Do you have someone in your travel group who doesn’t ski or snowboard (or is that someone you)? Need to give your legs a break from the slopes? Or simply want a mix of activities for your winter getaway? You don’t have to limit yourself to on-mountain activities in the charming Vermont town of Stowe. With a vibrant local food and beverage scene, endless outdoor adventures, unique shops, and nature-inspired spa treatments—all with the beautiful backdrop of the Green Mountains—you’ll want to stay for a lot longer than just a ski weekend. Here are some local tips to experience the best of Stowe off the slopes.
Look beyond the obvious on-mountain lodging option for another great Stowe experience: Stoweflake Mountain Resort. With on-site dining, an expansive fitness center, and a heated outdoor pool that’s even open in winter, Stoweflake is just big enough to have the resort essentials without losing the personal touch. The hotel has lots of lodging options, ranging from classic hotel rooms and fireplace suites to three-bedroom condos with ski lockers. Plus, it’s in a great Mountain Road location—between town and the mountain—which means less time looking for parking and more time exploring.
EAT, DRINK, APRÈS
There’s no shortage of Stowe establishments with excellent food and beverages. The local beer of choice continues to be the widely-known but hard-to-find Heady Topper IPA, especially now that The Alchemist has opened their Stowe brewery, conveniently within walking distance of Stoweflake. For après-ski or just-because, try the Doc Ponds for seasonal-inspired dishes or the classic Charlie B’s pub, both on Mountain Rd. Downtown, check out the many local craft beverage options at Cork Wine Bar, known for natural wines and excellent small plates. Also downtown, Tap 25 has a rotating list of (you guessed it) 25 local craft beverages, mostly beers but with a few ciders on tap too.
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ADVENTURES IN THE SNOW
Of course there’s excellent skiing and snowboarding at Stowe Mountain Resort on Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak (and now there are unconfirmed rumors that Vail Resorts is seeking to buy Stowe, which would undoubtedly mean exciting changes for the resort’s future). Did you know that Stowe is also home to a famous cross-country skiing resort? Trapp Family Lodge, founded by that famous singing family from The Sound of Music has almost 100 miles of trails (that’s 160 km for any of you coming from nearby Canada). There’s no shortage of other fun in the snow, from skating at Spruce Village to the increasingly popular fat tire biking. Check out Vermont Snowmobile for adventures in a very different kind of “sled” than the one you used as a kid. In the same building, Umiak Outfitters has gear and guides for unique experiences like moonlight snowshoe cabin tours.
RELAX AT THE SPA
After all that imbibing and adventuring, it’s time to slow down for some relaxation. Stoweflake Spa is one of the largest in New England and offers over 150 different treatment options. Favorites include locally-inspired signature experiences like Vermont maple sugar body polish, Ayurvedic treatments that promote wellness of mind and body, and of course the popular skier’s choice: deep tissue massage. In addition to the standard steam room, hot tub, and sanctuary lounge, there’s also a spa café and a unique co-ed Aqua Solarium with a Bingham hydrotherapy waterfall (a scale model of nearby popular summertime swimming hole) and a mineral soaking pool.
Stowe has two main shopping areas: Downtown and along Mountain Road. The compact village packs a lot of shops in a small space, including Vermont classics like Shaw’s General Store and Stowe Mercantile. Mountain road has a wider range of specialty stops from toys and sporting goods to clothing and lingerie. Still looking for the perfect gift to remember your trip? Stop for cheddar cheese at the Cabot complex, sweet treats at Lake Champlain Chocolates, plus gifts and t-shirts—that definitely do not make you look like a tourist—at the Vermont 100 Store.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Vermont Travel Guide