Treasure Trove of Family Vacation Ideas for Vail Valley

Family vacations are irreplaceable times that bring crews together for real relaxation and authentic experiences that are long remembered. Dialing in lodging and activities that suit specific age groups and the whole posse is the key to keeping enthusiasm soaring. And what about furry friends who is part of the tribe? Many Vail Valley properties are pet-friendly, and you will see plenty of locals around with their pups.

If you’re the family travel planner, our hats go off to you! Visit Vail Valley is here to assist, and we’ve come up with a bounty of ideas to consider.

Younger Kids – Curiosity Rules

With full stomachs, rested bodies and entertained minds, this age group is typically good to go! The youngest family members have an enthusiasm that is pure gold, and they tend to love parks, pools and anything hands-on.

To burn off energy and find other kids to play with, check out some of the Vail Valley’s coolest playgrounds and parks.

  • Nottingham Park, Avon
  • Creekside Park, Beaver Creek
  • Brush Creek Park, Eagle
  • Pavilion Park, EagleVail
  • Freedom Park & Skatepark, Edwards
  • Little Beach Park, Minturn
  • Donovan Park, Vail
  • Lionshead’s Birds Nest, Vail
  • Pirate Ship Park, Vail
  • Red Sandstone Park, Vail

Several Vail Valley lodging properties have great pools for some serious splish-splashing year-round. Eagle Pool, EagleVail Pool and Gypsum Creek Pool are public facilities available seasonally and are ideal if you are camping, renting a home or staying with relatives, and the pool at Avon Recreation Center is open year-round. The area’s four libraries in Avon, Eagle, Gypsum and Vail also are worthy stops with story times in English and Spanish and activities for all ages.

Imagination Station, located above the Vail Welcome Center in Lionshead, is a hands-on children’s museum ideal for kids ages 2 to 12 with additional activities available in the adjacent community programming room, like paint-your-own pottery, virtual reality, and art and science projects. For multi-day options, summer camps deliver all sorts of mountain action with Beaver Creek’s Five Star Kid Camp, Cordy Camp, and various options through Mountain Recreation, Walking Mountains Science Center and Vail Recreation District available.

Tweens – Ramp Up the Action

If you have a tween(s) of your own, it can be hard to know what to plan, but Vail Valley is sure to strike good fortune with this age group, especially with selfie spots galore. A favorite is Beaver Creek’s Wonder, an interactive “playground” of oversized sculptures scattered such as towering frost flowers, a giant snow globe, larger-than-life goggles, and a remodeled ice cream truck.

Tweens are at the perfect age for rafting or tubing excitement on the Colorado River with local outfitters.

Bring your tweens’ favorite foods in a picnic for summer outdoor movie nights at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail (Fridays) and Avon Performance Pavilion (Saturdays). If music is preferred, free concerts are held on Tuesday (Vail), Wednesday (Avon), Thursday (Eagle and Minturn) and Sunday (Avon) evenings.

Adventure parks, skateparks and miniature golf speak the languages of all ages, but it might just be what the vacation doctor orders for tweens and teens specifically.

  • Located inside the Lionshead Village parking structure, Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark opened in 2016 has features for all ages and abilities. Freedom Park in Edwards is another option for skateboard enthusiasts.
  • Next to the gondola in Lionshead is the nine-hole Gore Creek Mini Golf. Also slopeside, Beaver Creek Miniature Golf has 18 holes and a climbing wall and bungee trampolines nearby.
  • At Vail Mountain, Adventure Ridge in winter is all about a snowmobile track, snow tubing and ski biking and transforms into Epic Discovery in summer with ropes courses, zip lines, bungee trampolines and an alpine coaster.
  • Consider a day trip to Glenwood Springs for America’s only mountaintop theme park, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, with cave tours, laser tag, a 4D movie theatre and amazing thrill rides.

Insider Tip: Check the Vail Valley event calendar for year-round happenings that families can plug into. Several festivals feature special activities for kids, and Vail’s Kids Adventure Games in August even has a family zone!

Teens – Won’t Want to Leave

If flying from cliff to cliff is your teen’s style, Zip Adventures at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott is sure to get the adrenaline pumping with six zip lines that jump up in levels of exhilaration. Adventure-seeking teens also will love downhill biking at Beaver Creek and Vail Mountain, where you can rent bikes at the base areas, ride a chairlift or gondola up, and cruise down the trails.

Avon Rec Center and Gypsum Rec Center are ideal for teens working out to look and feel their best while younger siblings can enjoy pool time. They will likely want to spend a day on the water at Piney Lake in Vail, Nottingham Lake in Avon and Sylvan Lake in Eagle. Rent canoes or stand up paddle boards (SUPs) at Piney Lake through Piney River Ranch, which also offers horseback riding and fishing. At Nottingham Lake, take SUPs, kayaks and pedal boats for a spin through Stand Up Paddle Colorado. Also see what the river surfers and kayakers are up to at Avon Whitewater Park and Eagle River Park.

Ice skating in Vail Village, Lionshead Village and Beaver Creek feels like being part of a movie set with outdoor rinks adorned by white lights and surrounded by ski slopes and charming base villages. Beaver Creek’s ice rink stays open year-round and recently added ice bikes. For larger ice rinks, head indoors at Vail’s Dobson Ice Arena and Eagle Pool & Ice Rink.

The Whole Family – Play Together

For an authentic Colorado experience, visit Vail’s 4 Eagle Ranch dating back to 1885 and featuring all sorts of ways to play through activity partners. Horseback riding, zip lining, Jeep and ATV tours, paintball, and wagon and sleigh ride dinners are among the choices. Glamping or an overnight stay in Homestead House, originally built in 1925, makes it easy to enjoy all the ranch offers.

An easy way to get the troops out for a bike ride or walk is the paved Eagle Valley Trail, which connects nine communities in Vail Valley and travels along the Eagle River. Stop at parks, restaurants and shops along the way. On a rainy day or after a big day outdoors, head to Riverwalk Theater in Edwards for a movie and delicious eats from Box Office Bar. Erase the usual movie food thoughts from your brain and think about brisket sandwiches and nachos, pork belly BLTs, Riverwalk Dogs, beer chips, ice cream treats, wine, beer, cocktails and more.

It’s no big surprise that one of the most popular winter pastimes in Vail Valley is hitting the slopes at Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek Resort for epic skiing and snowboarding at all levels. Ski and ride schools, day care for little ones, activities for non-skiers and plenty of places to stay, rent equipment and dine make the resorts one-stop shops for family fun.

Another way to play in the snow is through free guided snowshoe tours offered daily by Walking Mountains Science Center from its Avon Tang Campus and the top of Eagle Bahn Gondola at Vail Mountain. Or consider the center’s paid excursions, including full-moon outings and half-day tours with topics like “Tracks, Signs, and Snowshoes” and “Snow Science Snapshots.”

Insider tip: Free chocolate chip cookies are served at 3 p.m. daily during winter at Beaver Creek’s base area. The recipe is selected annually from the resort’s famous Chocolate Chip Cookie Competition.

Whether you stick together or your crew splits up for part of a day so each family member can check items off their travel wish lists, it’s easy to reconvene for meals, a concert in the park or lounging around a pool. The bottom line is to make valued memories on your Vail Valley vacation!