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One of best things about visiting Vail, Colorado, is that you are compelled to spend your time outdoors as it is so beautiful. The options of outdoor activities in Vail in the summer and fall are endless. The mountain environment offers maximum outdoor fun for families of all ages – from soaring up or down the mountain to exploring it on horseback or foot. Here are 4 things to do with kids in Vail Colorado in the summer.
4 Favorite Things to Do in Vail, Colorado in the Summer
1. EPIC Discovery
2. Take a HIKE
3. PLAY at the parks
4. HORSEBACK ride
While Vail, Colorado may be best known for its epic ski slopes, the area has even more to offer during summer. With warm sunny days, cool nights, clear skies and the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, summer is the perfect season to enjoy outdoor adventures and nature at its best. As a local Vail area family ranging in age from five-years-old to 50-years-old, we are happy to share some of our favorite things to do in Vail Colorado in the summer.
#1 Favorite Thing to Do In Vail with Kids: Epic Discovery
There really is something for everyone of all ages atop Vail Mountain at Epic Discovery, Vail’s summer playground. Soaring slowly through the air up a mountain while watching the green ski slopes and trees go by, surrounded by mountain peaks, is peaceful, relaxing and breathtaking.
Once you arrive at the top of Vail Mountain, the hardest decision will be what to do first. From speeding down the mountain on the Forest Flyer alpine coaster or tubing hill or flying through the air on a zip line, to testing your bravery on one of the ropes courses, there is something for kids and adults of all ages. I’d recommend taking a break from the excitement and challenges to cool off in the Nature Discovery Center while exploring wildlife exhibits.
The views atop Vail Mountain are always spectacular. But in my opinion, fall is the most beautiful. If you can make it up mid to late September, you may just get to take in golden Aspen leaves as far as you can see.
This is our top pick of things to do with kids in Vail as you really won’t find many other natural environments that combine an education of wildlife and nature with personal challenges, and just plain fun.
#2 Favorite Thing to Do In Vail with Kids: Take a Hike
Western Colorado is home to some of the most spectacular hikes in the country. There is really a hike for children and adults of all ages and ability levels. Our family has even managed to hunt down a couple that keeps young kids entertained with hidden caves and waterfalls.
If you are staying in Vail, you may want to stick close and take a vigorous hike up the mountain. You could also choose to ride the gondola up and take a leisurely hike around the top of Vail Mountain. Or perhaps a stroll through the beautiful Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is more your speed.
Personally, I think it is worth a drive over to the Glenwood Canyon, about 45 minutes west of Vail, for a hike up to the popular Hanging Lake. Or, if you have young kids, a drive out to Rifle Falls State Park for an easy loop to the top of the falls and around exploring caves as you go may be the ticket.
I don’t believe that there is a better way to slow down, enjoy nature and de-stress than taking a hike. Plus, there is no better time than the present to get your kids outside and into nature. If Vail hadn’t debuted Epic Discovery last summer and managed to uniquely combine nature, education, adventure, and fun, we might have made this our top pick of things to do with kids in Vail.
#3 Things to Do In Vail Colorado in the Summer: Play at the Parks
Visit the local parks! Every town has parks, and many much bigger than Vail’s. But I’d argue that these are special. Not only are they set in an idyllic outdoor environment, but they also encourage imaginary play and activity. Plus, it is one of the free things to do that kids will enjoy as much as the expensive activities.
Vail’s Sunbird Park, known as Nest Park by the local kids, was named as one of the world’s coolest by Travel + Leisure. Located in Lionshead Village, architects took inspiration from both the local ski culture and nearby nesting habitats to create “nest” tree houses with support structures that mimic the look of traditional wooden skis. Rope bridges, slides, a climbing wall and a spray park keep the kids moving and entertained.
In Vail Village, Pirate Ship Park is another favorite. The centerpiece is a large pirate ship with several levels with stairs up to an eagle’s nest at the top. From rowboats on the ground below to passageways through the ship above, this structure inspires all kinds of imaginary play. The swings and river access are bonuses.
Our kids, aged four and eight, are entertained for hours at the Children’s Fountain in Vail village. It is not exactly a park. But rather it is a water play area. And it is the perfect place to cool down on a warm day. Squeals of delight and laughter are non-stop. But beware, a candy shop is strategically placed right in front of the fountain. It will attract the kids like honey to a fly.
#4 Favorite Thing to Do In Vail with Kids: Take a Horseback Ride.
Coming from someone who was horse crazy as a kid, horseback riding is a special way to take in the Colorado mountain views and local flora and fauna. What an experience to ride atop beautiful, gentle animals with entertaining knowledgeable wranglers guiding you through the mountains. My daughter, one of her friends and I enjoyed a ride this summer at Beaver Creek Stables. At times we felt as though we were in the middle of nowhere. But then we’d come around a bend to take in miles of beautiful mountain vistas and ski runs.
Horseback riding is one of the things to do in Vail Colorado in the summer that might even be better in fall. The Aspen trees turn gold, the dust settles and the air has a hint of crispness. It is the perfect time to enjoy a family horseback ride.
Vail Summer Vacation — What to Know Before You Go:
- Vail sits at an altitude of 8,150 feet. To help prevent altitude sickness, drink plenty of water. Wear sunscreen as you are very near the strong sun rays.
- Vail boasts a large number of condos that are run as hotels, perfect for families. Rather than staying in a small hotel room, explore condominium options. Most will have the same services as hotels but with a full kitchen and more space.
- There are two connected villages in Vail: Vail Village and Lionshead Village. There’s a bit more going on in Vail village in terms of restaurants, shopping and entertainment. But Lionshead is a little quieter and has the Eagle Bahn Gondola running up to Epic Discovery. As a family, we prefer Lionshead village.
- If you are staying in either Vail or Lionshead village you really don’t need a car. Caveat: Unless you plan on taking a hike a distance away, like Hanging Lake. You will probably park your car for the entirety of your visit. The only thing you may want to go to West Vail for is groceries. But your hotel may have a shuttle to take you there. Check with your hotel. And, if so, try to ditch the car.
- Explore other areas of Colorado. Vail has so much to offer families but if you have the time it is well worth a day trip to one of the many other beautiful mountain towns.