Last month we traveled to Vail, Colorado. This beautiful retreat is beloved year round by nature lovers looking to river raft or hike, and those who adore it for its picturesque snowy winters, making it the ultimate ski retreat. We set out for for a vacation that has the perfect mixture of fun out door activities, and ultimate relaxation. Come along as we share our guide to haute places and things to do in Vail this summer.
While Vail has its own local airport, the Eagle County Regional Airport, it tends to have limited direct service, particularly in the summer months. We decided to fly into Denver International Airport direct from Ft. Lauderdale, and rented a car. The drive to Vail is just an hour and a half, and bonus! The scenic route took us up through the Rocky Mountains, which were so beautiful we stopped several times to take some fun snaps. If you're not up for the drive, you can always take the Colorado Mountain Express, which will get you directly to your hotel.
Where to Stay
We chose the Four Seasons for many reasons: we have never been disappointed by their rooms or service worldwide, it's fairly centrally located, and has tons of terrific amenities. Vail is a quaint and very walk-able village. The Four Seasons is located in East Vail, which is where the main part of the town is. Boasting some of the best views of the mountain, every room in the hotel has its own balcony where you can enjoy freshly brewed espresso and take in the mountain air.
Our room was large and homey. The expansive entryway separated the lush bathroom, equipped with a rainfall shower and large soaking tub, and the king sized bedroom with its own fire place and balcony. The staff was excellent! Upon checking in they explained that, knowing we came from South Florida, they put a humidifier in the room to help us acclimate to the cool, dry weather. Our bellman took time to explain how to work the fireplace, espresso machine, humidifier and every other perk included in the rooms. They were also extremely quick and helpful when we rang to ask for items we had forgotten at home.
Vail Village, we found out, is USA’s largest free transportation system, linking the East and West areas of Vail Village, and operates every day of the year. Depending on your hotel, private transportation is also available. The Four Seasons had a car on hand 24-hours a day to drop off or pick us up wherever we were. Uber is also widely used throughout Colorado, providing an additional option. As we had a rental car, we used this to explore nearby towns where neither the buses or Four Seasons staffed car would take us.
What to Do
There seems to be no end to the ample out door activities offered in Colorado. From river rafting to mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, walking the mountain tops and much more.
We wanted to go for a hike and were recommended the Booth Falls Trail, which is a 10 minute drive up the road from Vail Village. The 3.9 mile is generally considered a moderate hike, and features a waterfall and beautiful mountainside views. Keep in mind, if you're not used to the altitude, you may feel more winded that you do at a much lower altitude. Being from Florida, we definitely felt the difference. The hike took us a few hours, but the beauty of the trail kept us well occupied.
After the hike we soaked our aching muscles in the hot tubs around the pool at the Four Seasons. It was well deserved, and much appreciated! The air temperature was in the mid seventies, and combined with the breathtaking view of the mountains beyond, made it a true highlight of the trip.
Vail Village has plenty of quaint shops and restaurants. You can stroll the cobblestone streets and duck into a fun jewelry shop, take a peak at mountain terrane inspired art and photography, check out the latest winter sports equipment sales, or stop into adorable cafe's for a quick coffee and delectable chocolate cake. We popped into the Alpenrose one afternoon for a drink and bite to eat. The adorable German-Austrian restaurant and bar is right in the village and immediately transports you to Europe. With tankards on the wall, an old wooden bar, and a European pastry counter, who could ask for more?
Naturally, as we were staying at a resort with a spa, we felt remiss to neglect the latter privileges of the hotel. We booked in for a 50 minute Swedish massage, and were not disappointed! In fact, it may have been the best massage we've ever had. The tranquil environment of the Four Seasons Vail spa left nothing to be desired. We made sure to get there early and warmed up in the wellness area, using the heated pool, sauna and steam room. The massage was terrific. We chose nature sounds (when in Rome!) and the masseuse used oils that she said would help us adjust to the altitude. We left feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on anything!
In summer, just like winter, the gondolas go up and down the mountain. If you find yourself in Vail during the summer months, don't miss the opportunity to go to the top of the mountain! We soared up another 2,000 feet to the middle of the mountain to take in some unbelievably beautiful views.
Where to Eat
We wanted to try a variety of restaurants and cuisine while in Vail. The Four Seasons has an excellent steakhouse called Flame. We each had the filet, which you can top with exciting and amazing things like foes gras and blue cheese butter for the bold! It was extra convenient as it was right in our hotel, so after the heavy and delicious meal, we simply headed back up to our comfortable beds.
To juxtapose the steakhouse, one our second night in Vail we went for something much lighter. We decided to check out Matsuhisa, a renowned sushi restaurant located in Vail, Aspen and Denver. While they do offer an Omakase menu (Japanese tasting), we decided to go ff the beaten path. Going with an array of delicious sounding menu items, we started with their terrific miso soup, which they suggest eating without a spoon in true Japanese style. Next we tried their black cod lettuce wraps, which were so delicious we almost ordered them twice, some terrifically fresh uni, salmon, tuna and trout, that was native to Colorado and truly delectable.
On our last day in Vail, we decided to venture out of the village to a local favorite brunch spot called Westside Cafe & Market. We were reluctant to leave our adorable Vail Village bubble at first, but when people kept recommending this place, we knew we had to try it! With a hefty menu with some Colorado favorites like Dirty Biscuits & Gravy, Toad in the Hole, and Bison Meatloaf & Eggs, we were at a loss to pick just one thing. Westside Cafe is known for its exotic localized menu, immense choice of Benedict's, bowl-sized Bloody Mary's, and a french toast and pancake menu that goes on for days.
Vail Village in summer left us feeling fit, invigorated, and refreshed. It is truly a peaceful place where you can do anything. With an air of longing, we hopped back on our flight to Palm Beach, knowing we will come back some day, perhaps in the winter to try out their skiing!