Vail, Colorado in August
Many hear Vail and immediately think of skiing, but it's a best kept destination in the summer. Vail in August is especially unique, in that it is at high altitude (hello low humidity and cooler nights) and the crowds start to taper off as much of the country begins the school year in August, rather than September like us East Coasters. Additionally, while Vail has an airport, you can easily fly to Denver and drive or take a shuttle since there's no chance of snow tying up the highway. I have been vacationing here since childhood and love the weather, active options, and overall culture of the region!
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Day 1: Altitude adjustment day from Denver to Vail
Day 1 is the day to get settled at the altitude, explore, and relax. Denver is 1 mile above sea level and the top of Vail is nearly another mile up! You can absolutely take a light hike, bike ride, or yoga class, but don't overdo it. Depending on the time of day that you arrive, settle into your hotel, put on some sunscreen and get outside. If it's a Sunday, grab some fresh fruit at the farmers' market and explore the local vendors. This is also a great time to walk around town, between towns, or sit by a park or pool and chill. Later, if you're feeling OK in the altitude, I recommend a drink outside at Matuhisa (but just 1, trust me on the altitude!) before dinner there or anywhere else.
Day 2: Mountain adventure day - hike, bike, explore Vail
Wake up rested, have a good breakfast, and get to the mountain! Make sure you have an old fashioned print trail map - because this is the best way to digitally detox. Keep your phone in your bag, but try not to use it; also remember that this is a major resort, well maintained, and safe if you follow the trails. It's free to hike up, but you can also take the lift up for more of a loop on foot or mountain bike (if that's your jam). You can either go back down to the village for lunch or be sure to look at the map for on-mountain options. It's a bit less varied than the ski-season options, but fine. If you have kids, or are a kid at heart, check out Adventure Ridge on the mountain while up there. You can spend the late afternoon by the pool, maybe get a massage, or hit another neighborhood (i.e. Lionshead, the Betty Ford Gardens, etc). After showers (likely much needed), have dinner in Vail Village and see if there are any events or live music before another great sleep.
Day 3: Adventure Day - rafting, golf, exploring Beaver Creek
This is a great day for an excursion, whether rafting, SUP, golf, tennis, or exploring Beaver Creek for another day of hiking. For adventure sports, you should book ahead with a reliable group that also provides transportation (I can help!). There are some golf and tennis options, but unless you are super serious you can probably rent gear locally. Random fact: at altitude you need different balls. While these activities are in the nearby area, you should plan on about an hour of transportation each way for adventure sports, 1/2 hour to Beaver Creek, and golf/tennis depends on the location. After a little rest time and a shower, hit the village for dinner. If you want a super chill night, but not staying in, you can check out the bowling alley or movie theater in town - both with easy dinner options. If you are leaving the next day and want to wine & dine, this is probably the best night if you have departure vs. active adventures in the morning.
Day 4: Explore more - extended adventures and local delights
As you stay additional days, you can add different hikes (the mountain is HUGE), excursions, and sports, along with local drives. Additionally, you can try new restaurants, live music venues, and activities. There isn't much to see in Avon, but if you go to Beaver Creek, the nearby town of Edwards has some cute shops and restaurants. You could go to Breckenridge or Aspen, but they are kind of same/same but different, and it would be the only time you'd have to rent a car for the entire trip.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out Alyson Krapfl's guide, The Best of Denver Guide.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Colorado.