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Best Vail Wintertime Activities and Attractions For Families

Families on vacation in Vail, Colorado find plenty to entertain the kids, whether they ski or not. 

Here's our list of the best activities for kids in Vail, from the Nature Discovery Center to the Adventure Ridge trampoline.

Photo Credit: Chris McLenne
Photo: A Vail, Colorado ski vacation offers incredible experiences for kids as well as their adults. 


Photo: In Vail, Colorado, Kids and their families can see the famous clock tower, as well as lots of Tyrolean-looking buildings along streets where no cars are allowed. 

 Photo:  Tubing at Vail, Colorado is a blast for kids who want to take a break from skiing.

Great snow on a great mountain sparked the genesis of Vail. And skiing is still the best thing going in this mountain valley. But folks on a Vail vacation with the kids can find plenty of things to do in Vail besides ski. 

Here is our list of favorite Vail activities and attractions for families: 

Vail Mountain Ski Area checks in at first place for the number of skiable acres in Colorado. This is one big mountain with appealing slopes for everyone from toddlers trying skiing for the first time to snow obsessed teenagers trying out extreme runs while their parents aren’t looking. The place is so extensive and so varied that it is nigh on impossible to get bored. 

Vail Nature Discovery Center: A yurt sits on the top of Vail Mountain, next to the Eagle’s Nest gondola. The friendly, smart folks inside can’t wait to share the thrill of learning about the nature all around. Open the scat drawer and examine poop from all kinds of animals. Find yourself on the big relief map of the central Rocky Mountains. It’s a natural gathering place.

Adventure Ridge, with a variety of activities to choose from, feels like an outdoor fun-park on top of Vail Mountain. It is open in the summer and winter (but not spring or fall). Look for ski-biking, mini snow mobiles for kids, tubing, and a trampoline in the wintertime. 

Ice Skating: The Dobson Arena, run by Vail Recreation District, is one of the prettier skating venues around with its wood beamed ceiling and international flags hanging over the ice. For an outdoor experience, skaters visit the small Alderhof Rink at Vail Square, surrounded by the Arrabelle Hotel. 

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoing: Near the eastern end of Vail Valley Drive, the Vail Golf Club sits among rolling fairways. These smooth green expanses, when blanketed with snow, turn into wonderful cross country ski terrain. It is here that the Vail Nordic Center offers equipment rentals, a retail shop, light refreshments including hot soup, and ski lessons. 

The Nature Discovery Center, at the top of Vail Mountain, offers snowshoe hikes from their yurt near the high end of the Eagles Nest Gondola. Afternoon snowshoe hikes start daily at 3pm, plus evening hikes are offered during the full moons in winter. 

Sleigh Rides: A couple of different outfits in the Vail Valley offer sleigh rides. 4 Eagle Ranch offers pick up service from Vail, and they will take you out to their rustic setting for dinner, music, and a sleigh ride under the stars. Bearcat Stables offers hot drinks and rides in their twelve-passenger sleighs followed by dinner at the Timber Hearth Restaurant at Cordillera. 

Dog Sledding: Mountain Musher Dog Sled Rides and Winterhawk Dogsled Adventures both offer the chance to slide along behind teams of fuzzy huskies through beautiful Rocky Mountain meadowlands. Even the littlest of kids can snuggle in with their parents and then pet the huskies afterwards. 

Colorado Ski Museum Ski Hall of Fame: Get a feeling for how this sport felt in the early days (leather, lace-up boots and loooong wooden skis) and see how the industry developed in Colorado. Kids can check out a uniform of a Tenth Mountain Division ski soldier, and examine an old single-person, wooden chair lift. Smiling faces of past olympians smile down fro the walls, over the boots of famous skiers. A small gift shop offers unique ski memorabilia and great stickers for decorating kids' ski helmets.

Shopping: The town of Vail is full of darling boutiques and hip ski shops. Find fabulous shoes, fun clothes for the kids, and great gifts to take home. Check out KidSport for a fantastic selection of styling outdoor apparel and equipment for children. 

Vail Library: A beautiful stone, wood, and glass building houses Vail’s collection of books and other media. It is a lovely retreat for families in the midst of busy travels in the mountains. With programs like Toddler and Preschooler Story Time, Après-Ski Puppetry, and the Summer Reading Program with entertainers, musicians, stories, games and art projects, the Vail Library is a relaxed, fun place for all kinds of kids.

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