Spending the holidays in Vail with family? Here are some activities to enjoy with everyone.
Whether you’re just visiting, or you have family coming in for the holidays, the Vail Valley is a winter playground. The mountains hold so much adventure, it would take an entire magazine to list them, but here are several, just to get you going:
Ice skate in a winter wonderland
There’s something magical about gliding on ice, surrounded by Vail’s European village atmosphere, or warming your hands at the fire pits right next to Beaver Creek’s rink.
The Arrabelle hotel runs the well-maintained Alderhof Ice Rink in Lionhead’s Vail Square. A Christmas tree adds charm to the already quaint village, and you can see part of Vail Mountain from the ice. 675 Lionshead Place, 970-429-5045.
Vail’s other outdoor rink is at the Solaris, next to a huge sculpture that changes colors during the dark of winter. Rent skates next to the restaurant, Bol: 141 E. Meadow Drive, No. 1000, 970-476-9000.
Beaver Creek Village provides the largest outdoor rink in town. Bronze sculptures of Olympic skaters Todd Eldridge and Kristi Yamaguchi stand on one side of the rink, while the other is lined with fire pits and great restaurants, from Blue Moose Pizza to the more upscale Toscanini, which directly overlooks the ice, so you can watch kids skate while you relax with a cocktail or glass of wine: 60 Avondale Lane, Avon. 970-845-0438.
Dobson Ice Arena is the only indoor rink in town. It’s located on West Meadow Drive in Vail Village, across from the Vail Public Library. Park in the Lionshead parking structure for easiest access, or take a town bus. The rink offers public skating, drop-in stick-and-puck hockey and private lessons.
Walk through ski and snowboard history
Near the top of Vail’s public parking structure lies a rich collection of ski and snowboard memorabilia. Get to know the “Winter Warriors” of the 10th Mountain Division, who played a key role in winning battles in Italy’s snowy terrain during World War II. Check out Colorado’s ski and snowboard industry icons who earned a place in the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame, judge your favorite ski fashion era, and step back in time, from the Scandinavian miners of the 1860s into the modern day through the museum’s collection of skis, boots and bindings: 231 S. Frontage Road East, 970-476-1876.
Snowshoe with a naturalist
Every Tuesday and Thursday, a naturalist at Walking Mountains Science Center guides a backcountry snowshoe excursion through the White River National Forest. It’s the perfect way to safely escape ski crowds and sink into the tranquil mountain environment. You’ll learn about Colorado’s wildlife and snowpack, among other local facts.
If you want to venture deeper into the backcountry, try a half-day hike, which go farther than the snowshoe explorations. Most cover 3-4 miles on moderate terrain.
If you’re hiking with kids, Walking Mountains’ Tracks, Signs & Snowshoe hike, which focuses on identifying the state’s snowshoe hare, lynx and other winter wildlife. All fitness levels can join this 2- to 2½-hour, 2-mile, rolling terrain adventure: 318 Walking Mountains Lane, Avon, 970-827-9725.
Take in a show
Beaver Creek might be a small village, but when it comes to big-name acts, it has plenty. The Vilar Performing Arts Center features everything from concerts (Judy Collins, Clay Walker, the Village People, Dallas String Quartet and Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock and Roll, just to name a few) to master magicians, ski movies, Cirque acts and dance: 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek, 970-845-8497.
Bike, tube, soar on Vail Mountain
Vail Resorts’ Adventure Ridge is almost like a winter Disneyland. Both kids and adults will get an adrenaline rush from tubing down a multi-lane hill or flying through the forest on a raised Alpine coaster. Or, try your skill at ski biking: Vail Mountain, 970-754-8245.
Use your imagination
If you have little ones in your group, Imagination Station, in the Lionshead Parking Structure, is great for toddlers and preschoolers. The art studio offers creative take-home projects and virtual reality rooms that let kids do things such as slice fruit with ninja swords. A play wall allows them to integrate physical and cognitive skills, a light table and builder board brings out problem-solving skills, and the hyperbolic funnel shows the revolutions of planets in our solar system: 395 E. Lionshead Circle, Vail, 970-479-2292.
Sledding down one of Vail’s many hills is an exhilarating experience. Try the big hill up to the clubhouse at EagleVail putting green or Singletree sledding hill in Edwards, just past the golf course. West Park in EagleVail has three lips, at the west end of the neighborhood. Big Horn Park also offers a hill or two.
View some art
And, through Jan. 20, don’t miss the 13th annual Vail Winterfest Ice and Light Installation. The free show fuses art and technology at the Gore Creek Promenade in Vail Village from dusk to 10 p.m.