7 Insider’s Tips of What to Do in Vail

Vail Valley travel recommendations

Vail Valley is a world-class cornucopia of amazing summertime stuff, the things you crave on weekend jaunts or weeklong getaways with your better half or family. It starts with the breathtaking scenery, then builds with amazing restaurants, nightlife, shopping, lodging, events and festivals, plus singular recreation like golf, tennis, fly fishing, hiking, climbing, zip lines and mountain biking.

Vacation guides are a must when visiting a new destination, but if you really hope to experience the best of the best and get an insider’s view on where to eat, stay and play, you need to ask a local. In this case, we’ve asked longtime resident Jeff Hanson, the director of golf for Red Sky Ranch & Golf Club, to reveal some of his Vail Valley secret places and visitor tips.

CAG: What’s the first “must-do” after arriving in the Vail Valley?

Hanson: Check into one of Vail’s RockResorts hotels, breath in the fresh Rocky Mountain air, pour a glass of red wine and let yourself decompress and lose that city stress.

What’s your favorite breakfast eatery?

The best breakfast in the world is the Northside Café in Avon just off the I-70 interstate. They have unbelievable huevos rancheros, the best coffee, and they serve delicious, fresh-made donuts every day. They also offer great lunch and dinner.

What is Vail’s most memorable dining experience?

Beano’s Cabin in Beaver Creek is head-shaking amazing. It’s located on the slopes of Beaver Creek Resort, and just getting there is an experience: You can ride up on a horse, take the 20-minute tractor-pulled wagon or just ride the shuttle from the base area. The wild game is incredible, cocktails are absolutely perfect, and so is the service and live music.

What about family dining? What’s the best place to take kids?

The best family dining in the Vail Valley is Toscanini Restaurant, located right in Beaver Creek Village. The Italian food is out of this world, and there’s steak, veal and elk. They also have a great kid’s menu. And when you eat outside, you can watch the kids skating on an ice rink that’s open year round. After dinner, the village offers an amazing assortment of great shopping options. It’s a smokin’ place.

Speaking of shopping, where should we go to buy that ideal Vail souvenir?

The Vail T-Shirt Company in Lionshead Village is famous, not just for it’s t-shirts and hoodies but for just about anything that says “Vail.”

What’s your favorite place to enjoy a Vail sunset?

The patio at Red Sky Ranch is the best. That’s where it got its name—for awesome, red-sky sunsets (pictured at top). Coupled with the restaurant’s signature Red Sky Lemonade, the best drink in the valley, it’s an experience all to itself.

Now we need to work off some calories. What’s an insider’s tip for great hiking?

Red Sky Ranch has a great hiking trail that showcases the valley’s great mountains and is huge for wildlife sightings. Another special place is the dog-friendly hike up above Lake Creek, which ascends to the base of New York Mountain, one of the area’s snow-capped fourteeners. You seldom see another person, and in the fall the groves of aspens just explode with color.

Jeff Hanson has been Red Sky Ranch & Golf Club’s PGA director of golf since the property’s inception in 2001. Prior, he was the PGA head professional at Beaver Creek Golf Club. He lives in Edwards with his wife Nancy and their three children.


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Durango resident Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.