10 Things to Do in Vail That You Shouldn't Miss

July 20, 2017 Chanda Heide

Vail is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pima County, Arizona, United States. It is twenty-four miles southeast of Tucson. The population was 10,208 at the 2010 census. The area is known for the nearby Colossal Cave, a large cave system, and the Rincon Mountains District of Saguaro National Park, a top tourism spot within Arizona.
Restaurants in Vail

1. Colossal Cave Mountain Park

16721 E Old Spanish Trl, Vail, AZ 85641-6732 +1 520-647-7275
Excellent
47%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
15%
Poor
4%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 430 reviews

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

This desert refuge has sheltered people for over a thousand years. It has been home, shrine, hideout, challenging workplace, exciting playground, tranquil retreat. On the National Historic Register, the 2,400-acre Park showcases crystal-filled Colossal Cave and historic La Posta Quemada Ranch. Cave tours, museum, Western trail rides, picnicking. Open daily

Reviewed By elizabethruth2018 - Wellandport, Canada

The caves were quite fascinating with many stalactites and other formations. They went quite deep,and you could see even further down. There were dim lights along the paths, so no flashlights are needed. We did the basic tour. There are quite a few stairs, but most have handrails and are very safe and easy to do.
The big disappointment was that because the group was so large ( about 25 people), only the few around the guide could hear what he was saying. By the time the rest reached the spot he was talking about, he was long gone to the next area. The group sizes should only be 8 - 10 people.

2. Charron Vineyards & Winery

18585 S. Sonoita Vineyard, Vail, AZ 85641 +1 520-762-8585
Excellent
68%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 76 reviews

Charron Vineyards & Winery

Visit Tucson's closest winery and enjoy handcrafted Arizona wines with spectacular mountain views. Charron Vineyards is a small family owned winery located less than 30 minutes drive from downtown Tucson. Established in 1995, Charron Vineyards produces many distinctive wines including their award winning White Merlot. At Charron you are encouraged to relax while each hand crafted wine is brought to your table and your knowledgeable server explains the wines journey from grape to glass. There are also gourmet picnic baskets available to enjoy while you sip, and a delightful wine themed gift shop. The wide selection of wines produced at Charron have a characteristic style imparted by the environment in which they are produced. The higher elevation overlooking the rolling slopes of the Santa Rita and Empire Mountains brings fresh mountain air, rich soil and an essence of tranquility. Be sure to visit one of the oldest, most picturesque wineries in the state, with a beautiful new tasting room and outdoor covered deck nestled amongst the mature grape vines with breathtaking mountain views.

Reviewed By Linda I - Killingly, Connecticut

We thoroughly enjoyed this vineyard and also shared it for the first time with local family. A little tough to get to it, but the spectacular view and outdoor patio was well worth it. Nice selection of wines with wonderful interpretation of each. Bought a bottle and a glass to ship back to CT. Very nice and will definitely visit again should I ever be in the area.

3. Del Lago Golf Club

14155 E Via Rancho Del Lago, Vail, AZ 85641-9280 +1 520-647-1100
Excellent
32%
Good
47%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
7%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 28 reviews

Del Lago Golf Club

Reviewed By lmaruyama - Napervill

The golf course is spectacular! We were golfing in February and had incredibly great weather! The course is challenging even though yardage is shorter than we expected. We were disappointed by the other services, especially in the restaurant and bar. Servers seemed distracted and inattentive. Too bad since it's a nice course!

4. All Around Trail Horses

16721 E Old Spanish Trl, Vail, AZ 85641 +1 520-298-8980
Excellent
54%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
5%
Terrible
19%
Overall Ratings

3.5 based on 51 reviews

All Around Trail Horses

Discover the Southwest by Horseback! Tucson’s long running and family owned Pantano Riding Stables caters to people of all ages, sizes, and experience levels. Enjoy a Ride Enjoy a romantic ride or join a group of friends for a combination trail ride and dinner. Have a bale of fun on a wagon hay-ride with an option of dining under the stars by campfire or explore the Saguaro National Park with our special park rides. Photography and Artist rides are also available, or if you are looking for something special — just let us know. Please take a look around our website and if you have any questions please contact our friendly staff.

Reviewed By NYU62 - Tucson Arizona

The entire family gathers in Tucson for Christmas each year, and this year, one of our daughters reserved a wagon for a "Moonlight Hayride" for all of us after Christmas Eve Dinner. Our set time was 6:45. We arrived early, and had some hot chocolate around the campfire. It was a chilly evening, and we had arrived prepared. The moon was full, and absolutely gorgeous hanging over the desert.

Our daughter had bought out the entire wagon ($140), so that we would have plenty of space. She brought blankets for more comfortable seating, although those bales of hay were comfortable enough. When our party was called, we all went over to the wagon. Some with bad backs were a bit worried, but getting on and off was easy (there are steps), and if you need help, there is someone there to help you.

I am just so sorry that we never knew about these rides, as we would have made them an annual family tradition. The two horses clopped along slowly, and the driver looked like he was out of a Western movie. We appreciated that he did not intrude on our conversations as this was such a special family time for us. This was not a tour, this was a hayride in the moonlight. We all loved it !!! The two little ones in our group were enchanted, as we kept coming up to lighted Christmas scenes, and went through three "tunnels" made of lights. The entire ride took about 35-40 minutes, and after it ended, we were all ready to get on another wagon for another ride.

Christmas Eve is also my husband's birthday, so afterwards, we all went home for cake and champagne. Nobody could stop talking about the magical ride we had taken.

5. Pima Air & Space Museum

6000 E Valencia Rd, Tucson, AZ 85756-9403 +1 520-574-0462
Excellent
77%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4 reviews

Pima Air & Space Museum

Be amazed at one of the world's largest aircraft collections: including 3 hangars of World War II planes, supersonic spyplanes, the world's smallest bi-plane, plus many other unique private, military and commercial air & spacecraft documenting the evolution of flight. Friendly docents augment your visit. Only Pima Air & Space offers the bus tour of the "Boneyard"/AMARG (M-F only, no holidays, 10-day Advanced Reservations Required) plus offers its own tram tour of the museum's 80 acres of one-of-a kind planes daily (additional fees). You can actually touch "aviation history" including "Freedom One" (that flew the American 444-days-in-Iran hostages home), presidential crafts, planes that launched astronauts, delivered life-saving food/fuel, etc. and others with wingspans the length of a football field... Ogle helicopters, MiGs, an Oscar, a rare German buzz bomb, a moon rock and much more. 350 aircraft, 80 acres, 6 indoor air-cooled hangars. Just plane awesome!

Reviewed By highflyer15 - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Having been to the Pima Air & Space Museum a few years back, it was time to return with my significant other. To my surprise and appreciation, they had acquired new aircraft for their display and a new hangar dedicated to the 390th bomb group. Please plan your trip accordingly as there is a lot see see and learn about. Newly on display was a Boeing 787-8 original test aircraft, a DC-10 flying eye hospital called “Orbis” and the Boeing B-17 inside the 390th Memorial Museum. While walking around the outside display of aircraft, you can also find a Boeing B-52 undergoing refurbishment and hopefully on display shortly. Inside the Space Gallery, there is a lot to learn about how space exploration helped shaped our way of life with the experiments and discoveries in a lot of products we use today. In the event that the weather or your physical ability prevents you from touring the outdoor display, they have regular tram rides with a guided tour. What would truly make Pima Air & Space special if they were able to create an entrance to some of the aircraft outside to appreciate and learn about the inside of some. To name a few that would be appreciated are; ORBIS, Boeing 787-8 and former Air Force One presidential aircraft’s the Boeing 707/VC-137B and Douglas DC-6/VC-188A.

6. Rincon Mountain Visitor Center

3693 S. Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, AZ 85730-5601 +1 520 733 5153
Excellent
73%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Rincon Mountain Visitor Center

The eastern section of Saguaro National Park.

Reviewed By Bill B

The Visitor Center employees and the two interpretive films that show are very good. The films are so much better than the Indian religious movie that shows at the Red Hills Visitor Center. The loop road is better maintained than the Red Hills area road. The trail access parking is very poor. Several trail heads have only 3 or 4 parking spots and they were all full. Typical NPS preserving the Park so much from human footprint that we can't get reasonable access to OUR National Park. Please NPS, build more parking.

7. Cactus Forest Drive

3693 S Old Spanish Trail, Saguaro East, Tucson, AZ 85730-5601 (520) 733-5153
Excellent
70%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 151 reviews

Cactus Forest Drive

Eight-mile scenic drive in Saguaro East.

Reviewed By Peter R - Monument Beach, Massachusetts, United States

One way drive located in the National Park of Saguaro East. Takes about 45 minutes. Some picnic spots and limited rest rooms. Dirt road but passable by car. 8 miles approximately. Several areas to pull off the road and several trail heads along the drive. Some beautiful landscapes along the drive. Nice place to bring a picnic lunch

8. Fantasy Island

Irvington and Harrison Streets, Tucson, AZ
Excellent
69%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 16 reviews

Fantasy Island

Reviewed By goob007 - Boston

Easy to follow and easy for beginners and young riders, lots of cactus along side of trail, thanks to all the folks who maintain this

9. Tucson Raceway Park

12500 South Houghton Road, Tucson, AZ +1 520-762-9200
Excellent
68%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 6 reviews

Hosts NASCAR races, demolition derbies, motorcross, monster trucks and other special events.

Reviewed By DesertTravellerAZ - Phoenix, Arizona

A series of less than stellar promoters and significant management missteps have tanked this once awesome track. So sad. Here's hoping 2012 will see a new QUALIFIED and COMMITTED promoter in place, bringing the return of asphalt racing excitement!!!

10. Loma Verde

Cactus Forest Drive, Saguaro East, Tucson, AZ 85730 +1 520-733-5153
Excellent
75%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
25%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4 reviews

Loma Verde

Reviewed By Steve1362 - Avon, Ohio

Although many people only see the East District of Saguaro National Park from the very good, scenic Cactus Forest Drive, the real attraction in Saguaro East is the many excellent hiking trails. Many of these trails are interconnecting so one can easily customize a hike of virtually any length and difficulty and one of the best and more central places to access these interconnecting trails is from the trailhead at Loma Verde which is about one third of the way around the Cactus Forest Drive.

During our visit, we were fortunate enough to be able to hike with a friend living in the area that is familiar with virtually all of the trails and he took us on a great hike from this trailhead to an old dam called Garwood Dam. From Loma Verde, take Loma Verde trail about 0.2 mile (0.3k) and turn right onto Squeeze Pen trail, so named as its terrain was used to funnel and squeeze livestock into a narrow column. After following Squeeze Pen for 1.2 miles (1.9k), bare right again onto Carrillo trail. While several other trails branch off of the Carrillo trail, keep to the right each time to stay on the trail and after approximately a mile (1.6k), one will reach the dam; returning the same way results in a roundtrip hike of about 4.8 miles (7.5k). This was a wonderful hike as it takes one by many saguaro and other cacti, wildflowers in spring, along ridgelines providing commanding vistas of saguaro forests, views of the mountains and along a permanent water source that creates the opportunity to see wildlife, especially if hiked early in the morning, or at least their footprints along the banks from their visit at night.

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