While most people take a winter trip to ski and snowboard that may not always be in the cards for everyone. Whether you’re injured or just not a big skier – you can take comfort in the fact that ski towns like Stowe, Vermont offer plenty more than just ski slopes.
You don’t have to be a skier to have a fantastic time in Stowe, Vermont, even though it is one of the top places in the world to ski. This year, because of a ski injury, I stayed off the slopes and hung out with my son as my husband hit the trails and our daughter went to ski school. And we all had an amazing winter break.
What to Do (when you’re not skiing) in Stowe, Vermont
Walk around town.
Grab a cup of something warm (or a crepe) at Black Cup Coffee (144 Main Street), browse Shaw’s General Store (54 Main Street) or Lackey’s Variety Store (also on Main Street), and walk through the covered bridge. The kids will want to do it again—and again and again and….
Take a ride outside
Gentle Giants Sleigh & Carriage Rides has old-fashioned, horse-drawn rides—and toasty robes to sit beneath during the twenty-minute trek. 4000 Mountain Road; open daily from 11 a.m., weather-permitting; (802) 253-2216
Check out a cider mill
At Cold Hollow Cider Mill, you can watch McIntosh apples being pressed into cider—a rack-and-cloth method that dates back to the early settlers. Each batch is made with 2500 pounds of apples, and yields 250 gallons of cider. Quench your thirst with unlimited samples. The store has plenty of apple-y treats, including cider jelly and cider donuts you’d be hard-pressed (ha ha ha) to resist. 3600 Waterbury-Stowe Rd. (Route 100), Waterbury Center; open daily 8 am to 6 pm.; (802) 244-8771
Do the dairy thing
Ben & Jerry’s offers a factory tour that kicks off with a company history “moo-vie” and includes a sample tasting of the day. Tours are 30 minutes; $3 adults, $2 seniors, kids 12 and under free. 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury; open 7 days a week except major holidays; (802) 882-1240 x2300. At Cabot’s Visitors Center, you can take a guided tour and watch cheese being made. Tours are $2, children under 12 free. 2878 Main Street, Cabot; call ahead to confirm cheesemaking days; (800) 837-4261
Watch a chocolate-dipping demo:
Temptation abounds at Laughing Moon Chocolates, where you’ll feel like a kid in a candy shop. Salted caramels, truffles, buttercreams, fudge, s’mores, chocolate caramel apples, exotic flavors such as Alchemist Vanilla Beer Truffle—resistance is futile. There’s a daily chocolate dipping demonstration the entire family will enjoy, and the staffers are super-friendly. 78 South Main Street; open daily from 9:00 to 6:00, demos daily at 2:00; (802) 253-9591
Paint some pottery:
Take a fun, relaxing break at U-Paint-It Pottery, a sun-drenched spot that inspires creativity and the epiphany that you have absolutely zero room left in your cabinets for mugs. No matter—you and the kids can decorate piggy banks, frames, vases, pet bowls and other masterpieces. 100 Mountain Road; call to confirm hours; (802) 253-7753
Where to Eat in Stowe, Vermont
“It’s worth the trip to Vermont,” is how my husband described this place. Think gigantic pancakes that come in 80-plus sweet and savory varieties. Two challenges: Deciding on what you want, and finishing it. I had the shredded potato, onion and cheese; our kids loved the chocolate chip pancakes, and thought the powdered sugar resembled snow. At the Grey Fox Inn, 990 Mountain Road; open in winter from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. daily; (802) 253-8921
Pie In The Sky
A homey spot that specializes in wood-fired-oven pizza, with 43 toppings to choose from and lots of specialty pies. The crust is spectacular, unlike any you’ve tasted before. We had half pepperoni and half Tuscano (chicken, roasted zucchini, summer squash, broccoli and red onions brushed with roasted garlic herb oil and topped with mozzarella and smoked gouda), and a month later we’re still craving it. The pasta and appetizers are also exceedingly tasty. And the owners are exceedingly welcoming, so you and the kids will feel right at home. 492 Mountain Road; open daily 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m; (802) 253-5100
Blue Moon Café
Made with local fare, the menu at this small, charming restaurant changes monthly and offers inventive New American cuisine. Because the menu is ever-morphing, ask the waiter for the inside scoop on the night’s fare. 35 School Street; serving dinner 6:00-9:00, closed Monday and Tuesday; (802) 253-7006
My husband and I got a babysitter and had one of our most memorable meals ever here. Housed in a converted 1820s farmhouse about 10 minutes away from Stowe’s center, it’s romantic yet down to earth. The service is wonderful and dinner (a showcase of locally-grown food) gasp-eliciting. Food is cooked and seasoned to perfection, so the freshness bursts through. We feasted on watercress salad with cloth-bound cheddar, spiced walnuts and quince vinaigrette; pasture-raised tenderloin beef with truffle butter; roasted duck breast and leg confit with burgundy blue cheese risotto and black currant jus; passion fruit tart with ginger crust and Tahitian vanilla meringue and El Ray chocolate gateau with molten peanut butter and concord grape sauce. And we were very sad when the meal was done. Do not miss Michael’s. 4182 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Route 100 North, Waterbury Center, VT. Open 5:30-9:00 daily, closed Tuesdays. (802) 244-7476
Where to Stay in Stowe Vermont
An intimate luxury resort with topnotch service, topnotch food, a topnotch pool and topnotch spa treatments (assuming your spouse lets you take a massage or facial break). The rooms are country-chic, with very comfy beds. During the holidays, special programs for kids include story time by the lobby fireplace and free babysitting in afternoons and early evenings in the game room. The food at The Butter Tub and Norma’s is hearty and delicious, with plenty of child-friendly fare. Free shuttle bus service to Stowe Mountain. Here, as with other area hotels, ask for a room not located next to one with dogs if barking bothers you. Rates start at $250; 4000 Mountain Road, 800-451-8686
Skiers from near and far flock to this mountain, and with good reason: there are 116 trails—40 miles’ worth. The rooms at the lodge are modern rustic, with floor-to-ceiling windows, electric fireplaces in all but standard rooms, and super-size bathrooms with whirlpool tubs. There are plenty of activities—snow-shoeing, dog-sledding, spa-ing, taking a dip in the tremendous outdoor pool, watching people take a dip in the outdoor pool. There are full-day ski/snowboard programs for kids ages 3 to 14, and Cubs Daycare for tots 13 months to 3 years. Rates start at $199; 7412 Mountain Road, 888-478-6938
An Austrian-style mountain resort with a 98-room lodge, surrounded by 2400 acres. The rooms are spacious, some slightly dated yet clean and comfortable; there are spectacular views of mountains. The hills are alive! Yes, this is the resort of Sound of Music fame; after fleeing the Nazi regime in Europe in the 1940s, the family settled here. There’s plenty of memorabilia everywhere. Rates start at $198; 700 Trapp Hill Road, 1-800-826-7000
I received media discounts and gratis services during my trip, but the opinions reflected here are solely my own.