The Perfect Autumn Long Weekend in the Vail Valley

With crinkling color changing leaves, campfire smoke, and cozy mountain cabins available, the perfect long weekend in the Vail Valley has all that autumnal goodness and more. While at a high altitude, acclimatize by drinking plenty of water, reducing your exercise, and resting up to ensure your weekend goes smoothly.

If you want to speed up your acclimatization, call Vail iV Wellness & Recovery. They specialize in intravenous therapy that helps deliver essential fluids, vitamins, and nutrients to your system. Their Altitude Adjustment treatment can help expedite your adjustment to the Valley’s high altitude along with numerous other customizable treatments available.

See the Leaves Change

Before you go exploring, stop by Northside Kitchen in Avon for a hot cup of coffee and one of their locally-renowned donuts (or four). Made daily, Northside’s donuts range from red velvet cake, to classic old-fashioneds, and more. If you’re visiting on a weekend day, make sure to prepare for a wait. Trust us, they’re well worth it.

We highly recommend visiting Piney River Ranch to see their stunning lake and mountain views, situated at the edge of Piney Lake and at the base of the Gore Range. Hike along the north edge of Piney Lake up towards the Gore Range which takes you through dazzling aspen groves, through meadows of wildflowers, and up to waterfalls. If you visit, make sure to be in a vehicle with high clearance as the road is unpaved and very rough. If you want to spend the night, cozy up in one of Piney’s luxurious “glamping” tents or cabins. Enjoy activities at Piney Lake like stand up paddle boarding and canoeing while taking in the beautiful view of the Gore Range.

If you don’t want to go quite as far, enjoy a drive up through Minturn and Red Cliff along the Colorado Scenic Byway. There are a number of spots along the road to pull off and see the color-changing aspen trees or enjoy a hike.

If you’re more interested in fast-paced leaf peeping, try an off-road experience with a Jeep or ATV tour with one of the adventure companies. Or consider leaf-peeping on horseback for an authentic Western experience at Beaver Creek Stables.

Overnight Under the Stars

If you’re adventurous, check out options for sleeping under the stars and getting deeper into the mountains. You can drive to many campsites located within an hour of Vail. Car-camping is an easy way to introduce larger groups and kids to tents and spending longer amounts of time outside. Stay overnight, or just go for the day; bring plenty of water, and pack a picnic or a cooler full of food. Bring a favorite book, string up a hammock, try some watercolor painting, or just spend the time connecting with family and friends. Visit Ptarmigan Sports in Edwards for camping and outdoor gear essentials.

If you’ve always wanted to try van life, try Dave & Matt Vans in Gypsum. You can rent a fully outfitted camper van for the weekend. With kitchenettes, electric lighting, toilettes, and more, you can explore and do car-camping in style.

Events You Won’t Want to Miss

Vail’s Oktoberfest pays homage to our Bavarian history through food, music, and activities for two weekends in September. Stop by to watch or take part in beer stein holding contests, costume competitions, bratwurst eating contests, and more. Listen to live oom-pah music while you chow down on schnitzel and sip a Bavarian brew. See our list of events happening this Fall.

Insider tip: Your body processes alcohol differently at high altitudes, meaning a little goes a long way. Make sure you’re drinking a glass of water for every Bavarian (or Coloradoan) brew.

If you’re a fan of live performances, see The Vilar Performing Arts Center’s schedule of events and enjoy an intimate viewing experience in one of our most spectacular and acoustically superior concert halls.

Enjoy a Culinary Journey

There are so many great restaurants in the Vail Valley that sometimes it can be hard to choose. We recommend Montauk Seafood Grill in Lionshead for a unique seafood experience and excellent wine pairings. For a fabulous slopeside patio experience with a killer view of the mountains, visit Beaver Creek Chophouse.

For an upscale dining experience at one of Colorado’s top restaurants, Beano’s Cabin at the base of Larkspur Bowl on Beaver Creek Mountain is well-known for their gourmet cuisine. Accessible only by the Cabin’s shuttle, call ahead for reservations.

Consider Mountain Standard in Vail for a taste of Colorado cuisine prepared over an open wood fire. Or hear the rush of Gore Creek on the patio at El Segundo. Fall is the perfect time to slow down, relax, and enjoy the views and flavors of the Valley before returning home.


This blog was made possible through a grant from the Colorado Tourism Office.