For College Aged or (Those who want to be College Aged again): The Club
House bands and a rotating list of guest musicians perform live music nightly. Dark and dingy, it’s just what you’d expect to find in a downstairs ski town party bar. Expect cheap drink specials (think shots), people who don’t realize the effects of alcohol at altitude, and a raucous time that frequently continues on long after closing time with partiers leaving to grab a slice of pizza at Vendettas or Pazzos before crashing back at the condo.
Gettin’ Your Groove On: Samana
If you can move your body (or think you can), or if you just can’t live without your big-city dance club for longer than a week, then this is your spot. Disco lighting? Check. Bartenders that look like they’ve just left the catwalk? Uh huh. Hottest DJs ever? Yep. You’re going to be sized up in here, so bring your best moves and bust ‘em like you weren’t in ski boots all day.
Real Local’s Hangout: Sandbar
A hangout primarily for local singles because of it’s West Vail location (near the two big grocery stores), this spot has gone through a few re-incarnations, but has remained a hot spot for bands, dancing, pool and lots and lots of libations. Don’t dress up for this party, you’ll be branded as an out-of-towner. Don’t forget to make good use of the fabulous FREE Town of Vail buses which will take you from Vail Village and Lionshead to the bar where the locals play.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name (even when they don’t, really): The Tap Room
At the top of Bridge Street (party central for Vail), this is the bar for anyone looking for a truly traditional apres ski scene. All of the usual titles like “the place to see and be seen” apply, and all ages feel comfortable in this bar/restaurant that features warm barvarian woodwork, a crackling fireplace and a bartender that you’ll swear you know from home. Jeans mix with furs, Mojitos mix with Coors Beer types, and you’ll swear that you went to school with that guy sitting next to the famous actress.
The Red Lion – Vail’s first bar. More of a 30+ scene, go for the nachos, stay for the atmosphere.
Vendetta’s – One of the first “hangouts” with it’s fair share of wild tales. Long known as a ski patrol hangout, great spot for pizza.
Covered Bridge Coffee (daytime hours), best place for a cup of joe before you go!
Post Script: Lionshead (the western section of Vail) also holds it’s own with Garfinkles, Bart and Yeti’s and access to Adventure Ridge, arguably the best FAC (Friday Afternoon Club) around.