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The 15 Best Things to Do in Stowe, Vermont

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 approximately a 50-minute drive from the Burlington International Airport.

Stowe is most popular to visit during the fall thanks to its beautiful fall foliage and the winter as the birthplace of alpine skiing. 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 15 fun 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.

The Best Things to Do in Stowe (& nearby!)

The view from the top of Stowe Mountain Resort's Gondola Skyride, showing red gondolas coming up and down the mountain, which is surrounded with fall foliage.

The view from the top of the Gondola Skyride at Stowe Mountain Resort (owned by Vail Resorts).

Go on the Gondola Skyride at Stowe Mountain Resort.

See the view from Mount Mansfield without the hassle 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 mid-June to mid-October and is one of the most popular attractions in town. Therefore, we suggest reserving your tickets online here. During the winter, it functions as the ski lift at the resort!

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. Just remember that Gondola SkyRide tickets are not included with your restaurant reservation.

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.

View of the front façade of the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont during the summerThe 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.

Drive through Smugglers Notch.

The road in Smugglers' Notch Pass in the fall, surrounded by changing leaves.

Changing leaves surround the winding Smugglers’ Notch Pass during the fall.

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.

White car driving through Smugglers Notch State Park in Stowe, Vermont, during the fallPlus, 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, the most popular hiking trails in the park are Sterling Pond Trail (moderate) and Bingham Falls Trail (easy). 

Remember when planning your trip that Smugglers Notch State Park 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 on the official website.

Hike the highest mountain in Vermont.

View looking out from the hike up to the summit of Mount Mansfield in the summer, showing view of trees and green rolling hills on sunny dayPeaking at 4,393 feet, Mount Mansfield is Vermont’s highest mountain and one of the top attractions in Stowe. People say 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 quicker alternatives to reach the top, like the Gondola Skyride or driving the Auto Toll Road, many enjoy the challenge of hiking their way to The Chin! 

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 to make your way to the summit. For those traveling in a group, you may opt for one of Sunrise Mountain Guides’ hiking tours in the summer or fall. 

Pro tip: Always check the weather and trail conditions before beginning any of these hikes. We also suggest wearing waterproof hiking shoes with good traction.

Drive the Stowe Mountain Auto Toll Road.

Stowe Mountain Resort’s Auto Toll Road stretches 4.5 miles from the base of Mount Mansfield to the summit ridge. Driving to the top takes about 20-30 minutes, where you’ll find beautiful views of the Vermont landscape at 3,850 feet.

For example, you should be able to spot Lake Champlain, the Adirondack Mountains, and the White Mountains on a clear day. The winding road is typically open from late May to mid-October, weather permitting and provides visitors with another option to reach Mount Mansfield’s summit without hiking all the way up.

For those who’d like to continue on to the Chin from the end of the toll road, there is a well-marked trailhead (near the Nose). It takes most hikers about an hour each way to reach the top and then make their way back.

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. Don’t miss walking through the Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge! If you’d like to go shopping in Stowe, here are a few of our favorite places to visit:

  • Lake Champlain Chocolates (previously 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! Grab a box of the signature Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese Truffles if you’re searching for the perfect souvenir.
  • 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!
  • Stowe Mercantile, a cherished establishment in Historic Stowe Village, has been proudly family-owned and operated for three decades. They specialize in Vermont-made foods, homemade fudge, candies, as well as Stowe-themed souvenirs and clothing.

Peruse the exhibits at The Vermont Ski and Snowboarding Museum.

The entrance to the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum, located in historic Stowe village.

The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum is located in downtown Stowe.

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!

You’ll discover vintage ski and snowboard fashion, skis from the Grant Reynolds Collection, and even a Hall of Fame as you go through the exhibits. Note that the suggested admission donation is $5 per adult.

Additionally, the museum hosts several annual events. So, we recommend checking their calendar to see if your vacation coincides with anything exciting! Some examples include the Red Bench Speaker Series and the Autumn Online Auction

Take a photo at this Instagram-famous viewpoint.

View of Stowe Community Church from Salon Salon at sunset in the fall.

One of the best Instagram spots in Stowe is the view of Stowe Community Church from Salon Salon.

If you’ve ever seen photos of Stowe on social media, you’ll most likely recognize this viewpoint! In fact, it’s probably one of the most famous views in town, making it a must-visit spot for anyone seeking Instagram-worthy scenery.

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 online, 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.

Brookdale Bridge, a red covered bridge along the Stowe Recreation Path, surrounded by fall foliage.

Brookdale Bridge is located along 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). During the winter, this attraction is popular among cross-country skiers.

Meanwhile, the Recreation Path is ideal 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 and the West Branch of Little River. 

Plus, the trail ends with a beautiful covered bridge called Brookdale Bridge. Gold Brook Covered Bridge, also named 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.

The front façade of The Alchemist brewery in Stowe, Vermont, showing the main building and a tower with colorful graffiti behind it.

The Alchemist is one of the top breweries in Stowe, Vermont.

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 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 pine notes and is a favorite among beer connoisseurs. While in the area, don’t miss the chance to try the pizza at Piecasso.

Next door to this pizzeria, you’ll find Idletyme Brewing Company, best known for its Belgian Wheat Ale and Bavarian Weizens. Lastly, you can try Bavarian-style lager at the von Trapp Brewery, 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 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 quick and scenic, and the actual falls are only a 1/4 mile from the trailhead!

If you 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 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.

The Ben and Jerry's Flavor Graveyard at the original factory in Waterbury, Vermont.

Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, where discontinued flavors “rest in peace.”

Waterbury is one of the top day trips from Stowe, where you can visit Ben & Jerry’s first factory. Take the guided tour to learn about the company’s history and watch the ice cream production process.

Then, don’t miss the chance to sample your favorite flavor at the Scoop Shop! We recommend the mini-Vermonster sundae to share in a group, containing four scoops of ice cream, brownies, cookies, and more. The Factory and Scoop Shop are open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

After your ice cream snack, 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 flavors that didn’t 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 apple 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 here, make sure to peruse the market and gift shop. You can find various 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, which serves homemade breakfast and lunch daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also, 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 6 p.m.

Sample a famous maple creemee at Morse Farm in Montpelier.

Maple creemee with maple dust in a cone in front of Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks sign.

A maple creemee from Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks topped with maple dust.

Vermont vacations aren’t quite complete without sampling a maple creemee! Both Vermonters and out-of-state visitors love this delicious soft-serve ice cream. 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 your favorite Vermont-made products, such as pure maple syrup and Cabot cheese.

Note that Morse Farm is open daily; 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 on your Vermont trip, 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 one-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 also love picking up local maple syrup and cheese from Sugarbush Farm.

When visiting Woodstock village, park 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 plan to visit 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.

Read More: The 15 Best Things to Do in Woodstock, Vermont

Other things to do in Stowe if you have extra time:

Where to stay in Stowe, VT

The front façade of the Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, Vermont, which is a red building decorated with fall decor.

Green Mountain Inn in downtown Stowe, VT, decorates the entrance for the fall.

We’ll review five of our favorite properties to help you decide where to stay on your vacation to Stowe. 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. 
  • 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 winter! 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 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. 
  • 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.
  • Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa is a family-owned property on 50+ acres in the heart of Stowe, VT. Additionally, this hotel overlooks Mount Mansfield, meaning you can expect incredible views from your suite. 

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This post was first published in November 2021 and has since been updated.

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Louis Detweiler

Thursday 15th of September 2022

I was impressed. I needed info. on the exact locations of the covered bridges. Thank you

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