Lionshead Village is one of three base villages comprising the iconic Vail Ski Resort. Lionshead lies about a mile to the west of Vail Village, and a smaller Golden Peak base about a mile to the east. Both Vail and Lionshead villages each boast a speedy gondola in addition to lifts taking skiers and hikers to the top of Vail Mountain.
Both Lionshead and Vail are charming Bavarian-style alpine villages that are lined with heated cobblestone streets exclusively for pedestrians, except for the complimentary bus service that runs between Lionshead Village, Vail Village and Golden Peak.
Vail Village, established in 1962, was the first base area, followed by Lionshead Village in 1969. A scenic bike path that follows Gore Creek connects the two villages, which are approximately a mile apart. A free in-town bus service operates every 10 minutes during peak seasons, providing visitors and locals with easy transportation between the two villages.
So, what’s the difference between Vail and Lionshead villages? Read on to learn a little more about Lionshead and how we find it the more family-friendly of the two.
Lionshead Village History
The original development of Lionshead began in 1969. But it was not well planned, or even quality built which led to a need for revitalization entering the 21st century. The Lionshead Redevelopment Master Plan was adopted in 1998.
In the 2000s re-development in Lionshead village began. Antlers at Vail led the charge in 2000 with an addition to the original building and then in 2006-2007 Vail Resorts began a redevelopment project that began with the Arrabelle at Vail Square. This luxury hotel converted Lionshead into a little Bavaria in Colorado with its impressive European architecture. It brought with it a new ice skating rink and expanded commercial space for restaurants and shops. This all really transformed the village into a world class ski destination.
Base Village to Vail Mountain
It is our opinion that Lionshead is the more family friendly of the two villages. Its Eagle Bahn Gondola takes visitors up to Adventure Ridge in the winter and Epic Discovery in the summer. These are Vail’s mountaintop playgrounds with fun activities such as an alpine slide, tubing hills, ski biking in the winter and challenge courses and zip lines in the summer.
Vail Village is home to more restaurants and nightlife. Lionshead is a little quieter especially as you move out of the town center. Many of the lodges are condominiums and residences with living space, kitchens with balconies overlooking the bike path, Gore Creek below and Vail Mountain across the creek.
Things to Do in Lionshead
You’ve decided to come to the Vail area for one of its many outdoor adventures. Maybe its skiing, or perhaps hiking or mountain biking. Whatever it is, you’ll find plenty of other things to do here.
Ride the Gondola to Adventure Ridge
Arrabelle Square is just steps from the base of the mountain. In the winter the square becomes a charming ice skating rink. In the summer it becomes a hub for events and smaller concerts. Vail Jazz Festival offers many concerts from here. There’s also Dobson Ice Rink located between the two villages offering ice bumper cars, in addition to open ice skating.
Play at the Parks
Vail’s Sunbird park, also known as Nest or Pod Park is located above Vail Square in Lionshead Village. Architects took inspiration from the town’s ski culture and nearby nesting habitats to create “nest” tree houses. The supports of these nests or pods mimic the look of traditional wooden skis. Rope bridges, slides and a climbing wall will keep the kids entertained. An adjacent splash pad will cool the children off in the summer.
Imagination Station, located in the Lionshead Parking Structure is a fun indoor play area for young children. This miniature children’s museum offers magnet wall, an interactive light wall, a hyperbolic funnel modeling planetary motion, a wind tunnel exploring concepts of air resistance and gravity, and a children’s veterinary clinic. There’s also a virtual reality game set up and an area where fun art programs are held.
You can see that several of our top activities for toddlers in Vail are located here in Lionshead.
Play at the Ice Rink or Library
Dobson Ice Arena and the Vail Public Library are both located smack between Lionshead and Vail Village. Dobson Ice Arena offers ice skating, ice bumper cars and also concerts and events. Vail Public Library is a favorite with families with young children. Their storytime is one of the best in the area.
But don’t think that Lionshead is just for the kids. There’s plenty of world class shopping and dining also to discover. Luxury hotels such as The Hythe and Arrabelle offer extraordinary dining experiences.
Ski and bike rental shops pepper the cobblestone lines streets, making this village an ideal home base for any kind of adventure.
In Lionshead Village you’ll find everything from locally owned stores selling local souvenirs and gifts, to popular outdoor stores offering all the latest gear and fashion.
Lionshead Village Dining
When you’re not hitting the slopes, there are plenty of other things to do in Lionshead Village. The village is home to a wide range of dining options, from casual cafes s to high-end restaurants.
For breakfast, the Little Diner is the go-to spot in Vail. But you may find a line out the door. If they are too busy, you could get a quiche at our favorite lunch spot, the French Deli. Of course, several of the large hotels offer pricey breakfast buffets.
The Little Diner is a cozy and charming restaurant located in the heart of Lionshead. This family-owned eatery has been serving up delicious breakfast and lunch options since 1975. The restaurant’s menu features classic American breakfast items such as pancakes, waffles, omelets, and breakfast sandwiches, as well as lunch options such as burgers, sandwiches, and salads. The Little Diner has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, with a small dining room that is often filled with locals and tourists alike. The restaurant’s portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable, making it a popular spot for a hearty and satisfying meal. Overall, the Little Diner is a must-visit for anyone looking for a delicious and authentic dining experience in Vail.
Blue Moose Pizza
For casual dining there are two pizza restaurants. Blue Moose Pizza has been serving pizza in Lionshead for several years. They have a large restaurant with patio space right by the Vail Square ice rink.
Blue Moose Pizza in Vail is a popular restaurant that has been serving up delicious pizza since 1995. Located in Lionshead Village, the restaurant offers a casual and fun atmosphere that is perfect for families, groups of friends, and even solo diners. Blue Moose Pizza’s menu features a wide selection of pizza options, from classic cheese and pepperoni to unique toppings like buffalo chicken and pesto. The restaurant also offers salads, calzones, and a variety of appetizers, including their famous garlic knots. With its friendly service, affordable prices, and mouth-watering pizza, Blue Moose is a must-visit for anyone looking for a laid-back dining experience in Vail.
One of our favorite spots for lunch, the French Deli restaurant is a cozy spot that captures the essence of casual French. The restaurant offers coffees, quiches and sandwiches made with high-quality ingredients on fresh croissants or baguettes. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with a small rustic interior and a handful of outdoor tables. The small staff is friendly and knowledgeable, offering excellent recommendations and ensuring that guests have an enjoyable meal.
Montauk Seafood Grill
Montauk Restaurant in Vail is a popular dining destination that offers a unique culinary experience. The menu features seafood dishes that are both classic and innovative. The restaurant’s emphasis on fresh and locally sourced ingredients is evident in its menu, which includes dishes such as oysters, lobster rolls, and a variety of fish options. The bar at Montauk is also noteworthy, offering a range of craft cocktails, beers, and wines that perfectly complement the restaurant’s menu. The Montauk Restaurant in Vail is a must-visit for those seeking a memorable dining experience in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
Bart & Yeti’s
Bart & Yeti’s is a classic mountain-style restaurant located in Vail that has been a local favorite for over 40 years. The restaurant’s atmosphere is laid-back and casual, with a cozy interior that features wooden decor. The menu at Bart & Yeti’s offers a variety of American comfort food, including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and soups. The restaurant is also known for its legendary chili, which has won numerous awards over the years. The outdoor patio at Bart & Yeti’s is a popular spot to enjoy a meal during the summer months, with a relaxing atmosphere. It is a long-time Lionshead classic that offers tasty food and a welcoming atmosphere that keeps locals and visitors coming back year after year.
The Vail Chophouse is a stylish and upscale restaurant located in the base of Vail Mountain. The restaurant’s atmosphere is sophisticated and elegant, with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The menu at Vail Chophouse features a variety of high-quality meats, including prime rib, filet mignon, and lamb chops, as well as seafood dishes and vegetarian options. The restaurant’s extensive wine list offers a selection of wines from around the world that perfectly complement the menu. The outdoor patio at Vail Chophouse is a popular spot during both summer and winter, with intimate views of Vail Mountain.
Tavern on the Square
The Tavern at Arrabelle is an upscale dining destination that offers a unique blend of European elegance and Rocky Mountain charm. The restaurant’s atmosphere is luxurious and sophisticated, with an interior that features a grand fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and stunning chandeliers. The menu at The Tavern Restaurant at Arrabelle features a variety of gourmet dishes, including fresh seafood, steak, and a range of creative appetizers and sides. The restaurant’s wine list is extensive and features a variety of bottles from around the world. The outdoor patio at The Tavern Restaurant at Arrabelle is a popular spot bothe during summer and winter, with views of the slopes.
Update May 2023: Moe’s BBQ in Vail, Colorado was a casual and laid-back restaurant offering a delicious taste of southern-style barbecue. Sadly, they closed the Lionshead location at the end of ski season. You’ll have to head down valley to Eagle if you have your heart set on Alabama BBQ in Colorado.
Garfinkel’s is a casual and lively restaurant that’s perfect for those seeking a fun atmosphere. The interior of the restaurant is colorful and eclectic, with a variety of decorations and memorabilia adorning the walls. The menu at Garfinkel’s features a range of classic pub fare, including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. The restaurant is also known for its extensive beer selection, with a range of local and international brews on tap. The outdoor deck at Garfinkel’s is a popular apres spot year round.
Alpine Pizza is a newer casual and family-friendly restaurant that serves up delicious pizzas and Italian fare. The interior of the restaurant is cozy and welcoming, with wooden decor and a fireplace. The menu at Alpine Pizza features a range of classic and creative pizza options, as well as a variety of pastas, salads, and sandwiches. The restaurant is known for its high-quality ingredients, with locally sourced and organic produce used whenever possible.
Rimini Gelato is a charming and cozy gelato shop with a bright and colorful interior. The menu at Rimini Gelato features a variety of delicious gelato flavors, including classics like chocolate and vanilla, as well as unique and creative flavors such as lavender and lemon. The gelato is made with high-quality ingredients. The shop also offers a range of other foods, including crepes, sandwiches, and coffee.
Groceries in Lionshead
The Market at Vail is a gourmet grocery store located across from the Lionshead Parking Structure. The store features a wide range of high-quality and locally sourced products, including fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and baked goods. The market also has a large selection of wines, beers, and spirits, with a focus on local and regional producers. In addition to grocery items, the market offers a variety of prepared foods, including sandwiches, salads, and soups, as well as a deli section and a coffee bar. Here you will pay a price for the convenience of grocery shopping right in the heard of Vail. Two chin grocery stores are located a mile or so away in West Vail where you can find better pricing.
Where to Stay in Lionshead
Antlers at Vail
The Antlers at Vail is one of our favorite places to stay in Lionshead. It offers a range of spacious condos of different configurations and sizes, all of which feature fully equipped kitchens, gas fireplaces, and stunning mountain views. The hotel’s creekside pool and oversized natural stone hot tubs may be the best in Vail. And, its location on Gore Creek just a short walk to the gondola is pretty unbeatable. The Antlers at Vail is also known for its exceptional guest services, with a friendly and helpful staff that’s always available to assist with any requests or needs. The hotel’s location is ideal for accessing Vail’s world-class ski slopes and outdoor activities, as well as its shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
The Arrabelle is a luxurious hotel located in the heart of Lionshead. It offers a range of elegant and spacious accommodations, including rooms and suites that feature high-end furnishings and luxurious amenities. The hotel also features a variety of on-site amenities, including a heated rooftop pool and hot tubs, a fitness center, a spa, and a restaurant. The Arrabelle’s location is ideal for accessing Vail’s world-class ski slopes, as well as its shopping, dining, and entertainment options. The hotel’s grand and impressive architecture exudes luxury and sophistication, with a European-inspired design that’s both timeless and modern.
LionSquare Lodge is a condo hotel that offers a range of spacious accommodations. The hotel features a range of rooms, studios, and multi-bedroom condos, all of which feature high-end furnishings, fully equipped kitchens, and stunning mountain views. The hotel also features a variety of on-site amenities, including ski-in/ski-out access to Vail Mountain, a heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, a fitness center, and a Mexican restaurant.
Lodge at Lionshead
The Lodge at Lionshead is a luxurious mountain retreat featuring a range of spacious accommodations, including studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom condos, all of which are beautifully appointed with high-end furnishings and modern amenities. Guests of the Lodge at Lionshead enjoy a range of on-site amenities, including a heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, a fitness center,
The Hythe Hotel
The Hythe Hotel offers a unique alpine experience that captures the adventurous spirit of the region. The Hythe’s luxurious suites feature whirlpool jet bathtubs and two balconies that offer breathtaking mountain views. The resort is also home to four distinct dining options and the Well & Being Spa, which includes Vail’s exclusive Himalayan Salt Lounge.
The Riz-Carlton Residences Vail
These residences offer spacious floor plans, high-end finishes, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The residences range in size from two to five bedrooms, and each features a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, a spacious living area, and private balconies. The Ritz Residences offer a range of on-site amenities, including a private ski concierge, a fitness center, and an outdoor heated pool and hot tubs.
You can’t go wrong whether staying in Vail or Lionshead Village. Either will provide you with easy access to the mountain and outdoor adventures. But there is a difference. Tell us which of Vail’s alpine villages you prefer and why!