15 BEST Things To Do In Vail In Winter 2024 (Expert Guide)

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Looking For The Best Things To Do In Vail In Winter?

We asked Abby from Summit Skier to give us her expert, local recommendations.

As someone who loves skiing and has lived in Colorado previously, I frequently visited Vail during the winter months. The delightful village atmosphere and the outstanding ski slopes never failed to excite me.

Regardless of whether you’re a skier, snowboarder, or simply someone looking to enjoy the beauty of the town without skiing, there are plenty of things to do in Vail in winter. 

15 Best Things To Do In Vail In Winter

Whether you’re planning to tackle the ski slopes and savor après-ski moments in the village, or you’re a non-skier seeking snowmobile rides and shopping excursions, there are endless winter activities in Vail on offer.

Keep reading as I delve deeper into the specifics below!

1. Go Skiing or Snowboarding

After living in Denver for a year and a half and being an avid skier, Vail has left a lasting impression on me. 

From experienced skiers enjoying the infamous legendary back bowls with their favorite playlist in the background to beginners conquering the gentle runs off the Sourdough Express Lift like Flap Jack and Tin Pants, the experience is truly special.

A snowboard standing in the snow on a snowy day at Vail.

With over 5,300 skiable acres, there’s slopes for everyone to enjoy on the mountain.

So, take out your old skis, get them primed and waxed, and get ready for an unforgettable time on the mountains.

2. Try Snowshoeing

Discover the calm side of winter with a go at snowshoeing in Vail. It’s a fantastic way to be outdoors, stay active, and enjoy the winter vibes without the thrill of skiing or snowboarding.

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    You can book a guided tour if you’re new to it, ensuring a safe and fun outing for all. If you are familiar with snowshoeing, just gear up and pick a trail to explore. 

    I recommend checking out Stone Creek, Paulie’s Plunge Trail. It’s a great spot for snowshoeing in the area. You’ll love the awesome views of the nearby forest and mountains, making it a perfect choice for a winter adventure.

    3. Go Winter Ziplining

    When you think of ziplining, you probably picture the activity in a tropical destination. But for a cool winter adventure, why not try ziplining in Vail? 

    Soar above the snowy landscapes at the ski resort, feel the thrill, and take in the stunning views. It adds an exciting twist to your winter getaway. 

    A view from a bench at the top of Vail resort with blue skies and snowy peaks in the distance.

    I’ve personally ziplined in Vail, and it’s a really fun and unique way to enjoy the amazing mountain scenery.

    4. Enjoy Ice Skating

    Enjoy the classic thrill of ice skating at one of Vail’s rinks. Whether you’re a pro or just trying it out, the vibe is friendly and inviting. 

    Ice skating in Vail brings a bit of winter magic to your getaway, perfect for couples looking for something different or families with little ones seeking all-around family fun. I suggest checking out the Vail Square Ice Rink, situated in the Village. It’s an ideal spot for an enjoyable activity followed by some shopping or dining.

    Having been ice skating here multiple times, I can say it’s a blast to get outside and soak up the winter atmosphere and there’s no better place to do it than in the Vail Village.

    5. Have Fun Tubing

    One of the best things to do in Vail in winter is to embrace the excitement of tubing down snowy slopes. 

    Vail has tubing parks where you can zoom down specially designed lanes, offering a memorable experience for visitors of all ages. 

    With the Rocky Mountains as your backdrop, tubing becomes an activity for families and thrill-seekers alike.

    6. Go On A Snowmobiling Adventure

    There’s nothing quite like a snowmobiling adventure in the Vail backcountry. Guided tours cater to all skill levels, providing an exciting way to explore untouched snowy landscapes. 

    A view from the top of a snowy slope at Vail resort.

    I personally went on a guided snowmobiling tour in Vail with my family, and I can confirm how incredibly fun it was. It’s a fantastic way to make lasting memories and an exciting activity that isn’t available everywhere.

    7. Explore The Backcountry By Cross Country Skiing

    Explore Vail’s backcountry with cross-country skiing. It’s a great way to glide through snowy meadows and forests while enjoying the beautiful views.

    If you’re looking for a chance to ski without the hustle and bustle of Vail Resort slopes, this is a fantastic option.

    8. Take The Gondola Up

    Enjoy breathtaking views and easy access to Vail Mountain with a scenic ride on the gondola.

    💡Pro Tip: While often linked with skiing, the gondola is open to everyone, providing a spectacular journey up the mountain!

    Take in panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and capture the beauty of Vail without hitting the slopes, making it a must-do activity for a relaxed mountain experience.

    To wrap it up, don’t miss out on a meal at Mid Vail or Eagle’s Nest Marketplace. Indulge in a delicious lunch with incredible views. It’s a memory you won’t forget.

    9. Go Shopping

    Treat yourself to some shopping by exploring Vail’s charming stores and boutiques.

    From upscale brand names like Moncler and Helly Hansen to unique souvenir stores, Vail’s shopping scene has something for everyone. 

    Roaming through the village and discovering locally crafted treasures adds a thoughtful touch to your winter getaway, allowing you to bring a piece of Vail home with you.

    10. Appreciate Apres Ski

    Dive into Vail’s après-ski culture, where the lively scene of bars and restaurants comes alive after a day on the slopes.

    Sip on signature drinks and savor tasty bites of appetizers following a long day spent skiing or snowboarding. 

    The après-ski experience in Vail is a cherished ski tradition, offering the perfect mix of relaxation and socialization.

    The snowy welcome to Vail sign at the end of the town of Vail in winter.

    I’ve personally enjoyed the apres-ski experience at Vail on many different occasions and can attest to the countless options around the village and ski slopes.

    I recommend checking out the Red Lion for live music, great food, and tasty drinks.

    11. Relax At The Spa

    Indulge in a luxurious spa day in Vail. Unwind with massages, relax in hot tubs, and treat yourself to pampering treatments in the peaceful mountain setting. 

    Vail’s excellent spas offer the perfect getaway to ease tired muscles and prioritize your well-being, making sure your winter retreat includes moments of relaxation and self-care.

    One of Vail’s finest spas is located at the Four Seasons Resort. I recommend scheduling your treatment ahead of time, as it tends to be a sought-after spot.

    12. Catch A Show

    Spice up your winter nights by catching a live performance at the Vilar Performing Arts Center. From concerts to theater productions, this cultural hotspot in Vail offers various shows throughout the winter season.

    Experience everything from Christmas classics to entertaining comedians at the Vilar Performing Arts Center. I suggest taking a look at their schedule in advance so you can plan your trip around a show that really piques your interest.

    Free Things To Do In Vail In Winter

    Sure, Vail might give off an expensive vibe, and it’s true to some extent, but there are actually some free things to check out in Vail too!

    Keep reading as I share a few of my favorites with you.

    13. Walk Around Vail Village

    Take a casual walk through the charming Vail Village. Its cobblestone streets, alpine-style buildings, and quaint shops offer a unique vibe.

    Walking around Vail Village lit up at night with glowing lights is one of the best things to do in Vail in winter.

    Explore the little corners, discover local art, and maybe treat yourself to some hot chocolate or a coffee as you soak in the mountain-town ambiance.

    14. Go For A Winter Hike

    Explore snow-covered trails, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and admire the winter landscape.

    Whether you pick an easy trail or a hard one, a hike in Vail is a great activity if you want to stay active during your winter vacation.

    💡Pro Tip: Don’t forget to bring your crampons or microspikes to enhance your experience.

    Check out Davos Trail for a delightful winter hike offering stunning views of the Vail scenery. It’s a moderately challenging trek covering just under 6 miles round trip.

    15. Watch The Skiers From The Base

    Find a comfy spot at the base of the slopes and enjoy watching skiers gracefully descend the mountains. The lively atmosphere and scenic backdrop create an ideal setting to admire the skill involved in winter sports.

    Whether you’re a skiing enthusiast or just a spectator, observing the action from the base is a fun way to take in the atmosphere and appreciate the sport. 

    You can also get cozy at one of the amazing restaurants in Vail with a view of the mountain and people watch from there!

    Where To Stay In Vail

    Whether you want to be right on the slopes or are looking for a more budget-friendly spot a little way off, there are plenty of great options to consider.

    Check out some of the best places to stay below and find the one that suits you best.

    📍Budget Option: Highline Vail – While Vail doesn’t necessarily have budget-friendly options, this hotel stands out as your best bet. It’s renowned for its pool, breakfast, and an on-site bar.

    📍Mid-Range Option: Grand Hyatt Vail – After a day of outdoor exploration, this mid-range option provides the perfect retreat. With outdoor pools, hot tubs, and a fantastic fitness center, it offers a comfortable haven for relaxation.

    📍Luxury Option: Four Seasons Resort VailFor the ultimate in luxury, you can’t beat the Four Seasons in Vail. This place is famous for its amazing spa, incredible views, and a restaurant and bar that serves up delicious treats.

    FAQs

    Below I have answered a few of the most commonly asked questions about visiting Vail during the winter season.

    Is Vail worth visiting in winter?

    Vail is definitely worth visiting in winter! Even if skiing isn’t your thing, the charming village, breathtaking views, and a bunch of winter activities make it a must-visit spot.

    What is there to do in Vail if you don’t ski?

    You can do countless things in Vail even if you don’t ski. You can explore the cute Vail Village, treat yourself to a spa day, try ice skating, go snowshoeing, or take a scenic gondola ride. There’s also shopping, good food, and a whole cultural scene to enjoy.

    Can you ride the gondola in Vail if you don’t ski?

    Yes, the gondola isn’t just for skiers. If you’re not into skiing, you can still hop on for fantastic mountain views, grab a bite at mountain top restaurants, or even try activities like snowshoeing. 

    Is Aspen or Vail more fun?

    Choosing between Aspen and Vail depends on what you like. Aspen is known for its fancy vibe, cultural events, and celeb sightings, making it great for a luxurious experience. Vail, on the other hand, is more about the vast ski areas, a charming village, and a relaxed family-friendly feel.

    The Wrap-Up

    Vail in winter is a fantastic destination that goes way beyond skiing. With stunning mountains, a cozy village, and a bunch of winter activities, there’s something for everyone. 

    Whether you’re into exciting adventures like ziplining and snowboarding or prefer a chill day with spa treatments, Vail’s got you covered.

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