Colorado Ski Destination Guide: Breckenridge and Vail
Breckenridge and Vail are top ski/snowboard destinations in Colorado and for good reason. Each ski resort has an unique vibe and is relatively accessible by car which gives you options. Is the forecast calling for gray skies and flat light in Breckenridge tomorrow but a perfect blue bird day in Vail? You can easily hop in your car and drive an hour to Vail with jaw dropping mountain scenery along the drive. Whether you're looking for family friendly or a more scene-y vibe, there truly is something for everyone between these three picturesque towns.
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Where to stay in Breckenridge, Vail, and Beavercreek, Colorado
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail
Exquisite luxury resort at the base of Vail Mountain boasting a refined restaurant, indoor and outdoor hot tubs and picturesque mountain views.
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Grand Hyatt Vail
Nestled at the base of Vail Mountain, along the banks of Gore Creek, Grand Hyatt Vail is located in the heart of Vail Valley and within walking distance of Vail Village.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
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Discover alpine charm and luxury at its finest at Sonnealp Vail, your haven in the heart of the Rockies.
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Things to do in Breckenridge, Vail, and Beavercreek, Colorado
Breckenridge (aka Breck)
Located between Vail and Denver, Breckenridge is a former gold mining town with a central downtown area anchored around Main Street with myriad options for dining, art galleries, ski apparel and more. It has a charming feel with Victorian style architecture and lots of character. If you are here to ski, Breck is an excellent place for more novice skiers with a large area primarily for the ski school and plenty of green runs.
As a frequent traveler to these ski towns over the years, I will always recommend booking flights far in advance directly to Eagle County airport (EGE). Situated just off I-70, flying here puts you roughly 40 min drive away from Vail and a little over hour away from Breckenridge.
The alternative is Denver International Airport (DIA) which is 2.5 hours away from Vail and 2 hours away from Breckenridge with minimal traffic. However, due to snowy conditions and weekend traffic, especially with Denver locals, the traffic is generally MUCH worse. In short, always fly into Eagle airport if your budget permits.
With over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, Vail is a world-renowned ski destination. Unlike Breckenridge, which was a town that later became a resort destination, Vail was modeled after a ski town in the Alps. There are two villages in Vail: Lionshead and Vail Village. Lionshead is quieter, while Vail Village has more restaurants and bars. They're easily walkable but have a connecting shuttle running on a constant loop between the two.
Walking Mountains Science Center: An education-focused science center with guided hikes and backcountry snowshoe treks with views of Vail’s Back Bowls.
Shop at Kemo Sabe: Luxe Western wear with a specialty focus on customizable hats.
Shop at Gorsuch: High-end skiwear boutique featuring brands like Bogner and Goldbergh. The Bridge Street location also has a café with outdoor seating that makes for excellent people-watching.
Visit Raitman Art Gallery: A well-curated mix of art featuring sculpture, photography, and paintings.
If you're planning on skiing more than 1 day, purchase an Epic Pass well in advance of your trip. There's plenty of different options available, but all will give you serious savings so you're not purchasing a $200/day lift ticket.
Places to eat & drink in Breckenridge, Vail, and Beavercreek, Colorado
La Nonna Ristorante: Modern Italian in a cozy space. The pastas, especially the gnocchi, are the perfect dinner after a long day of skiing.
Red Lion: The quintessential Vail après-ski spot. With a come-as-you-are vibe and live music nearly every day, it’s the perfect spot for a casual beer or Aperol Spritz paired with nachos, burgers, and more.
Swiss Chalet: Located in the Sonnenalp Vail, Swiss Chalet is a must for a true Swiss-style fondue or raclette experience. The wood paneling cues a ski cabin that looks like it was plucked directly from Pontresina.
La Francaise: A French style bakery with a mouth-watering assortment of croissants, quiches, crepes, and more.
Blue River Bistro: New American food with an excellent cocktail menu. The Lavender French 75 is hands down my favorite. Select days of the week will feature live music.
Twist: A more high end restaurant with an eclectic-fusion style mix of different cuisines. Located in a cottage, it has a home-y vibe.
Crepes a la Cart: if you’re interested in a quick meal this crepe stand is unmatched. There’s plenty of sweet vs savory crepes and it’s an excellent option if you’re looking for a grab and go breakfast before hitting the slopes. If you have time, get warm next to the bonfire and take in the Rocky Mountain views on the back patio.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, The Best of Denver Guide.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Colorado.