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More than 30 years ago, Dave Chapin, a native New Yorker, dreamt of a life in the mountains. After earning a degree in hospitality and resort management, Chapin — who’s also a skier — moved to Vail, Colo. He is now in his second term as the town’s mayor, in addition to co-owning Vendettas, a local restaurant and bar. Here, he explains how to best explore Vail like a local.
The best part about being mayor is: Seeing the positive reaction from our community and visitors when they experience the benefits of completed projects, such as our new golf course clubhouse — a stunning venue for weddings and other gatherings. We’ve also been working to increase the housing for our local workforce, which has become a model for other resort communities.
What sets Vail apart from other ski areas is: The Mountain — with a capital M! The terrain is incredible, and the lift system is amazing. It just doesn’t get any better than this — in winter or summer.
I always suggest that first-time visitors head to: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Ford Park is always at the top of my suggested itinerary. It’s the highest botanical garden in North America and is open year-round. The gardens are a tribute to former first lady Betty Ford and are located next to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Both venues are a centerpiece of our parks and recreation system and honor the lasting contributions of the Ford family, who enjoyed their time here as part-time residents for years.
Vail’s best kept secret is: You don’t need a car to visit or live here. We have a free local bus system that serves our neighborhoods and connects to regional routes that can get you to a Rockies baseball game in Denver or Eagle County Regional Airport with ease. We’re also a very walkable town, with two pedestrian villages and 15 miles of paved, multi-use recreation paths with connections to numerous soft-surface hiking and mountain biking trails.
An ideal itinerary for foodies includes: A combination of a day of skiing with the ultimate in food and wine experiences at our celebrated Taste of Vail event in April each year. Award-winning activities include The American Lamb Cook-Off in our Village shopping district. On Labor Day weekend, loyal foodie fans return for Gourmet on Gore, which features open-air tastings with world-class wine, beer and spirits paired with food.
My favorite part about living here is: The enthusiasm of our locals. We’re passionate about our town and mountain, and we’re protective of our natural surroundings. After being certified as the first Sustainable Mountain Resort Destination in the U.S., we tend to pinch ourselves and say, “Wow, I live here!”
The DetailsVail, Coloradowww.vailgov.com