How I spent a day in Vail, Colorado for under $20

And we'll never be royals

Vail is an expensive town. The average hotel goes for $200 a night (some upwards of $500) and a typical meal is $20-$30 an entree. My husband and I wanted the Vail experience, but we’re in the process of saving up for our Europe trip (read about it here). Here’s how we spent a full day in Vail for under $20.


We had a hearty breakfast before we left home so we could save some money on dining. Before we left town, we grabbed a bottle of wine and some cheese (nothing fancy, we’re not picky). We found a couple Adirondack Chairs in a park near Booth Creek Trail and had a picnic. While we were snacking, we met a local who explained that the restaurants in Vail are overpriced and not worth our time. The only lunch place she recommended was Westside Cafe, which has a reasonably priced lunch menu.


Fun in the Park

I haven’t played on a playground in years! After sharing a bottle of wine, we had a competition to see who could swing the highest, who could get down the slide the fastest and who could get across the balance beam the quickest. The weather was perfect and the buzz we had from the wine had us giggling the entire time.


Window shopping

I wanted that adorable Vail Village experience – strolling through the town with my husband, stopping in at each adorable store along the way. That’s exactly what we did, we just didn’t buy anything. Plus, everything you see at those stores you can get on Amazon for half the cost (see bottom of page).


The hotel experience, minus the overnight

This was my favorite part of the whole day! My husband had called a Vail hotel ahead of time and asked if we could stop in for a swim without staying the night. Thankfully, it was off season and the hotel was practically empty.  A couple of guests offered us a beer, which we gladly accepted. We spent the brisk, fall afternoon in the hot tub of a five star hotel (priced at $400 a night), getting to know other travelers. We had never gone into a hotel pool without staying there overnight, who knew that all you have to do is ask!


We were in Vail from noon to 6:00 p.m. and only spent $20 on the bottle of wine and cheese. We had a full, wonderful day and didn’t feel like we missed out on any Vail experiences.

Other budget activities in Vail include Betty Ford Alpine Gardens (a free attraction near Vail Village), wine tasting in one of Vail’s restaurants (just call ahead and ask) and hiking (see a list of trails here).

You don’t need to spend money to have fun. You just need to be a little more creative.

Thanks for reading,


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