If you plan to take a road trip through New England, Stowe, Vermont, is one of the places you really shouldn’t miss! This mountain town, located at the foot of Mount Mansfield (the highest peak in Vermont), is most popular during the fall and winter; however, it’s really a four-season travel destination. Between the countless outdoor activities, stunning mountain views, and the adorable historic district, you can’t beat Stowe for a romantic getaway or a family vacation.
In this article, we’ll review the best things to do in Stowe, including top sights, hiking trails, breweries, and more. Additionally, we’ll list the best hotels in town so you can make sure to book centrally-located accommodations. Note that lodging does fill up quickly during the high seasons in Stowe. So, remember to book a place to stay in advance!
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when you book an activity or reservation through these links at no extra cost to you.
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The Best Things to Do in Stowe (& nearby!)
Go on the Gondola Skyride at Stowe Mountain Resort.
See the view from Mount Mansfield without making the hike to the top on Stowe Mountain Resort’s Gondola Skyride. Although this activity is pricey, we think it’s worth the money–especially if this is your first time visiting Stowe. Note that the Gondola Skyride is open from June-October and is one of the most popular attractions in town. Therefore, we suggest reserving your tickets online here. The good news is that there’s ample free parking on-site, so the Skyride makes a convenient stop as you explore Stowe.
For a unique experience at the summit, make a reservation to dine at Cliff House Restaurant. Here, you can relax and enjoy the views of Mount Mansfield while eating lunch. If you aren’t able to secure a reservation for this restaurant, don’t worry! The other dining option at the top of the Skyride is The Waffle, which offers to-go sweet treats, snacks, and drinks.
Pro tip: Remember to pack a jacket for the top of Mount Mansfield. It can be windy and a little chilly at the summit.
Visit the Trapp Family Lodge.
The Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center provides a little slice of Austria on its 2,500-acre property in Vermont. In fact, the real Trapp family–yes, the musical family that inspired The Sound of Music–owns this mountain resort! After Georg and Maria von Trapp left Austria in 1938, they eventually settled in Vermont, later expanding their home into a fully-operating ski resort. Since then, The Trapp Family Lodge has become an important cross-country skiing and mountain biking destination in Stowe.
Additionally, the Trapp Family Lodge offers all sorts of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, including scenic hikes, snowshoeing, rock climbing, yoga, bird watching, and more! Plus, it features a Bierhall Restaurant, the Kaffeehaus (Austrian bakery), and even a Wine Cellar with weekly wine tastings.
You can book a stay at the Trapp Family Lodge or drop by during your time in Stowe! If you decide to stay here, there are tons of options as far as accommodations. For example, choose between guest rooms in the main lodge, a luxurious villa, or even an entire guest house chalet.
Drive through Smugglers Notch.
Smugglers’ Notch State Park is home to one of the most beautiful drives in the state of Vermont: the historic Smugglers’ Notch Pass. This scenic road runs through the Green Mountains on Route 108 between Stowe and Jeffersonville. If you’re wondering about its name, “Smugglers Notch” actually dates back to the War of 1812. At that time, smugglers used this narrow pass to transport supplies across the border to and from Canada! Nowadays, this winding road is one of the top places to go in Vermont in the fall, especially for leaf-peepers.
The drive through Smugglers Notch is relatively short; however, there are dozens of pull-offs where you can stop and explore the park. Plus, if you’re visiting during the weekend in the high season, you can expect to hit some traffic throughout the pass. If you feel like stretching your legs, two of the most popular hiking trails in the park are Sterling Pond Trail (moderate) and Bingham Falls Trail (easy). Additionally, if you’re looking for another scenic drive nearby, check out Stowe Mountain Resort’s auto toll road!
Remember when planning your trip that Smugglers Notch becomes dangerous and impassable in the winter. Therefore, it closes in mid to late October and opens again in the spring (approximately mid-May). You can check the exact season dates here.
Hike the highest mountain in Vermont.
Peaking at 4,393 feet, Mount Mansfield is Vermont’s highest mountain and one of the top attractions in Stowe. People say that its ridgeline resembles a man’s face looking up towards the sky from a distance. Therefore, the summit is appropriately nicknamed “The Chin.” Although there are simpler ways to see the top, like the Gondola Skyride or driving the Auto Toll Road, many enjoy the challenge of hiking their way to The Chin! No matter how you reach the summit, you’ll experience unparalleled views of Lake Champlain, the White Mountains, and the Adirondacks.
For those seeking to hike to the top, there are a few different options. If you’re starting from the Smugglers’ Notch side on Route 108, the Long Trail (South) is the most popular trek. However, if you’re coming from the West, you can start your hike at Underhill State Park within Mount Mansfield State Forest. There, you can take either the Sunset Ridge Trail or the Laura Cowles Trail. For an easier option, first, take Stowe Mountain Resort’s Auto Toll Road and then hike the portion of the trail from the parking lot to the Chin.
Pro tip: Always remember to check the weather and trail conditions before beginning any of these hikes. We also suggest wearing waterproof hiking shoes with good traction.
Explore the Stowe Village Historic District.
If you visit Stowe, you should plan to spend at least half a day exploring the historic district. This area of town joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is full of unique homes, boutique shops, and restaurants. Make sure to park along Main Street (Vermont Route 100) and then take your time perusing everything downtown has to offer. If you’d like to go shopping in Stowe, here are a few of our favorite places to visit:
- Laughing Moon Chocolates has an adorable “Welcome to Stowe” mural on the side of the building. Plus, their homemade truffles and fudge are out of this world! If you’re searching for the perfect souvenir, grab a box of the signature Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese Truffles.
- Black Cap Coffee & Beer is the perfect place for coffee lovers to try a Vermont staple: the maple latte. Besides locally roasted coffee, Black Cap also serves fresh pastries made in-house and from scratch. Moreover, you’ll find a selection of craft beers you can purchase to go from famous Vermont breweries, such as The Alchemist, Zero Gravity, Switchback, and more.
- The Country Store on Main sells various home goods, including bedding, rugs, bakeware, and candles. All items are carefully curated–and many are even locally made in Vermont!
Peruse the exhibits at The Vermont Ski and Snowboarding Museum.
The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum is a great place to learn about the state’s history of winter sports. Although it’s on the smaller side, we think this museum is well worth a visit! As you make your way through the exhibits, you’ll discover vintage ski and snowboard fashion, skis from the Grant Reynolds Collection, and even a Hall of Fame.
Note that the suggested admission donation is $5 per adult. Additionally, the museum hosts several annual events. So, we suggest checking their calendar to see if your vacation coincides with anything exciting! Some examples include the Stowe Mountain Film Festival, the Hall of Fame Induction, and the Epic Summer Event.
Take a photo at this Instagram famous viewpoint.
If you’ve ever seen photos of Stowe on Instagram, you’ll most likely recognize this viewpoint! The exact location is within Salon Salon’s parking lot (232 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT 05672). However, please be aware that you’ll need to park in the lower section of the lot if you’re visiting to take pictures (down the hill). The top parking area, which is directly next to the viewpoint, is for customers only!
Thanks to this location’s popularity on social media, it’s become super trendy among tourists in Stowe. So, especially if you’re visiting on the weekend, we recommend arriving about an hour before sunset to snag a parking spot and wait your turn for photos. Watching the sunset from Salon Salon is one of the best free things to do in Stowe!
Walk the Stowe Recreation Path.
The Stowe Recreation Path is a 5.3-mile paved public path beginning in Stowe Village and stretching to Top Notch Resort, along Mountain Road (Route 108). It’s open to walkers, runners, bikers, rollerbladers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers; however, motorized vehicles are not permitted. To visit, look for the main entrance and parking in Lintilhac Park (next to Stowe Community Church). Moreover, there are additional access points at Chase Park, Thompson Park, and just past Topnotch Resort (off Brook Road).
Note that this bike path is free to use and is open during all four seasons. For example, during the winter, this attraction is popular among cross-country skiers. Meanwhile, the Recreation Path is an ideal spot for picnics in warmer months–there are plenty of picnic tables here, too!
As you make your way down the greenway, you’ll encounter stunning views of the mountains as well as the West Branch of Little River. Plus, the trail ends with a beautiful covered bridge called Brookdale Bridge. Gold Brook Covered Bridge, also called Emily’s Bridge, is a short drive from here if you’d like to see other covered bridges in the area.
Sample beer at a local brewery.
Did you know that Vermont has over 60 breweries throughout the state? With this in mind, a trip to Stowe isn’t complete without trying some local craft beer. As a matter of fact, there are three breweries in the Stowe area: The Alchemist, Idletyme Brewing Company, and von Trapp Brewing.
If you visit The Alchemist, you have to taste the Heady Topper! This double IPA combines citrus, orange juice, grapefruit, and mild notes of pine and is a favorite among beer connoisseurs. Just a short walk away, you’ll find Idletyme Brewing Company, best known for its Belgian Wheat Ale and Bavarian Weizens. Lastly, at the von Trapp Brewery, you can try Bavarian-style lager, such as the crowd-pleasing Golden Helles.
For other nearby breweries, don’t miss Lost Nation Brewing (Morrisville), Rock Art Brewery (Morrisville), Prohibition Pig (Waterbury), or Ten Bends Beer (Hyde Park). If beer isn’t your thing, you can instead visit Stowe Cider for fresh-pressed hard cider crafted in Vermont!
Hike Moss Glen Falls.
Moss Glen Falls is one of the best places to hike in the Stowe area, located a short drive from the historic village. This easy trail is both quick and scenic, and the actual falls are only a 1/4 mile from the trailhead! If you choose to hike to Moss Glen Falls and back, the trail should only take 20 minutes from the parking area.
Once there, you can either view the falls from the base or from an overlook. If you choose to explore the bottom of the falls, wear waterproof shoes with good traction and be careful around the slippery rocks. Moreover, if you make the steep hike up to the overlook, we urge you not to stand close to the edge.
For those who choose to continue down the old woods road to the rest of the trail, the entire hike will take approximately 2-3 hours. Remember that if you need to grab any outdoor gear for your adventure, check out Umiak Outdoor Outfitters in Stowe!
Visit the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury.
Waterbury is one of the top day trips from Stowe, where you can visit Ben & Jerry’s first factory. Although the indoor factory tour is currently on pause, you can still stop by the Scoop Shop for some ice cream! We recommend the mini-Vermonster and Vermonster sundaes. Note that the Scoop Shop is open six days a week and currently closes on Wednesdays.
After you sample some ice cream, take the time to peruse the Flavor Graveyard (next to the playground) for a good laugh. Here, you can discover all of the unique Ben and Jerry’s flavors that didn’t exactly stand the test of time!
Try the cider donuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a charming family-owned cider mill in Waterbury, Vermont, where you can sample apple cider and shop for locally-made souvenirs. Moreover, guests rave about the delicious homemade cider donuts, which you can purchase freshly baked at $0.75 a pop. Do yourself a favor and order half a dozen because we promise you’ll want more than just one! While you’re here, make sure to peruse the market and gift shop. You can find all sorts of Vermont goods here, including maple syrup, jams, preserves, cheeses, and more.
If you’re still hungry after donuts, drop by the mill’s Luncheonette Restaurant, serving homemade breakfast and lunch every day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Don’t forget that Cold Hollow also produces hard cider! So, if you’d like to try a flight, head to the on-site Tasting Room, open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sample a famous maple creemee at Morse Farm in Montpelier.
Sampling a maple creemee is without a doubt one of the top Vermont activities! This delicious soft-serve ice cream is beloved by both Vermonters and out-of-state visitors. While you’ll encounter numerous places to buy maple creemees on your trip, we think Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks is home to the best.
This family-owned maple syrup farm in Montpelier, VT, goes above and beyond, offering four sizes of maple, chocolate, and twist-flavored creemees. Plus, you can add fun toppings like rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, and maple dust (granulated maple sugar). Since you’re in Vermont, we highly recommend trying the maple flavor topped with maple dust!
Afterward, don’t miss the gift shop, where you can purchase all of your favorite Vermont-made products, such as pure maple syrup and Cabot cheese. Note that Morse Farm is open every day; however, the operating hours are seasonal. Click here for up-to-date info on planning your visit!
Take a day trip to the historic village of Woodstock.
While you’re in Vermont, why not check out another cute local village? Woodstock is frequently voted one of the most beautiful small towns in the United States, and it’s only a 1 hour and 20-minute drive from Stowe! Here, some of the top attractions include Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Billings Farm & Museum, Middle Covered Bridge, and historic Woodstock village.
We suggest parking near The Green (the main square) and exploring the unique shops, restaurants, and cafés in town. The Yankee Bookshop, Clover Gift Shop, Mon Vert Cafe, and The Prince and the Pauper Restaurant are all visitor favorites. Especially if you’ll be in Vermont around Christmas, you won’t want to miss spending a day in Woodstock! If you choose to spend the night in town, some of the best places to stay are the Woodstock Inn, 506 On The River Inn Woodstock, and The Shire Woodstock.
Other things to do in Stowe if you have extra time:
- Watch a Stowe Theatre Guild performance.
- Play a round of mini-golf with the family at Stowe Golf Park.
- Catch a show at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center.
- Hike Sterling Falls Gorge or the Stowe Pinnacle Trail.
- Treat yourself and your partner to a spa day at the Stoweflake (one of the most romantic things to do in Stowe!).
- Take a sleigh or carriage ride with Gentle Giants.
Where to stay in Stowe, VT
To help you decide where to stay on your vacation to Stowe, we’ll review five of our favorite properties. Remember that Stowe experiences high season in fall and winter thanks to leaf peeping and skiing. So, we recommend reserving your hotel room as far in advance as you can if you’re visiting during these busy seasons.
- Trapp Family Lodge is a little slice of Austria in Vermont, offering cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter and scenic hiking trails in the warmer seasons. You can also enjoy wine and beer made on-site at the Wine Cellar or von Trapp Brewing. Guests love this resort’s location and the views it has to offer.
- The Lodge at Spruce Peak sits at the base of Mount Mansfield and is Vermont’s only ski-in, ski-out luxury resort. Therefore, this Destination by Hyatt Residence tends to be popular in the wintertime! The rooms are modern and luxurious, and the outdoor pool offers incredible mountain views (there are hot tubs here, too!).
- Green Mountain Inn is a historic inn located in Stowe village featuring 100+ guest rooms, suites, apartments, and townhouses. This property is particularly popular with families thanks to its amenities, such as a year-round heated outdoor pool, a fitness center, a game room, and fire pits.
- Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa is a family-owned property that sits on 50+ acres in the heart of Stowe, VT. Additionally, this hotel overlooks Mount Mansfield, meaning you can expect some pretty incredible views from your suite. However, the highlight of this resort is its highly acclaimed, world-class spa.
- Topnotch Resort is newly renovated and offers a spa, fitness center, world-class tennis academy, a large indoor family pool, an equestrian center, and more.
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