Vail, Colorado (in winter)

By David

While it is a destination for many, Vail, CO is a home away from home for us.  We were lucky enough to buy a condo in East Vail five years ago (a purchase we both agree may have been the best we’ve ever made).  While it is true that Vail is best known for it’s winter sports options, winter is only a small part of why we love Vail.  That said, let’s focus on winter.

Vail offers some of the best (if not the best) skiing in the US.  Vail Mountain Resort offers so much terrain and variety that skiers of all experience levels will love it.  My top 5 (though not for the beginners) are:

  1. Skiing under Earl’s lift before the crowds arrive at Blue Ski Basin – nothing like an uncrowded Champagne Glade.
  2. The excitement of dropping into Steep and Deep, Heavy Metal or Iron Mask.
  3. Hard to beat China Bowl any time.
  4. and while we’re talking bowls – anywhere in Sun-Up Bowl where it is slightly warmer due to the length of time the sun hits it.
  5. Cruising down Cloud 9 from lift 37 to pick up Pete’s lift.

While alpine skiing is a winter favorite of mine, the nordic skiing and snowshoeing options in and around Vail also offer a great way to release your mid-winter endorphins.  One of our favorites (winter, summer or fall) is a hike up the bike path up towards the summit of Vail Pass.

And finally, what are our favorite spots for eating/drinking?  A short list follows:

  1. For a splurge, we love Flame in the Four Seasons.  Yep, its a splurge but we love it.  They bring these great dipping sauces for your steak.  We also like to start out at the bar upstairs first, which was redone this past summer.
  2. On the other end of the spectrum – you absolutely cannot beat the sandwiches at Big Bear Bistro (try the Lumberjack if you eat cow or the Phoenix if turkey is more your speed.  Sorry vegans I haven’t tried anything sans meat).
  3. Also on the Big Bear end of the spectrum, the pizza at Pazzo’s is hard to beat.  Get ready to wait in line though, especially on the weekends.
  4. For upscale but not budget busting we really like Terra Bistro.  Reservations recommended or sometimes you can score bar seats for dinner if you time it right.
  5. As a homeowner in East Vail, we really like sitting at the bar at Blu’s (which has really improved over the past two years, so if you’ve not been in for a while, try it again) in the Racquet Club Resort, where we own.  The Racquet Club resort offers all the amenities of a full service resort (gym, pool, hot tub, snowshoe rentals, tennis courts in the summer, hiking close by etc.).  It is quieter than Vail village and is only a short shuttle ride to town.  Consider it for your next stay.
  6. Campo de Fiori is also a mid-priced option for great Italian, though you really need to plan ahead if you want to eat there during the season (meaning all except spring after the mountain closes).
  7. The only really good breakfast joint in town, that we’ve found, is The Little Diner in Lionshead village.  Not diet food, but yum.
  8. A final, moderately priced option is Up the Creek.  Good for lunch, brunch or dinner.

As we get ready for the SuperBowl, I leave you with a Broncos-themed sunset (sorry fellow Pats fans, but I’ve gotta root for Peyton) shot from the Vail side of Vail pass.  Go Broncos!


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