✈️ Travel

3 Days in Vail – A Perfect Winter Getaway

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Going to Vail, Colorado during winter was on my agenda for a long time now. Especially after seeing the movie “Winter in Vail” last year for Christmas. January in Vail is a winter enthusiast’s dream come true. The snowy wonderland offers lots of activities to choose from. The charming mountain villages “Vail Village” and “Lionshead Village” are designed to resemble European alpine towns, complete with cobblestone streets and Bavarian-style architecture. This creates a charming and picturesque atmosphere and is perfect for exploring as well. Beyond the slopes, check out countless opportunities for ice skating or cozy up with s’mores by a fire-pit. Vail in January isn’t just a trip; it’s a magical winter escape into the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

We decided very last minute to go to Vail and we knew from the beginning that this trip was not for skiing or other sporty activities. It was simply to recharge the batteries before the new semester and to spend some quality time in nature. Nothing is more peaceful to me than a cute little city with loads of small town charm in a winter environment.

How to get to Vail

You have 2 options getting to Vail by plane. Either way I recommend renting a car so you can do exploring on your own since Uber is insanely expensive. Option 1 is to fly into Denver, Colorado. This is about a 2 hour drive from Vail. The second option is the one that we chose which is flying into Eagle County Airport. This little local airport is only a 30 minute drive away from Vail. United and American Airlines are the two main airlines that fly into this airport and you have lots of different rental car company options.

Where we stayed

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Vail. The hotel is beautiful, offers its own little activities like music in the lobby, completely cookies and milk, walking tours etc., has a spa (hot tub, gym and the possibility to book relaxing spa treatments). For all the ski enthusiasts, this hotel is ski-in/ski-out and has its own ski lift next door. Not skiing on this trip it would have been easier to stay a little closer to the city center. The hotel offers a shuttle to the city, which runs on a 30-ish minute schedule. But with the temperatures being extremely cold, we didn’t feel like waiting in the cold and did our own trips to the city by car.

Also good to know to avoid surprises at the end of your trip: most hotels have valet parking only. In our case it was $55 per day for parking and also an extra $55 per day per room which was called “resort fee”.

Where to park

Vail Village is pretty much car free. You can park in one of the parking garages close by which can be crazy expensive or you can walk a couple of minutes extra. Then they have parking options where the first hour is free and afterwards $5-10 per hour. Look for “Vail Village Parking Structure” and “Lionshead Parking Structure”. These are your affordable options. This was perfect for just walking around the city or go for a meal.

How we spent 3 days in Vail as non-skiing people

Day 1

We arrived in the late afternoon and I was so exited to finally see Vail that we drove to Vail Village first to walk around. It was snowing a little and was super cold but also very beautiful. They have an ice-rink in the town center (which I learned later was something every little village we visited had). Everything was super walkable. We stopped for a coffee at Two Arrows. They have regular hot drinks like coffee and tea but also a variety of hot and cold cocktails for all the après-ski party people. Later we stopped by at Yeti’s Grind Coffee for a cranberry scone.

After our short trip to Vail Village we checked into our hotel, explored the surroundings a little and headed to Beaver Creek for dinner. Most restaurants in Vail were booked so I highly recommend to check out the restaurants and make reservations in advance. The restaurant we chose for that night was “Ti Amo“. I was able to get a table here and we had a very nice meal. We enjoyed delicious Mushroom Ravioli and Pasta Bolognese. They even have gluten-free options available. It is located in a little outdoor mall area with free parking in front of the restaurant (big plus – LOL).

Day 2

We started the day with a hot beverage at our hotel coffee shop. We took the coffee to go and went for a nice long walk in the snow and explored the area in daylight. With temperatures being around -16°C we didn’t go too long and needed some indoor time to warm again afterwards. The hotel offered a Topgolf Gaming Experience that day and we were the only people there. They had a Gin tasting at the same time which was packed :-). We played Golf, Zombie Dodge Ball, Baseball and Soccer. After that we drove to Hygge Life for coffee, hot chocolate and a snack. It is a cozy Scandinavian furniture and home decor store with a small coffee shop inside. This was by far the best coffee we had on this trip.

We spent the afternoon driving around. First stop was Minturn which is a small mining village with a Saloon Diner as one of the main attractions. Word on the street is that the actor John Wayne was a frequent guest here. Otherwise there is not much to see in this little town. So we decided to drive to Beaver Creek. Since it started snowing like crazy we only drove through the area and headed back to the hotel. We also decided to stay in that night hand eat at the hotel based on the weather.

Day 3

We started our day with breakfast at the Little Diner, a popular breakfast spot located in Lionshead Village near the slopes. We had a classic breakfast with eggs, bacon and toast and also a breakfast crêpes with caramelized onions and cheese. It was a wonderful start to the day. After breakfast we walked around Lionshead – which is a lot more cozier than Vail Village. We stopped by the slopes which is also the spot where you can take Eagle Bahn up the mountain for a magical view. We watched people ski and snowboard for a while and headed to the Remedy Bar at the Four Seasons afterwards for their world famous hot chocolate. It is definitely on the pricy side ($22 per cup), but it was absolutely worth it. The chocolate was so creamy, the homemade marshmallow was very fluffy and delicious.

In the afternoon, we revisited Beaver Creek, enjoying its charming, walkable village atmosphere. For dinner we went back to Lionshead Village to Blue Moose Pizza. We shared the cauliflower wings as a starter. They were very delicious and the perfect appetizer. We shared a Cowboy Pizza (chicken, onions, green peppers, fresh minced cilantro, bbq sauce, smoked gouda + mozzarella) and a Margherita Pizza. For every Margherita Pizza they sell, they donate $1 to their friend and former owner Chase Wilcox who is battling some health issues. The Margherita was simple and very underwhelming in taste and presentation, but we are glad to have supported a good cause. The day ended beautifully with snowfall, adding a magical touch to our experience.

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