What started out fifty years ago as little more than three lifts and a hotel, Vail has morphed into a world-class resort with 31 lifts, 5,289 acres of skiable terrain and a slopeside village pulsing with après-ski, dining, and nightlife options. From the old-world charm of Pepi’s, where dirndl-clad waitresses serve pints to thirsty skiers, to modern-day creature comforts, like Wi-Fi on the new Gondola One, and some of the most perfectly pitched powder runs on the planet, Vail has it all.

Only an hour and half from Denver, Vail is the premiere location for Front Range weekend warriors. As such, we’d advise driving up Friday night to beat the bumper-to- bumper traffic that backs up I-70 come Saturday morning. On Sunday, hit the road after 4 p.m. to avoid the traffic back into town. Better yet—grab an early dinner in Vail and it’ll be smooth sailing all the way to Denver. If you’re an out-of-towner, look for flights directly into Eagle, a thirty-minute drive from Vail. The small, easy-to-navigate airport services direct flights from New York, Chicago and Atlanta, among several other major metropolitan areas. Leave home in the morning, and by afternoon, you’ll be schussing down Riva’s Ridge.

Once you arrive, here’s what you need to know to make the most of your stay in Vail, the heart of Colorado’s ski country.