Overall Vail, Colorado is awesome. If you’ve never spent any time there you are in for a real treat. It’s a little on the spendy side, but it’s so nice I think it’s worth spending a bit more. This 4 day Vail itinerary for summer will give you a little taste of everything including lots of wonderful meals, adventure, and of course quality family time.
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4 Day Vail Itinerary for Families
On our last trip to Vail, we spent three nights and it felt a little rushed, so I’ve put together a 4 day Vail itinerary. This way you can have a lot of fun but you will not feel rushed. I always rather do too little than too much, especially when the kids were little.
Day 1: Arrive, Biking, and Have a Nice Dinner
Denver is a hub for United Airlines, so there direct flights from many cities throughout the United States. Try to arrive in Denver as early as possible in order to avoid mountain traffic.
Once you get to Denver you will need to take a Colorado Mountain Express shuttle to Vail. It’s a long drive around two hours, so if you are hungry, grab food at the airport before getting on the shuttle.
Collect your luggage if needed and head to the Colorado Mountain Express kiosk to check in for shuttle transportation to Vail. CME is located on Level 5 near the baggage claim.
You could also rent a car, but once in Vail, you will not need one. The Town of Vail is home to one of the largest free transportation systems in the country and there is a convenient stop by Sonnenalp hotel. Buses are constantly traveling between Lionshead and Vail Village. Bus schedules can be found online at VailGov.com.
Check into the Sonnenalp upon arrival located at 20 Vail Road, Vail, CO 81657. This is a locally owned boutique hotel that has been run by the same family for four generations and it is super family-friendly. The rooms are gorgeous and they were huge, we were easily able to spread out which is why it’s our personal favorite.
The property is beautiful and filled with flowers. On-site is a spa, an indoor/outdoor pool, and 3 hot tubs, and daily yoga. It was so nice to be able to swim whenever we wanted to and I definitely appreciated the hot tubs after horseback riding. Also at the hotel are multiple restaurants. I liked having so many good food options available right there. It also didn’t hurt that they have a kid’s club!
Afternoon/Early Evening: Once you’ve arrived let the bicycle company know you are there and ready for your bicycles. You can also have them delivered before you get there. There are a lot of places to ride bikes around Vail. You can spend the afternoon biking around exploring or you can relax at the hotel pool.
Dinner: Tonight dine at the hotel’s restaurant, Bully Ranch. They’ve got tasty burgers and salads. This is definitely the place to go to if your family wants burgers. On some Sundays, they offer live music on their patio from 4-7.
After dinner chill out at the hotel’s hot tub.
Day Two: Adventure
Breakfast: Westside Cafe and Market
After breakfast, head up the mountain to spend the day doing an assortment of activities at Epic Discovery. You will be in the sun all day, so do not forget to apply sunscreen and bring it with you. I also recommend wearing a hat of some sort to protect you from the sun.
You will need to purchase your tickets for Epic Discovery at the base of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, located in Lionshead. From Sonnenalp the walk to Lionshead is about 20 minutes or there is a bus stop near Sonnenalp.
Once you have tickets you will take the Eagle Bahn Gondola up the mountain. There are all kinds of fun things to do there. We spent most of one day there and we didn’t do everything that was offered. You could easily spend the entire day here as a family. There are multiple rope courses, bungee trampolines, a rock-climbing wall, summer tubing, an alpine coaster, and more.
Ropes Course: They have two ropes courses and then a mini one for little kids. We went with the one that looked the most difficult. It was super difficult for me cause I hate heights and for Jonah because he could barely reach the ropes to clip on and off. Noah and Eden on the other hand sailed through it.
On the ropes course and the Forest Flyer (Alpine coaster), they would only allow cameras attached to you. We put one GoPro on a chest harness and one on a helmet with the hat mount. They also required closed-toe shoes. I recommend wearing tennis shoes.
You can pick and choose which activities you want to do or you can buy them in bundles. We had the Unlimited Adventure passes with unlimited all-day access to activities.
Ultimate Adventure Pass – $94
Lunch: Have lunch up on the mountain at the BBQ tent Sarge’s Deck
After lunch, continue having fun and spend time doing all the activities you haven’t been able to do yet. Try to make sure you’ve left enough time to do the Forest Flyer more than once.
Dinner: Tonight have dinner at Mountain Standard and if you like dress-up a bit. It’s a busy place so there might be a bit of a wait. If you know how your day will be going try and make a reservation in advance.
Day 3: Horseback Riding and Magic
Breakfast: Hit the breakfast buffet at Ludwig’s located inside Sonnenalp. They offer a great selection of fruits, cereals, breads, pastries, parfait, eggs, bacon, etc.
Afternoon: Enjoy horseback riding at Vail Stables. I do not always recommend horseback riding. In fact, I almost never recommend this, but in Vail it is phenomenal. We did the Dark Timber trail and it was awesome. We rode for about 2 hours and saw all kinds of different areas of the mountain. It is $100 – $120 per person to do the Dark Timber trail, but it is well worth it. Unlike many places that offer dinky trail rides where you basically go in a circle, this trail ride has you all over the mountain. In the first 30 minutes, the horses climb over 1000 feet in elevation. Never been horseback riding? Do not let that stop you. Here are some things you should know before your first time riding a horse.
What you need to know before horseback riding:
- What to wear: Jeans or other long pants, tennis shoes or boots, and sunglasses
- Helmets are provided
- Take a camera, water, and sunscreen. There is a place on the saddle to keep your things, but it’s small so do not plan on taking much with you.
Lunch: Have lunch today at Los Amigos, a delicious Mexican restaurant with glorious views of Vail Mountain.
Dinner: Ride your bikes over to Lionshead Village and enjoy a lovely dinner at Vail Chophouse.
If at all possible visit on a Wednesday night when they have a magician. You can swap out this dinner with any of the other places I recommend to be there on a Wednesday. The magician does up-close magic and he’s amazing! This was our first time experiencing up-close magic.
Day 4: Shop, Eat, and Bowl
Check out of your hotel, but leave your luggage there so you are free to do a little more roaming before heading back to the airport after lunch.
Breakfast: Enjoy breakfast at locally owned Big Bear Bistro. Big Bear strives to use locally-sourced, natural, or organic ingredients.
After breakfast walk around the European-inspired village. They’ve got lots of little shops.
Lunch: Blue Moose Pizza is a lively Italian eatery and an excellent family-friendly option in Lionshead. Eat on the patio so your kids can play corn hole or giant chess out on the plaza area.
Dinner: Tonight your dinner and entertainment will be combined. Head to Bōl, it is a full restaurant, bar, and bowling alley in one. You can have fun bowling as a family and have dinner while you bowl. Don’t forget to bring socks.
Day 5: Head Home
Breakfast: Have a quick breakfast at Loaded Joe’s. It’s a cozy, casual venue with coffee, smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, burritos, and bagels.
Colorado Mountain Express will pick you up at The Sonnenalp for transportation back to Denver International Airport.
Other Vail Restaurant Recommendations
Just in case the other recommendations I made do not sound appealing here are some alternatives. They are all excellent as well.
- Tavern on the Square: A family-friendly restaurant featuring Colorado-sourced ingredients.
- Moe’s Original BBQ: Home-cooked BBQ served in a relaxed and vibrant environment.
- Expert Burger: New to Lionshead Village, this fast-casual burger joint uses only “never-ever” beef (no antibiotics or growth hormones added) from Colorado that has been genetically verified as heritage Angus.
- Bart and Yeti’s: This longtime institution serves traditional pub grub that can be enjoyed on their outdoor deck.
- Red Lion: Vibrant spot for live entertainment and American cuisine.
I hope this Vail itinerary helps you have an incredible trip of your own.
Find Out Why Our Family Fell in Love with Vail, Colorado and Start Planning Your Own Family Vacation
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