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Bring the Family to Vail!

Bring the Family to Vail!

By
Trip Plan Tags: 
budget,
family,
outdoors + nature,
skiing + snowboarding
Destinations: 
Colorado,
North America,
United States,
Vail

A how-to guide to ensuring that your family trip to Vail is mountains of fun! If you're kin can't wait to hit the slopes, picks 1-3 below will maximize your trail time. If you're traveling with a lot of relatives on a relatively modest budget, picks 4-6 will protect your pocket. And if your clan is up for an adventure, picks 7-9 will expand your horizons.

ITEMS

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

The Lodge at Vail, Colorado

174 East Gore Creek Drive
Vail, Colorado
Tel: 877 528 7625 (toll-free), Fax: 970 476 7425
Website: lodgeatvail.rockresorts.com

Because it sits nearly in the lee of the Vista Bahn, Vail Village's main (and overly crowded) lift, the Lodge is the go-to property for skiers and snowboarders obsessed with leaving the day's first tracks. With a choice of 150 rooms that range from comfortable studios to bring-on-the-party three-bedroom town houses, the lodge has a dual clientele of powderholics and luxury hounds. Like many RockResorts properties, the design is more boutique than chain: The interior is accented in warm pine and festooned with the expected alpine-inspired decorations. Amenities for aching bodies (nothing like the first day back on the slopes to discover muscles you forgot you had) include a heated outdoor pool flanked by hot tubs, a fitness center, requisite sauna, and a full spa, completed in 2008. Rounding out the property are two of the Village's better restaurants, Elway's and Cucina Rustica. Note, though: Due to Vail Village's ongoing construction, you'll want to request a room with a pool or mountain view. (Village views will likely be of cranes and hardhats.)

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See + Do

Skiing and Snowboarding at Vail


Tel: 970 476 9090
Website: vail.snow.com

With 5,289 skiable acres and 31 lifts, Vail is enormous. Getting your bearings on the slopes can take days, but you'll never be bored. Even better, the resort averages 350 inches of pristine Rocky Mountain powder per year, so you can forget about those ice chutes they call runs on the East Coast. Vail's Front Side, which rises up from the village, offers a good mix of terrain, including Double Black Diamonds off the old Highline chair to the west (Roger's Run and Blue Ox are two favorites) and easygoing groomers off the Avanti Express to the east. There are four terrain parks for snowboarders who go for tricks, including a 400-foot-long superpipe (picture a half-pipe on steroids). But to get the full value from your lift ticket (more expensive every year), frolic in Vail's incomparable Back Bowls. Sparsely groomed, beautiful, and wide open, the bowls are perfect for advanced skiers (to access them, take the Mountaintop Express or Northwoods Express lifts and follow the signs to Sun Up Bowl or China Bowl). Just past the bowls (take the catwalk trail off Sun Up Bowl), you'll find epic Blue Sky Basin: 645 acres of ungroomed powdery bliss for quite advanced skiers and boarders. Tip: Head there first thing in the morning, because it takes 45 minutes to reach from the village, and Blue Sky starts shutting down in the early afternoon.

Prefer a slower, lung-filling pace? Vail has two Nordic centers for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. At Vail Golden Peak, daily group tours include equipment rentals (970-754-3200). The Vail Nordic Center, meanwhile, has 17 kilometers of groomed trails, along with rentals, lessons, and clinics (970-476-8366).

The American Ski Exchange, next to the Vista Bahn Express, demos Salomon, K2, Rossignol, Völkl, Volant, and Head skis (225 Wall St.; 800-327-1137).

Double Diamond, in Lionshead Village, demos all the skis and boots it sells (no snowboards), so opt for a Demo Package; you can also choose nondemo rentals of skis and snowboards (877-433-7547).

One Track Mind, in Lionshead Village, specializes in snowboards (970-476-1397).

Ski Butlers delivers skis and boards to your hotel room (970-845-2268).

For all rentals, aim to make reservations at least two weeks in advance for holiday periods.—Updated by Sarah Tuff

Eating

Wildwood Restaurant, Colorado

Atop Vail Mountain (accessed via Wildwood Express Chairlift)
Vail, Colorado 81658

On-mountain dining is generally dismal. If you're tired of hurrying through a bowl of lukewarm chili with your feet crammed into ski boots, check out Wildwood, a genuine smokehouse located at 11,000 feet and reachable only by chairlift or skis. Everyone will tell you not to pass up the chicken and wild rice soup, and everyone is right. But don't overlook the barbecued meat sandwiches. Worth sacrificing those few extra runs, even on a ski-perfect day.

Lunch only.

Apollo Park Lodge

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See + Do

Vail Resort Gondola, Colorado

Vail, Colorado
Tel: 970 476 9090
Website: www.vailsummer.net

There's no better perspective on the mountains than from the top of one: The bonus at a ski resort is the ability to save yourself a five-hour uphill hike to achieve that 360-degree view. The Eagle Bahn gondola offers scenic rides from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Tues.– Sat.) in the winter. It also runs during the summer months (Thurs.–Sat.), linking up to a warren of hiking and mountain-biking trails.

Eating

Bart & Yeti's, Colorado

551 E. Lionshead Circle
Vail, Colorado 81657
Tel: 970 476 2754

A local dive that's consistently voted "Best Burger" by Vail's faithful denizens, Bart & Yeti's—named after two dearly departed dogs who served as establishment mascots—is also the place to go for chili, baby back ribs, steak, and fried chicken. You'll probably run into your kid's ski instructor and the boisterous ski patrol crew chilling at the end of the day.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
ALT HERE

Hotel

Vail Cascade, Colorado

1300 Westhaven Drive
Vail, Colorado 81657
Tel: 800 282 4183 (toll-free), Tel: 970 479 7020
Email: info@vailcascade.com
Website: www.vailcascade.com

If you don't care for the white stuff, the cold, or silly-looking outerwear—but your group or partner does—a property like the 292-room Vail Cascade can save your vacation. With a first-run movie theater; indoor tennis, squash, racquetball, and basketball courts; two pools; and what is arguably Vail's best spa, salvation is not only on hand, it's on-property. The spa, Aria, has several signature treatments, including the Mountain Lomi Lomi massage and Alpine Glow body wrap. The ski-happy portion of the group can grab a pass at the on-site ticket office and ski out the back door to Cascade's own triple chair. As for the property itself, expect functionality and comfort, if not loads of charm.

See + Do

Dogsledding, Colorado

Vail, Colorado

Mountain Musher Dog Sled Rides runs trips twice daily on the 10,000-acre Diamond Star Ranch outside Vail. Two people board a sled operated by a musher and pulled by 10 to 12 friendly huskies. The experience is a strangely quiet glide through snow-muffled woods. Halfway through, clients are given the option to take the reins (970-653-7877; www.mountainmusher.com).

Eating

Pepi's, Colorado

Gasthof Gramshammer Hotel, 231 E. Gore Creek Drive
Vail, Colorado 81657
Tel: 970 476 4671
Website: www.pepis.com

Pepi's, which is Austrian down to its lederhosen, is located in the chalet-style Gasthof Gramshammer hotel in Vail Village. Between foamy pints of Spaten Pilsner, sample specialties such as jagerschnitzel (pork or veal medallions lightly floured and pan-fried in a white-mushroom sauce) and sauerbraten (beef loin au jus with a touch of ginger zest). The place strikes just the right vibe for a ski town, as evidenced by the red-cheeked skiers who usually hit Pepi's right off the slopes and hunker down for the evening.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.