Okay, so a weekend in Vail isn’t technically a “Denver Doodle,” but my husband and I did “doodle” our way there in a little over two hours. (Our return trip was about 45 minutes longer due to heavy traffic. If you live in the Denver area, you probably know that traffic on the route can be that way on Sunday afternoons and Friday afternoons. We headed out early Friday afternoon and missed the worst of the traffic.)
If you thought Vail was just a place to go in the winter to ski, I hope to convince you otherwise. There are tons of fun things to do in Vail in the summer. Some are even free! Here are some of the highlights of our short stay:
We spent Friday afternoon leisurely strolling through Vail Village, dining on the deck at a casual restaurant, and browsing in the shops. Surprisingly, parking at Vail Village is free. Vail’s bus service, with stops at many local attractions, is also free.
Gore Valley Trail
Saturday morning, we took a short hike (or maybe it was really more of a walk) on the Gore Valley Trail, which was near the inn where we stayed. This paved trail features lovely views of Gore Creek and is not too challenging for us less-than-totally-fit hikers. (You might huff and puff a little more than usual due to the high altitude, though.) Our hike/walk was, of course, free.
Vail Arts Festival
Luckily, we were in town the weekend of the Vail Arts Festival, so we headed to the open-air Lionshead Mall after our hike to peruse the beautiful artwork, jewelry, and fashion created by over 80 artists from 22 states. I would love to attend this event in the future even if I had to make it a day trip. Once again, admission and parking were free.
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
We capped off our visit to Vail at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens on Sunday morning. As you can see, the gardens were lush with vibrant green foliage and colorful blooms in late June when we visited. I’m sure this place is beautiful in the fall as well, with its aspens in their golden glory. I was truly amazed that there was no admission fee for these gorgeous gardens. Rather, there was a box for donations at the entry.