No matter when the mountains call to you, Vail is the perfect family vacation destination. Situated right in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, you’ll be far enough from the city to breathe, yet the sheer number of family-friendly activities means you won’t be sitting around for long. Here are our recommendations for not-to-miss activities when your family arrives in Vail.
Top 5 Vail Family Summer Activities
#1 — Family Friendly Hiking in Vail
While there’s no shortage of kid-friendly hiking options in and around Vail (like Berry Picker, North Trail and Booth Falls), a favorite roundtrip family hike is Piney River Falls. You’ll add to the adventure of a six mile waterfall loop by exploring an exciting rocky dirt road on the way to the Upper Piney River Falls trailhead. Kids will love the variety on the trail — from a lake through two forests (aspen and pine), then arriving to splash near the Falls themselves.
If you really want to delight the kids and keep them interested in your adventure, hire a llama companion through Paragon Guides. From June through October, a guide can lead you and your family on a full-day hike, complete with a helpful llama friend and picnic lunch.
#2 — Vail’s Playground Paradise
For families with energetic little ones (and/or athletic parents), Vail’s suite of custom-designed playgrounds will keep everyone entertained. Each playground was designed by a strategically chosen team which included an artist.
You’ll find Ford Park — Vail’s largest community park — along South Frontage Road. Your family will delight in the custom playground features including slides, swings, and climbing holds. There are ample parking and public restrooms for family “emergencies.”
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
Over 100,000 people visit the world’s highest elevation alpine gardens each year, just a short walk east of Vail Village in Ford Park. The design of the gardens was influenced by former President Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty, which is how they got their name. Enjoy a family stroll or take the kids to the Education Center.
Vail’s second, smaller community park (near the bike path in West Vail) is still quite large and includes another well-designed playground along with athletic fields, picnic tables, and a public grill. You’ll be relieved to know there’s a public restroom and water fountain to extend your family’s park time.
Pirate Ship Park
Pirate Ship Park is any child’s delight. This multilevel adventure wonderland near the Vail Village Gondola includes pirate decks, climbing nets, slides, and even toddler swings.
Also known as the “Vail Nests,” the design of Sunbird Park was inspired by bird habitats. It’s been named one of the world’s “coolest” parks by Travel + Leisure magazine. Don’t miss it!
#3 — Make an Epic Discovery
Take the entire family to the top of the mountain to experience a day full of outdoor excitement at Epic Discovery Park. Get Zipline Tour passes to join the unforgettable Game Creek Zipline Tour (ride a whopping seven ziplines and cross aerial bridges!) and also be able to experience the mountain coaster, a climbing wall, bungee trampoline and more.
#4 — Summer Tubing
While it’s part of the Epic Discovery Park, summer tubing requires a callout of its own. Where else can you ride tubes down hills in the summertime? Your family won’t stop smiling after everyone hits super speeds on the inflatable inner tubes while cruising down the specially-constructed summer tubing hill. You can even race each other by taking up multiple lanes!
#5 — Summer Jeep Tours in Vail
If your family wants to make some less tourist-cluttered memories, booking an open-air 4×4 jeep tour is the perfect option. You’ll get to experience wildlife surrounded by spectacular views in Vail’s backcountry. Vail Resort’s jeeps hold up to 10 passengers, so the entire family can ride along. For an even more adventurous and unique family jeep tour (like visiting an old volcano), contact Mountain Wolf Jeep Tours.
Top 5 Vail Family Winter Activities
#1 — Skiing and Snowboarding — Including Lessons
Since Vail’s an internationally recognized — and hugely popular — ski resort, this suggestion should come as no surprise. Vail seamlessly blends the rustic mountain feel with upscale accommodations, so everyone in the family will be happy.
With more than 5,000 acres of ski and snowboard terrain (plus world-class instructors at Vail Ski & Snowboard School for family members who want to learn) — along with plenty of fun tunnels, sculptures, and activities in the many Kids’ Adventure Zones — you’ll have so much fun you won’t want to leave. When the family needs a break from activity on the slopes, you can also stop by the free Colorado Ski and Snowboarding Museum and learn about the history of snow sports.
#2 — Dog Sledding with the Family
To get outside in the snow while sitting back and relaxing, book the family for a dog sled ride with Mountain Musher. You’ll get pulled through the forests on a peaceful mountain trail and experience wildlife — if you keep your eyes open! With up to six sleds running at once, plus cocoa and pumpkin bread at the end, the entire family will delight in this outdoor Vail experience.
#3 — Explore Imagination Station
Just above Vail’s Lionshead Welcome Center, you’ll find the Imagination Station, which is open daily during the winter season. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the problem-solving aspects of multiple sensory activities and interactive displays. Take part in the art studio, learn about the planets, or care for toy dogs and cats. Some of the newest features even incorporate virtual reality games!
#4 — Bowl the Day Away
When you’re ready to bond with the family indoors, get dinner while you bowl together (and maybe even hear a live DJ!) at Vail’s 10-lane bowling alley, Bol. The variety of food and drink will please even the pickiest eaters in your clan — you won’t be stuck with snack bar fare, so parents will be especially pleased.
#5 — Ice Bumper Cars at Dobson Ice Arena
Ready for adventure and playful competition on the ice? Bring the family by Dobson Ice Arena to drive ice bumper cars using One Wheel technology. You’ll have 15 minutes each turn to crash the sled-like bumper cars into your family members — and see who’s the most skillful (or maybe the craziest) driver.
Planning Vail Family Vacations
If you enjoy your family vacation so much that you can’t bear to leave, contact our team at Ron Byrne & Associates to learn about available options in Vail Valley real estate. With an abundance of neighborhoods and open space everywhere, there’s a perfect place for every family in Vail.