In some families, learning to ski goes hand-in-hand with learning to walk, and definitely comes before riding a bike—and you'll find many of those very same families in Vail every summer, a not-so-hidden village two hours away from Denver. Here, serious ski families hit the slopes religiously at every opportunity they get.
Though Vail is packed in the winter season, smart Houstonians know to visit the village in the summer, when the frenzy has diminished somewhat. Vail has grown quickly over the last 10 years to accommodate both the increasingly large summer and winter crowds, with lifts expanded to six-person chairs instead of four and a second gondola added during the 2012-2013 ski season. New summer activities have also been installed in the past few years, including a high ropes course and ziplines, while new restaurants pop up all of the time. So no matter when you go, you’ll have something to do, somewhere to go and something to eat.
That said, there are some classic activities in Vail you must check off your bucket list. Below, 10 of our favorites:
1. Gondola surf on your way up from Lionshead or Vail village.
Stand up and make sure you’re balanced right before the gondola leaves the base and “surf” when the gondola picks up speed.
2. Ski through every one of the kids' adventure areas, including Magic Forest and Chaos Canyon.
No matter how mature you are, you can’t leave Vail without letting your inner 6-year-old out.
3. Get a slice of buffalo chicken pizza at Blue Moose Pizza in Lionshead, and doodle while you wait.
Or you could always hit the outpost Blue Moose opened in New Braunfels—yes, that New Braunfels.
4. Somehow manage to throw yourself off of Lover’s Leap in Blue Sky Basin with your lover, or your best friend.
Ski up to the edge and prepare to take a leap of faith onto the snow below.
5. Treat yourself to a perfect gelato at Rimini Gelato, summer or winter.
The shop also offers a handy "skier's breakfast" to-go.