Fireside dining to ski slopes’ evergreen glades, historic Stowe, Vermont, shines brightest on frosty days. A long weekend in New England’s snow globe resort is enough to sample the season’s best.
Big resorts in the western U.S. boast vast terrain and crowds to match, but Stowe, Vermont is a ski town with soul. Lapping the flanks of Mount Mansfield — the highest in a rolling spine of summits that runs the length of the state — Stowe has been a ski destination for more than a century, with trails that date to the dawn of U.S. snow sports.
The alpine playground unites small-town Vermont with world- class mountain sports: Hop a high-speed gondola to the top of Stowe Mountain Resort and you might share the ride with anyone from a visiting Olympian to a maple syrup maker from the next town over. In the valley below, Stowe village presents a postcard scene complete with a white steeple church and Main Street shops selling local wares. After the lift lines empty, village bars fill up with a laid-back après ski scene where plaid and Patagonia attire is de rigueur.
But winter in Stowe isn’t just for die-hard skiers. A quick trip to the Green Mountains leaves plenty of time for exploring the woods on snowshoes, sipping craft beers, sampling farm-to-table cuisine and enjoying luxe spa treatments with quirky Vermont flavor. Whether you’re a black-diamond expert or just visiting for a dose of New England charm, here’s how to spend the perfect long weekend.
2 p.m. Snowshoe Through The Woods To A Sugarhouse
Remember that yodeling, Alp-roaming family from “The Sound of Music?” Their happily ever after turns out to be an Austria- themed ski chalet on a 2,500-acre property with sweeping views of the Stowe valley, where the Tapp Family Lodge is still run by the descendants of Maria and Captain von Trapp. If you can walk you can snowshoe, which makes the sport a perfect — and perfectly beginner-friendly — way to explore the lodge’s 18.6 miles of purpose-built snowshoe trails. Join a guided snowshoe tour of the maple forest where sap is collected, then see how it’s boiled down to syrup in an adorable sugarhouse in the woods. A more ambitious outing is an independent, three-mile uphill trek from the outdoor center to rustic Slayton Pasture Cabin, hard work that will earn you a cup of hot cocoa by the cabin’s roaring fire.
5 p.m. Brews And Brats In The Bierhall
Ask about the best new IPA if you want a reliable conversation- starter in Vermont, where locals are justifiably proud of their thriving craft beer scene. (There are more breweries per capita here than anywhere in the United States.) If you’ve got energy to burn after your afternoon exertions, follow the three-mile snowshoe route through the woods to the von Trapp Brewery bierhall and sample Austrian-style beers ideal for winter nights. (You can also just drive a few minutes down the road.) The subtle sweetness of maple rauchbier comes from syrup made in the family sugarhouse; a toasty trösten lager is just the thing when it’s bitterly cold out.
Order a flight of the house-made beers and settle in for an early dinner of Austrian fare featuring ingredients grown on the von Trapp property: Try Bavarian pretzels swabbed in Vermont cheddar cheese dip or a platter of bratwurst, knackwurst and bauernwurst sausages served alongside sauerkraut mashed potatoes.
8 a.m. Fresh Tracks At Stowe Mountain Resort
With 2,360 feet of vertical drop, Stowe Mountain Resort turns Vermont’s tallest mountain into a wintertime adventure course. Pick up coffee and fresh pastries at PK Coffee on your way up Mountain Road, where you’ll have views of the ski trails — National, Goat, Starr and Liftline — that make up Stowe’s classic “front four.” Terrain sprawls across both Mount Mansfield and neighboring Spruce Peak, mountains linked with a lightning- fast, 90-second intermountain gondola. Novice skiers will find the friendliest terrain on Spruce Peak, while Mansfield’s more challenging slopes feature plenty of expert runs. No matter what your skill level, wrap up the day at Spruce Peak, whose south- facing slopes make the most of afternoon sunshine.
4 p.m. Après Ski By A Crackling Fire
A final run leads to the Lodge at Spruce Peak, a self-contained mountain village at the base of Spruce Peak mountain that’s a longtime family favorite. And since some of the village’s best après ski spots are clustered around the picturesque outdoor skating rink, grownups can toast a successful day on the slopes while the younger set perfect their figure-eights a few feet away. Inside the rink-side WhistlePig Pavilion — a collaboration with Vermont’s award-winning WhistlePig Rye Whiskey — warm up with a Puffy Coat, a signature cocktail blending rye whiskey, vanilla syrup and cider produced from local apple orchards. Indoor seating circles a towering stone fireplace where chefs melt wheels of raclette cheese over an open flame, turning it into a gooey, gourmet topping for everything from toasted baguettes to nachos.
8 p.m. Candlelight Dining At The Inn
Winding up the access road to Edson Hill feels like entering a wintry picture book — there’s snow-covered horse paddocks, a maze of narrow ski trails and a blazing bonfire to warm your hands. Come for dinner in the inn’s ultra-romantic dining room but be sure to leave time for a drink in the wood-paneled tavern, where you’ll find an impressive list of hard-to-find beers from Vermont breweries including Lawson’s Finest Liquids and The Alchemist. From there it’s an evening of white-tablecloth New England fare by candlelight, in a dining room whose winter menu includes a woodsy venison loin with mushroom bread pudding.
10 a.m. Maple Syrup And Shopping On Main
Stowe’s pretty village center wraps around the white steeple of an 1863 church that’s said to be one of the most-photographed churches in the U.S. Take advantage of morning light to snap a few of your own before breakfasting across the street at cozy
Butler’s Pantry, whose fluffy buttermilk pancakes are the perfect foil for lashings of Vermont maple syrup. The town center’s best shopping is clustered along this walkable stretch of Main Street as well: Pick up old-fashioned taffy and (even more) maple syrup at Stowe Mercantile or find handmade mugs and vases by Vermont’s Farmhouse Pottery in The Country Store on Main. Devoted skiers should duck into the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum, whose exhibits recount Stowe’s ski history and tributes to the skiing warriors of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division.
1 p.m. Farm-To-Spa Relaxation
Make a final trip up Mountain Road to the Lodge at Spruce Peak, whose onsite spa beckons with wintry treatments inspired by local ingredients. Arrive early for a cycle of dry heat, steam and cool rain showers in the healing lodge, then try the 100-minute Stowe Cider Uber Scrub. A spiced cider and orange scrub will warm your body from head to toe, while the body butter massage protects against dry winter air. The treatment concludes in the sanctuary — an array of cushy day beds with floor-to-ceiling views of the ski slopes below — where you’ll be served a drink from local Stowe Cider, which specializes in dry and semi-dry drinks that even hardcore beer snobs can love.
WHERE TO STAY
A tranquil oasis 10 minutes from the mountain, 22-room boutique inn Edson Hill might be Stowe’s most intimate booking. In-room fireplaces and country-chic décor mean cozy nights on a 38-acre property with six miles of cross-country ski trails. The couple’s Nordic ski package includes a private, 60-minute lesson for two — don’t miss an après ski hangout by the outdoor firepit.
Stylish Field Guide Lodge has 30 rooms and suites walking distance from Stowe village, with lighthearted, modern design that plays on traditional ski lodge themes. Cottage suites and the detached Trail House offer plenty of room for family and friends, while main lodge rooms are steps away from a lounge where guests spend evenings over fire-side books and board games.
A stone’s throw from the snow, the Lodge at Spruce Peak is the only place in New England with ski-in, ski-out luxury accommodations — Spruce Mountain is in the back door and it’s a 90-second gondola ride to Mount Mansfield. Two to four-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot penthouses have kitchens and space to spread out; in the 300-key main lodge, options range from classic guest rooms to studios and suites.
Non-stop and connecting flights depart Miami for Burlington (BTV), where rental cars and shuttles are available for the 37-mile drive to Stowe. O