Summer Guide to Vail, Colorado

If Vail, Colorado isn't on your travel bucket list add it ASAP! I was absolutely blown own away by this beautiful town nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Today's post is all about summer activities, food and the most beautiful hotel to stay at while you visit Vail!

My hotel stay was gifted by Sonnenalp Hotel however all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

From Austin I took a nonstop Southwest flight to Denver and rented a car and drove 2 hours to Vail. Beautiful drive with lots of great stops along the way!


Sonnenalp Hotel - Located in Vail Village sits the most picturesque German inspired luxury hotel owned by the fifth generation Faessler family. Sonnenalp Hotel includes 4 restaurants, a renowned spa, 3 hot tubs, two pools a sauna and a steam room. The relaxing common area of the spa is free for all guests to enjoy which is where I spent much time reading. They also offer free yoga and pilates classes. Every detail of this hotel takes me back to Europe. The furniture and decor are from Europe and the staff wear traditional European clothing including German dirndls. 

At first I wasn't sure if Vail was very kid-friendly but I was quickly proven wrong! Sonnenalp in particular has a Kids Club Recreation program which hosts special children programs and events in their Kids Club room (cost is around $40 per child). The children will make a craft, be served dinner and watch a movie all while the parents get a few hours to themselves! They also have children's guided hikes in the summer. There is also a recreation room open to all ages that includes air hockey, foosball and ping pong tables!

The concierge was extremely knowledgeable and every morning helped us decide on the activities for the day. They provided us with city and hiking maps and informed us on the best trails and restaurants. 

Our room itself was jaw dropping and included an adorable fireplace and patio that felt like I was in a scene of The Sound of Music. Our bathroom was large and luxurious and chocolate chip cookies were delivered to our room every night! Overall I would 100% recommend Sonnenalp to anyone staying in Vail! At night after a long day of walking we would head downstairs to the King's Club which is a beautiful gathering spot and bar where we would enjoy a cocktail, listen to live music and warm up by the fire. My sis and I also enjoyed a few drinks at Bully Ranch, which serves American and Southwestern fare, also located inside the hotel and has a beautiful patio and bar. The bartender had worked there for 14 years! 


If you love outdoor activities, Vail is the place for you! Every step I took I was amazed by the picturesque snow capped mountains, rivers, trees and flowers. Vail offers an Adventure Pass which gives you unlimited all-day access to 11 mountain top activities and is the best value.  They also offer the Scout Sampler which is designed for younger children ages 3-4.

Hiking: You can take a trail from the base of the mountain or take a scenic gondola to the top of the mountain and find dozens of trails up top. Gondola tickets for adults are $42 which you can purchase here. Kids 12 and under are free with the purchase of an adult ticket. Trails include all levels and lengths. We took an easier hike (Grand Escape to Meadow's Loop) that took us about an hour and a half. The staff at the bottom and top of the mountain provide free trail maps and are extremely helpful and will help guide you on the best trails for your party based on level and length.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens: Located along Gore Creek is the most stunning outdoor garden I've ever seen, and it's free to the public. This is an amazing area for all ages especially children as there is a huge kids park. There is a children's garden, rock garden, meditation garden, education center and amphitheater. Tours are provided to the public on a first come first served basis Mon, Thur, Sat meeting at 10:30am at the Education Center ($10).

Mountain Biking: Load your bike on to either Gondola One or Eagle Bahn Gondola at the base of Vail mountain and ride down miles of scenic trails! Get your bike and helmet rentals here.

Fly Fishing: Need a relaxing activity, spend some time fly fishing at Gore Creek which has earned the distinction as a Gold Medal Stream. This means it can produce 60 pounds of trout per acre. You can rent gear here or take a guided trip with Gore Creek Fly Fisherman or Sage Outdoor Adventures!

Ziplining: Vail mountain offers three ziplines: 1.) Game Greek Zipline Tour - Experience 7 ziplines over 2 Miles in the course of a 3-4 hour tour 2.) Golden Eagle Zipline - Take in views of Vail Valley & Gore Range 3.) Little Eagle Zipline - designed for younger guest (3+) to them flying and ready for the big experience.

4x4 Mountaintop Truck Tour: Not in the mood for walking, take a guided mountaintop tour with incredible views of Vail's legendary Back Bowls, the Gore Rance and Mount of the Holy Cross. You will learn about Vail's ecosystem and geology from your personal tour guide. Participants must be at least 4 years old.

Rafting/Kayaking: Class I to Class V river trips are available on the Eagle, Colorado and Arkansas rivers. Book your rafting trips through AVA's Colorado Rafting, Lakota Guides, Sage Outdoor Adventures or Timberline Tours. Trips can range from a couple of hours to a full day and wetsuits, booties and paddle jackets are complimentary with most tours. Depending on the tour kids as young as 6 years old are eligible but must have a minimum weight of 30 pounds.

Summer Tubing: Vail offers two tubing areas in the summer, Eagle's nest and Marmot Mini. Eagle's nest is a 550 ft-long tubing hill and music plays the whole way down! Children must be 7 and at least 42" tall to participate. Marmot mini features two runs and an easy access surface lift to get you back to the top. Participants must be 3 years old and in between 30-100 pounds.

Scenic Gondola Ride: Maybe you aren't the hiking type, you still must see the view from atop Vail Mountain. Take the Gondola ride up and spend some time at the top soaking up the fresh mountain air, grab lunch and have a drink at the restaurant. See restaurants here. Gondola tickets for adults are $42, kids 12 and under are free with the purchase of an adult ticket.

Shopping: There is no shortage of touristy gift shops in Vail Village but you will also find unique children's stores, art galleries, jewelry and clothing stores. If you forget your summer or ski gear, no worries they've got you covered! My favorite store was Kemo Sabe, a unique western store in the heart of Vail that had the most beautiful one of a kind hats and boots.


Alpenrose: German and Austria inspired home-style cuisine serving hearty goulash, kässpätzle, salads, fondue, fresh baked German pretzels, dumpling specialties, and a large kids menu! Their traditional Alpine desserts are a MUST including apfelstrudel, kaiserschmarrn, and Marillenknödel. The front deck overlooks a bustling vail village pedestrian walkway and has blankets so you can enjoy the cool mountain air! The staff wear traditional German lederhosen and dirdnls and the restaurant decor is stunning. As someone who lived in Europe this was by far one of my favorite meals. Everything we ordered was extremely fresh and brought me back to the tastes of Austria and Germany. Reading their warm drink menu which included glühwein and adult hot chocolate with rum and whip cream makes me want to return in the winter! They also offer shot skis and traditional schnapps. Check out their full menu here.

Delizioso: Family-owned, European style market located in Vail Village featuring bread and decadent pastries, homemade gelato, specialty espresso drinks, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and convenience items like packaged snacks, condiments, sunscreen and bottled drinks! This market was next door to our hotel, and we grabbed a quick breakfast here one morning. I had the fried egg sandwich with Swiss cheese and ham on a bagel and I can't express how delicious it was! I HIGHLY recommend and most breakfast sandwiches are around $8. If you need a quick lunch stop in for a panini, wrap or salad. Check out their full menu here.

Mountain Standard: Stylish, upmarket gastropub offering New American fare, beers, bourbons and more in a woody space. Mountain Standard is in the center of Vail Village and overlooks Gore Creek.  Relaxed atmosphere with menu items including buttermilk sea salt biscuits, Rocky Mountain trout, prime flat iron steak, rotisserie chicken salad (highly recommend), and the most delicious carrot cake! They have lots of beers on tap, and if you're in to a spicy margarita I highly recommend the Mackinnon cocktail (fresh chili infused surety reposed tequila, celery simple syrup, lime). Reservations are suggested as this place is always busy!

Ludwig's Breakfast: Overlooking Gore Creek Ludwig's located inside Sonnenalp Hotel offers a bountiful European style breakfast buffet from 7am - 11am daily and till 12pm on Sunday. I was in awe of the buffet selection including waffles, french toast, hash browns, omelets, breads and homemade jams, fresh fruit, European cheeses and meats, assorted pastries and muffins, yogurts, smoothies, cheese blintzes, made to order eggs and a granola bar. Reservations are not required.

Up The Creek: Family owned serving farm fresh food sourced from local and sustainable sources.
The view from Up The Creek is beautiful as it is located on the banks of Gore Creek and boasts Vail's only creek side patio. There is a large grassy area for kids to play nearby so it's a great location if you need the small ones to get some energy out plus they have an extensive kids menu. We enjoyed their truffle fries served with warm bleu cheese fondue, clam chowder, and grilled chicken salad.

La Nonna Ristorante: Homemade pasta made fresh daily using Pivetti Flour from Ferrara, Italy! We enjoyed fried calamari, seafood pasta, shrimp risotto, tiramisu and homemade mushroom ravioli in a white cream sauce with white truffle oil. Not the best spot for young kids, but then again mine are like feral animals so it's up to you! Reservations suggested.

Los Amigos: Voted Vail's best Mexican restaurant, Los Amigos sits in one of the best locations at the bottom of Gondola One. It's got a large deck and bar for optimal mountain viewing!  Their margaritas  and chips and salsa hit the spot after a long hike. Jalapeño bean dip, street tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and lots of kid options on the menu.

Sweet Basil: Modern American cuisine. Every time we asked for food recommendations Sweet Basil was mentioned. Unfortunately we didn't get around to dining in but here are a few items on their dinner menu; whipped feta, sweet corn risotto, oysters, shrimp and grits and honey glazed duck breast. Reservations suggested.

Swiss Chalet at Sonnenalp: Another spot I didn't get the chance to dine at but offers traditional European cuisine. If you like fondue this is the place for you! Wiener schnitzel, baked triple cream brie, filet mignon, soups, salads and a wide range of fondue options are on the menu.

I hope you get the chance to visit Vail, I promise you will not be disappointed! Delicious food, beautiful scenery and endless activities for the whole family. Make it a couples trip, girls trip or bring the kiddos. All will have a wonderful time! Follow more of my travels here. 

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