The sleepy Vermont village of Stowe is primarily known to travelers for its snow scene, but there is plenty to enjoy in this mountainous locale in the summer as well.
Drive into Stowe, Vermont, and you’ll almost miss it if you blink at the wrong time — it’s that small. What it lacks in size, the charming town makes up for in character and natural beauty. Beyond its downtown restaurants, hotels and shops, this compact hub of activity offers acres and acres of hiking, skiing, snowboarding and wildlife watching. While the seemingly endless outdoor activities are surely a draw, so is Stowe’s deft balancing of adventure and plenteous ways to kick back, whether it be relaxing at a world class spa or beside a roaring fire, with a local cider in hand.
Travelers are not the only ones drawn to Stowe for outdoor adventure, though. Locals live out this active mindset by taking advantage of the region’s mountains, valleys and streams year-round. Known for their welcoming vibe, locals seem happy to help visitors make the most of their village, too, whether you need assistance picking out your first pair of skis or recommendations on where to find the freshest apple cider.
To dodge the crowds that flock to Stowe in the wintertime, along with the pricier hotel rates, visit Stowe during the summer months, when the pace is a little slower.
Whenever you visit, you’ll want to rent a car, an easier and cheaper way to get from the airport to your hotel and see all of the nearby sights.
The Trapp Family Lodge (700 Trapp Hill Road) is one of the more recognizable accommodations in Stowe. The Austrian-style mountain resort was, yes, founded by that Trapp Family of Sound of Music fame. The four-season resort offers a range of options, at a variety of price points. Alongside stellar views of the village below, and lots of alpine activities, the helpful hotel staff is ready and waiting to point you toward some of the region’s best mountain biking, hiking, or even yoga, if that’s more your speed.
For something closer into town, try the Field Guide Lodge (433 Mountain Road). Conveniently located within walking distance of a handful of bars and restaurants in downtown Stowe, this boutique property offers a unique, hip, ski lodge feel, but with summertime amenities as well. Take a dip in the pool, hang by the outdoor fire ring or enjoy a drink on the spacious patio, before heading back to your cozy guest room. Complimentary daily breakfast will fuel you up for a day’s adventure.
For comfort food with an upgrade, try The Bench (492 Mountain Road). Your options range from wood-fired nachos topped with blue cheese, bacon, spicy honey and avocado creme fraiche to a lamb French dip topped with horseradish cream and served alongside a rosemary au jus. Wood-fired pizzas are also popular. Choose from classic options, like cheese with red sauce, to more creative selections, like the Cubano pizza, with Dijon mustard, pulled pork, Tasso ham, pickles, Swiss cheese and aioli. The wood-fired theme continues on the dessert menu with the enticing wood-fired s’more.
Dine along the expansive bar at Doc Ponds (294 Mountain Road), where you can enjoy a long list of local beers, ciders and craft cocktails, as well as a small dining menu. You won’t need to break your diet to dine in this favorite Stowe establishment. Healthful choices include a quinoa bowl with local chevre, arugula and beets, as well as black bean tacos, with kimchi and spicy mayo.
Tres Amigos (1190 Mountain Road, #1) provides your Mexican fix when all you’re craving after a long day of hiking is a hefty burrito. Beyond the chicken tinga, carnitas and barbacoa burritos, the large restaurant also offers a spread of Mexican favorites, from fajitas and enchiladas to quesadillas and tacos. The tempting selection of tequila and mezcal also pairs nicely with the festive vibe and live music.
Breweries & Cideries
Von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall (1333 Luce Hill Road) is also owned by the Von Trapp family, but is located some distance away from Trapp Family Lodge. The classic beer hall offers indoor and outdoor seating, including solarium seating for views of the mountains while safe from the elements during any season. Try one of the many classic Austrian beers on tap, made right onsite. Pair your drink Austrian favorites, from apple streusel to cheese and sausage boards.
Likely one of the most famous breweries based out of Stowe is The Alchemist (100 Cottage Club Road), known the world over for its high-gravity, hop-heavy beers. Stop in for a tasting and possibly a tour, if you’re lucky enough to catch one. If you don’t make it into the brewery’s visiting center, you’ll still be able to find the brand’s brews on many a local beer list, as well as in local stores.
Idletyme Brewing Company (1859 Mountain Road) is another favorite, and not just for its beers. The brewery offers an extensive dining menu. The large garden and patio make for summertime outdoor dining in an environment as relaxing as the beer itself.
For Vermont cider made from Vermont apples, look no further than Stowe Cider (17 Town Farm Lane). The fresh-pressed, hard cider ranges from super dry varietals to more inventive options that incorporate locally grown fruits and hops. All of the cider is preservative-free. Located a short walk from downtown, Stowe Cider is a good option if you’re staying nearby and want to walk to a cidery or brewery, without the need for a designated driver.
Try Pinnacle Ski & Sports (1652 Mountain Road) for a huge range of outdoor apparel for men, women and children, as well as active equipment, from skis to snowboards, ski boots to ski poles. Pop in to rent your gear or linger to browse and take advantage of the staff’s wealth of knowledge.
Shaw’s General Store (54 Main Street) has been around downtown Stowe for the long-haul. Founded in 1895, the store is still going strong, offering locals and visitors alike a variety of apparel and Stowe souvenirs for those with FOMO waiting back home. You can also rent sleds and saucers here in the winter.
For the chocoholic, Laughing Moon Chocolates (78 South Main Street) is the place to go. The brand’s retail shop offers hand-dipped, small batch chocolates that incorporate local ingredients. What better to go with a freshly-made chocolate than some Vermont artisan coffee? Luckily for you, Laughing Moon serves both with a smile.
A visit to Stowe would not be complete without hitting up some of the top outdoor experiences.
Don your hiking boots (and maybe your swimsuit, too) and head out to Moss Glen Falls (Moss Glen Falls Road) for spectacular waterfall views, alongside gorges and swimming holes. The Falls are only a short jaunt from the trailhead, but if you want to keep going, the trail in total will take you just over four miles, out and back. This spot gets particularly crowded with swimmers on weekends and afternoons, so you may want to visit during a weekday morning.
For daring heights and magnificent views, visit The Mount Mansfield Visitor Center (Stowe 05672). There’s no hiking required to drive up to the center and enjoy the scenery, but if you want to climb up to the summit, its best to wear hiking boots and consider bringing hiking poles too. High winds, cloudy conditions and narrow, rocky paths make the trail to the top a little intimidating for some, but the rewarding views make the trek well worth the effort.
For something a little more low-key, walk the Stowe Recreation Path (Stowe 05672), which offers a paved trail that is suitable for just about all fitness levels. A little more than five miles in total, the recreation path starts in historic downtown Stowe and leads you through fields and valleys and across picturesque covered bridges. If you’re lucky, you may spot some local wildlife (just don’t get close to the bears)!