A view of the Sonnenalp Club from above. Photo by Aimee Heckel

9 Ways to enjoy Vail in Summer


Vail, a two-hour drive from Boulder, offers some of the nation’s best slopes for skiing. It was ranked the No. 3 ski resort in the West by Ski Magazine.

But when the snow melts, the city does not stop. In fact, spring and summer are some of the best times of year to visit Vail.

The ski hills transform into an alpine playground. The wildflowers pop. The trails present jaw-dropping views.

There are so many reasons to plan a day-cation or weekend getaway to Vail in the summertime. Here are nine of our favorite ways to do Vail when there is no snow.

The Four Seasons Vail. Photo by Aimee Heckel

1. Stay in an Amazing Hotel

Vail has some of the most beautiful hotels in Colorado, with the best views, amenities and customer service. Although summer rates aren’t as cheap as in the spring (during the “mud season” when the snow is melting and everything is massively discounted), you can still find some good deals on luxury hotels in the summer.

Two hotels stand out among the rest, depending on what you’re looking for.

The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail is one of the most esteemed places to stay in Vail. It’s location, right between Vail’s two villages, makes it an easy walk or shuttle trip to anywhere in town.

As you would expect at a Four Seasons, the beds are heaven, the rooms are finely appointed and the fitness center is top-of-the-line. This hotel also offers our favorite pool in Vail, plus two hot tubs with mountainside views. You can also take out one of the resorts’ Mercedez Benz cars for a scenic road trip.

The Sonnenalp Hotel, with its quirky, European-inspired architecture, is another favorite. It’s that Swiss/Austrian style of building that sets Vail apart from other Colorado mountain towns, and the Sonnenalp plays into it.

The Sonnenalp is known for having the best bathrooms in Vail. They’re massive, with heated floors and oversized soaking tubs. The Sonnenalp’s spa and indoor/outdoor swimming pool are other highlights.

The spa at the Four Seasons in Vail. Photo by Aimee Heckel

2. Treat Yo’ Self in a Spa

Vail is home to one of the state’s few Forbes Five-Star spas, located inside the Four Seasons.

For something special, try a bourbon-centric treatment. The Bourbon Cowboy (designed for men, but really, there’s no gender specification to enjoy good spirits) includes a hot milk bath with a glass of local bourbon, a bourbon scrub and an agave nectar oil massage.

No matter the treatment you choose, take advantage of the indoor water circuit, with a dry sauna, cool plunge pool and grotto-style hot tub. Sit under a heated waterfall before sipping on some fruit-infused water by the outdoor fireplace on a private spa patio.

Inside a tent at the Collective Retreats. Courtesy photo

3. Go Glamping

Our absolute favorite thing to do in Vail Valley is to go glamping. (That’s glam-camping.) Collective Retreats offers up private, safari-style canvas tents with all of the details of a high-end resort, except in the heart of nature with open-air views that stretch out forever.

These tents even have working plumbing; room service delivers fresh-baked goods to your porch every morning, and squishy, soft beds with down pillows. Collective Retreats takes all of the discomforts out of the great outdoors and leaves you with only the fun parts.

4. Enjoy the Views

There’s so much to look at in Vail. Stroll through downtown. Take the gondola up to the top of the mountain to see the town from above. For even better views, hike one of Colorado’s shortest fourteeners (mountains that surpass 14,000 feet above sea level), the Mount of the Holy Cross.

The Epic Discovery Park in Vail. Photo by Aimee Heckel

5. Get Wild

The top of Vail Mountain turns into an amusement park after the snow melts. The Epic Discovery Park has all kinds of warm-weather ways to get a thrill: a roller coaster, zipline, ropes courses, playgrounds, a snowless tubing hill and more.

The more adventurous can sign up for the four-hour ziplining tour that will take you through the mountains to experience Vail like a bird.

Vail’s Nature Discovery Center. Courtesy photo

6. Go on a Hike

The best thing about Vail in the summer is the trails, many of which are inaccessible by foot in the winter. Head to the Nature Discovery Center on the top of the mountain to join a free, guided, educational hike. Or ask the experts there their favorite trails, if you’d prefer to go alone.

The Walking Mountains Sciences Center is a great resource for other organized outdoor events, such as guided art classes.

A benedict at Vintage in Vail. Photo by Aimee Heckel

7. Fill Up

Foodies love Vail. One of the coolest restaurants is Game Creek, accessible only via a horseback ride, hike or four-wheel-drive. You can’t just drive to the parking lot and get out. The journey is your appetizer here. Once you make it, the menu won’t disappoint. Game Creek is a five-star restaurant serving innovative, American fare.

Another one of Vail’s dining rockstars is Flame, which serves kobe beef and specializes in amazing steaks.

If you’re looking for brunch, head to the adorable French brasserie, Vintage, with great cocktails and even better benedicts.

The fire pit outside Remedy in Vail. Photo by Aimee Heckel

8. Make a Toast

Vail Valley is home to the 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company (take a tour and try a tasting); a sweet winery, Vines at Vail with an outdoor tasting room; and Remedy Bar, our favorite nightlife option in town. Remedy serves up some of the best cocktails in town on a patio with fireside views of the mountain. For a sweet treat, order the Haute Chocolate, a huge cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows that USA Today (and others) named one of the best hot chocolates in the world. It’s so rich, we dare you to try to finish the cup.

9. Go Golfing

High-altitude alpine golfing is its own sport. And one of the best places to go is the Sonnenalp Club, a semi-private country club with 18 holes and views for days.

After hitting balls on the championship-style course, take a dip in the club’s heated lap pool.

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