Top 10 Free Things to Do in Vail, CO

Free things to do in Vail, CO, range from community events to easy ways to have fun with the entire family. Nestled in the White River National Forest, Vail is one of America’s premier ski vacation destinations, but this popular ski town offers plenty of free and affordable fun year-round. Here are 10 free activities Vail visitors should add to the to-do list:

top 10 free things to do in Vail CO

Photo: V Smoothe

Attend a Free Vail Event

Open for all ages, the Hot Summer Nights Concert Series is one of the hottest free things to do in Vail. Every Tuesday from early June to mid-August, visitors can listen to live music at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Grab the family and play yard games, or enjoy beer tastings with friends. Happy hour starts at 4:30 p.m., and shows start at 6:30 p.m.

The Vail Farmers’ Market is another great place for free things to do in Vail. The farmers market is open 16 weekends a year, featuring 40-plus vendors, and hosts jazz concerts and art shows. While touring the Vail Farmers’ Market, you’ll find everything from fresh food and pet supplies to clothing and accessories. The market has been open for more than 15 years and runs from mid-June to early October.

CarniVail pairs Vail with New Orleans-style food and fun. Hosted in February, CarniVail welcomes you to four days of parades, parties, crab boils and live entertainment. Honoring Mardi Gras, this event celebrates its own Fat Tuesday with a parade and festival. On opening day, treat yourself to the World’s Highest Low-Country Crawfish Boil at Eagle’s Nest.

Snow and snow-sport lovers can’t miss the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame. Although there is not a set admission fee, the museum asks for a $3.00 donation per visitor. Exhibits include 10th Mountain Division, the ski troopers of World War II; America’s Champions that features Winter Olympic greats; and sports evolution displays. The Hall of Fame expands each year and features more than 200 Coloradoans, complete with photos and video.

top 10 free things to do in Vail CO

Photo: Tal Atlas

Explore Vail’s Natural Surroundings

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the world’s highest botanical garden, showcases a living collection of alpine plants and flowers. Walk through 20 gardens ranging from children’s to rock, or go off on your own to the meditation areas. Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is open year-round and free to explore, but donations are welcome.

Among the top free things to do in Vail is the Nature Discovery Center. The center houses natural history exhibits that include local wildlife and hosts nature walks, hikes, and snowshoe tours. Warm weather months welcome night-time hikers to see the Vail Mountain area on an evening hike. Free daily snowshoe tours are open to ages 10 and up.

Explore more than 15 miles of paved paths on the Vail Recreation Path. Popular for bikers, hikers and walkers, these multi-use paths provide a place for action-packed or laid-back adventures. The path system also includes connections to Gore Valley and Eagle Valley. The Gore Valley trail measures 12 miles with bikes lanes and detached trails. Those looking for a quiet walk should try the Village Streamwalk, a 1.3-mile pedestrian-only trail that ends in Ford Park.

top 10 free things to do in Vail CO

Grab Your Gear

Open from dawn to dusk, Vail’s Free Skatepark welcomes skaters of all skill levels. Less experienced skaters can try the street course area. Experts have several ramps, rails, banks, and a half-pipe and pyramid. The park is located at the LionsHead parking structure.

Start the morning off with summertime community yoga in Vail. Held every Saturday morning in July and August, you can gather with fellow yogis in Vail Village. Don’t forget the mat, sunscreen and water bottle!

Whether you’re new to fly fishing or want to hone your skills, Gore Creek Fly Fisherman provides free fly fishing casting clinics at LionsHead. Fly fishing experts will guide you on technique and answer any questions you have about the sport.

Vail also has affordable accommodations for the whole family! Browse Vail vacation homes and rentals in Colorado.