There’s more to Vail than world-class skiing.
From horseback riding to mountain biking, Vail offers enough warm-weather activities to merit a visit in spring, summer or fall. The best part? Many of these attractions are free or low-cost.
The lodges, restaurants and bike rental shops in Vail Village are all located within a short walking distance of the mountain, so you won’t need to rent a car and can easily switch from one activity to the next without much fuss.
I experienced the non-skier side of Vail during a weekend getaway last summer. Read on for my favorite warm-weather attractions in this Colorado resort town.
>> If you’ve been to Vail in the off-season, please share your experience by leaving a comment below!
#10. Sunrise Yoga
I kicked off my weekend with an uber-relaxing outdoor Yoga session held in the heart of Vail. These sessions take place every Saturday from June through mid-September, and are guided by trained instructors from the Vail Athletic Club. Fortunately, “Sunrise Yoga” doesn’t actually start at the crack of dawn, but at the more vacation-friendly 9 o’clock hour.
Local artisans and farmers flock to Vail every Sunday to sell their goods at the Vail Farmer’s Market. Visitors can stock up on local honey (known to help with seasonal allergies), produce, baked goods and even artwork. The Farmer’s Market is a great place to grab an inexpensive snack and to experience the laid-back, artsy Vail ambiance.
#8. Mountain biking
The prospect of biking up Vail Mountain (peak elevation 11,570 ft) can be scary, but it shouldn’t deter you from exploring the ski slopes by mountain bike. In fact, most bikers take the gondola up the mountain and bike down. Much like the ski trails, there are biking trails for all skill levels from beginner to double diamond. Bikes and helmets can be rented in shops at the base of the mountain. I didn’t have the chance to mountain bike during my visit, but passed bikers of all ages during my gondola rides on the mountain.
#7. Ice skating
Ever tried ice skating outside– in the summer? It’s possible in Beaver Creek, the resort town next to Vail, which operates a year-round rink with real ice. I was captivated by the Beaver Creek Ice Rink, which gleamed in the sunshine during my July visit. Admission and skate rental costs $14 for adults.
#6. Fountain hopping
You won’t find many historic buildings in Vail, which has the feel of a brand-new town. The streets were clearly planned with tourists in mind; it’s impossible to walk a block without coming across a miniature plaza with a fountain, sculpture or playground. The fountains are a magnet for kids and provide relief from hot summer days.
#5. Foodie fix
This resort town has no shortage of good restaurants, pubs and ice cream shops. I gave in to temptation and ordered a chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles at the Marble Slab Creamery, which does a brisk business among visiting families. Needless to say, it was delicious! Check Yelp for a range of dining options in Vail.
If there is a mountain, hikers will come– and Vail is no exception. Diehard hikers can start at the base of the mountain, but I opted to take the gondola up and hike at high elevation as part of a guided group. The hiking trails were peppered with wild flowers and offered views of Mount of the Holy Cross, a 14,000-foot peak. Guided tours start at $35, but of course it is possible to explore the trails on your own. You’ll only need to pay for the gondola access.
#3. Outdoor concerts
Can’t recall the achievements of former US president Gerald Ford while in office? You aren’t alone. I’m not familiar with his foreign or domestic policies, but I would like to thank him for one thing: his namesake amphitheater in Vail. This outdoor band shell sits at the bottom of a slope, providing great views for the concert-goers who pack the lawn during the Summer Concert Series. I caught a performance of the New York Philharmonic during my visit. Unlike the concerts in NYC’s Central Park, there is a ticket fee– which might explain why the crowd skews a bit older here.
While strolling through Vail Village, I came across several people tubing down Gore Creek. This is a great way to beat the heat, as the river is downright chilly. Tube and helmet rentals are available in the village center. While I didn’t have time to tube during my weekend visit, this tops my to-do list the next time I am in Vail!
#1. Horseback riding
Having spent my honeymoon horseback riding in Wyoming, I was eager to get back on the saddle in Vail. I am not an expert horsewoman, but the horses on these guided tours are notoriously tame and slow-moving, so I knew I would be safe. Horseback riding tours start at Eagle’s Nest at the top of the gondola. My trusty steed took me on a circular loop that provided great views of the mountain range (and of the ground, as I was not good at keeping him from eating). Horseback tours last 40 minutes and are sold in a lift ticket package for about $75.
For more info
I visited Vail last summer as part of a press trip sponsored by the Vail Local Marketing District. For more information on Vail’s adventure activities, including these warm-weather attractions, visit the Vail Mountain Resort website and Twitter feed (@vailmtn).
Have you visited Vail?
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