Dec 30, 2020 Travel Guide: Winter In Stowe, Vermont
1) Stowe Weather Forecast - Upon arriving to Stowe Mountain Resort, or any other ski resort for that matter, it is important to check that mountain's weather report as well as it's open lifts and trail maps. The conditions on mountains change day to day and hour to hour so it is always best to familiarize yourself with the conditions of the mountain for that day. You can check out Stowe's conditions and forecast here. Like most mountains, Stowe does make it's own snow if snow fall is not enough.
2) Rental Car vs Uber - If you are planning on staying at or around Stowe Mountain resort, everything is centrally located. A simple Uber ride can easily get you around the town. If you plan to take trips to local breweries, cider mills, or other attractions in Vermont, you may want to consider getting a rental car.
3) Epic Pass - Vail Resorts offers a pass called the Epic Pass that will grant you entry into any of their mountains. The Epic Pass is available as season passes world wide or regionally as well as for daily access. If you live close by a mountain or plan to visit multiple mountains throughout the year, the season pass might be worth the investment. You can find out more information on the Epic Pass here.
What to Pack:
First and foremost, make sure to pack layers. New England's winter can be cold. During the time we visited, it was between the 5 degrees and 35 degrees with snow showers. I would suggest packing wool sweaters, fleece leggings/long johns, and well insulated boots. Don’t forget to pack your ski gear if you have it, but if you don't, you can rent them at the resort or around the town.
Things to do in Stowe:
Stowe Mountain Resort Skiing: At the heart of Stowe is Mt. Mansfeild, the highest peak in Vermont. Stowe is a beautiful ski resort with tons of activities for the whole family. I had to sit this one out since I haven’t quite got the hang of skiing. Activities to participate in if you are not a skier include cross country skiing, ice skating, the spa, or even sitting by the fire at one of the mountain diners. Sam can both ski and snowboard, but for this particular trip, he decided to ski. His take on the mountain is based on the trails and limited lifts and trails open due to the limited snowfall and warmer than usual weather. It was a challenging ski resort with or without the icy conditions. The blues and black were steep and the greens were not as easy as many other mountain's greens. Stowe did have a terrain park, but it was very small, which might have been due to the limited snow fall. Like most New England mountains, the mountain was very small and most of the mountain could be skiied in a half of a day. The views from the top of the mountain were better than any other mountain that Sam has skiied in New England. We hope to make a trip back to Stowe once peak season hits to ski the mountain with fresh, non-icy powered on the ground.
Snowshoeing: During this trip, we also went snowshoeing. However, Stowe has many recreational areas for snowshoeing that I will go into more details on in that post and you can read the article here.
Gentle Giants Sleigh Ride: I have always wanted to ride a horse drawn sleigh with snow on the ground, so this was a Christmas dream come true. We met Duke, our Belgian horse, who gave a tour through Vermont’s winter landscape including Mt. Mansfeild in the background. Our driver during the sleigh ride was so sweet and knowledgeable of Vermont. This sleigh ride is around 30 minutes in length and is $40 a person. You must bring cash or check, because this place does not accept cards. They do not have a website, however you can get in contact with them through their telephone number (802-253-2216), must call to make reservations.
Butler's Pantry: During our trip to Stowe, we started our day at the Butler’s Pantry for breakfast in downtown Stowe. Butler Pantry is an inn that is also a highly rated breakfast spot. This was an incredible experience. Due to COVID-19, Butler's Pantry took precautions and opened up some guest rooms as private dining in rooms for guests. We were able to sit in a guest room by the fireplace with sprawling views of the village. It was so romantic and totally unexpected. Butler's Pantry does not take reservations; it is a first come basis. The breakfast was amazing. We got chocolate chip pancakes with Vermont maple syrup all made from scratch.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill: Cold Hollow Cider Mill makes one of my top three favorite apple ciders of all time. Decades of traditions are kept alive through this cider mill. Cold Hollow is known for it's old fashioned process with a traditional rack and cloth press built in the 1920’s. There is a tasting station where you can try the cider, and at check out, you can grab cold or warm cider even take home a quart or gallon sizes available. The cider mill also includes the donut robot and bakery. The donut robot is located near the checkout counter and makes fresh donuts year round. Impressively, they make 800 dozen a day in the fall when in high demand. The donuts are heavenly and a must try. When we visited the bakery, we did not see much activity in the bakery, however there is a glass window where you can observe the chefs in action making their popular fudge, apple turnovers, and apple pies. The mill also includes a large store that sells everything Vermont has to offer. This is the place to stock up on Vermont souvenirs as they offer everything from clothing to bath and body products all made in Vermont. They even offer locally made seasonings/spices. Located right next door is the hard cider mill. We had amazing service there and staff was excellent. I ended up getting a flight of cider, and I let the staff chose which ciders I would try. The ciders that the staff chose for me were Soul Shifter (tart and sweet balanced dry), Good Altitude (sweet but crisp highest ABV), Clair Bouyant (a splash of pineapple with a hint of basil and pepper), and Grateful Sled (a seasonal crisp mulled cider). My favorite was Good Altitude, however the most interesting was Clair Bouyant. You have to take 2 to 3 sips before the pineapple becomes apparent with the subtle taste of the pepper was refreshing.
von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall: Visiting the von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall is a perfect way to end a day in Stowe. By the family that inspired the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp family extended the Trapp Family Lodge, which include a recreation area, to establish a bierhall that opened in 2010. The bierhall was inspired by the Augustiner-Brautheir Bierhall in Salzburg and gives a Europeon ambiance that gives guests Vermont made beer with an Austrian influence. The Von Trapp family flew, the family brewer to Bavaria to research recipes for beer and some of those recipes date back to the 1500’s. Sam got a beer flight while we were there. He went with Golden Helle, Oktoberfest, Trosten, and Kolsch Lager. It is a unique place because this New England brewery does not have a main focus on IPAs. The staff dress in lederhosen attire which make this place even more unique. For those who do not drink beer, this place also serves wine. I got their Gruner Veltliner, a white wine from Austria. Their best kept secret is the homemade pretzels and beer cheese dip. I have ordered this every time I have visited, and it never disappoints. Before leaving, you can check out their gift shop and bring a beer or two home.
Downtown Stowe: Stowe’s downtown has a small strip of stores for shopping, local eateries, and a visitor's center. During December, the town is decorated for Christmas to spread the Christmas cheer. Don’t miss out on seeing the Stowe Community Church, one of the most picturesque churches in New England.
Places to Stay:
Edson Hill-A country inn with charm. Panoramic views of the untouched Worcester Range and the Green Mountains.
The Lodge at Spruce Peak-Located at base of Mount Mansfield Vernont’s tallest peak. Ski in/ski out lodge. Seasonal activities year round for the family.
Stowehof- Find yourself on 26 acres of mountain vista. Classic and rustic stay at this alpine hotel. This place is dog friendly!
Von Trapp Family Lodge- Luxury resort with austrian artitecture with european flare. Stunning mountain views and activities for the whole family.
Town & Country-All buildings were recently renovated. A wood fire pizza restaurant and airstream bar added.
Stowe Motel & Snowdrift-Basic no frills budget friendly motel for those ready for adventure and not spending much time inside. Great reviews.