Vail, Colorado is synonymous with world-class skiing, but its new off-season expansion called Epic Discovery has created a year-round destination that could become just as popular. Lucky me, KM asked me to get the scoop to share with you, here’s what I found out.
Watch for wildlife from the scenic Eagle Bahn Gondola to Vail’s newest attraction: Epic Discovery, a mountain-top amusement park of outdoor activities. There’s something for kids and adults alike, including ropes courses, ziplines, bungee trampoline, tubing, alpine coaster (try to make it down without using your brakes!), and discovery trails. Add in the Game Creek Aerial Adventure for a high-flying adrenaline rush with a view of the mountain from a bird’s eye perspective.
Game Creek Aerial Adventure
The Game Creek Aerial Adventure is a series of 7 connected ziplines creating the longest zipline experience in the US. Safety is the priority as two zipline experts join every group on the 4-hour journey, constantly ensuring the gear fits correctly. I’ll admit having that “what the ** am I doing” moment as I began scaling the rope stairs to the first tower, but it was well worth any apprehension. When it was my turn, I took a literal leap of faith off a sky-high tower, zipping over trees and enjoying a view like none other. The adrenaline-filled day in the fresh mountain air was exhilarating and empowering. Accommodates kids starting at 10 years and 75 pounds.
More Summer Fun in Vail Village
In addition to Epic Discovery, there are lots of places for kids to play and explore in Vail, from ballparks to local trails. Don’t miss the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens – the world’s highest botanical garden – oh, the irony! There are opportunities to learn about the alpine ecosystem and explore nature trails alongside peaceful streams and waterfalls, as well as an extensive playground area. Of course you can book a fly fishing trip, or teach your family to fish from Gore Creek that runs right through town. Take a Llama to Lunch hike is a must do. In the evenings I saw kids are playing soccer, riding bikes and dancing with their families in the village to live music from nearby restaurants.
Looking for something a little less adventurous?
If you’re feeling a little less adventurous or could use some mom-only time, you’re covered. The village is extensive, with luxury shops, beautiful jewelry stores, art galleries and restaurants. And there’s always a day at the spa…I highly recommend a facial at RockResorts Day Spa from Shady.
Where to eat (and drink)
Vail has a wide range of impressive restaurants. My favorite dinner was sushi and Japanese fusion served family-style at Matsuhisha, founded by famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The saki served chilled from a bamboo bottle was the perfect accompaniment. Elways, owned by Broncos owner and former QB, is where to go for premium steak – ask for the Maytag blue cheese butter sauce. Hike or take a 4-wheel drive shuttle to the renowned Game Creek Restaurant for an exquisite Sunday Brunch that’s usually reserved for club members. Get your morning Joe at Yeti’s Grind for what the locals say is the best coffee in Vail. No visit would be complete without at tasting at 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirit Company. In my world every day should include gelato at Rimini.
Where to stay
I was hosted at The Lodge at Vail, the first hotel built in the village. Recently remodeled, half of the hotel consists of privately owned 1-3 bedroom suites with kitchenettes and wood-burning fireplaces. The International wing is the newest part of the hotel, with spacious rooms and direct mountain/gondola views. The Lodge at Vail Chalets feature 4-6 bedroom luxurious chalets with stunning views and access to a private pool and other amenities.
They say you’ll come to Vail for the winter but stay for the summer, and I can see why. With all it has to offer, Vail Mountain may just become your new summer family vacation destination.
I was hosted for review purposes and to spread the word about Vail’s Epic Discovery, opinions and experiences are all mine. The Game Creek Aerial Adventure was pure adrenaline, add in the fresh mountain air (and maybe too much saki with dinner) and I slept better than I had in a long time. I was there 2 1/2 days and would have enjoyed more time to shop. Bring a jacket, mountain showers happen.