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Vail wows in winter with its world-class skiing. But don’t dismiss it as a summer or fall destination. Its snow-covered mountains are just as majestic drenched in green—almost overwhelming in beauty. Along with the abundance of activities, there is an embarrassment of culinary riches. Snow or no snow, this town of 5,000 year-round residents with its European charm is a must-go.

RELATED: The best Colorado ski towns in summer

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As if the Eagles Nest Wilderness area wasn’t amazing enough to trek through, Paragon Guides ups the ante with its “Take a Llama to Lunch” program where you can hike the Gore Creek Trail with llamas Dwight, Kareem, Bailey and Sneffles. They are gentle and calm and make you feel at peace. No worries if you aren’t a mountaineer, the main goal is to have fun, guide the llamas, have a fantastic lunch—likely amid a field of wildflowers—and walk away with new appreciation for nature. It’s an experience you’ll remember always.

Yoga is huge here and studios are plentiful. The latest craze though, is goat yoga at Vail Stables. Be pleasantly distracted doing a downward dog while cutie pie goats try nibbling at your feet. Expect to laugh more than to have a serious hour-long yoga session. There’s also aerial outdoor yoga at The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the highest botanical gardens in the world.


A gondola ride in Vail | Photo by Jack Affleck; courtesy of Vail Resorts

Vail is ideal for mountain biking. If you’re a hot shot, ride up the mountain. Mere mortals can buy a bike haul ticket and get to the scenic trails via the Eagle Bahn and Gondola One gondola lifts. There are trails for all fitness levels. If you prefer to bike on pavement, the Vail Recreation Path should feed that fetish. It runs along the banks of Gore Creek in Vail and stretches through the Vail Valley, East Vail and beyond.

Adventure lovers will not be disappointed. Check out nature and adventure park Epic Discovery. Ride the Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster that twists and turns 3,400 feet down the mountain, guided by Mother Nature’s contours of the landscape through the forest. Kayak, whitewater raft, fly fish, go tubing, zipline or hop on a horse. Inquire about the $94 Ultimate Adventure Pass for one-day, unlimited access to many attractions.

ALSO: With Orbitz Rewards we lift the veil and reveal all kinds of hotel discounts for frequent users.

If you’re looking to chill, there are nearly a dozen spas to help you flip the switch from stressed to serene. If music soothes the soul, you’re in good luck. There are more than 75 performances included in the 23rd Annual Jazz Festival this summer and culminating with the Vail Jazz Party Labor Day weekend.

Additionally, the BRAVO! Vail Music Festival brings more than 40 soloists, ensembles and four orchestras. The Bud Light Hot Summer Nights Concert Series provides free music Tuesday evenings at the Ford Amphitheater.


The 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits | Photo by Jack Affleck; courtesy of Vail Resorts

All that fresh air and activity is bound to stir your appetite. One of the biggest surprises about Vail is the food and beverage scene. From the 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits distillery, Vail Brewing Company, creative cocktails all over town and over-the-top restaurants like Pendulum, Matsuhisa, Sweet Basil, Vintage, and Mountain Standard, you’ll be sated.

There are a wide choice of places to stay, like the Sonnenalp or Four Seasons. A favorite is The Sebastian – Vail. This boutique hotel in the heart of Vail Village takes charm to a new level with its mountain-view pool and hot tubs. Restaurant Leonara offers modern-style comfort food, libations abound at the Library and Frost Bar, and there’s much buzz about Bloom Spa, with its full suite of services.

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Tagged: Colorado, Vail

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