(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)


It was only because we used snow­board­ing as the hook. 


Oth­er­wise, he nev­er would have come with us. He does­n’t hang with us. I’m sure it’s a post-teen thing. Or a blend­ed fam­i­ly thing.


But it was the promise of a fam­i­ly trip to a ski resort in the Col­orado Rocky Moun­tains that enticed the col­lege boy to trav­el with us to Vail, Col­orado over Thanks­giv­ing break. After that, all we had to do was fig­ure out how to make our fam­i­ly snow trip fun for all the boys. We had to find activ­i­ties to keep his younger broth­ers, sev­en and nine, as well as my 20-year-old step­son, all hap­py and sat­is­fied. Or, at least not con­stant­ly try­ing to kill each other. 


Watch our fun video of all the fun things we did and that you can do with your fam­i­ly in Vail, Colorado!







Things you must do with your kids in Vail, Colorado! Have three days, use this guide to find the best activities based on the time we took our boys skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating and snow-shoeing. The best place to stay, the Sonnenalp, for a cozy fun family trip to Vail.



Fun Things to do with kids in Vail, colorado

The Gang’s All Here



The Hotel: Sonnenalp Hotel


The five of us stayed at the Euro­pean style ski resort, Son­nenalp Hotel which recent­ly cel­e­brat­ed 40 years of mak­ing fam­i­lies hap­py in Vail and 100 in Ger­many. Walk­ing into the Son­nenalp Hotel was like step­ping into a Bavar­i­an lodge, only with Amer­i­can sized rooms. The Son­nenalp Hotel fea­tures 112 lux­u­ry suites and 12 hotel rooms. Every one of them faces either the Gore Creek or Vail Village.



Fun Things to do with kids in Vail, colorado

© Son­nenalp Hotel



The entry to our suite had its own lit­tle mud­room, ded­i­cat­ed to keep­ing our leaky snow gear from mess­ing up the rest of the space. 


To the right, a liv­ing room, like your Aunt Sylvie’s, who lives in Switzer­land with her French hus­band, Renee.


Inside, a bur­gundy couch and an azure loveseat faced a flat-screen TV. A glass-cov­ered fire­place blazed to the right. Behind, two green head­boards framed two green quilts cov­er­ing a pair of queen-sized beds. The bath­room claimed more space than most New York City apart­ments.  Envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious, indus­tri­al sized, con­tain­ers dis­pensed refill­able lux­u­ry lotions and toi­letries. A steam show­er and a whirlpool jet tub whis­pered the promise of relief after a full day on the slopes or chas­ing after the kids. Across the bath­room, a wood-framed walk-in clos­et gave us plen­ty of space to unload all five of our belongings. 





Just out­side our French door bal­cony, snow-topped moun­tains and hills of white held green Dou­glas-firs and Engel­mann spruce. Uncer­tain tem­per­a­tures exposed patch­es of brown dirt. Above, in a blue sky, pil­lows of clouds con­tort­ed into famil­iar shapes. Even dur­ing ear­ly win­ter, the chill turned our breath into puffs of air. 

It was late when we arrived, so we decid­ed to eat din­ner at the hotel restau­rant, Bul­ly Ranch which had all the expect­ed tough guy moun­tain fare like burg­ers and beer but also mind­ful options like veg­gie burg­ers and a super­food sal­ad. Once sat­is­fied, the lit­tle boys raced out to the paved street, serv­ing as a walk­way for most pedes­tri­ans, lined by earth-hued, recent­ly built con­dos and bou­tiques, that led to the heart of Vail Vil­lage. We enjoyed the crisp walk but could have hopped on one of the free Vail bus­es or trol­leys, the largest net­work of com­ple­men­tary pub­lic trans­porta­tion in the Unit­ed States.



Fun with Kids in Vail Colorado

Wan­na Ride?



Vail Village with Kids


We arrived at the cen­ter of the Vil­lage to dis­cov­er a giant out­door ice rink, buzzing with skaters, under twin­kling elec­tric lights. Bun­dled-up, laugh­ing fam­i­lies raced around the Solaris Ice Rink, sur­round­ed by two sto­ries of shops, con­dos and restau­rants. The free rink, open dur­ing the win­ter months from 1–9:30pm, offers fam­i­lies an oppor­tu­ni­ty to enjoy win­ter and each oth­er off the slopes. Skate rentals are locat­ed on the ground floor next door to bol, a con­tem­po­rary bowl­ing alley also per­fect for fam­i­ly fun.



Fun with Kids in Vail Colorado



Even though nei­ther of the lit­tle boys had ever skat­ed before, they both enjoyed rac­ing around, the rail with­in arm’s length, until they got com­fort­able enough to stum­ble onto the mid­dle of the ice, ankles fold­ing in their skates like drunk­en sailors. 



Fun with Kids in Vail Colorado

What Do We Do With the Drunk­en Soldier?



Col­lege boy Kyle laughed as his broth­ers, Kaleb and Knox, tried to make snow angels in the hard ice.



Fun with Kids in Vail Colorado

Such An Angel



Before we called it a night, we walked over to the Bridge House Ski Haus and rent­ed our gear for the dura­tion of our stay. They offer a com­pli­men­ta­ry ski valet ser­vice in part­ner­ship with some local hotels, includ­ing the Son­nenalp. They drop-off and pick-up your skis at your hotel, so you don’t have to schlep any­thing any­where. Plus, you get a dis­count for being a hotel guest.



Fun with Kids in Vail Colorado



We woke up and head­ed down­stairs to Lud­wig’s for the Inter­na­tion­al break­fast buf­fet feast where some brave souls — or those vis­it­ing from cold­er cli­mates — relaxed with meals on the out­door patio. We, from Los Ange­les, hud­dled inside and enjoyed a huge vari­ety of foods rep­re­sent­ing all parts of Europe.



Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colorado



Adventure Ridge at Lionshead Village


Lat­er, my hus­band, Howard, and Kyle planned a big boy day to them­selves and took their fresh­ly deliv­ered skis and snow­board up to Vail Moun­tain while I hopped on a free bus for the five minute ride with the lit­tle guys to explore Adven­ture Ridge, in near­by Lion­shead Vil­lage. We found the Eagle Bahn Gon­do­la that took us to the top of the moun­tain. Our glass cube ascend­ed into the sky. We passed huge swatch­es of white tipped green­ery that kept us qui­et with wonder. 



Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colorado



The sky let loose a flur­ry of snow. By the time we stepped out of our gon­do­la, a fluffy veil of white cov­ered the ground. We excit­ed­ly gath­ered as much of the pow­der as pos­si­ble, packed it into balls, and pro­ceed­ed to remind each oth­er just how fun and mis­chie­vous win­ter could be while pelt­ing and scream­ing as cold, wet snow found its way into the sliv­er of space between our jack­et and our neck. 



Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colorado

Snow­bombs away!



Next, we hopped into the For­est Fly­er Moun­tain Coast­er, a tobog­gan that flew around a met­al track much faster than I expect­ed. I tried to ignore the lit­tle voice inside my head that told me I was going to fly us off the met­al rail, hurl­ing my youngest son down the moun­tain, if I did­n’t slow down. 



Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colorado



Kid’s Club at Sonnenalp Hotel


The kid’s club pro­gram at the Son­nenalp offers pro­grams that intro­duce local wildlife to chil­dren. Dur­ing the dry months, lessons are taught dur­ing hikes but dur­ing our stay, we got to learn about nature while snowshoeing. 



Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colorado

Snow Hik­ing



None of us had tried it before and we were so excit­ed to strap on our snow­shoes and clank up the hill. As we made our way up the ter­rain, our guide, Son­nenalp’s Guest Activ­i­ties Coor­di­na­tor, Kara Has­brouck-Schmidt, stopped in front of a tree and asked if we knew what kind of ever­green it was. We city-folk shook our heads and she pulled off some of its pine nee­dles and held it out for us to inspect. We looked and she said you could tell if you tried rolling them between your fin­gers. She pro­ceed­ed to roll the nee­dles across her palm with the fin­ger of her oth­er hand. “See?” Has­brouck-Schmidt showed us, “The nee­dles roll because they’re square. That’s how we know it’s a spruce.” 



Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colorado



We plod­ded along a lit­tle far­ther and she stopped in front of anoth­er tree. When she tried to roll the nee­dles this time, they would­n’t move. “The fir tree nee­dles are flat, so you can’t roll them,” Has­brouck-Schmidt said, “That’s how you can tell the dif­fer­ence.” A lit­tle fur­ther up, she stopped again and point­ed to some ani­mal tracks, ask­ing if we knew how to tell the dif­fer­ence between dog and moun­tain lion prints. With a crease between our eyes, we again shook our heads. “Moun­tain lions retract their claws like cats when they walk, while dogs do not,” she said as we looked more care­ful­ly at the tracks, hop­ing to see claws.



Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colorado

Avid Stu­dents



King’s Club Lounge at Sonnenalp


That night, after din­ner, we hung out on the couch­es at the King’s Club, a glow­ing fire­place on one side and the croon­ing sounds of a singer strum­ming a gui­tar on the oth­er. King’s Club is cozy like a giant liv­ing room divid­ed by arch­es and par­ti­tion walls, each sec­tion host­ing fam­i­lies and cou­ples loung­ing on sofas and chairs. We talked, ordered snacks and drinks and enjoyed play­ing backgam­mon by the warmth of the fire.



Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, Colorado

Boards Instead of Balls



Beaver Creek


fun stuff to do in Vail, colorado with kids



The big boys had report­ed that many of the Vail lifts were still closed for the sea­son, the day before, so we hopped in the car and drove 20 min­utes west on I‑70 to Beaver Creek, where we signed the lit­tle boys up for snow­board­ing lessons and we big kids got to enjoy some Col­orado pow­der. We stayed and watched the lessons for a while and not­ed the staff seemed atten­tive and expe­ri­enced. Then, we threw cau­tion to the wind and skied down the moun­tain like we were all in our 20s, instead of just one of us.



fun stuff to do in Vail, colorado with kids



Fun with kids in vail, colorado

The Old­er Kids



More Vail Village


In the evening, we signed the boys up for movie and piz­za night at the Son­nenalp kid’s club and the three of us walked into Vail Vil­lage for din­ner at Yama Sushi. The wait­ress­es were prob­a­bly ski instruc­tors dur­ing the day and the con­trast between the black walls and red floor gave it a hip vibe. The fish was fresh and some dish­es arrived in wood­en box­es with origa­mi-inspired pre­sen­ta­tions. It was nice get­ting the chance to talk with our col­lege kid with­out the dis­trac­tion of his lit­tle broth­ers fighting. 







Copper Mountain / Woodward Copper


Our last day in Vail, we ven­tured a half-hour east on I‑70  to Cop­per Moun­tain where we planned to ski dur­ing the first part of the day and con­quer Wood­ward Cop­per, an indoor/outdoor extreme sports park, in the after­noon. The lit­tle boys want­ed to go to ski school again, with its small hills and slow lifts. The big boys chose to ride the lift with them and spend their morn­ing cheer­ing them on. 





Since they were paired off, I took the free bus from Cen­ter Vil­lage to West Vil­lage and rode the Union Creek lift up for three of the best ski runs I’ve ever skied. The trails opened wide to uncrowd­ed con­di­tions and com­bined the speed from a high start­ing alti­tude with begin­ner and inter­me­di­ate lev­el declines. 



Woodward Copper

Wood­ward Cop­per — The Barn



Wood­ward Cop­per final­ly gave all three boys the oppor­tu­ni­ty to shred together. 



Woodward Copper



Wood­ward has twelve loca­tions between the U.S. and Mex­i­co and is divid­ed into areas where kids and adults can fly around and grind on skate­boards, BMX bikes and snow­boards using high-qual­i­ty ramps, bowls and rails. The train­ing is the key. Besides dai­ly class­es, Wood­ward cam­pus­es host sum­mer camps to facil­i­tate ath­let­ic train­ing and pro­gres­sion. For­mer Wood­ward campers have won 14 Olympic medals and claimed 125 pro lev­el medals. 



Woodward Copper



First-time ses­sions start with instruc­tion from coach­es on fling­ing your­self safe­ly onto tram­po­lines and foam pits. Then, par­tic­i­pants get to choose which high adren­a­line sport they’d like to prac­tice. The lit­tle boys decid­ed to scoot­er around the ramps and do lit­tle hops into foam pits. Kyle rolled down a 20-foot ramp, on a snow­board with wheels, and land­ed into a pit full of foam. 





Don’t Miss! Wood­ward Park City: Extreme Fam­i­ly Fun!



Sonnenalp Spa


When we returned, I treat­ed myself to a mas­sage in the Son­nenalp Spa. After all the moun­tain activ­i­ty and full throt­tle par­ent­ing, this was a much-need­ed release. My ther­a­pist, Stephanie, deliv­ered one of the most effec­tive treat­ments I’d ever expe­ri­enced. I’m not sure if I was moan­ing but, at the end, I turned to rub­ber. I could­n’t thank her enough. I wished I had enough time to soak in the indoor spa or pool but alas, I knew dad­dy could only han­dle so much solo time. 



Sonnenalp Spa

Son­nenalp Spa



That night, our last in Vail, Kyle gal­lant­ly offered to watch the boys while we shared a roman­tic night out at the White Bison Restau­rant and Bar. The food was spec­tac­u­lar­ly pre­pared with a rus­tic, high-end pre­sen­ta­tion that includ­ed tin cups for water and metal­lic serv­ing plat­ters. We returned to find the lit­tle guys passed out after try­ing to kill each oth­er for hours, Kyle report­ed. He promised it would be the last time he’d under­take such a fool­hardy task.



Woodward Copper



In the morn­ing, the Son­nenalp Spa offered a free yoga class in a bright yel­low and cream room. Paint­ed gold­en suns embla­zoned the wall behind the teacher, Mar­ta. Mar­ta led a strong class and while we sat qui­et­ly, enjoy­ing our calm, I real­ized the hotel name, Son­nenalp, trans­lat­ed to sun on the moun­tain. Giv­en the warm expe­ri­ences we’d all shared, there could­n’t have been a more appro­pri­ate descrip­tion for our lodg­ings. And even though the lit­tle boys had some­times dri­ven us crazy, I hoped Kyle would trav­el with us again.


A big thank you to the Son­nenalp Hotel, Cop­per Moun­tain and Wood­ward Cop­per for host­ing us dur­ing our stay up in Vail. Every adven­tur­ous fam­i­ly would love expe­ri­enc­ing the activ­i­ties we feel lucky to have tried. Let us know if you go!





Before you go, make sure to get the best rates here on Tri­pAd­vi­sor where you can com­pare and read oth­er peo­ple’s reviews of the dif­fer­ent rooms avail­able at the Sonnenalp.

Pre­fer a pri­vate home? Try this inter­ac­tive map to see oth­er options.





Getting There



We flew into Den­ver Inter­na­tion­al Air­port (with its bizarre art­work) — about a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Los Ange­les Inter­na­tion­al Air­port. We spent two days in Den­ver, to accli­mate to the alti­tude (and explore more of Col­orado) before head­ing west on the I‑70 for the two-hour dri­ve to Vail.





Things you must do with your kids in Vail, Colorado! Have three days, use this guide to find the best activities based on the time we took our boys skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating and snow-shoeing. The best place to stay, the Sonnenalp, for a cozy fun family trip to Vail.