America's most famous ski resort has the terrain, acreage, and off-mountain amenities to match its super-sized reputation. With a somewhat steady angle throughout its 5,200 acres, it may not be the most extreme I-70 option, but it does have a bit of everything for everyone. There's very little intimidation factor for learners and yet over half of the nearly 200 trails are black or double black (and there's surprisingly excellent gated sidecountry for the avalanche-aware). Even Colorado's biggest ski snobs agree few resorts beat Vail on a powder day — you'll find most of them defiling the Champagne Glades after a big storm — and intermediates will find a world-class experience in Vail's famous sun-drenched Back Bowls. Lift tickets are $142.
Where to Stay: Vail's slightly less glitzy pedestrian-only Lionshead village has undergone a huge makeover recently, and it's the place to look for deals. At the nouveau-European Arrabelle at Vail Square, you'll find Vail luxury at Breckenridge prices. Wherever you stay, Vendetta's remains the place to hit for après pizza and pitchers.
Insider Tip: Despite its size, Vail can get pretty crazy on a busy weekend. The pro move is to continue on past the Back Bowls to the Blue Sky Bowls, which are further out and north facing, so they hold good snow for longer.
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