A Vail Weekender
It’s not that I particularly dislike the snow or cold weather, I’ve grown up with it my whole life, but if given the chance to go on vacation in the Winter, I’ll always choose somewhere warm and sunny over somewhere else cold and snowy. Over the past few years, I’ve got the itch to try skiing or snowboarding, but the lack of knowledge, gear and not wanting to spend my fun money on non-beach vacations, kept me from giving it a shot. This year a good friend invited me to Vail for a ski weekend and it was awesome.
Where to learn to ski
First up, I didn’t want to look like a noob on the slopes or buy a bunch a bunch of gear I may only wear once, so I rented a cool Burton kit from Kit Lender, which is like a Netflix for ski gear. For about $100, you can rent a jacket, pants, gloves and goggles for a weekend and have them shipped directly to your house or hotel, and then ship them back in a pre-paid box when you’re done. Easy!
The first day, I decided to ease into the world of winter sports so I went to the Vail Nordic Center in East Vail and tried cross country skiing. It was super fun and they have tracks in the snow you can follow which makes it easier. It doubles as a golf course in the Summer too, so it’s pretty flat and good for beginners who are getting used to wearing skis. You can also snowshoe there, which is kind of like hiking in the snow wearing big flat shoes.
When it was time to hit the slopes, I rented skis, poles, boots and a helmet from the nice guys at Vista Bahn Ski Rentals and headed to Chair 12 aka Gopher Hill Lift aka the bunny slope at Vail Mountain. I skied once 20 years ago and was terrible, but for some reason, I remembered the basics, so I was surprisingly less terrible this time around. After a few runs, I headed up to my first green trail, Swingsville. I ate it a few times on the way down, but managed to make it to the The 10th, a bar and restaurant in Mid Vail Village halfway down the mountain for a much needed drink. After lunch, I skied down the whole rest of the mountain via Lion’s Way and Gitalong Road and you know what? I had fun!
Where to chill out
After two days of being adventurous, I decided not to push it, and took a beautiful drive through Glenwood Canyon 45 minutes west of Vail to Glenwood Springs, CO to chill at Iron Mountain Hot Springs. They have over 15 soaking tubs of various temperatures perched along the Colorado River, plus a large heated pool. I really liked the hot springs, but the view of the interstate, a factory and a shopping center is kind of a bummer, but still worth a visit. On your way back, we stopped for a beer and popcorn at Bonfire Brewing Company in Eagle, CO.
I also checked out the day spa at Sonnenalp Resort in Vail Village which was a bit more my style. The spa looks and feels a like you’re hanging out in a Swiss lodge in the woods, and they have an indoor/outdoor heated pool and you can swim in between the two, one indoor and two outdoor hot tubs, and men and women’s sauna and steam rooms. Plus they have a cool 70s style firepit where you can chill out all day.
Where to eat and drink
I ate well in Vail, but the food is secondary to the scenery and fun stuff to do. For breakfast, I hit up Yeti’s Grind for good coffee, Vintage for a cute brunch, and Westside Cafe for a big boys breakfast and lots of food. For apres ski, I met up with friends at Los Amigos at the base of the mountain for chips and salsa and micheladas (but skipped the food), then headed to either the beautiful Four Seasons for an $18 hot chocolate or the 10th Mountain Whiskey Tasting Room for something stronger. Before dinner, I grabbed some beers at the Vail Brewing Company before heading over to Ti Amo for old school, family style Italian. And I also stopped by the Vale Ale House for a more casual bar/restaurant vibe with pub style food and tap beers.
Until next time, Vail!