How to Have a Blast in Vail Even if You Don't Ski

By Tracey Flower | Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Fact: You don’t have to ski to have a blast in Vail in the winter. Despite my decade of living in the Valley, I’m not a big skier myself and no one in my family skis, so I’m well-versed in entertaining both myself and out-of-town visitors with non-skiing winter activities. Here are a few of my favorites.

Photo: Walking Mountains Science Center Facebook

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is great because it’s cheap, you can do it on your own or with a group, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of skill or experience. If you visit me in the winter, it’s pretty much a guarantee that we’ll be going for a snowshoe hike. My go-to trails are Meadow Mountain in Minturn or Gore Creek in East Vail.

If you’d like some guidance, I recommend joining Walking Mountains Science Center for a guided tour. They offer free guided hikes out of their Nature Discovery Center on Vail Mountain or from their main campus in Avon and have options for varying lengths and abilities, including a family snowshoe exploration for families with young children. They’ll also let you use a pair of their snowshoes for free.

Photo: Aaron Huber, Unsplash

Daytrip to Glenwood Springs

So long as the roads are clear and the weather is favorable, a daytrip to Glenwood Springs (located about 60 miles west of Vail) is always a hit with out-of-town guests. For starters you have to drive through Glenwood Canyon to get to Glenwood Springs, and the views along the road are spectacular.

In Glenwood, I like to head straight to the hot springs. You can choose between the giant pool at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort or smaller, more rustic pools at Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Following a good, long soak, I like to get lunch at The Pullman and then browse through all the great shops in downtown Glenwood.

Photo: Iron Mountain Hot Springs

Après or Dinner on Vail Mountain

Scenic rides in the Eagle Bahn Gondola (accessed from Lionshead Village) are free after 3:30 p.m., which is perfect timing for après – which is basically just ski-town language for happy hour, so don’t feel like you have to have skied all day to participate – at Bistro Fourteen, a restaurant located right at the top of the gondola. They’re also open for dinner, if you prefer to head up later in the day.  

Photo: Vail Mountain Facebook

And More!

Those are just a few of my favorite things to do around the Vail Valley when my non-skier friends and family come to visit. There’s plenty more to see and do, though. You could go to a show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, which has an exciting lineup of upcoming events. 

You could go for a dog-sledding tour (something I’ve always wanted to try) or go snowmobiling. The options are endless! A full run-down of this week's activities can be found at our Daytime Events and Nightlife listings. 

Have fun exploring, and we’ll see you in Vail!

About the Author Tracey Flower
Tracey spent more than a decade living, working and playing in the Vail Valley and now splits her time between Denver and Vail. She's big fan of hiking, running, camping and biking and loves travelling around Colorado and throughout the West, visiting places she’s never been and exploring old favorites.