Top 10 Free Things to Do in Vail, Colorado
Free things to do in Vail, Colorado, range from community events to easy ways to have fun with the family. Nestled in the White River National Forest, Vail is one of America’s premier ski vacation destinations. However, this popular ski town also offers plenty of free and affordable fun year-round. Read on for a quick peek.
10 Free Things to Do in Vail: Add Them to Your Bucket List
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 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.
Free Foodie Fun
The Vail Farmers Market is another great place for free things to do in Vail. The farmers market opens 16 weekends a year, featuring 40-plus vendors, and hosts jazz concerts and art shows. While touring Vail Farmers Market, 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 guests 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, indulge at the World’s Highest Low-Country Crawfish Boil at Eagle’s Nest.
Tour a Museum
Snow and snow-sport lovers can’t miss Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame. Although there is not a set admission fee, the museum asks for a small monetary 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 videos.
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 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. Additionally, the center hosts nature walks, hikes and snowshoe tours. Warm weather months welcome nighttime 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 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. 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.
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 LionsHead parking structure.
Start the morning off with summertime community yoga in Vail. Held every Saturday morning in July and August, gather with fellow yogis in Vail Village. Don’t forget the mat, a towel, sunscreen and water bottle.
Whether new to fly fishing or want to hone some skills, Gore Creek Fly Fisherman provides free fly fishing casting clinics at LionsHead. During the clinics, fly-fishing experts guide customers on technique and answer questions. For a fee, visitors are welcome to schedule a fishing trip.
Vail also has affordable accommodations for the whole family. Browse Vail vacation homes and rentals in Colorado.
Planning a winter escape? Check out this Vail ski guide to get started.