Skip to main content

Slope Secrets: Ski Vail like a Local

From treasure troves of powder and family-fun runs, to sunny après spots and date night dining, here are one local’s Vail secrets revealed. 

With 5,317 skiable acres and 195 trails, Vail is the largest ski resort in Colorado and a global destination for snow fun on and off the mountain. Unsure of where to begin? We’ve got the inside scoop on how to make the most of your Vail vacation for a memorable travel experience. Tackle its storied slopes like a pro-in-the-know with local Greg Ciluzzi’s insider secrets.


Favorite Ski Trails for Beginners

Ramshorn and Swingsville trails above MidVail are centrally located, and right near The 10th Restaurant, which serves modern fare in a lodge-style setting with majestic mountain views—perfect for lunch (and parents, there’s a full bar). Lost Boy in Game Creek Bowl is a fun one as well, with long rollers and a gradual fall line. “I used to lead early-level classes down there back in the day,” says Greg. 

Best Ski Trails for Experts Off the Beaten Path 

Blue Sky Basin provides a backcountry-style ski experience, with open meadows and groomed glades—not to mention 360-degree views of the surrounding peaks. Clip in and plow down Steep and Deep or Scree Fields. 

SunUp Bowl has tree skiing and powder stashes for those who are more experienced on the slopes. Head down WFO or Yonder Trees, two of Greg’s favorites. A high-speed quad chairlift makes sure you get more time on the trails, and less in the chair. 

Best Powder Day Run 

Ricky’s Ridge or Seldom in Sundown Bowl are your places to be to carve your own fresh tracks through powder stashes. 

Personal Favorite Lift & Run 

Try Ouzo Glade on a powder day or stay on the front side and ski Prima to Pronto. “Everyone else goes to the back bowls searching for powder,” says Greg. “But I guess I’m letting my secrets out there now.” 

Best On-Mountain Experience 
“Take a private lesson with your own instructor to cut the lines on a busier weekend,” Greg says. Another option? Sign up with your ski buddies for an Ultimate 4 small group lesson to brush up on your skills or learn your way around the mountain. 

Nobu Matsuhisa satisfies sushi cravings
Visit La Nonna Ristorante for authentic Italian cuisine


Best Place for Family Dining 

For a unique dining experience, take the family to Almresi, where the Alps meet the Rockies. Sip a glass of Glühwein (mulled wine), and dip slices of baguette into cheese fondue as an appetizer before your main course arrives. You can’t go wrong with pork schnitzel with spätzle, or rösti, a crispy Swiss potato pancake with smoked salmon—all served by friendly waiters in traditional German garb. For early risers, fuel your day on the mountain with a full German breakfast. 

Romantic Date Night Spot 

At Mountain Standard, 2020 Colorado Chef of the Year Maria Busato creates a vibrant and unique menu using her wood burning grills and rotisserie as inspiration. La Nonna is a traditional, bustling Italian restaurant and a feast for the senses. Watch plates come out from the open kitchen window, the smell of garlic wafting through the air. If you’re craving sushi, Nobu Matsuhisa can’t be beat.  

The Best On-Mountain Lunch 

Get authentic BBQ two miles high at the top of Chair 3 and 7 at Wildwood Smokehouse. “Go for the chicken wild rice soup and brisket!” says Greg. Two Elk is a classic Vail staple, and perfect for a family of varied tastes. Greg’s favorites there include the salad bar or a burrito.  

Best Après Spot 

Let’s be honest—there are days we live for the after-ski celebrations. Pepi’s in Vail Village (just a short walk from Gondola One) is the spot to see and be seen on sunny days, though their year-round heated patio is hoppin’ in any weather. For a place closer to home, Chophouse is located right next to the Arrabelle. “You can sit and listen to live music right by our ski valet and next to our residences,” Greg says. 


Our three-bedroom ski-in/ski-out vacation residences in The Arrabelle are located next to Eagle Bahn gondola in Lionshead Village—ideal for families and first track seekers looking to avoid a long ski boot shuffle to the lifts. Warm up fireside in the spacious family room between runs, taking in the epic mountain views. For off-slope enjoyment, make a visit to the wellness spa for a massage or take a dip in the hot tub. It's the ultimate luxury winter getaway.

Select photos courtesy of Vail Resorts.