10 Reasons to Drive to Stowe, Vermont

From ice skating and snowshoeing to gondola rides with soaring views, this ski town has plenty to do on and off the slopes.

For those looking to get out of the city and experience all the great things winter has to offer, Stowe, Vermont’s charming ski town, is your best bet. About a three-hour drive from Boston, there’s no shortage of outdoor activity here, with options available to the adventurous and more laid-back types alike.

From snowshoeing to ice skating to a gondola ride up to Vermont’s highest peak, there’s more than skiing to this town, although it is quite the renowned spot for enthusiasts. Plus, there are plenty of spots to sample hearty meals, pizza pies, New England breweries, and fresh fondue, or avoid the snow altogether and explore a quaint main street. Here are all the best things to do in Stowe this winter.

Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort | FashionStock.com/Shutterstock

Tear up New England’s most lauded slopes

The Boston area has plenty of places to hit the slopes of nearby mountains. But as the “Ski Capital of the East,” you can count on Stowe to deliver some of the best conditions you can possibly imagine. Stowe Mountain Resort, which happens to be celebrating its 85th season of lift service, is the premier destination for outdoor activity as it’s surrounded by Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. With more than 480 skiable acres, take your pick from a standard lift ticket to explore on your own or private or group lessons taught by world-class instructors. Rentals are also available, but make sure you reserve your equipment online ahead of time.

Prepare for a day of snowshoeing

If skiing really isn’t your jam, not to worry. Stowe is a hotspot for snowshoeing, with paths including the internationally-recognized Stowe Recreation or “Rec Path,” which ends at a covered bridge giving scenes straight out of a movie. There’s also Kirchner and Wiessner Woods along with trails at the premiere Trapp Family Lodge. Looking for shoes? Check out Umiak Outdoor Outfitters for the essentials. The retail shop also offers snowshoe and snow tubing tours starting at $69 per adult, which will get you not only the equipment, but snacks like local Cabot Cheese and mulled cider from Cold Hollow Cider Mill.

Spruce Peak Village
Spruce Peak Village | Spruce Life

Or you can hit the ice

In the heart of the resort, you’ll find Spruce Peak Village, a destination equipped with everything you need to live out your après-ski dreams including an outdoor ice rink. With no admission costs (unless you need to rent a pair of skates), the backdrop is nothing short of magical since you’re essentially engulfed by the ski slopes. After getting in a few laps around the rink, wind down at the Whistle Pig Pavillion, which overlooks the skaters. You can grab a spot inside or enjoy the heated pergola while sipping on “winter warmers” like the Puffy Coat, a mix of PiggyBack Rye, vanilla simple syrup, and Vermont hot cider.

Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort

Take a gondola ride up the slopes

If you’re looking for top-notch views, take the Stowe Gondola SkyRide up Mount Mansfield for an experience that’s guaranteed to be unforgettable. Running now until April 2022, you can grab tickets online ranging from $26 per child to $37 per adult. Pro tip: When you get to the top, visit Cliff House Restaurant for panoramic-view seating—just make sure you snag a reservation ahead of time.

Go biking, yes biking, with Lamoille Valley Bike Tours

Who said you have to wait until summer to go for a bike ride? With Johnson’s Lamoille Valley Bike Tours (about a 20-minute drive from Stowe), you can rent a fat tire electric bike to glide (safely) over fresh snow along the car-free Rail Trail or local backroads. The self-guided ebike adventure also features a tour of the village of Johnson, brewery stop, fireside marshmallow roast, hot chocolate, and local cheese tasting at their trailside center.

Harrison's Restaurant and Bar
Harrison's Restaurant and Bar

Dine at one of many local restaurants

Stowe has a bevy of wholesome slopeside dining options like family-run Harrison’s Restaurant, which serves up New England seafood specialties from oysters to crab cakes, and Matterhorn, a lively favorite for après-ski adventures, serving up everything from sushi to brick oven pizza. We’re not done just yet—The Bench is home to some quality comfort food, Californian-inspired dishes star at Plate, brunch at Butler’s Pantry, and the record collection at restaurant Doc Ponds are all worth adding to the list. And a visit to the town isn’t complete without grabbing some bottles at Vermont’s first and only natural wine shop and restaurant, Cork.

Stop in for in a slice at Piecasso

While we’re on the topic of delicious dining, you can’t skip out on Piecasso. The family-owned business, committed to artisan pizza and paying attention to “the little things,” is an essential Stowe stop. Specialty toppings range from Vermont butter and cheese chevre to Rhapsody organic tempeh, while the pie options include portobello, veggie, pesto, BBQ, and so much more. It’s also worth mentioning that the restaurant crafts Italian-inspired entrees and martinis, and it has Vermont microbrews available to please just about everyone in your party.

Stowe Cider
Stowe Cider

Grab a beverage at an authentic brewery

Stowe’s very own Alchemist Beer and Idletyme Brewing Company are go-to spots for those gritty double IPAs, but there’s also the Prohibition Pig in Waterbury (about a 15 minute drive) and Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville (about a 10 minute drive) that won’t disappoint. If you’re had too many IPAs to count, there’s always Stowe Cider and the previously mentioned Cold Hollow Cider Mill for New England-crafted hard ciders.

Make your way down Main Street

Historic downtown Stowe is a signature spot for strolling, home to Main Street’s country store, ski and snowboard museum, chocolate shop, breakfast and lunch cafe, and more as yours to explore—not to mention Black Cap Coffee (with beer and wine up for grabs) and Swiss Fondue By Heinz, serving you guessed it, authentic Swiss fondue over a candlelit dinner.

Spruce Life
The Lodge at Spruce Peak | Spruce Life

Stay awhile and book a few nights

Stowe is chock full of cozy cabins and winter-y stays. One look at the Airbnb results, and you’ll be pleased to know you have solid options. But in case they fill up quickly, it’s also worth checking out The Lodge at Spruce Peak, Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, Tälta Lodge, and as mentioned, the Austrian-inspired Trapp Family Lodge. If you do find availability at Trapp Family Lodge, you don’t have to leave the premises to enjoy everything from a bakery (which hosts special Fondue Fridays) to a bierhall to tastings at their wine cellar.

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Jillian Hammell is a contributor for Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.