By Kim Fuller Published in the Denver Post
A trip to this valley goes far beyond a resort visit.
Some of the hottest spots in the Vail Valley are outside the hub of Vail Village. Here’s how to spend a weekend taking it all in.
Vail is a phenomenal vacation destination, and there are plenty of reasons to visit in the summer (or at any time of the year). But locals know some of the area’s best assets are located a little farther west, in Minturn, Avon and Eagle. Stay in Vail the entire time and you’re missing out on even more mountain fun. In that spirit, here’s a summer weekend’s worth of activities in the area that includes stops through out the valley and doesn’t skip the classic—Vail’s own beautiful mountain village.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Vail, any time of year, but some of the area’s best assets are located a little further west. Here is a more “side country” angle to a weekend visit — a trip that will take you through Minturn, Avon and Eagle, as well as a couple stops Vail’s very own beautiful mountain village.
-Stop into the new Monkshood Cellars winery in Minturn (107 Williams St., 719-339-0344) for an afternoon tasting. Owner and wine maker Nathan Littlejohn has table wine and a dry cider on tap, and is unveiling some of his first rounds of production this summer, including a chenin blanc. Hit this spot in the afternoon to enjoy a seat at the bar or near the garage door wall that lifts up to bring the outside right during the warmer months.
-Check in to The Minturn Inn. Located at 442 Main Street (970-827-9647), this B&B is a restored log home built in 1915 and has nine unique guest rooms, all with a mountain western theme. Budget travelers can book a bed or a room at The Bunkhouse (175 Williams St., 970-827-4165), a boutique hostel with rates starting at $39.99 per night. Stay includes amenities like free WiFi, complimentary linens and towels and a community kitchen.
-For dinner, jump in the car and head to Boxcar Restaurant & Bar in Avon (182 Avon Rd., 970-470-4121). It’s a community hangout where owner-chef team Cara Luff and Hunter Chamness create seasonally inspired shared plates and main dishes that are driven by locally sourced products — most notably, housemade pâté, sausages and rillettes, as well as full cuts beef, pork and more sourced from Colorado Meat Company, also out of Avon.
-Load up the bikes or tie on your trail shoes to take a 30-minute drive “down valley” to Eagle. Add a quick stop or a long, leisurely breakfast to the journey with a stop at Northside Coffee & Kitchen, located just off the Avon exit on the south side of I-70 (20 Nottingham Rd., 970-949-1423). Grab-and-go is certainly an option, as this eatery is known for their donuts, or you can sit and rub elbows with the locals while enjoying a hearty plate of huevos rancheros.
–Eagle is the premier spot to mountain bike in the Vail Valley, and most of the trails are very hiker and trail runner friendly as well. The Boneyard Trail starts at a parking area in a neighborhood, located near the intersection of Bluffs Dr. and Bellyache Rd. It’s a steady climbing singletrack that leads to great area views as you approach the top of the ridge at 3.1 miles. From the top, you can turn around and come down Boneyard, turn right and cruise down Bellyache Rd. to the start, or turn left on Bellyache Rd. to access Redneck Ridge, Pool and Ice Rink or Dirt Surfer (these trails won’t take you to your car, but you can always arrange your own car “shuttle” or if you’re on a bike, take a short ride through the town of Eagle to where you started).
-After a morning on the trails, stop by Color Coffee Roasters (717 Sylvan Lake Rd., 802-324-7985). This craft coffee roastery and coffee shop in Eagle has their own signature coffee drinks and their beans for sale, gourmet teas, snacks, craft beer and wine. Fuel up with some specialty toast.
-Drive back eastbound to stop in Minturn for an afternoon refresh, then head toward Vail for an evening in the village. Start at Root & Flower (225 Wall St., 970-763-5101), a locally owned wine and cocktail bar with over 50 wine selections by the glass, as well as select artisan spirits and Colorado brews. Co-owner and advanced sommelier Jeremy Campbell can walk you through his intricate list of wine, arranged in categories like “Wood & Weight” and “Elegance & Grace.” And do not miss the talents of chef Matt Limbaugh. Limbaugh has worked at some of the best restaurants in the area, and now masterfully creates bar snacks like savory paninis, Castlelvetrano olives and feta, English pea hummus with housemade ricotta cheese, and “Deez Bar Nuts” that make it easy to roll right through dinnertime.
-Before you head out, head to the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show to stroll Meadow Drive for artisan food and local craftsmanship. The event runs every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., from June 18 through Oct. 1, 2017. Vendors include farms and food carts, wine and spirits, jewelry and art, as well as weekly live music presented by Vail Jazz.
-And for a really sweet memory, enjoy some scoops from Sundae ice cream shop, located right off the market on 242 E. Meadow Drive (970-479-1705). Sundae has taken over the previous Marble Slab Creamery locations in Vail and Edwards, with Ashlyn Streetz, talented pastry chef general manager, bringing quality ingredients, amazing texture and full flavor into every batch. Try the Pistacio flavor, or Salted Cookies and Cream, to get your spirits up before you potentially hit Denver-bound traffic on your travels home. Or, you may just want to stay another day.