Getting to Vail
Vail is located 2.5 to 3 hours from Denver National Airport (depending on traffic and weather), but there is also a Vail airport that is only 30 minutes away from the Ski Resort. I have been to Vail twice, once with my family when I was in high school, and once with my husband. Both times, we tried to fly directly into Vail airport, however, the first time I went, we were diverted to Denver because the weather was not good enough for us to land in Vail. That almost happened my second trip as well, but we circled for about 30 minutes and then landed in a clear patch of weather. I would recommend flying into Vail if possible, however, it can be a lot more expensive.
Vail is a very beautiful mountain town. It is one of those places that’s beauty will blow you away, literally. The main ski lodge was so amazing; it was exactly like what you would picture in the movies with a huge stone fire place. The resort is a very unique place, with so many different cultures, and people from all around the world. Vail Village has many shopping and dining options. You could come here for the weekend, never step foot on the mountain, and still have a wonderful time.
The Gondola and Trails
Vail has more than 5,200 acres of developed ski and snowboard terrain and over 198 trails on the mountain. Having only skied or snowboarded in Michigan, this was very overwhelming. My brother and I both brought our snowboards from home, and my parents rented ski’s. My parents stayed on the beginner trails, and my brother and I ventured off to the more daring trails.
Instead of getting lessons, my mother and father, the beginners that they are, tried to just take it slow and go down the hills. They accidently started going down a beginner hill that was massive (compared to hills in Michigan), and my mom had to get carried down the rest of the hill on a snowmobile stretcher. Lesson learned: if you are beginner skier, take ski lessons at Vail, it will help you get the basics down.
Riding the gondola at Vail was my first Gondala experience, and it was an experience in itself. I kept thinking we were about to reach the top of the mountain, and then all of a sudden there is so much more mountain ahead of you; I never thought we were going to reach the top. One day, my brother and I decided to ride the Gondola to the top, and then snowboard down. I was scared for my life and had a hard time breathing at the top. Definitely be careful when you are planning out your routes!
Vail Snow Tubing
Another fun thing to do at Vail is to go snow tubing at Adventure Ridge where you grab a tube, hop a lift, and race down the hill. We had a lot of laughs there, and I can still picture my mom screaming to this day.
Vail village is very spread out with many different restaurants that range from little quick eats as well as many fancy and upscale restaurants. Below are my favorite spots for coffee, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
Right across from the condo that my husband and I stayed at was this cute little coffee shop called Yeti’s Grind. They have a large selection of coffee, lattes, craft coffee, espresso, hot tea, sandwiches, pastries, and cup cakes. Every day, Mike got the salted coconut coffee, and I tried a lavender honey latte. Both were DELICIOUS.
For lunch, we ate at the Fall Line Kitchen and had an amazing duck ramen with duck leg confit, poached egg, shiitake mushrooms, and radish sprouts. If you’ve read my other snowboarding trip blog posts (Whistler & Park City), you know that I love to eat ramen when I am on the mountain. This was no ordinary ramen, this was AMAZING! It is a little pricey, but totally worth it.
For dinner, our favorite restaurant was the White Bison. It was a little fancy as well, but their food was so good. I had a delicious salmon with golden romesco sauce, sautéed kale, and sweet potato, and Mike had the elk ragu pappardelle, which he loved as well.
Right next door to White Bison is the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and we both got delicious treats. I ordered a “Vail Crunch” and Mike got a “Rocky Road”. We tried to save them to eat over the course of the rest of our trip, but we ate them both in one sitting.
After having a Delta flight delay, switching to a United flight that got delayed even later, then working with Delta for over an hour, I was able to get on standby for my original flight (after going through security 3 times) and arrive in Denver at 2:30AM where Mike surprised me by waiting at my gate (he’s best!).
We finally got to the hotel and went right to sleep! We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Denver Downtown because I got a really good rate through my company, and it was a great hotel! It was a newer hotel, the rooms were big, and everything was so clean. I twas located just outside of downtown, so we didn’t have any issues with parking or traffic the whole weekend. We also had a lovely view of the Denver city skyline!
Red Rocks – Yoga on the Rocks
After a long travel journey, we woke up at 5:30AM to head on over to Red Rocks for some morning yoga sun salutations. Every summer at Red Rocks, they host Yoga on the Rocks on Saturday mornings when the sun rises at 7:00AM. There had to be over 2,000 people there. They had a bunch of health vendors that were offering various free samples such as almonds, teas, Kombucha, clothing stores, and various other companies. Thankfully, tickets are only $15 per person, but the event sells out very fast, so if you want to attend, plan ahead to see when ticket are going on sale or expect to pay more on Stubhub.
The class was sponsored by Core Power yoga, so there were definitely some core focused yoga moves. Overall, it was really nice to be grounded, present in nature, and bliss out at the mile high club after such a stressful travel journey. I’m so thankful my husband and travel buddy is willing to participate in activities like this because I truly loved it!
River North Art District (RiNo Neighborhood)
Mike and I hopped around this area for most of the day exploring various breweries, bars, restaurants, and local shops. RiNo is known for their beautiful murals, art pop up, brewery loving, warehouse vibes.
Snooze AM Eatery is one of the most popular brunch places around. I had multiple people recommend for us to visit here for lunch. We were warned that you would have to wait in line for a long time. The nice thing is they have outdoor games for you to play while you are waiting. Mike and I went early enough in the morning after yoga that we only had to wait 15 minutes. We celebrated with strawberry mimosas, and I ordered the pancake flight where I got to choose 3 different pancakes. I ordered the following (each one was AmAzInG!):
- Pineapple Upside Down Pancake – Buttermilk pancakes with caramelized pineapple chunks, housemade vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon butter.
- OMG! French Toast – Brioche stuffed with mascarpone then griddled and topped with vanilla crème, salted caramel, fresh strawberries and toasted coconut.
- Chocolate chip pancake – Fluffy pancake topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream
We loved walking around the streets and seeing the various murals. One of my friends from high school is an artist, and he has painted a mural in Denver. I wanted to find it, but it was too far away. It didn’t matter though, because there are so many beautiful mirrors to admire. I really enjoyed seeing the different styles.
Epic Brewing was really unique because they offer tours twice throughout the day for free where you can get a tour of the brewery and learn how the beer is made. Mike and I were the only ones that were interested in the tour at the time that we were there, so we were lucky enough to have a private to tour. The beer making process was similar to wine, and we had been on a lot of wine tours, but it was definitely a unique experience to go on a brewery tour. We really enjoyed it.
First draft brewery was fun because they give you a card with an RFID chip in it, and you can go around and try as many different beers as you want, and it charges you based on how many ounces you pour in your glass. They had all different types of beers such as Pilzner’s, IPAs, stouts, siders, they even had Komboucha on tap.
Another brewery that we visited was ratio Beerworks, which had a really great beer, but I did not like the music that they were playing. They were playing heavy metal and punk rock, and it was too intense for me.
Booz Hall Rino – Home of the Bazzar
We also visited the Booz Hall RiNo, which was a cool concept. There were five pop up bars from Colorado wineries and distilleries. We visited one that was a whiskey distillery, and I tried a pineapple whiskey. I am not a huge whiskey fan, but I could not taste it at all in this. We also visited one that was a winery, and I got a delicious Rosé and we played boardgames. It was really fun.
Denver Central Market
Denver Central Market was located in the middle of RiNo, and it offered a variety of food including a coffee shop, chocolate shop, bakery, fish market, butcher, ice cream, pizza place, and a deli. We walked around the whole market, but we were still full from our breakfast at Snooze!
Marijuana is legal in Colorado, and there are dispensaries all over the state. When we passed places on the highway were they were growing up, you could smell it from the car. Well I do not smoke because I do not want to get lung cancer, I am interested in the medical benefits from CBD. Neither Mike nor I have ever been in a dispensary before, so we went into check it out. The idea is that the door before letting us in, and then they escorted us to our own personal room where we had someone to show us their merchandise. It was a very interesting concept. We felt slightly awkward, but I’m sure as marijuana becomes legal in most states, it will not be weird anymore.
The LoDo Neighborhood is home to Union Station, which has a Farmers Market every Saturday. We didn’t make it to the farmers market during the day because we were too busy brewery hopping, but I have heard really good things about the market. I wish we would’ve been able to go.
This district dates back to the 1400s, and it is the block where Denver began. It is full of shops, restaurants, and bars. Mike and I ate dinner at a really cute little Italian restaurant called Osteria Marco, and we ordered a delicious fig and goat cheese pizza with mushroom. My mouth is watering thinking about it now.