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Vail Travel Guide: Where to Stay, What to Eat, and More

A ski resort in Vail at dusk.

There’s something about Vail that is unique and distinct from any other winter destination in the United States. Vail, located in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, is known for having one of the longest ski seasons on the continent. With a top elevation of 11,570 feet, it’s no surprise that people from all over the world travel to experience the adventure and beauty of Vail. Get the most out of your Vail vacation with our guide.

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Where to Stay in Vail

When selecting a place to stay in Vail, you want to keep in mind a variety of questions, such as; Does the hotel have activities? Does the hotel have an on-site ski rental facility? What restaurants are available at the hotel? Vail is a small village, and you may not be inclined to venture out every moment of the day, so you’ll want to be sure the hotel you choose has everything under one roof. Therefore, we recommend the Grand Hyatt Vail.

Grand Hyatt Vail

A view of Grand Hyatt Vail in winter.

Nestled at the base of Vail Mountain and along picturesque Gore Creek, Grand Hyatt Vail’s ski-in/ski-out resort with Vail’s only resort-side chair lift makes it an ideal place for skiers and snowboarders. Chair 20 at Grand Hyatt Vail is located on-site, just steps away from the resort’s ski rental, valet, and concierge services.

In the lobby of this welcoming resort, guests can partake in a champagne sabering and toast and help themselves to hot cocoa and fresh-baked cookies. Beyond the resort’s convenient skiing and snowboarding facilities, it offers an array of amenities and activities for skiers and non-skiers alike. The resort is home to its own Cascade Village Square, which features an ice rink, an alfresco ice bar, a food truck, and outdoor fire pits for daily s’mores roasting. Guest also have access to the heated creekside infinity-edge pool and two outdoor hot tubs. The resort features a spa, restaurant (in addition to a pop-up restaurant), lounge, and a café.

Grand Hyatt Vail completed a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2018, recreating the space to showcase incredible artwork and design. Featuring wood, stone, and leather textures, the design is influenced by the surrounding mountains and history. The local artisan artwork around the hotel pays homage to the Southern Ute Native American tribe.

  • Nearest airport: Eagle County Airport
  • Time: 37 minutes via car
  • Distance: 33.9 miles

Activities at Grand Hyatt Vail

Roasting s'mores over a firepit.

Moët Imperial Yurt: This chic and cozy winter haven is available to rent and is perfect for après-ski. It includes two private fire pits, a champagne sabering, s’mores kit, and a house-made charcuterie spread. The Moët Imperial Yurt can accommodate up to ten guests.

Topgolf Swing Suites: Guests are treated to comfort food and beverages while enjoying virtual golf or other interactive games such as soccer, zombie dodgeball, and hockey. Each Topgolf Swing Suite accommodates parties up to twelve people, with inviting lounge seating.

Wellness Studio: The 1,045 square foot wellness studio offers fitness classes such as sunrise yoga, restorative yoga (ideal for pre-and-post skiing), and barre classes. Guests also have access to compression boots from Theragun, providing decompression of weary limbs after a long day on the mountain.

Axe Throwing: Test your hand and arm strength, and coordination, by throwing an axe at a wooden plank target.

Yoshimi Pop-Up Restaurant: New this December, guests can enjoy an exclusive sushi pop-up, featuring Sapporo on tap, Suntory Highball whiskey draft, and premium sake flights. Highlights include signature Maki rolls and specialty handmade Nigiri.

Where to Eat in Vail

Fireside Lounge (American)

Pork belly sliders and a margarita from Fireside Lounge Vail.

Located within the Grand Hyatt Vail, the lounge offers inventive après everyday food and drinks with live entertainment from local musicians. Their Bavarian pretzel bites and burrata and corn salad are not to be missed!

La Tour Restaurant (French)

Food at La Tour restaurant in Vail.

Showcasing classic French entrees from black truffle-miso marinated Alaskan halibut to seared duck breast. And for dessert, Crème Brûlée Flambé.

Matsuhisa (Japanese)

Sushi, soy sauce, and chopsticks on platter.

From the same chef as world-renowned Nobu restaurants, Chef Nobu’s specialties at Matsuhisa include yellowtail tataki and sea bass with black truffle.

Leonora (Tapas)

An appetizing dish at Leonora restaurant.

Inspired by the French Alps, Spanish Pyrenees, and the Rockies, Leonora boasts enticing tapas and creative entrees. Flavorful dishes such as bone marrow and elk are prepared with locally sourced, alpine ingredients.

La Nonna Vail Ristorante (Italian)

Homemade pasta beside utensils on a table from La Nonna Vail.

La Nonna is Italian for grandmother and the name reflects the restaurant’s passion for food, wine, and making memories with family and friends. Menu highlights include homemade potato dumplings with meat ragú and homemade mushroom ravioli with white truffle oil.

What to Do in Vail

Skiing/Snowboarding with Venture Sports

A man skiing on a slope in Vail.

This is a ski-in/ski-out experience where you’ll never carry your skis to and from the chair lift. Vail Mountain has 195 total runs including seven back bowls. 18% of the runs are beginner runs, 29% are intermediate runs and 53% are advanced runs.

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Snowmobiling with Nova Guides

A snowmobile on snowy ground.

Top of the Rockies snowmobile tours includes endless miles of open meadows and spectacular 360-degree panoramic views of four surrounding mountain ranges including the Continental Divide. Operating tours in the White River National Forest at Historic Camp Hale, guests will reach elevations of 12,500 feet.

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Snow Cat Tours with Nova Guides

A snowcat and two snowmobiles in front of a cabin.

The snowcat tour is the perfect alternative for those who do not want to ride a snowmobile but want to experience the same scenic views of the surrounding area.

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Ice Fishing with Vail Valley Anglers

A man ice fishing.

Ice fishing offers guests a unique opportunity to fish during winter. Ice fishing is coupled with a fire or warmth from a portable fishing hut.

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Dog Sledding with Mountain Mushers

Dog sledding at sunrise.

Calling all thrill-seekers! Dog sled through trails that are snowmobile-free and offer views of the surrounding scenery.

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Snow Tubing at Adventure Ridge

A group of people snow tubing.

Located at the top of Vail Mountain, the 900-foot-long multi-lane hill that features music, also has a covered carpet to transport tubers to the top.

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Horse-drawn Sleigh Rides with Bearcat Stables

Horse-drawn sleigh rides in Vail.

Tour the grounds of a historic homestead in a horse-drawn sleigh or sleigh ride with dinner at a historic and rustic homesteader’s cabin.

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Getting To and Around Vail

A view of a village in Vail at dusk.

Arriving at Vail usually requires a flight and a bit of driving. Vail is also a stop on some Amtrak routes. We’ve listed the best options for getting to and around Vail.

  • Eagle Regional Airport (EGE): Eagle Regional Airport is located 30 miles west of Vail and is around a 40-minute drive. Shuttles are available at the airport to transport you to your hotel.
  • Denver International Airport (DIA): Denver International Airport is located 120 miles east of Vail and is around a two-hour drive. If flying into DIA, we recommend taking a bus (approximately 2.5 hours) or renting a vehicle.

If you find yourself in Vail without a vehicle, the best way to get around the village is via the village shuttle service – a reliable, timely, and free option.

Editors' Recommendations

Latifah Al-Hazza
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Latifah is an Emmy Award-Winning travel journalist and documentary filmmaker, as well as the Cofounder of Femscape Sojourns…
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