Stowe is a pretty town in Lamoille County, Vermont. The town lies in a deep valley between Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. It is primarily visited by those who enjoy outdoor pursuits, although there are plenty of other things for people to enjoy indoors and to suit other tastes. Many people center their vacation around the high street, which has shops and restaurants, so it is a good place to start and end each day. However, most of Stowe’s activities are in the area surrounding the town. Planning your vacation itinerary in advance can help you to get the most out of your visit to this Vermont town. To help you do so, here are the 20 best things to do in Stowe, VT, for first-timers.
20. Have Fun at Stowe Golf Park
Stowe Golf Park is a mini-golf course with a difference. Instead of being a novelty golf course, as you would expect from mini-golf, it is a mini version of a real golf course. Therefore, it is beautifully landscaped and has the natural obstacles you would find on a regular course, such as sand traps, rough grass, and hazards on the fairway. It is surrounded by trees, and there are benches where people can sit and watch or wait for their turn to play. The golf course is open from May until October, and it is on the front property of the Sun & Ski Inn.
19. Sample the Ciders at Stowe Cider
The Stowe Cider production facility and tasting room is just two miles outside Stowe village. This company is operated by the Windsers family in a space that was once a deli and market. They use locally-grown apples from the Champlain Orchards to produce two 500-gallon batches of cider each month. Stowe Cider produces a wide range of cider products, including fruit ciders and cider-style beers. They sell their products in stores around Vermont and Massachusetts and at local events and fairs. Visitors to the facility can see how the cider is produced before heading to the tasting room to sample the ciders.
18. Ride the Gondola Skyride to Mount Mansfield’s Summit
Love hard, Travel Often recommends riding the Gondola Skyride when you visit Stowe, VT. The Gondola Skyride takes you to the summit of Mount Mansfield, and it is an excellent way to enjoy the surrounding views on your way up the mountain without the exertion of hiking. When you get off the gondola at the top of the mountain, there is a restaurant called The Waffle where you can grab a bite to eat and a hot drink. You can continue enjoying the views from the eatery’s warmth before taking the gondola back to the foot of the mountain.
17. See the Bingham Falls
Bingham Falls lies within Mount Mansfield State Park, and it is a 72-acre property that attracts swimmers, hikers, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and those who want to enjoy a picnic in pleasant surroundings. The park’s highlight is its 40-foot waterfall, which cascades into deep natural pools where people can swim. It is set in a forest of yellow and white birch, beech, and red maple trees. When hiking to the waterfall, you may see wildlife, including chipmunks, red foxes, and white-tailed deer.
16. Take a Tour of Ben & Jerry’s
Ben and Jerry’s Waterbury Factory is in Waterbury, which is just outside Stowe. There is a free factory tour for visitors, who can see how the famous ice cream is made, and there is a free sample included in the tour. The factory also has a shop where visitors can buy their favorite ice cream flavors to take home.
15. Watch a Performance at the Stowe Theatre Guild
An enjoyable activity in the evenings is to watch a performance at the Stowe Theatre Guild. The guild began in 1957, and they originally used an old barn as a place to perform. IN 1967, the playhouse was built in Stowe. There are now several shows each season, and theatergoers can enjoy drinks and snacks during the performances. If you intend to watch a performance during your visit to Stowe, check what is on in advance.
14. Get Close to Nature in Cady Hill Forest
At the end of the 1700s, Cady Hill Forest was used by early settlers as farmland. After the farmland was abandoned, a natural forest grew in the area, which now stretches across 258 acres. 23 acres of the land are designated as wetlands. The park is a wintering area for deer, so some sections are closed during the winter months for the protection of the deer. There are 11 miles off hiking and biking trails within the park.
13. Visit the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum
If you want to spend a day enjoying indoor activities, then add Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum to your itinerary for the day. The museum focuses on the history of skiing and snowboarding, taking visitors on a journey from the late 19th century to the present. Visitors to the museum can watch a documentary about the history of skiing. There are also exhibits about ski fashion, the 10th Mountain Division, Nordic skiing, and chair lift technology. The museum, which is housed in a converted church, also has a hall of fame, a skiing-related art gallery, and a gift shop.
12. Watch a Demonstration at Laughing Moon Chocolates
Located in downtown Stowe, Laughing Moon Chocolates is a chocolatier that makes various chocolates and fudges, including a range of vegan and sugar-free options. The business is committed to using local products, and it is a socially responsible and eco-friendly company. Laughing Moon Chocolates hosts daily chocolate dipping demonstrations, and they also host regular family workshops.
11. Explore Weissner Woods
The Stowe Land Trust owns and maintains Weissner Woods, which is a conservation area spanning 79-acres. It was once owned by Fritz and Muriel Weissner, who entrusted it to the trust to convert into a space the public could use for hiking and cross-country skiing. There is an extensive network of well-marked trails running through the forests, some of which cross brooks via footbridges.
10. See the Art at the West Branch Gallery and Sculpture Garden
One of the best attractions for art enthusiasts in Stowe is the West Branch Gallery and Sculpture Garden. Inside the art gallery, there are high ceilings and excellent lighting to showcase contemporary art at its best. There are also nooks and crannies containing eclectic art treasures. Outside, there is a sculpture garden surrounded by lawns, trees, and a river. The modern stone and metal sculptures are set against a backdrop of scenic mountains.
9. Go to the Trapp Family Lodge
US News lists a visit to the Trapp Family Lodge as one of the best activities to enjoy during a visit to Stowe, VT. The musical film ‘The Sound of Music’ is based on the von Trapp family’s true story, who was a family musical troupe who escaped from Salzburg, Austria, in 1938. As they became popular and successful, the family bought a farmhouse in Stowe to live in the mountains. It is now a country resort with cross-country ski trails, hiking trails, biking paths, and tennis courts. Even if you do not stay at the resort, it is possible to use many of the facilities, and all the trails are accessible to the public. There is also a history tour of the lodge, and they offer carriage rides.
8. Take to the Slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort
Those who are visiting Stowe to take to the slopes should go to the Stowe Mountain Resort, which is spread across Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. On Mount Mansfield, there are 39 miles of ski terrain, while Spruce Peak offers 116 trails. During the winter, skiing and snowboarding are the two most popular activities. However, there are many activities to enjoy during the summer months, including hiking, mountain biking, zip-lining, golfing, and rock climbing.
7. Take a Sleigh or Horse and Carriage Ride
A fun activity to enjoy that is a fantastic way to see the local sights is to take a ride led by a horse. Several options are available, including horse-drawn carriage rides through the town, sleigh rides for two people over the snow-covered landscape, or a carriage for larger groups of up to 12 people. It is a great way to take in historical landmarks and see the area’s natural beauty from the comfort of a carriage. They even provide blankets to make you feel cozy during cold weather.
6. See the Sterling Falls Gorge
Sterling Falls Gorge has been carved into the Vermont Green Mountains due to tocks and sand carried by Sterling Brook running over the rocks for more than 10,000 years. The stunning gorge has walls that range from 11 to 50 feet high and are covered in moss. The gorge consists of a series of pools, falls, and cascades. The gorge is surrounded by ferns, shrubs, forest, and dense hemlock. There is an out-and-back trail that runs alongside the gorge through Sterling Falls Gorge Natural Area that takes around 45 minutes to complete.
5. Go to Emily’s Bridge
Emily’s Bridge is officially called Gold Brook Covered Bridge, and it was constructed in 1844. It is a small wooden covered bridge that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Legend says that the bridge is haunted by the ghost of Emily, who is a girl that hung herself from the bridge’s rafters when she was stood up by her lover.
4. Drive Up the Mountain on the Stowe Mountain Auto Toll Road
If you have traveled to Vermont in a car, then you should drive up the Stow Mountain Auto Toll Road. The 4.5-mile road is 150 years old, and it takes you to the summit of the mountain. From this vantage point, you can enjoy views across the Lake Champlain Valley and the Adirondack Mountains, so it is the ideal place from which to take photographs. Although the road is closed to vehicles in the winter, it is possible to ski or snowshoe along this road.
3. Walk the Stowe Recreation Path
The Stowe Recreation Path is a scenic path that runs through Stowe, over a stone bridge, and past swimming holes. It is a 5.5-mile path that is mostly paved and flat, and there are picnic tables and benches along the way. It is a relatively relaxing walk that is accessible for people of all ages and fitness levels.
2. Visit Smugglers’ Notch State park
Smugglers’ Notch is a narrow pass that runs through the Green Mountains. Magnificent white cliffs surround it, and there is a winding road that is impassable during the winter months. Smugglers’ Notch is famous for being used for various illegal activities, such as smuggling runaway slaves, illegal alcohol, cattle, and illicit goods from Canada into the United States. The state park surrounding this pass is open throughout the year, although people can only ski or use snowmobiles during the winter. There are many hiking trails that begin within the park, and some of these head to Mount Mansfield. Smugglers’ Notch State Park also has 20 campsites for those who want to stay overnight.
1. Enjoy the Outdoors at Mount Mansfield
According to Vacation Idea, the best thing to do in Stowe, VT, for first-timers is to enjoy the outdoor at Mount Mansfield. It is Vermont’s highest peak at 4,393 feet and also the area’s most significant and famous natural landmark. During the summer months, it is popular with hikers, while it is used for skiing during the winter months. On the east side of the peak is the Stow Mountain Resort. At the peak’s summit, there are approximately 200 acres of alpine tundra.