vail summer evening at dusk

Travel is different this year. Our family is exploring the wide open spaces of our home state instead of wandering afar. We always love Colorado in the summer. So, this really just gives us the best excuse ever to enjoy where we live. Vail in Colorado is our hometown. Things look very different this Vail summer 2020. But if anything, it is an even more attractive place to visit during these times because of its beautiful wide open spaces.

Header image courtesy Town of Vail and Jack Affleck.

best family travel destinations
Your Vail summer family vacation really needs to include a ride up the gondola for the views!

A Safe Vail

Once this summer I have been asked to wear a mask when I didn’t already have one on. It was outside and in preparation for Ziplining at Snow Mountain Ranch. The request only made me feel safer. They knew that even though we were outdoors, one of their staff members would have to be in very close proximity to us while switching the harness at the top of the high landing. I hadn’t thought that far ahead (or known the process), only thinking that I was outdoors and so it wasn’t necessary. But I have to say that I feel like I come from a place that is taking guest safety very seriously and I felt even safer there.

Our family has eaten out several times over the past several weeks, but only once indoors. And, it made me very nervous. I couldn’t wait to get out of that restaurant. During the summer in Colorado there are very few reasons to ever to be indoors. And, in Vail that is especially the case. So, let’s talk about what this summer looks like.

Vail Concerts and Festivals Postponed or Adapted

Big Vail valley festivals and concerts have indeed been cancelled. While this is sad, those events could have been deadly for many. And, this means that rather than literally having to choose from several things going on each night now there is a reasonable selection. There is plenty of live music to be found in Vail. It can easily be heard from restaurant patios.

Why Vail Summer

There is a saying that the locals in Vail repeat incessantly, “We came for the winter but stayed for the summers.” I promise you that this has nothing to do with the big concerts or festivals. It is because summer is the most beautiful time of the year in the Colorado Rockies.

Vail Weather

Sunny days and cool evenings can be found whether you are walking the path along Gore Creek, hiking or biking Vail Mountain, rafting on the river or simply having an outdoor picnic at an alpine garden. Vail locals have always valued their space, the fresh mountain air and the ability to easily access an outdoor activity. That is still the case this summer.

Vail Dining

And, I would argue that the Vail village dining experience is even better that usual. Patios have been expanded. Dogs are more welcome than usual. Live music is abundant. Many of the restaurants will not take reservations for the patio. There is never any telling what Colorado weather will do. So, planning may be out the door. But worst case scenario you can order dinner to go and enjoy it on your hotel balcony.

There are also some really great family-friendly Vail restaurants.

Hint: you might want to ask if your lodging comes with a covered private balcony. Many do. And, some even have grills. Bigger hint: Look up Antlers at Vail.

Fourth of July 2020

Colorful fireworks light up the night sky for 4th of July Colorado
What 4th of July celebration would be complete without fireworks lighting up the night sky?

Fourth of July will be a bit different this year. Vail America Days has been reimagined to provide a safe and socially distanced experience. There’s no large patriotic concert at the Amphitheater. The parade has been modified to provide patriotic exhibits spaced throughout the villages rather than the moving parade that attracts large crowds. There will be on-the-move musicians and other surprises from Vail Village to Lionshead throughout the day Saturday, July 4. Although the large fireworks display in Avon has been cancelled, Vail will provide a short fireworks display that can be viewed from most areas of Vail.

Vail Summer 2020 Activities

Worried that there might not be enough to do? Don’t. It really may get you to experience something you’ve not thought to try before. There never has been a shortage of Vail summer activities and there won’t be this summer either.

Bike Vail Pass

A couple of local companies offer a Vail Pass bike ride. They take you up to the top of Vail Pass. Drop you off with a bike. And, you ride down.

Go River Rafting

Floating on the river
Father’s Day float with Timberline Tours out of Eagle on a calm stretch of river.

Have you ever been river rafting? I really don’t like cold water. But there are many different levels of rapids. Every Father’s Day we take a river float with Timberline Tours. There are about three small rapids. No wet suits needed and you possibly could even avoid getting splashed by water if you really wanted to. Our guide actually pulled this off, even after acquiescing to the kids demands to go backwards through the rapids.


Just go hiking. Use your own feet to take you somewhere green that you’ve never been before. It is refreshing. You can go easy and interesting like Rifle Falls, or get your heart beating with a hike up Vail Mountain. Up to you.

Hint: Here are our favorite Vail area family hikes.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Vail has the highest botanical gardens in the United States, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. On a walk to the gardens you are likely to discover some unique art. There’s also a very fun park right next door for the kiddos. And, picnic tables down by the river.

Piney River Ranch

Our family fishing at Piney Lake Vail
Fishing at Piney Lake Vail. Fishing rods are available for rent at the pier. Something that absolutely should be on your list of things to do with kids in Colorado!

Up for a drive? Check out one of he most beautiful landscapes in the area — of the Gore Range at Piney Lake. A few miles up a dirt road on the north side of the highway is Piney River Ranch. This is a popular wedding destination because of the unmatched beauty. The Gore Range reflects on a pristine lake. There are cabins and tents available for rent. Beautiful hiking trails, canoes and fishing rods for rent. Horseback riding. And, a delicious casual restaurant.

Vail Farmers Market

The Vail Farmers Market kicks off its 20th summer season looking a little different this summer. It is following COVID guidelines, featuring vendors of local produce, food, and artisans on Sunday, July 5th and runs every Sunday through October 4th, 2020. The Market opens at 10:00 a.m. and runs through 3:00 p.m. There is a designated time slot for high risk individuals from 9:30-10:00 a.m.. Free tickets are required to enter the market this year.

Visit Beaver Creek

Want a smaller alpine experience? Check out Beaver Creek! While you may not have quite as much at your fingertips, it is all very accessible. There are plenty of restaurants with outdoor patios. The lifts opened July 1. And, any of the tour companies will pick you up at your hotel to do any of the many things available in Vail and throughout Eagle County.

Play at Epic Discovery

Tacking a ropes or challenge course atop Vail Mountain at Epic Discovery.

Visit Epic Discovery Vail. Gondola One started turning July 1. But Epic Discovery will not open until mid-July. There’s no telling if all of the fun adventures will be open there. But, again, it would have been difficult to fit it all in. There’s no doubt that you will find plenty of fun things to do at Epic Discovery this summer.

Fly Fish

Have someone who likes fishing. Vail is an idyllic spot for fly fishing. If you have the equipment, you may be able to just catch some fish on your own. If not, there are plenty of outfitters ready to show you their favorite fishing spots and provide equipment and guidance.

Experience Art and Music

Love art? There’s plenty of art in public places. You might even find some unique installations in your hotel. And there are also lots of galleries to meander through. While large concerts have been postponed, you are sure to be able to find live music as you wanted the village.

Just Explore the Outdoors

Explore. Use this summer to get lost. Whether on a hiking trail, bike trail or just wandering through the village. There’s no better time than the present to discover Vail on your own.

Vail Summer 2020 Lodging Deals

One of our favorite condominium hotel, located in Lionshead village, the Antlers at Vail, is offering lots of fun specials and packages. From 30-day stays starting at $3500 and 10-packs of room nights as low as $189 per night to packages with value adds such as picnics and gelato there’s sure to be something to make your visit to Vail special.

Pool at the Antlers at Vail sits creekside with mountain views. Photo courtesy Antlers at Vail.

Another of our favorites, The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa Avon has a 20% Off Summer 2020 deal with rates starting at $179 per night, which includes:

  • 20% off overnight accommodations
  • Also 20% off food from The Lookout Lobby Bar, the Lift Café and in-room dining
  • Plus 20% off a relaxing massage at Spa Anjali
  • $20 off bike rentals at Venture Sports
Creekside pool at the Westin Riverfront. Photo: Westin Riverfront

Insider Tip: Both of these hotels have pools that are on our list of best winter pools in Colorado. They are pretty great in the summer too.

hiking vail summer 2020
Photo courtesy Town of Vail/ Jack Affleck
Mountain biking Vail summer 2020
Photo courtesy Town of Vail/ Jack Affleck

As anywhere you travel this summer, you will want to make sure that you are prepared to respect local guidelines. Eagle County expects that residents and visitors alike will follow the county’s Five Commitments of Containment:

  • Maintain 6 feet of distance
  • Wash my hands often
  • Cover my face in public
  • Stay home when I am sick
  • Get tested immediately if I have symptoms

For more on Eagle County guidelines visit the Eagle County Transition Trail Map.

Mountain views in Vail summer 2020
What Vail Summer 2020 Looks Like

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