post on everything you need to know about skiing with kids safely.
Locations for Vail Ski School
- Vail Village
- Lions Head
- Golden Peak
Which location you choose (from Ski School in Vail Village or Ski School Lions Head) is largely dependent on where you are staying. This will make it easier for drop-off and pick-up.
You can choose from mid-day or full-day lessons, as well as private lessons, adult lessons, or even family lessons.
While Vail is known for EPIC skiing, there are definitely beginner terrain areas and green slopes where kids and beginners can confidently hone their skills.
The drop-off area also includes a welcoming kid-friendly area and even the Vail Mascot, Riperoo the Dog!
Grouped by age and ability, my kids learned a lot and improved their skiing significantly. The Vail Ski School was a great experience for them as they were taught by highly skilled instructors who were great with kids.
Adventure Ridge is where the fun is at when you're skiing in Vail, Colorado. It's home to a bungee trampoline, ski biking, snowshoeing, and snow tubing. The Eagle's Nest is a large snow tubing hill that's 900 feet long with several lanes to ride in.
Riders must be 42 inches tall, and kids under six years old must be accompanied by an adult riding in a separate tube. There is also another snow tubing hill called the Adventure Ridge Tubing Hill, and it's located at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola.
Most of the ski resorts in Colorado like Copper Mountain, Beaver Creek, Arapahoe Basin, and Steamboat Springs all have fun adventure zones and parks for kids. These were created to entertain your children and challenge their ski skills.
Vail's adventure zones include:
- Bear Claw Glade
- Buckskin Glade
- Chaos Canyon
- Wild Woods
- The Roost
- Porcupine Alley
- Sherwood Forest
- Coyote's Escape & Den
- Thunder Cat Cave
- Magic Forest
You can see where the adventures zones are located on this trail map.
Be sure to check out the front slopes and also the Legendary Back Bowls for the more advanced skiers. You can find more general information in my Colorado Ski post.
Vail has over 3,000 acres of terrain for skiing that include seven bowl areas, multiple terrain parks, and other trails. The varied terrain makes skiing in Vail, Colorado, perfect for all skill levels.
It's known for its “Legendary Back Bowls” that are perfect for intermediate and expert skiers. But there are also front-side bowls like the Blue Sky Basin.
For people new to bowl skiing, consider trying the China Bowl and Game Creek Bowl.
The groomed runs are better for beginner and intermediate skiers who aren't ready for the back bowls. And the more advanced skiers and experts like the moguls, steeps, and fun tree skiing.
Just keep in mind that more than 50 percent of the trails at vail are for intermediate and advanced skiers. But there are plenty of beginner ski trails too.
Après Ski Family Activities
If you're not familiar with it, Après ski is a French term that means after skiing or after ski. After a long day on the slopes, Vail has some great Après activities at their local mountain restaurants.
Pepi's – Known for its large orange umbrellas, is an iconic Après ski spot. It's a Bavarian restaurant you don't want to miss.
Vendetta's Italian Restaurant – Known as the “V” Bar, it's the perfect place to share your ski stories with friends and family. It's a casual restaurant where you can get beer and a slice of pizza.
The Red Lion – The Red Lion is located at the top of bridge street, and it’s another iconic Après ski spot. You can't miss the white and red striped umbrellas outside, and it’s a great place to order drinks, listen to music, and people-watch.
Los Amigos – Los Amigos may have the sunniest deck in the whole Vail Village, and it's located at the base of Gondola One. Order their famous margaritas and watch the kids play over at the Pirate Ship Park.
Non-Ski Winter Activities
If you're looking for other winter activities besides skiing, Vail has plenty of them.
Snowshoeing – Snowshoeing is a fun non-ski winter activity and a great way to experience the gorgeous natural views of the Rocky Mountains that Vail has to offer. The U.S. Forest Service and Vail Resorts provide free guided snowshoe tours that start at 2:00 PM daily.
Ice Skating at Dobson Ice Arena – If you want a fun indoor activity, head over to the Dobson Ice Arena where you can rent ice skates, and glide across the ice during open ice time.
Scenic Gondola Ride – From 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM, non-skiers can take a scenic ride on the Eagle Bahn Gondola to view the scenery from the air. Consider dining at Bistro Fourteen, and you can ride down the Gondola until 9:00 PM.
Snow Tubing – Go snow tubing on the Eagle's Nest or Adventure Ridge Tubing Hill.
Ride Snow Mobiles – Snowmobiles are available to rent, usually from Mid-November to March. You can even go on a guided snowmobile tour.
Off Slope Activities
When you go skiing in Vail, Colorado, you'll also find off-slope activities to do.
Ice Fishing – If your family loves fishing and you want to enjoy the Colorado scenery in tranquil peace, you can walk right out on a lake and fish without a boat.
Dog Sledding – Dog sledding is another fun winter activity in Vail. Consider booking a dog sled tour to experience the Rocky Mountains like they used to in the past – riding on a dog sled.
Sleigh Rides – No Colorado vacation would be complete without a sleigh ride. Riding in a horse-drawn sleigh is another fun way to experience the winter scenery in Vail.
Many offer day and evening rides, but I recommend you take a dinner sleigh ride where you ride to dinner in a sleigh. Two great companies offering dinner sleigh rides in Vail are 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott and Beano's Cabin near Beaver Creek Village.
Shopping – When you're skiing in Vail, Colorado, with kids, you're going to want to shop at the local stores for unique Colorado treasures and souvenirs. Take a stroll on the heated sidewalks on the main route from the East Village to the west end of Vail in Lionshead on a leisurely shopping trip.
Vail Ski Rentals
Vail Ski Resort allows you to rent top-of-the-line snowboards and skis from premium brands to affordable ones. You can rent gear online and pick it up as early as 3:00 PM the day before in the village, on the slope side, or some of the hotels in Vail.
Lift ticket prices vary depending on the day, but you can get one adult one-day lift pass from around $113 to $228. Six-day lift tickets cost around $564 to $1,308 online. One-day lift tickets for kids cost from $78 to $157, and six-day tickets range from $390 to $900.
You can easily order tickets online.
If you plan on skiing in Vail, Colorado, a lot this winter, you can buy an Epic Pass. This pass gives you 20 Percent savings on group lessons, lodging, rentals, food, and more.
Epic passes also come with a discounted buddy ticket and usually cost between $87 to $103 a day. But they aren't just for Vail; you can also ski or ride at Beaver Creek, Park City, Whistler Blackcomb, and Breckenridge.
I recommend you download the EpicMix App. EpicMix Time is powered by machine learning and uses past and current data to choose the best times for your family's favorite lifts.
This app displays a full-day forecast of lift line times. But the usefulness of the EpicMix Time doesn't stop there. You'll find interactive trail maps, weather reports, snow totals, grooming status, terrain alerts, personal stats, and more.
Where To Stay – Vail Colorado Hotels and Rentals
There are plenty of awesome places to stay in Vail, from luxurious lodgings to casual VRBO rentals and hotels. You can rent condos with laundry, fireplaces, kitchens, and bunk beds or even hotels with all the necessities.
Antlers of Vail in Lionshead Village – Antlers at Vail offers nice accommodations with kitchens just 150 yards from the Eagle Bahn Gondola.
Grand Hyatt Vail – The Grand Hyatt is Vail's Premier ski in and ski out resort, and it’s located within walking distance to Vail Village. These luxury rooms offer many great amenities, and there is a spa on the property.
Manor Vail Lodge – Golden Peak – This ski hotel offers a variety of condos with a kitchen and serves a complimentary breakfast and other great amenities. You can even rent a penthouse.
Marriott's Streamside Douglas at Vail – This Marriott is a more affordable option for people who want to stay in the West Village – Cascade area. It has a pool, and you can rent one or two- bedroom villas or rooms.
VRBO Condos – VRBO has plenty of great condos you can rent in the area, as well as houses, cabins, cottages, chalets, villas, and more. So, while you stay in Vail, you'll feel more at home. You may also find an AirBnB vs VRBO in Vail.
Where To Dine in Vail
Vail has plenty of great family-friendly restaurants to choose from and some of the best chefs in Colorado. Here are some of my favorite Vail restaurants.
- West Side Cafe
- Yellowbelly Chicken
- Pazzos Pizza
- The Little Diner
- Moe's Original BBQ
- Bart & Yeti's
Getting To Vail, Colorado
Flying to Vail Ski Resort
You can fly into the Denver International Airport and rent a car to drive the 120 miles to Vail. You can also take a shuttle from Denver to Vail.
Eagle County Regional Airport is only 30 miles from Vail, and you can rent a car there or take a shuttle or private car service.
How much does it cost to ski in Vail, Colorado?
One-day lift tickets for an adult range from $113 to $228. One-day lift tickets for children range from $78 to $157. A six-day ticket for one adult costs anywhere between $564 to $1,308 online. For kids, a six-day ticket runs from $390 to $900.
The price depends on the days you go.
Is Vail good for skiing?
Yes, Vail, Colorado, is great for skiing, and it’s considered one of the most popular ski resorts in North America. Something else that sets Vail resorts apart from the rest is that Vail was one of the first places to welcome snowboarders and the love for snowboarding still remains today.
Is Vail Colorado expensive?
Yes, Vail is the most expensive place to ski on the continent, with a total daily cost of as much as $801 a day. That amount includes food, lift tickets, meals, hotels, and more. Hotels can cost $645 a night.
Can beginners ski at Vail? Is Vail beginner-friendly?
Yes, the beginner skiable terrain in Vail can be found on the front side of the mountain on trails like Gitalong Road, Lion's Way, and Trans Montaine.
Is Vail Colorado good for kids?
Vail is known for being family-friendly with tons of epic outdoor activities to do that let you to get the most out of your mountain experience. There are fun outdoor games and activities, skiing, ice skating, bowling, and much more.
What age do kids ski free at Vail?
Kids four and under ski free at Vail, and you need to obtain a ticket at the resort ticket window. These tickets are exempt from lift ticket restrictions during holiday times.
What is the most family-friendly ski resort in Colorado?
There are several family-friendly ski resorts in Colorado, such as Crested Butte, Snowmass, Steamboat Springs, Keystone, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and Vail.
Final Thoughts on Skiing Vail with Kids
Now you can see why a trip to Vail Ski Resort is one of the most epic ski vacations you can take. This picturesque town may be small and quaint, but it's big on fun kid-friendly activities to do.
The town's friendly atmosphere makes everyone feel welcome, and there are plenty of great places to stay and eat. I hope you add a ski trip to Vail to your bucket list.