This guest post is written by Vail local Gina Parrish of Make a Date of It, a website dedicated to creating date, travel, and gift ideas out of the things you already love so you can have more fun and stress less. Subscribe to their newsletter and follow them on social @makeadateofit.
When you think of Vail in winter, you probably think of skiing. After all, Vail has a reputation for being home to some of the best ski terrain in the world.
However, here’s a secret the locals have been reluctant to tell you: that’s not all winter in Vail has to offer.
As a veritable winter wonderland, Vail has no shortage of activities. From trekking the unbeaten path on snowshoes, to chucking snowballs at your loved ones, there is always something to do in Vail, even when skiing isn’t an option.
We’ve made a list of 10 outdoor activities to try out while you are here. Which are you going to do first?
Get outdoors and enjoy Colorado’s local scenery on snowshoes. On mountain and off, there are plenty of trails to check out within the area. We suggest Booth Falls Trail in East Vail or heading over to Minturn’s Grouse Creek Trail. Dress in light protective layers and, if the sun is shining, don’t forget the sunglasses and sunscreen!
The Antlers at Vail offers a limited number of snowshoes for guests to use on a first-come-first-serve basis. Inquire at the front desk.
If snowshoeing feels a bit too extreme, there are areas you can enjoy a walk without the need for snowshoes. Gore Valley Trail, the bike path that leads from East to West Vail, while for the most part unmaintained, tends to get packed down in winter. The scenic path follows Gore Creek and is enjoyable at any time of year. Wear snow boots with decent traction or crampons, then get walking and take in the fresh air.
3. Take a Scenic Drive
So long as the weather is nice (that is, it’s not snowing and the roads are dry), why not take a scenic drive and admire the beautiful mountain views? A day trip to Red Cliff or Leadville takes you along spectacular Battle Mountain Pass, a scenic byway sporting brilliant views and plenty of pull offs for photographs.
4. Photography (+ Free Photo Scavenger Hunt!)
Time to pull out that camera on your phone and start taking photos! Vail not only has amazing nature views, but also spectacular art and architecture. Download our FREE Vail Photo Scavenger Hunt Challenge to print or use on your phone for inspiration.
5. Window Shop
Vail has two pedestrian villages full of shops and galleries to explore. Tour the galleries, observe the latest mountain trends, and people watch. The local retailers are always finding new ways to impress.
6. Build a Snowman
No matter your age, you are never too old to play in the snow. Use items you find in nature, like pine cones and fallen branches, to craft the perfect snowman. Bonus points if it looks like you!
7. Have a Snowball Fight
This one is not just for the kids, either. Snow has many possibilities–you can ski on it, step on it, build with it, and of course throw it at each other. Just be sure to use the soft stuff.
8. Fat Tire Biking
Biking? In the winter? Yes, it’s a thing. Rent fat tire bikes from a nearby retailer and take to the bike paths for a day of extreme fun. Check out the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance recommendations on what trails to ride and where to rent.
9. Local Beer Tasting
Colorado is known as a hub for the craft brewery scene, and Vail is no exception. Vail Brewing Company, 7 Hermits Brewing Company, and Bonfire Brewing all brew tasty suds in the Eagle River Valley.
Want to do a tasting of your own? Local retailers like West Vail Liquor have a wide selection of local beers.
10. Learn the Local History
It is always fascinating to learn the history of places you visit, and Vail is no exception. Several years ago, for Vail’s 50th anniversary, Vail put out a video history series, perfect to watch before exploring the iconic town. As you tour the villages, see if you can recognize the old and the new parts of Vail.
Another great resource is the Colorado Ski Museum, which has online access to pieces from their collections, as well as their Hall of Fame.
Enjoy the Amenities
You can also take advantage of evenings in at the hotel. The Antlers at Vail has a vast DVD movie collection, as well as a great selection of board games. These are complimentary to guests of the hotel and would make for the perfect family fun night.
Each Antlers at Vail residence also features a fully equipped kitchen. The Antlers offers a complimentary shuttle service to anywhere from East Vail to West Vail, including the local grocery stores. Try out a new recipe, like those in Ski Town Life, collected from ski town restaurants around the country.