There are so many things to do in Vail with kids. Vail Mountain is one of the most well-known and renowned ski resorts in the US. It offers something for every age so it’s a great destination the whole family can enjoy. It's best if you're down for a trip brimming with action and adventure (think: skiing, sledding, ice skating, sleigh rides) but a Vail itinerary can be customized for any age.
Have a baby? Bring them on a stroller walk through the village, which is brimming with lights and people to watch. Or, hire a sitter and enjoy a parents night out. Often the hotel can recommend a reputable babysitting service if you ask in advance.
Bringing a preschooler? Introduce them to skiing through a half-day lesson that can be customized to an individual’s skill level, starting at age three. Wrap up a day on the hill with some delicious hot cocoa.
Elementary-aged kids? Spend the day tubing at Adventure Ridge, and then dine at one of their family-friendly restaurants. End the day with a swim in the hot tub. Challenging them to hop out for a roll in the snow is always a hit with my kids!
Teens on tow? Try skiing, snowboarding… or snow biking if your family is really looking for adventure!
where to stay
We love staying at The Hythe. When you arrive the alpine-themed décor instantly sets the scene for a charming ski vacation. There are multiple restaurants and bars within the hotel, whether you want to warm up with hot cocoa (and complimentary s’mores!) and après ski after a day outside, or have a full dinner conveniently located within the hotel. We stayed in a 2-bedroom suite that included a living room and a small kitchen, which was a perfect setup for families traveling with lots of kids. Also, the Well & Being Spa is on-site and a lovely indulgence if you have a little downtime.
what to do
Vail is all about outdoor adventures and while skiing is the main event, there are lots of things to do in Vail with kids beyond just practicing that pizza slice.
Vail Mountain Ski School
If your kids are new to skiing we loved their half-day classes - instructor Elliott was the best!
Skating at Alderhof Ice Rink
The Alderhof rink is owned by Arrabelle Hotel and is a fairy tale experience! Head to Rimini for hot cocoa and a treat afterwards.
Eagle Bahn Gondola based in Lionshead is free in the winter after 3:30pm.
Vail Public Library
The library is an insider indoor escape that’s perfect for young kids. Our kids loved the train table set, and the library also offers story and craft times for kids.
Pirate Ship Park
Located near the base on the mountain in Vail Village, Pirate Ship Park is a hit for kids as it’s a huge ship they can climb on. At times the ship can be icy, so make sure to scope it out before letting kids loose.
Sunbird ParkThis is a local favorite - they call it onion park! Located in the heart of Lionshead Village close to The Hythe hotel we frequented this park almost every day on our trip as it has tons of climbing activities that catered to both toddlers and older kids.
Well and Being Spa
The perfect indulgence for mom!
where to eat
The Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Vail
● The Little Diner for Breakfast/Brunch! The restaurant is a legendary breakfast spot in Vail and is only open until 2 pm each day. The restaurant has traditional diner-vibes with built-in booths and red vinyl seats. It has super kid-friendly food and a vibrant atmosphere so you don’t have to worry about kids being a little noisy. Recommend arriving early to put your name in, as there is generally a wait.
● Bully Ranch for the variety of Southwestern and American menu options. We were greeted with a snowman outside and loved looking at the Western décor inside.
● Mountain Standard for the “fancy” experience, between the upscale mountain ambiance and the menu. The menu is loaded with local Rocky Mountain ingredients and many dishes are prepared over an open wood fire.
● El Segundo for the best Mexican food. The restaurant is high-energy and family-friendly.
● Margie's Haas for a convenient breakfast as it's located with The Hythe hotel, with vibes of a home-cooked meal.
● Gorsuch has the best slope-side hot cocoa along with Yeti’s Grind for warm drinks.
Parents Night Out in Vail
If you're there with the grandparents or managed to swing a sitter, there our our favorite places to head after bedtime. When its cold, its hot, so try to make a reservation or two when you book your hotel.
what to pack
We recommend a base layer of merino wool, which is excellent for keeping in warmth while also repelling water/perspiration. Then layer on a fleece or sweater – we recommend something made with wool or synthetic material that allows for breathability and moisture resistance (cotton is not a good option!). Of course, we would finish the look with a pair of Northern Classics bibs and winter coat, along with NC mittens and a hat! When skiing, we switch to a balaclava and helmet, as well as ski goggles. I designed Northern Classic coats with skiing in mind. They have Primaloft insulation which provides warmth without the bulk and allows kids full range of motion, high waterproof and breathability ratings, soil-repellent coating on the shell to keep the coat clean, and built-in mitten clips to secure mittens directly to the coat.
With kids, always pack (a lot of!) snacks and some simple arts and crafts/activities for kids to engage with while out to eat.
what to bring home
My kids saved their lift tickets which are printed to small plastic cards and include a picture of them, so it feels like a very personalized souvenir (and so easy!) For older kids, we would recommend giving them a journal at the start of the vacation and having them write about their experience while there, which is a good activity to do when out to eat or unwinding before bedtime. If you’re looking for a little more splurge on your souvenirs, you can’t go wrong with some new western attire like a pair of cowboy/cowgirl boots and hat.