We got so many messages and questions while we were away after Christmas this year so I figured I’d answer some of them here! Let me know if you have any others and I’ll add them to the post!
Where were you guys?
We’ve been going skiing for a few years now the week between Christmas and New Years. In the past, we’ve always stayed right in Vail Village, but this year we stayed in the next village over (a 3 minute shuttle ride) called Lionshead. It literally looked like Arendelle from the movie Frozen! It was super cute and a 30 second walk to the mountain from our hotel, BUT we all agreed that Vail Village is much better in terms of walking around, shopping, eating, etc.
Where did you stay?
Austria Haus- Did you click the link? HOW cute is this place? We stayed here our first year. Very small, very cozy. Amazing brunch. Right on the main strip in Vail Village so you can basically walk anywhere. However, it was a little TOO small for me.
Tivoli Lodge– Stayed here last year. This one might be my favorite. It’s small enough to have that cabin-in-the-woods feel but big enough to NOT feel like a bed & breakfast (not my thing). This place has an awesome lobby with a giant fireplace and huge oversized couches and chairs. Hot chocolate and fresh cookies are abundant and it’s just all-around cozy! Also right in the heart of Vail Village.
Arrabelle- This is where we stayed this year. It is in Lionshead and it was by far the fanciest place of the three. It was super beautiful, provided us with a 3 bedroom unit so that my whole extended family could stay together instead of in separate hotel rooms, and the service was impeccable. It also had a restaurant “Tavern on the Square” attached which had a great brunch and an AWESOME rooftop with hot tubs and a heated pool. (Did I mention an awesome spa as well? Definitely took advantage of that!) It was also about a 30 second walk to the gondola from the hotel- so the location was ideal. The ONLY downside to this place, well two actually: 1. You have to take a shuttle or car to Vail Village and 2. Although beautiful, this hotel lacked the “cozy mountain cabin” feel that the other two places had!
Best places to eat?
Blue Moose Pizza– yummy casual pizza right in the square
Garfinkles– They have an awesome outdoor patio on the second story where you can basically watch people ski down the mountain while you eat. They fill up FAST at lunch but I believe you can call ahead and make reservations.
Bart & Yetis– cute little lunch spot.
Bol- This is a bowling alley attached to an amazing restaurant. Caution: you can NOT walk in and bowl. We tried that the first year and they laughed in our faces. We basically make our reservations a year in advance.
Elways– This is a steak house and is always our fanciest meal of the trip. Pricey but worth it for the side dishes alone.
La Bottega– Yummy, tiny little Italian joint. If you are a big party and you call to make reservations ask to NOT sit by the front door. When it’s freezing outside, and the door keeps opening, that seat stinks!!
Campo di Fiori– our #1 FAVORITE italian meal in Vail. Seriously delicious!
Vendettas– a cute little lunch spot- yummy soup. Very popular and fills up quick!
Pepis– known for their bavarian pretzels and sausages (yuk!) Also, here’s a secret tip, you need to call for his schedule, but they have a singer named Andy who performs at night and he is AH-MAZING! Go watch him sing, and tell him “Dallas” sent you! Don’t forget to do a shot-ski while you’re there! Kids can only stay until 8pm, fyi.
The Red Lion– Maybe the most popular lunch spot in the village…? Always packed, get there early if you can to save a table. And then order the nachos, stat.
Pazzos– A yummy pizza place in V V. Also gets CRAZY crowded at dinner with a line out the door, so go early or order to go!
Big Bear Bistro– a teeny tiny little breakfast joint. Super yummy but also can get pretty packed!
Loaded Joe’s– a hidden gem…downstairs little coffee nook!
Joe’s Famous Deli– a yummy downstairs deli where Vince Vaughn is known to eat with his fam! 😉 (saw him there last year)
Mountain Standard– Another place we walked by but have never eaten. Looks pretty awesome! A definite must for next year!
Did both girls ski? How long have they been skiing?
We put Q in private ski lessons when she was three. Then last year we put her in all day every day ski school and found to be much more effective. This year she did one day of a private lesson and then skied with Ryan the rest of the trip. She’s pretty much a pro now and skis circles around me (which isn’t exactly a hard thing to do!)
This was Cubby’s first year and she did ski school almost every day & loved it!
Where did you get the girls coats?
The girl’s pink and maroon winter coats were from J Crew. I linked them HERE. I’d highly suggest getting a pair of mittens on a string. You, know like in the olden days? I linked my favs from EGG, HERE. We strung them through the girl’s coats and never had to worry about them for the rest of the trip. (obviously these are not ski gloves, just casual winter mittens)
What gear do the girls wear in the snow/when skiing?
Ok, here’s my clothing checklist for when they ski:
snow pant jumper
fleece fitted infinity neck scarf
thick ski socks
They’ve always been plenty warm in that. Remember they’re moving a lot and working up a sweat under those layers!
The girl’s ski gear was a mix of brands from different ski shops collected over the years. Our fav ski brand for kids are Obermeyer, KJUS, & Patagonia. I’ll link a few options here, but you’ll need to explore for the style/fit/price that best works for your kiddo:
Snow Pants (I prefer the jumper verses just the pant for kiddos)
Snow Mittens (here’s a little tip I learned: most people think gloves keep the hands warmer, but actually mittens do! Having the fingers touching actually promotes more friction and body warmth and keeps the hands warmer! The more you know…)
Where did you get the girls pom hats?
Ok, I hesitate to share these because I can hear the collective eye rolls and judgement…ha! But here goes…the pom hats were from my favorite kid’s boutique in Vail called Skipper and Scout. They are by Mischa Lampert. You can get them a bunch of places, I linked one of the rainbow stripe ones HERE. And before you eye roll, let me be the first to say: yes, they are pricey. VERY pricey. We bought Q one last year and then waited until this year to buy Cub one. But, they are made from some seriously quality materials, and they are so thick and keep the girls super warm. Plus they also fit adults. The girls will have these for years and years so we think of them as investment pieces (plus, I can borrow them ;)! Expensive hats are not for everyone, I understand- but so many people asked where they were from, I had to link them. (I will say, they were cheaper at Skipper & Scout than they are in that link above. So maybe contact them and see if you can order via phone?!)
Whats the best place to get cold weather gear for us moms?
So I get almost all of my winter gear at a local shop in Dallas called St. Bernard Sports. I also got that fun pink pom beanie from Nordstrom this year that I posted in my IG stories. I’ll link a few of my favorite pieces for you! I usually bring cute “walking/shopping/dining clothes” and then my ski clothes.
Ski pants – I love this legging look, and YES they are still super warm! I wear them to “ski” (we all know I can’t ski) AND sometimes out at night in the village! LOVE these by Erin Snow and they are super comfy! Worth the investment.
Base Layer Tops- So many to choose from, but i love this pink one! Go explore for yourself!
Boots: Go for comfort and warmth!! Love THESE and THESE (for a fun furry option!) We had very mild weather this year so I was able to wear my cute pink sperrys a lot! Unfortunately my pink sperrys sold out but I’m loving these gold ones and I actually really really love THESE original colored ones for next year! (UPDATE: I scoured the internet and found my pink duck boots HERE!! Plus, they’re on sale! Hurry up- these will not last!!!)
How do you adjust to the altitude?
OXYGEN! Literally the first thing we do when we arrive is stock up on the oxygen bottles. We use them throughout the entire trip. Also, water, water, water, water. I think we went through three cases of water while we were there. Other than that, we haven’t had much of an issue over the years…even with the little ones. We’ve all been able to acclimate pretty well!
What stroller did you bring?
Ok, so it’s kind of ironic. We bought the Cybex carseat and stroller combo which is so fancy and amazing and we use it ALL the time at home…and yet, we have never brought it with us on one trip!!! When Max was teeny I would carry him in a baby wrap and then as soon as he was sitting we started traveling with an umbrella stroller.
We use the Summer 3D-one Convenience Stroller . I love it because it reclines down, the hood has a huge canopy reach, the basket is a good size for an umbrella stroller, it folds down pretty narrow, has a foot stand so it can stand on its own once folded, is super lightweight, AND the bottom flap of the seat can fold up which basically creates a mini bassinet for smaller babies whose legs don’t reach the edge. We’ve traveled everywhere with this stroller and pretty much love it!
Then, we bring our most favorite travel stroller on the planet: The Pockit. We have two of these but this time we just brought one, figuring both girls wouldn’t need to be riding the whole time and they could take turns in it. This stroller is SO great. It folds down to the size of a purse AND fits in the overhead of the airplane! The only thing is…it’s not the sturdiest- so like, don’t bring it off-roading with you. But for an easy-travel umbrella stroller, its pretty freaking amazing!!! *UPDATE: There is a new version of this stroller with a deeper canopy shade and an option to recline!
Why don’t I bring a double stroller you ask? You know, I just really don’t like them. They’re big & clunky and don’t fold down very small (we were getting in and out of shuttles and cars and in and out of tiny shops and restaurants, up and down elevators, etc. non-stop!). The side-by-side ones feel like you’re pushing a double wide and can’t fit through any doors and the front-to-back ones feel like you’re pushing one of the “extra” suburban Target carts. I’ve tested them all, I just am not a huge fan. Plus, there’s two of us- me and Ryan- and a handful of family members on this trip so we figured two tiny strollers would be much easier to navigate with so many helpers to push. We were right. These two strollers were a breeze to travel with! When Max gets older we’ll drop the Summer and just stick to the Pockits…because there’s a brand new one out that reclines!!!! Splurge for next year, I think! (yep- see above for the updated link!)
Essentials for a Mountain Vacation?
Ok, here is a list of absolute essentials (from my experience) to pack if you are doing a mountain trip with kiddos in the winter time:
- HUMIDIFIER- call ahead and ask if your hotel provides them (Arrabelle did!), if not, consider traveling with a travel-size one like THIS awesome one (that works with a water bottle!) OR Amazon priming one to your hotel! You will thank me when everyone starts getting bloody noses and dry throats!
- OXYGEN CANS- they sell them in EVERY shop in the villages! Just ask. Get big ones for your hotel room and travel sized ones for your bags!
- SUNCREEN- Supergoop is a very serious FAV. This Mineral one is so good and the Acai Fusion SPF30 chapstick is life. I have one in every pocket of every coat. Usually I hate SPF chapsticks because the sunscreen seeps into my lips and feel like I can taste the sunscreen all day. NOT with this one. I use it daily and am obsessed!! Don’t think that just because you are bundled you don’t need suncreen- that snow is a natural reflector and you guys WILL get sunburt. And nobody wants a goggle tan line après ski. 😉
- CHAPSTICK- see above! THIS one is my fav! I keep one in every purse & every coat pocket.
- LOTION- You will want to bring a nice thick lotion to keep your skin hydrated. Your face and hands, etc. will get super dry!
- STATIC GUARD- you will not believe the “weird science” effects the mountain environment will have on your hair!!
- SALINE & NOSE BULB- the dry air will dry everyone out and most likely stuff you up too. We used the saline and nose bulb almost daily on Max!
- TIGER BALM & EPSOM SALTS- if you are skiing you will be VERY thankful you brought these. I gave myself and the girls epsom salt baths to soothe our sore muscles, and my husband and I used the tiger balm on our shins and calves!
- DRY EYE DROPS or MOISTURE DROPS- I get pretty bad dry eye so the mountain environment didn’t help. Just think of it this way- every single part of your body will get dry…bring anything to help yourself maintain hydration! These eye drops were super helpful for me
- SUNGLASSES- duh. Feel silly listing this, but I wore my sunnies every single day! That snow reflection is bright!
- LIGHT WEIGHT PJS- So you might think, oh winter…let me pack the fleece. Wrong! Most of these resorts have the heat cranked up! We were so dang hot we were opening the windows and doors at night for fresh air. You will want to pack light weight pjs for yourself and the kiddos. If they get chilly, there are always blankets to layer…but you don’t want them overheating in this pjs! I brought my favs: kickeepants and plain jane!
- EUCALYPTUS/BREATHE DIFFUSER- Ok, so if you have a travel essential oil diffuser , like THIS one, BRING IT (along with some Breathe or eucalyptus oils to diffuse). If you don’t have a diffuser or don’t feel like traveling with one, grab some balm or a breathe stick that you can apply to chests and feet at night to help with breathing if everyone gets stuffy or short of breath. I love the actual BREATHE vapor stick from DoTerra and I also love this Dr. Bronner’s Menthol Balm.
- STROLLER SHIELD- There are so many great ones on the market, but I highly suggest grabbing one. We used THIS one. It really does help when you are walking around at night at it’s freezing and windy!
- BALM OR SALVE FOR FACE CHAPPING- Poor Cubby got the most chapped face ever! Even with sunscreen and lotion. So I used plenty of balm on her face. These are my two favs: Mustela Hydra-Stick. Its amazing and glides right on those cheeks like a giant chapstick! Dr. Bronner’s Organic Unscented Magic Balm. It comes in a tin and is basically like magical vasaline. I slathered this stuff all over the kids faces and lips!
What else do you do for fun besides ski?
Well, since I hardly ski, this is an easy question! The “skiers” go out & ski every morning around 8:30. The non-skiers have breakfast, get ready, walk around the village, do some shopping, etc. Then the entire group meets for lunch everyday. We set a time and place beforehand so that everyone knows where to meet since cell service can be spotty. After lunch, some ski again, some don’t. Other fun things we do/did:
- ice skating
- games/ movies/puzzles in the house
- napping 😉
other fun activities that were not open/available this year but are on our list for next year:
- “snowcoaster” up on the mountain
- dog sledding
How do you capture photos while on vacation and what do you do with them?
So, I stopped bringing my big camera on trips a long time ago. I just don’t have space for an extra giant camera bag with our caravan of stuff these days. On this trip I brought my fuji point & shoot….and NEVER unpacked it! I know pictures may tell a different story, but y’all these trips are mayhem! Traveling with 10 people, hopping from place to place, all the clothes and winter accessories and strollers and snacks and bottles- ah! It’s A LOT! I’ve stopped stressing about capturing “the perfect shot” and I use my iphone. I have the X and the camera is pretty freaking awesome. Every photo taken on this trip was taken on my phone!
Then every year I create one epic “IG” book of all the photos I posted that year. (One of the reasons I post so much!) I use Artifact Uprising‘s Instagram book template and I LOVE them!
I think that’s it! If I missed your question or you think of something else, let me know!