if absence makes the heart grow fonder, then that might explain why summer is so treasured in the mountains. These days are precious, and there’s no better way to savor the beauty of the Vail Valley in the summer than on a patio, porch or deck. It’s not a secret — just stroll by La Bottega on any given day and lunchtime lingerers dominate its deck.
However, there’s no need to battle the crowds for your place in the sun. There are plenty of porches and patios that are perfect for summertime sipping or mid-day malingering — you just have to know where to look.
Craving the creek
There’s nothing like having the burble (or roar, at times) of the creek as your soundtrack while enjoying a beverage or bite to eat. While Up the Creek in Vail has one of the best creek-side locations in the valley, there are several other under-the-radar options to wet your whistle.
The Fitz at Manor Vail is one of the best-kept secrets in the summer. Just look up as you’re strolling along the path on the way to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. The Fitz’s deck is elevated, with gorgeous flowers and views of Gore Creek. An added bonus? Visit The Fitz before the concert and receive complimentary event parking.
Sometimes the secret’s in the name: Atwater on Gore Creek, located at the Vail Cascade Resort, has a patio that makes it feel as if you’re almost sitting in Gore Creek. Easily accessible on the bike path, Atwater has an excellent craft beer menu and is convenient for a beverage after (or during) a ride and is often overlooked for locations in Vail or Lionshead villages.
Go through the gates
Though the gates at Beaver Creek and Cordillera offer an opportunity to slow down and say hello to the friendly folks working there, they can also be a bit daunting. However, behind these gates are some seriously under-utilized decks that are ripe for the sitting.
Go through the main gates at Beaver Creek and take the first left. Mirabelle, located in an 1880s log home, is known for chef Daniel Jolie’s cuisine. While the front porch is a great location, the back deck is the ultimate destination for summertime dining. Perched right above the creek, it’s an oasis that’s often overlooked, save by those in the know.
Want expansive views and spectacular sunsets? Head down U.S. Highway 6 and through the gates at Cordillera to Mirador. Located at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, Mirador is open to the public but often under-utilized. Go for happy hour and enjoy small plates from chef Collin Smelser; the crab and artichoke pizza is spectacular.
Get to the greens
Haven’t picked up a club in a few years (if ever)? Then you might be missing out on some of the best patios and decks in the Vail Valley. Golf clubs have spectacular “19th Holes” that offer beautiful views and a great location for lunch or a cocktail — and you don’t have to have a low handicap to enjoy them.
In Edwards, Vista at Arrowhead is open for lunch and dinner; the patio is expansive and offers wonderful views of the mountains and rolling fairways. Enjoy a bowl of the gazpacho and watch the action on the course.
For a lofty perch and a front row seat for sunset, make your way to Red Sky Golf Club. Not just for members, Silver Sage is open to the public every night during the summer; its deck is an excellent spot for an adult beverage while the sun sinks behind the mountains. Overlooking the 18th hole of the Tom Fazio course, SummerThyme is open daily during the summer for lunch.
A bit farther afield, the Creekside Club House and Grill at the Gypsum Golf Course has expansive decks that offers the trifecta of views: the mountains, the golf course and the creek. It’s a downvalley gem that’s well worth the drive.
One more for the road …
While the Wolcott Yacht Club might not be a secret gem, its outdoor area is still worth including. More than just a patio, the Yacht Club’s backyard features a multi-level seating area, an outdoor bar and plenty of mature trees for shade. Head over on Sundays for morning yoga and enjoy live music during brunch.
Summer is fleeting. Though the need to take one more ride or hike one more trail is compelling, take the opportunity to savor the sun on one of these lesser known patios and decks. They’ll be covered with snow before you know it.