Apres Ski in Vail
Pedestrian-only Vail is made up of four main base areas – Vail Village, Lionshead, Gold Peak and Cascade – centered around Tyrolean themed Vail Village and the newly-refurbished Lionshead Village.
Vail is pedestrian-only, with four main base areas centered around a mock-Tyrolean theme. The four base areas include Vail Village, Lionshead, Gold Peak and Cascade. Vail Village-originally built in the 1950s but now part of a vast resort complex-is the main base area. This is the most expensive area to stay, convenient for the lifts and the many restaurants, stores, and hotels. The Vista Bahn lift allows easy ski-in, ski out access from the village. Lionshead is the western base area and also features shopping and dining.
Those who have not visited Vail in the last few years will be surprised to learn that Lionshead, the formerly industrial looking 1970’s condo complex has been completely renovated. Gone are many of the concrete and cinderblock monstrosities that lined the slopesides streets. In their places stand several high end luxury developments. The Lionshead Development project includes a new skier services portal; a new luxury hotel (Arrabelle at Vail Square); riverfront town homes; and over 400 additional beds; 50,000 square feet (4,645 sq. m) of retail space; a small number of single family home sites; and improved auto and pedestrian access. Complementing the Tyrolean architecture of Vail Village, classic European architecture is featured throughout the Lionshead area, giving the Village a decidedly French feel.
Apres-Ski Bars & Nightlife in Vail
Vail is known for a great apres-ski scene-and excellent celebrity spotting.
It’s late afternoon and Vail is known for a great apres-ski scene. After the lifts close check out the Red Lion or Los Amigos in the village, or for great margaritas, Garfinkel’s in Lionshead, which sports a large outside deck overlooking the base area and features live acoustic music.
The Red Lion in Vail Village has earned the reputation as “the place to be after you ski.” Get there early on a nice day to claim a prize spot near the stage. Live music nightly. Or there’s Los Amigos in Vail Village offering one of the best views of the base area-you sit on the outside deck and watch skiers and snowboarders make their final runs down Pepsi’s Face. Or you might spot one of the many Vail celebrities who either have a place here or are “passin’ thru”-and there are quite a few. If we mention in passing Joe Montana, Oprah, John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Roger Daltrey, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mimi Rogers, Phil and Steve Mahre, Kelsey Grammer, and Cameron Diaz, you’ll get the drift.
The Tap Room at the top of Bridge Street is the place to try one of several types of martinis. In Vail Village, try Vendetta’s, a popular locals’ place.
After dinner, it’s time to check out Vail at night and find out why SKI Magazine rates Vail’s nightlife tops. There’s great entertainment with live music, offering everything from piano jazz and 80s music through hip-hop and reggae at places like 8150, Fubar, and Mickey’s Piano Bar. The George has sofas you can sink into, pool tables, and foos-ball, and the Tap Room specializes in great martinis.
Vail’s streets come to life every Wednesday night during the Budweiser Street Beat. This free series features nationally and locally recognized acts including the Young Dubliners, the Hazel Miller Band, and William Topley. After the concert, stop by the local’s favorite and ski patrol hangout, Vendetta’s, for a beer and a slice of pizza. Then hit the Fubar to sing along with Scott Ma.
Restaurants in Vail
Vail has a wide range of cafés and restaurants offering every kind of cuisine, and its nighlife, with lots of live music, is unsurpassed.
If eating out is your (other) favorite activity, Vail is the perfect choice. Vail caters to wide-ranging palates and budgets with 73 restaurants and 16 bars, and apart from Whistler no resort in North America has such a range of cafés and restaurants offering every kind of cuisine, from Chinese and Mexican through to native Californian, for which the Terra Bistro or the Vail Athletic Club are the tops. Vendetta’s is an Italian restaurant and is very very good-and who doesn’t like Italian? Colorado is a long way from the sea but the fish at Montauk in Lionshead is always fresh and excellent. But restaurants rise and fall, and chefs move about, so ask around among your fellow guests and find out where the good food is really at this season.
The Wildflower is the only Mobile four-star rated restaurant in Vail and it boasts one of the best wine lists in town. Sumptuous breakfasts and skiers’ lunch buffets are on offer slope-side for quick dining breaks at Cucina Rustica. It transforms into an authentic Tuscan grill for dinner. Established in 1977, Sweet Basil in the heart of Vail Village is renowned as one of Vail’s finest restaurants. The wine list continually receives the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine and the food features imaginative American entrées with Mediterranean and Asian influences from chef Bruce Yim.
For the family, the Red Lion is great for every member, with a children’s menu, great beer selection, and live entertainment, while Bully Ranch is a locals’ favorite serving true Colorado Western and barbecue, featuring everything from hand-cut prime beef to veggie wraps. On the budget side Bart & Yeti’s in Lionshead offers a variety of burger and sandwich options from US$5 to US$10, while Flying Burrito in Lionshead serves tasty burritos for less than US$6. They’re a meal in themselves.
It is strongly recommended that you make table reservations in advance, but beware that in this well-heeled resort standards are high and in the better restaurants (on and off the mountain) New York prices (expensive) are not uncommon.
Other Activities in Vail
The excitement and fun in Vail run deeper than the powder, with hot-air ballooning, ice climbing, dog sledding—and of course, shopping.
The skiing in Vail may be legendary, but the excitement and fun in Vail run deeper than the powder. Given that Vail is the tops, it follows that the alternative activities are all outstanding. You want it, Vail has it: tennis, swimming, dogsledding, hot air ballooning (very popular, somewhat chilly), indoor climbing, ice-climbing (very chilly, somewhat dangerous), sleigh rides (very chilly, very romantic), tubing, skating…you name it-and of course, shopping.
Adventure Ridge Activity Center
Adventure Ridge is Vail’s headquarters for non-skiing fun. This on-mountain activity center located at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola at Eagle’s Nest caters to kids of all ages. Have a go on the unique, multi-lane tubing hill with some lanes that are steep and fast, and others that are shorter and milder for tame tubers. Ski-biking is another option with nighttime tours from Adventure Ridge to the bottom of the gondola. Instructors provide an introduction to ski-biking techniques, before leading tour groups down the mountain.
For something way more relaxing there are more than a handful of day spas in Vail offering specialty services to reinvigorate and rejuvenate tired muscles and bodies after hours on the slopes. Not least in this category is the Aria Spa & Club at the Vail Cascade Resort, recently upgraded thanks to a US$4 million renovation and expansion to incorporate the creation of a grand luxury spa called Aria within the existing massive spa and club facility. The spa will include massage, plus body, facial, and hydrotherapy treatments.
Shopping in Vail
Back on the streets, Vail offers more than 145 stores and boutiques, nearly 50 art galleries and museums including the Colorado Ski Museum (check out the old skis and other artifacts), casual apparel, gift and home furnishing boutiques, ski and snowboard stores, a wine shop and florist, and handcrafted jewelry. Finally, why not feast your eyes on flowers as they break through the snow at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the highest public garden in the United States. For those into self-catering there are a dozen liquor and grocery stores. Just remember that Vail is big; it doesn’t do things by half, and with 1.5 million visitors flowing through a town seven miles long by two miles wide (11 km x 3 km) you’d expect non-skiing activities to be varied and attractive.