Nestled at the base of the highest peak in Vermont, the village of Stowe has been consistently ranked one of the most popular destinations by travelers worldwide. National Geographic says “Stowe is the prototypical Vermont resort town...” and Family Circle listed it as one of the Top 5 Ski Destinations in the country. But families would be remiss to dismiss this village 200 miles from Boston as only a destination fit for winter.
From hiking or biking on the 5-mile Stowe Recreation Path (stowerec.org) in the fall, skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort (stowe.com) in the winter, taking a hot air balloon (stoweflake.com) in the summer, and zip-lining in the spring, locals promise year-round family fun.
“Stowe is an ideal vacation destination for families who want to spend quality time together,” says Jasmine Bigelow, marketing director at Stowe Area Association. “Many of Stowe’s famed outdoor activities can be enjoyed by everyone in the family, no matter what age or ability level. There’s bowling, mini golf, Ben & Jerry’s, outdoor concerts, and local museums are kid- (and teen-) friendly.”
Crave adventure? Try The Swimming Hole (theswimmingholestowe.com), which features a heated kids’ pool, the Fly Rod Shop (flyrodshop.com) offering half-day fishing trips just for families, and daily gondola rides to the top of Mount Mansfield (stowe.com).
Hungry? Stowe and its nearby towns are proud makers of some of New England’s best known brands: Think Cabot Creamery (cabotcheese.coop), Lake Champlain Chocolates (lakechamplainchocolates.com), and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. All offer family-friendly tours and conclude with a tasty treat.
“Stowe is one of those places you can come to with your family and spend a day, a week, or more and never run out of things to do,” says Scot Barow, sales manager at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, a 50-year-old, family-run, all-inclusive resort. “It’s truly one of those destination that has something for everyone.”
Want more? Here are some of our favorite must-sees:
The Making of Vermont Teddy Bears
6655 Shelburne Road, Shelburne (less than an hour from Stowe)
Open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $4 adults
(12 and under free)
Called the Best Bears in the Universe, more than 150,000 people opt to get a behind-the-scenes look at how these cuddly friends are born at the Vermont factory. Each bear is lovingly made by Bear Ambassadors, who spend their days cutting, stitching, stuffing, and sewing. The company handcrafts more than 150,000 bears for its Bear-Gram gift delivery service and employs 162 year-round staff. After the tour, visitors can make their own Friend for Life Teddy Bear.
Chill and Chow at Ben & Jerry’s Factory
1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury
Open 7 days a week,
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: $4 adults
(12 and under free)
The 30-minute guided ice cream factory tour tells the tale of how two childhood friends turned a $5 correspondence course into a global ice cream phenomenon. Visitors will see how the euphoric ice cream is made, what drives the company’s environmental mission, and how flavors are created. Before leaving, satisfy any cravings with a sweet treat at the Scoop Shop, where guests can sample the flavor of the day and visit the Flavor Graveyard to pay respects to some dearly de-pinted, retired flavors.
Bite into the Famous Cider Donut
3600 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury Center
Open daily, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The iconic storefront is a gateway for the senses. Called one of the country’s four best donuts by Gourmet magazine, its legendary cider donuts are baked fresh all day long. Visitors can also check out how its cider is made via the rack and cloth method using a 1920 vintage press. Plenty of Vermont food specialties line the shelves — maple syrup jellies, cheddar cheese, and baked creations such as pumpkin rolls, apple turnovers, homemade fudge, and the great old standby, apple pie, are ready to take home.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
Set the GPS to Stowe for the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival (July 8-10), when more than 25 balloons will fill the sky. The 30th annual celebration features a children’s corner, live entertainment, delicious food, and a beer and wine garden. Hot-air balloon rides are priced at $275 per person, plus tax, and advanced reservations are recommended. Tethered rides on the hot-air balloons may be available for $10 per person. Reservations are not required.
Spa at Stoweflake
Parents, if you can steal away for a few hours, make this spa your destination. And if you are guests at this resort, you can take advantage of their Kids Camp option to make it happen. A day at the spa includes access to a fully equipped Cybex fitness center, where those who want to work out can indulge in yoga, Pilates, or other heart-pounding classes. After partaking in one of the 120 signature treatments — like the Vermont Maple Sugar Body Scrub — relax in the 12-foot-high massaging waterfall in the Aqua Solarium or take a stroll in the outdoor meditation garden. TripAdvisor awarded Stoweflake a Certificate of Excellence in 2012, and it was voted among the “Top 100 U.S. Resort Spas” by Conde Naste Traveler readers.
ArborTrek Canopy Adventures
1239 Edwards Road,
Soar through the forests and explore the wilds of the Green Mountains by riding up to 4,500 feet of zip lines, cross sky bridges, and rappel from trees. Or slide, balance, jump, climb, and zip through trees at the Treetop Obstacle Course. All this and more are offered for the truly adventurous.