Vail: Stay for the Summer

What is there to do in Vail in the summer? You'll be surprised.

By Joyce Shulman July 11, 2017

When you hear “Vail” do you envision a quaint village blanketed in snow? Do you picture families trudging through the main street with skis perched on their shoulders? Yup, me too. Until now.

Visit Vail in the summer, and you will undoubtedly hear at least three locals say “I came for the winter but stayed for the summer.” But the secret is out -- the past decade has transformed the Vail Valley into a vibrant, active, summer destination that delivers a boatload of family fun.

Wondering what there is to do? Well here’s just a start of the adventures awaiting you on-mountain, and off ...

Discover: Take a gorgeous ride aboard the Eagle Bahn Gondola to Vail’s newest summer experience: Epic Discovery. An incredible mountain playground and the perfect jumping off point for a day of hiking, mountain biking and adventure.

Coast: From the top of the gondola, take a short stroll and board the Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster for an epic mountainside ride. You control the speed so you can take it easy for the little ones, but if you are like us, you’ll go “no mercy” with the pedal to the metal. Check out our first-hand video:

Hang ten … from a ropes course: Test your balance, strength, and problem-solving skills as you navigate Epic Discovery’s three adventure ropes courses (one especially for kids). Trust me, it is more challenging – and more fun -- than it looks.

Fly: Seven zips, one repel, and a relaxing chairlift ride to catch your breath … Vail’s Game Creek Zipline tour is adventure, thrills, and the most stunning mountain views you can imagine. Great for kids ages 10 and up and the adults who want to fly with them.  

Fly Fish: Speaking of flying, the incredible team from Gore Creek Fly Fisherman will have you and your pack outfitted, licensed and on the river in no time. We spent the morning floating downriver being happily schooled in the art -- and trust me it is an art -- of casting, mending, drifting, and reeling. And yup, I caught a fish.

Take your dog to dinner: Vail is one of the most dog-friendly towns in America. Dogs are welcome in many hotels and condos and for outdoor dining at most restaurants. But Tavern on the Square takes it to a whole ‘nother level with an entire menu just for Fido offering everything from “assorted dog biscuits” to scrambled duck eggs, steamed carrots, and a cup of frozen Greek yogurt for dessert. If this is how they treat your pup, imagine what’s in store for you at this elegant, mountainside restaurant.

Do Downward dog with an upright goat: Yup, Goat Yoga has come to the Vail Stables. A one-hour yoga class accompanied by a small herd of baby goats who may interrupt Warrior One with a little nuzzle of your leg or snuggle up with you during Savasana.

Dine creekside: Vail is a foodie town all year round, but in summer, many restaurants throw open their doors and invite you to dine creekside. At newcomer White Bison, you will be tempted to make a meal of small bites -- and the fish tacos and Heirloom tomato salad are not to be missed -- but don’t miss their signature Bison burger, Arctic Char, or spring vegetable bowl. Just down the way from White Bison you’ll find Mountain Standard where impeccable food presentation and a creative cocktail menu await. Rocky Mountain Trout and Wagyu Steak are must-haves. And I know you won’t believe me, but the Rotisserie Chicken Salad left me wishing I could come back. Every single day. 

Chill: If all this summer fun leaves you nostalgic for winter, yet craving a summer cocktail, stop in to Frost Bar at The Sebastian – Vail and design your own Mojito with your choice of freshly-picked mint (they grow nine varieties on site) and more. Flatbreads, burgers, and the s’mores brownie will satisfy the kids and any post-hiking appetite you bring with you.

Glamp: Just 12 miles from Vail Village you’ll find Piney River Ranch, a private lakeside mountain retreat with rustic cabins and three glamping tents, each with a queen-sized bed, two doubles, fresh linens, a wood burning stove, and shared restroom facilities. Note there are no shower facilities on property.

And Stay: There are abundant lodging options in Vail, both in Vail Village and in Lionshead, the jumping off point for the Eagle Bahn gondola. We chose Antlers at Vail, an independently-owned, all-condo property that instantly feels like home. Every condo is different with options ranging from one-bedroom to three, a Creekside pool and hot tub, and a staff that believes the best answer to virtually any guest question is “yes.”

Late one afternoon, I was chatting with Magda, the Antlers’ charming general manager. She was telling me about the families who come back to the Antlers year after year and mentioned that summer rates start under $2,000 for an entire summer month. Hmmmm. I love Vail in the winter. But I think I’ll stay for the summer.


The writer was a guest of Vail for three nights. Accommodations, meals, and most activities were hosted. No other compensation was received and all opinions are her own.