The world-famous slopes in Vail and Beaver Creek make a lasting impression, whether you’re a regular or a first-time visitor, but as any local knows that’s just one side of this fabled and multifaceted slice of Colorado. The Vail Valley is rife with opportunities for new and illuminating experiences if you just know where to look.
Curious to see a side of Vail Valley that might not be obvious at first glance? Get ready to be surprised, enlightened and charmed in ways that will certainly change your vacation experience and possibly even your life! It’s a journey of discovery, exploring places and pastimes that will nourish your sense of wonder.
Mother Nature never fails to inspire, especially in Vail Valley where alpine vistas and natural beauty are jaw-dropping in every direction. Sometimes the best way to appreciate the splendor is to take a closer look.
- Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. View colorful varieties of flowers and plants that thrive at Colorado’s highest elevations, as well as plants that flourish at similar latitudes from around the globe at this exquisite Vail botanic garden. Amid the lush plantings, the gardens are hardscaped with pathways, waterfalls and bridges. The education center offers in-depth information, seasonal guided tours and special events.
- Vail Nature Center. While visiting the Alpine Gardens, don’t miss the chance to stop at the nearby Vail Nature Center, part of the seven-acre Walking Mountains Science Center campus. Step inside the 1940s homestead to explore exhibits and find out about nature programs, as well as a variety of tours that range from birdwatching to stargazing!
- Farmers’ Markets. For sensory overload, connect with the bounty of nature as well as with residents from the community at farmers’ markets throughout the Vail Valley. In addition to local produce and fresh flowers, the markets have evolved into miniature festivals with live music, food vendors and artisans. Don’t miss the Minturn Market, the Edward’s Corner Farmers’ Market and the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show.
- Caves at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Take a deep dive into a world normally shrouded in darkness. Cave tours at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in nearby Glenwood Springs show off a dazzling display formations. The King’s Row tour takes visitors through Colorado’s second largest cave room, while the Historical Tour goes to the very edge of Glenwood Canyon’s towering cliffs.
The best way to make a skill, technique or craft your own is through experience. All you need to launch a new hobby or sharpen skills is a willingness to get out of your comfort zone and try something new!
- Vines at Vail Winery. Operating at 4 Eagle Ranch in nearby Wolcott, Vines at Vail brings the art, craft and joy of winemaking to its guests. In addition to tastings and food pairings, the winery also crushes it with a fun year-round schedule of grape-themed events!
- Beaver Creek Hiking Center. What could possibly make hitting the trail for a high country hike any better? Going with a local expert who, in addition to knowledge of the region’s flora and fauna, has a knack for spinning a story. The Beaver Creek Hiking Center, located at the ski area base, offers regularly scheduled group and private guided hiking tours for all levels and abilities.
- Ski and Snowboard School. Not just for newbies, everyone can benefit from a lesson. Vail and Beaver Creek ski and snowboard instructors are among the best in the industry. These pros return season after season to share their expertise. Beginners will develop a solid skill set, while those who are more advanced gain an edge from focused tips and techniques.
- Fly fishing. Experiment with the art of fly tying, practice casting or spend the day floating rivers with Vail Valley fishing outfitters. Gore Creek Fly Fisherman, Nova Guides, Sage Outdoor Adventures and Vail Valley Anglers all know what’s biting at any given time throughout the year and where to find the best, most productive fishing holes.
Switch it up and see the world from an artist’s perspective. Proximity to Vail and Beaver Creek is fortunate not just for skiers and snowboarders but for anyone who appreciates the arts. With venues, both formal and informal, visitors can engage in cultural experiences from fine art to live performances.
- Galleries. Indulge your senses, converse with artists in residence and spark creativity of your own. The Vail Valley boasts a vast collection of galleries and showrooms. For a concentration of quality art, visit Gallery Row in Beaver Creek. A few not to miss include C. Anthony Gallery, Nature Gallery, Tony Newlin Photography and Sportsman’s Gallery. In Minturn, check out Drinking Vessels glass art studio.
- Public Spaces. Alfresco artwork is equally engaging but on an outsized scale. The “Wonder” installation in Beaver Creek showcases a series of playful, photo-friendly sculptures that delight visitors of every age. The Town of Vail’s public art collection includes an impressive 55 works featuring paintings, sculptures, murals and more. Embark on an art-focused treasure hunt by downloading a map to see them all.
- Concerts. When it comes to music, the Vail Valley is the world’s stage, drawing big-name artists from around the globe to the Vilar Performing Arts Center and Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Smaller venues throughout the valley also attract top talent for seasonal festivals and shows. Be sure to tune into what’s happening at Avon’s Nottingham Park & Lake, Little Beach Park in Minturn and Town Park in Eagle.
- Sometimes you just want to relax and catch the latest cinematic blockbuster or indie release. Enjoy the show retro-style, but with upscale snacks, ice cream, coffee and adult beverages at Riverwalk Theater in Edwards.
Time Machine Trips
For the record, Vail Valley history is an elaborate adventure saga, one that includes an inspiring cast of characters overcoming the odds in a rugged, often unforgiving landscape.
- Vail Mountain Legacy Stops. Take in a little history lesson as you ski or ride Vail with a self-guided tour of the mountain. Informational signs with signature history icons are located throughout the mountain on a mix of trails from easy to expert. A quick pause in your ski day is all it takes to hone your Vail trivia knowledge!
- Colorado Snowsports Museum. Trailblazers always push the limits of possibility. At the museum, discover stories of WWII-era 10th Mountain Division troopers who trained in the Vail Valley and at nearby Camp Hale, pay tribute to ski industry icons and athletes, witness the evolution of snowboarding gear and much more. In addition to traditional and interactive exhibits and videos, the museum also hosts guided historic walking tours of Vail Village.
- Red Cliff Truss Bridge. This architectural wonder is tucked in a canyon off Highway 24 in the tiny town of Red Cliff, population 345, which was founded as a mining camp in 1879 during the Colorado Silver Boom. Red Cliff Truss Bridge, a cantilevered steel arch, is spectacularly photogenic and considered one of Colorado’s most iconic bridges.
Following your curiosity leads to unexpected places, especially in the Vail Valley where there’s so much to see, do, discover and explore. Visit Vail Valley can help make your vacation plans a reality!