Beaver Creek & Vail, CO Travel Tips
"The mountains are calling and I must go." – John Muir
I remember how I felt the first time my dad and I drove through the Rocky Mountains on our way to Vail and Beaver Creek about fifteen years ago. My forehead was glued to the car window as I craned my neck to see the tops of the towering mountains surrounding us. The twisting highway hundreds of feet above the valley floor followed the mountain rivers fed by fresh snowmelt. It was the closest feeling to flying I had experienced outside of a cramped airplane. I was hooked. Some people yearn for sunshine and white sand beaches under their toes. Me, I crave the mountains.
I've been fortunate enough to live and create a life that allows me to travel at least once a year. With numerous trips to Beaver Creek and Vail under my belt, I wanted to share with you my must-visit and skip-worthy destinations so you can easily plan your next mountain adventure.
Beaver Creek and Vail are located approximately 100 miles west of Denver, and the drive to these quaint mountain towns is one of the prettiest I've taken. Both are known for their epic skiing, luxury accommodations, and fantastic culinary scenes. Each has their own village with shops, lodging, and restaurants aplenty. Beaver Creek is Vail's quiet, cute little sister only 13 miles down the road. You really can't go wrong with either location, but I encourage you to check them both out.
Each year, I am amazed by the number of new lodging options that pop up in Vail Valley. Just when I thought the villages couldn't fit another hotel or condo complex, one seems to grow out of the cracks of its neighbor's sidewalk. Let me assure you that this observation doesn't mean you'll be lost in a sea of people and concrete. The mountain vistas are larger than life, and life moves a little bit slower here. You'll easily find respite in Beaver Creek and Vail.
There are many home and room rental options, which may be a more affordable option depending on the time of year you plan to travel. I typically visit in the off-season (May-October) when the resorts are offering amazing deals on Priceline and Hotwire. If you'd prefer the home/room rental options, check out VRBO, Airbnb, or FlipKey. There are plenty of gorgeous homes and rooms available in Vail and Beaver Creek (one of my favorite things to do when I visit is drive around and look at the beautiful homes and mountain architecture).
If you'd prefer to stay in an established hotel, here are my favorites:
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (left) – My favorite hotel in the world, it's like a rustic mountain cabin on steroids. The mountain views are incredible, the staff is superb, and the Allegria Spa on site is arguably the best in the area. In the offseason, you can snag a room for under $200/night!
Beaver Creek Lodge – I love Beaver Creek Lodge because they offer suites at a reasonable price (which includes an in-room fireplace!). The artwork and style of the Lodge is stunning, and their central location in Beaver Creek is super convenient.
The Pines – Two words: Pet. Friendly. I would stay here again just to pet all the puppies that come in and out of the lobby! The Pines feels the most luxurious of the hotels listed with the warm lights dimmed to the right level and dark wood trim and accents. The rooms are beautiful and comfortable, and the staff is always incredibly accommodating. The restaurant on site, Grouse Mountain Grill, is the only in-hotel restaurant in the area I would recommend (more on that below).
Sheraton Mountain Vista – I discovered this little nugget of goodness last spring when my cousin and I took a road trip out west. You can stay in a spacious condo at the bottom of the mountain for the same price as a smaller room on the mountain. The rooftop workout room and hot tub are worth the stay alone. While the Sheraton might not have all of the bells and whistles of the other hotels listed, the rooms are large and insanely comfortable, and you're a mere 5-10 minutes away from the ski hills.
Beaver Creek and Vail are known for their excellent culinary scenes. Most of the dining options in the hotels are passable, but nothing exquisite (except the one establishment listed below). There are dozens of restaurant options, but there are just a few that really standout. Bonus, at each of the venues listed below, I haven't encountered any pretentious or stuffy vibes:
Mirabelle (Beaver Creek) – My favorite restaurant in the world. Yep, I said it. Mirabelle features American-French/Belgian cuisine prepared thoughtfully by owner Chef Joly. The warm, inviting, and quaint atmosphere draw you in and encourage you to stay a while. Be sure to get one of the molten chocolate lava cakes for dessert, they're to die for.
Grouse Mountain Grill (Beaver Creek) – Located in The Pines resort, this is the only in-hotel restaurant in the area I would recommend. They maintain a dedication to local and interesting cuisine in a beautiful venue with large windows overlooking the mountains. If you're lucky, Tony Gulizia will be seated at the piano to serenade you with his voice and jazz skills.
La Tour (Vail) – One of the Vail classics, La Tour serves up inventive, mouthwatering cuisine in a homey space with attentive and friendly staff. They've got a great wine list to boot.
Vin48 (Avon/Beaver Creek) – The youngest establishment on this list, Vin48 dazzles in it's modern space at the bottom of the mountain. It's the spot to nosh on delectable small plates and sip on unique and interesting wines. The entree offerings are limited, but worth stopping for.
Larkburger (Edwards/Beaver Creek) – My absolute favorite burger "chain". Located mostly in Colorado, Larkburger combines an environmentally conscious mindset with an emphasis on local, quality grub. I would eat their truffle fries every day if I could.
Beaver Creek and Vail are renowned for their skiing and snowboarding opportunities, but they shine in the off-season as well. Here are a few ways to pass the time:
Allegria Spa (Beaver Creek) – A splurge for most people, the Allegria Spa offers a full line-up of treatments and services in a stunning space. If you're looking for a budget option, purchase an Aqua Sanitas pass to access the locker rooms and calming spaces before stepping into the healing waters ritual.
Biking (Beaver Creek and Vail) – I'm not an avid biker by any means, but I love renting a bike in Vail and biking along the Gore Range Trail. The trail takes you along rivers and creeks, past waterfalls and mountain views, and gives you a pretty great workout, too. Multiple rental options are available in Vail and Beaver Creek. If you don't have access to a car, rent your bikes in Vail so you can hop on the Gore Range Trail right away. If you do have a car, I suggest biking along the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail. There are multiple points off the highway to hop on the trail, but be sure to check the conditions ahead of time. It's typically closed in the spring because the trail is often flooded by the Colorado River that runs next to it.
Shopping (Beaver Creek and Vail) – Both villages offer awesome and unique shopping opportunities once you get past the touristy options on almost every corner. Whether looking for a stunning piece of jewelry, or authentic Western leather, or furniture to decorate your home, it's fun to take a few hours and wander among the shops. Most of the time, I walk around with a chai in hand and look at things I can't afford, but that's half the fun!
Glenwood Springs – About an hour west of Beaver Creek lies the charming town of Glenwood Springs. Located right on the edge of the western Rocky Mountains border, the brilliant red hue of the surrounding rock walls is a feast for the eyes. While you're in Glenwood Springs, take some time to soak in the natural hot springs at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. The soothing waters of the outdoor pool will take any remaining cares away. Just be sure to hop out in time to catch one of the limited tours at Casey Brewing and Blending. One of the newest breweries in the Colorado beer scene, Casey Brewing and Blending specializes in barrel-aged sours. If you're a beer geek like me, you won't want to miss this.
The opportunities for relaxing, eating well, and enjoying quiet moments in Vail and Beaver Creek are endless. If you're looking for a getaway that's a step above your past vacations, I encourage you to visit Vail and Beaver Creek. Visited here before and want to add a suggestion to the list? Comment below with your favorite places and things to do.
I can't wait to hear about your adventures,
P.S. Want help planning your Colorado vacation? Email me for a free one-hour consultation and planning session!