Vail, Colorado is absolutely incredible in the summer and a dream destination for families.

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Vail, Colorado is a world-class ski resort in the Rocky Mountains. Pretty much everyone knows that skiing in Vail is amazing. But did you know that Vail is just as wonderful in the summer? There is just as much to do in Vail during the summer as there is in Vail during the winter. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to plan your own Vail, Colorado family vacation with our Vail, Colorado travel guide.

Vail, Colorado Travel Guide With Kids

The kids and I were lucky enough to be invited to visit Vail, Colorado this summer and it was one of the best trips we’ve taken in a long time. Keep in mind, we take lots of great trips, so for one trip to go above and beyond every single one of our expectations is surprising. Every meal we had was fantastic, it was easy to get around the city, our hotel was spacious, and the activities were perfect for families.

Here is a rundown of the activities, restaurants, and the hotel we enjoyed the most!img 1946

Vail, Colorado Family Vacation Activities

Epic Discovery

Up on the mountain is Epic Discovery, accessible by the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead. 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.

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

  • Scenic Gondola Ride
  • Gore Range Adventure Course
  • Holy Cross Adventure Course
  • Eagle’s Nest Tubing
  • Forest Flyer™
  • Paramount Peak Climbing Wall
  • Bungee Trampoline
  • Little Eagle Zipline
  • Pine Cone Adventure Course
  • Marmot Mini Tubing

Our passes didn’t include the zip-lining. Families can zip line for an additional cost. Unfortunately for us, the zip lines were not open during our visit. I heard they are really good.

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.


One of two huge rope courses at Epic Discovery in Vail.

One of two huge rope courses at Epic Discovery in Vail. (taken with a GoPro)

Here is a video for the Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster on Vail mountain. This is just the first half.

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Horseback Riding

My favorite thing we did while we were in Vail, Colorado was horseback riding with Vail Stables. 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.

What you need to know before horseback riding:

  • What to wear: Jeans, tennis shoes, and sunglasses

  • Helmets are provided

  • Take a camera, water, and sunscreen. There is a place on the saddle to keep your things.

My kid’s favorite thing happened at Vail Stables, but it was riding horses. When we got back from riding they ask the kids to help herd goats. My kids had a blast chasing those goats and getting to pick them up! The goats are there on-site for goat yoga. Next time we visit Vail we are definitely going to try that!

Family Friendly Lodging in Vail, Coloradoimg 1907

Sonnenalp Hotel

We stayed at a locally owned boutique hotel, the family friendly Sonnenalp and we enjoyed it immensely. The rooms are gorgeous and they were huge, we were easily able to spread out.

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!

I loved having a Nespresso machine in the room. I also loved that the mini-bar had champagne!

You can check current rates for the Sonnenalp here. 

Here is a tour of our room. Not shown in the video are the glasses and silverware I later found and the microwave. I do not know how I missed this in my walk thru.

Other places to stay in Vail:

Family Friendly Restaurants in Vail

Every single meal we ate while we were in Vail was good and all three kids enjoyed eating at all of them. If you’ve traveled with three kids you know it can be difficult to find restaurants that they will all like.

Lunch Restaurants: For lunch we tried Blue Moose Pizza and Los Amigos.

  • Blue Moose Pizza is totally kid-friendly with crayons and paper table clothes kids can draw on. They have a nice outdoor patio you can enjoy with views of the ice rink in Lionshead where in the summer there is no ice rink. Instead, families play corn hole, frisbee, and other fun games. We only tried one pizza, but it was excellent! We will definitely eat here again.img 1964
  • Los Amigos is also kid-friendly and if you couldn’t guess, it’s a Mexican food restaurant. Since we feel it is our duty to always seek out good Mexican food we choose to eat lunch here one day. We sat out on their long patio with mountain views. The salsa and queso is good. We got the large order of queso that is overpriced in my opinion and it was too much for the four of us. We should have gotten the small queso.

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Dinner Restaurants: For dinner, we tried the Vail Chophouse, Mountain Standard, and Bully Ranch.

  • Bully Ranch was the first restaurant we tried when we arrived in Vail. It was located in our hotel which was too convenient to pass up. Bully Ranch has excellent 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.
  • Mountain Standard impressed all of us and they were incredible when it came to my daughter’s food allergy. All the food we ordered was fantastic and presented beautifully.
  • Vail Chophouse is the place to go on Wednesday nights with the kids. On Wednesday nights they have a magician floating from table to table performing up-close magic and he’s so good! img 2109 1

Breakfast Restaurants: For breakfast, we stuck with the breakfast buffet at Ludwigs. This is another restaurant located in the hotel we stayed in.

  • Ludwigs breakfast buffet offers a variety of foods, including fruit, cereal, eggs, bacon, pastries, and more.

Vail Transportation

How to Get to Vail:

We flew in and out of the Denver airport, which I think most would. Instead of renting a car, we took a shuttle to Vail and back. We didn’t need a car, so it didn’t make sense to me to rent one. We took the Colorado Mountain Express. They have large vans that operate between the Denver airport and the various ski resorts in Colorado. They have free wifi on board which is great for getting some work done and keeping kids happy!

How to Get Around Vail:

  • Bus: Vail has one of the largest free transportation systems in the country. Buses are constantly running between Lionshead and Vail Village.
  • Bicycle: Vail is incredibly biking-friendly. We got bike rentals from Venture Sports and they came with helmets. They dropped our bikes off at our hotel for us and then they picked them up when we were done. Bicycling in Vail, Colorado

Vail, Colorado is a wonderful experience for families. No matter how you spend your time in this little European-like village you are guaranteed to have a delightful time with your loved ones.

Read Next:

4 Day Vail Itinerary

The Ultimate Ski Road Trip

Vail Colorado Travel Guide Vail, Colorado with kids

Plan an entire trip to Vail Colorado with Kids with these suggestions on what to do, where to stay, and where to eat.



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Get Travel Insurance

Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on any trip. Be prepared for the worst with travel insurance. We use Travelex or Safety Wing (often cheaper).

Book Flights

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Book a Place to Stay

I recommend using or for most hotel bookings. I prefer to book directly with Marriott when I stay there because of their excellent military discount.

If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.

Rent Clothes

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Choose Activities and Tours

To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available. Groupon also tends to have a lot of local travel deals.

When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals. If I am going somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean I use Apple Vacations.

Rent a Car or Take a Lyft

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