A Weekend Getaway Guide to Stowe, Vermont
From day trips to weekend getaways, our biweekly Traveler newsletter shows you the best of New England and beyond.
The crisp air, the vibrant leaves above and underfoot, the pumpkins and flannel and everything maple—there’s nothing like Vermont in the fall. While summer’s devastating floods decimated parts of the state, the charming town of Stowe was (thankfully) mostly spared and is firing on all cylinders for arguably the most wonderful time of the year: foliage season. It’s a time when those lucky enough to score a hotel reservation get the opportunity to experience the autumnal majesty of the Green Mountains up close and personal—and savor some world-class dining and drinking in this foodie-friendly town while they’re at it.
You’re here to explore the great outdoors, which means an exhilarating walk in nature should be among the first orders of business. Luckily, you don’t need to be an experienced hiker to take in the sights. The 0.25-mile walk to the stunning Bingham Falls is short and relatively simple, perfect for families and couples alike (just be sure to wear good hiking shoes). If you’d prefer to stay on paved roads, the 5.3-mile Stowe Recreation Path begins in historical Stowe Village and ends at a covered bridge, with gorgeous river and mountain views along the way. You can also experience the foliage from above on a Gondola Sky Ride at Spruce Peak ski resort or ArborTrek’s Zipline Canopy Tour at Smugglers’ Notch. Those who enjoy their autumn vistas with a side of water can jump into a kayak from Umiak Outdoor Outfitters and paddle around the Waterbury Reservoir. And if you’re in town the weekend of October 7 and 8, be sure to stop by the Stowe Foliage Arts Festival in Topnotch Field, where you can peruse the wares of 150 artisans selling their goods amid the brilliant turning leaves.
The best part about Stowe is you don’t have to go far for top-notch eats after your adventures. Excellent dining options abound, whether you prefer country charm with a side of foie and Wagyu at Edson Hill hotel’s on-site restaurant, sophisticated wine-bar vibes at Cork, or elevated Vermont fare—and chic ambiance—at Spruce Peak’s Alpine Hall. Of course, the town is equally well known for its liquid offerings. Destination-worthy breweries such as the Alchemist—home of the infamous Heady Topper—and the Bierhall at Von Trapp Brewing are worth carving out a few hours for on a crisp, sunny afternoon. If fermented apple drinks are more your jam, stop by the taproom at Stowe Cider to sip on a glass of Cider Donut (a seasonal semi-dry cider enhanced with the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla) with a side of barbecued ribs, if you get hungry for a snack.
Stowe’s charming downtown feels like it’s straight out of a Hallmark movie. But it’s not all style and no substance—there are some seriously cool indie shops to peruse in between all of the outdoor action. Adults will appreciate the artisan-made gifts and jewelry from Remarkable Things at Stowe Craft; the extra-large mugs at Shaw’s General Store, which are sure to become your favorite new coffee cup; and the home furnishings at Stowe Living just up the road. Kids, meanwhile, will appreciate the fudge and penny candy from Stowe Mercantile and might just convince you to pick up a trinket from Once Upon a Time Toys.
Looking for the quintessential Vermont lodging experience? That’s exactly what you’ll find at Edson Hill, a boutique luxury hotel nestled on 38 acres. With its own network of trails for strolling or mountain biking and a destination-worthy restaurant (breakfast included!), you never really need to leave the hotel to experience the best of Stowe. Outfitted with Egyptian-cotton blankets and radiant heated bathroom floors, king and queen rooms in the main inn come with inspirational names such as “If Not Now, When.” The “Guest House” rooms, meanwhile, are equipped with fireplaces—and some even have soaking tubs for soothing those achy muscles after a long walk in the woods.
Stowe is a relatively easy three-hour jaunt up I-93 and I-89 from Boston.
First published in the print edition of the October 2023 issue with the headline, “Stowe, Vermont.”