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Take the Family › Vail

Vail family holidays and breaks

Nordic skiingNordic skiingMatt Inden/Miles© Colorado Tourism Office
Professional skiingProfessional skiingConnor Walberg© Vail Tourism Office
A bench in VailA bench in VailMatt Inden/Miles© Colorado Tourism Office
Watching a kayaker navigate Gore Creek near VailWatching a kayaker navigate Gore Creek near VailMatt Inden/Miles© Colorado Tourism Office
Flying Time 10hrs
Timezone GMT -7
Currency US Dollar





A vast, mainly traffic-free resort based on Bavarian villages, Vail is Colorado’s big name in skiing, with plenty to offer when it comes to family holidays, not least Adventure Ridge, a mountain-top centre with skating, hire of contraptions such as snowbikes, and a restaurant for warming up after a snowmobile adventure. Meanwhile, down the valley, Vail’s posh sister resort Beaver Creek boasts The Ranch, a children’s ski and snowboard school set amid easy slopes.
In summer, Vail is popular with mountain-bikers and white-water rafters, with specialist family trips available.

Things to do with kids in Vail

Ski and snowboard in the USA’s biggest single-mountain ski resort, covering more than 5,000 acres (20 km2) and boasting 7 bowls and the Blue Sky Basin with its intermediate wooded terrain. Most is wide-open terrain with 193 trails, much than half advanced/ expert, about a third intermediate, and the rest beginner. A Colorado Pass gives 10 days' access to the lifts at Vail plus unlimited slope access at nearby Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin.
Head for Adventure Ridge, with plenty of activities for younger visitors including ski-biking, a junior snowmobile track and tubing.
Book ahead (a month if possible) for the childcare centre or the ski school (from age 3).
With young kids and non-skiers, ride the gondola after 2pm, when it’s free.
Take to the river – with families it’s best on the stretch above and through Glenwood Springs. Rock Gardens Rafting is a specialist in gentler family float trips, as well as offering zipline adventures in the Glenwood Canyon. Or try Dvorak Expeditions, with whitewater-rafting from age 4. See our white-water rafting tips page.
In summer, make for Vail’s imaginative Pirateship Park at the base of the slopes.


There’s a good range of eateries in Vail for all budgets, including locals’ favourite the Westside Café and the renowned Paozo’s Pizza.

When to go to Vail

The ski season in Vail generally lasts mid-Nov to mid-April. The white-water rafting season lasts mid-April to mid- to late-Sept, but the best time is mid-June to August.

How to get to Vail

Vail is in the Rocky Mountains in northwestern Colorado. British Airways runs one non-stop flight per day from London into Denver International Airport, taking 10hrs; at the time of writing the fare was about £750 return. From there it’s a 1hr flight on United Express to Eagle County Airport, which is about 60km from Vail.
You could hire a car to cover the 158km between Denver and Vail, but beware that when it snows, the I-70 is best left to those with good experience of winter-driving conditions. Parking is expensive in Vail, too. Shared shuttles and private charters are both available from the airports.


Vail isn’t a destination for low-budget family ski holidays, given the expense involved in getting there. Accommodation tends to be upper-end, too.

By Rhonda Carrier

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