by Stephen Jermanok
Many ski resorts in the East have little more than a mountain, certainly not a charming town with a lengthy history. Stowe, however, began as a resort after the Civil War, when travelers would take the train to Waterbury, ride the trolley to Stowe, and then hire a horse-drawn carriage to bring them to the Mount Mansfield House. Atop the barren summit of Vermont’s highest peak, urbanites could enjoy the views and fill their lungs with the crisp mountain air. To this day, the charm of visiting Stowe is that you can leave the mountain behind and stroll down Main Street (Route 100), past the requisite white steeple around into a village that dates back 240 years.
Perhaps no other ski area has changed more than Stowe in the past five years. After improving the trails and lifts on adjacent Spruce Peak in 2005 and 2006, Stowe Mountain Resort built houses and townhomes near the base. A golf course made its debut in 2007. That same year, a new chairlift called Over Easy connected the base lodge of Spruce Peak with the gondola at Stowe, eliminating the need for buses to run skiers back and forth between the two mountains.
Most impressive of all is the 139-room Stowe Mountain Lodge. This upscale resort has the feel of a Western ski lodge, especially when you enter the lobby with its two-story-high ceiling, native wood and stone embellishments, and leather couches. Stowe went overboard to use as much indigenous materials as possible, so there’s real Vermont birch twisting around the columns and the marble on stairs leading to the bar comes from Lake Champlain. Come here for a weekend with the kids and you’ll quickly realize it’s the most luxurious ski-in, ski-out resort in the East, one that you’ll want to return to during the summer and fall.
Our Editor Loves
- Spacious rooms with fireplace and full kitchen
- Ski in/ski out location
- Outdoor pool and ski school
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Theme Meals
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
This 139-room resort was created with the family in mind. A family of four can stay in a spacious Ridgeline Junior Suite, with king-sized bed in one bedroom and pull-out queen-sized sleeper sofa in a separate living room. The room has views of Mount Mansfield from the terrace, two flat-screen televisions, a working fireplace, dining area, large bathroom with a deep tub and shower and ample closet space for all that ski gear. The highlight, however, is the full kitchen, with stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher and dish ware. If your children are older and want their own beds in each room, you'll want to upgrade to a two-bedroom suite.
Grab your heated snow boots, skies, and boards from the storage room on the first floor of the resort, then head out the back door and turn left to reach the base lodge, Spruce Camp. The spacious interior rises three stories to a post-and-beam octagonal roof. Ski school meets in a small building less than 30 yards away and ski lessons for adults are just outside the doors.
The best beginner slopes are located on Spruce Peak, though there are intermediate cruisers like Sterling, a gem of a run after a fresh coating. For solid intermediate and advanced terrain, take the Over Easy gondola to the base of Mount Mansfield (the resort's main mountain), transferring to the Lookout Double. Blue runs like Sunrise, Standard and Tyro are found on the western end of Stowe. Far more challenging terrain is waiting at the legendary Front Four: Goat, Lift Line, National, and Starr. These double diamonds plummet down Mount Mansfield, teaching cocky young skiers the meaning of the word respect.
Cubs Day Care
Children aged 13 months to 3 years can be dropped off at Cubs Day Care, at Spruce Peak. The licensed day care center will keep the children entertained with arts and crafts, story time and dress up, among other toddler-friendly activities. Three-year-olds can also sign up for a 2-hour semi-private lesson, then spend the rest of the day at Cubs. Four- to 14-year-old children can opt for the two-hour semi-private lesson or spend the whole day on the slopes with top-notch ski instructors.
Afterward a day on the slopes, kids head to the outdoor fire pit set between Stowe Mountain Lodge and the ski school to make s'mores. Parents can grab a drink and listen to live music at Spruce Camp. Everyone will want to hit the outdoor tub at Stowe Mountain Lodge. Relax in the hot waters as you look up at Mount Mansfield, realizing with throbbing muscles that you earned this soaking.
We love to head to Stowe year-round. In summer, climb to the top of Mount Mansfield. It's a steady ascent that rewards you with views of Lake Champlain in its entirety, and the highest peak in New York, Mount Marcy. There are many ways up Mount Mansfield, but families should opt for the more gradual Long Trail south from Route 108. A little steeper is the Laura Cowles and Sunset Ridge Trails from the backside at Underhill State Park. If you're feeling lazy, drive the toll road or hop in a gondola, which leaves you on the Long Trail, a short distance from the summit.
An easier hike and a perfect place to have lunch if you remember to bring sandwiches is Sterling Pond. The 1.3-mile hike on the Long Trail starts from Smuggler's Notch, one of the most majestic sights in all of New England. From the mountainous cliffs above, sheer walls of quartzite and mica drop down to the large boulders resting on the floor below. Follow the white blazes to reach the Sterling Pond shelter, a small lean-to at the edge of the pond maintained by the Green Mountain Club.
Stowe Recreation Path
Popular with walkers year-round and bikers in the warm weather months is the Stowe Recreation Path. A little more than five miles, the paved trail starts behind the Stowe Community Church on Main Street and weaves back and forth over the Little River to the foothills of Mount Mansfield. Gradually, the trail becomes more rural, venturing over rolling pasture where cows graze. Never far from the restaurants on Mountain Road, you can have lunch and then make your way back to town.
Hourglass Lounge and Solstice Restaurant
Walk upstairs from the large lobby to find the Hourglass Lounge and Solstice Restaurant. Hourglass is a cozy place to grab one of Vermont's microbrewed ales and a sampling of the state's artisanal cheeses. Then move on to the restaurant for an apple and cranberry salad, mussels and entrees of Maine lobster risotto or rack of lamb. There's also a kid's menu with requisite mac and cheese and burgers.
The Pantry and The Beanery
Located at Spruce Creek Village, the Pantry is a deli-type shop where families can purchase made-to-order sandwiches, salads and wraps. Located adjacent to the Pantry is the Beanery, which offers coffee, hot chocolate and breakfast to-go.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Stowe Mountain Lodge is not only a ski in/ski out resort, but a wonderful golf in/golf out resort the rest of the year. The view from the green at hole number 5 is one of the most glorious vistas in all of New England. Smack dab in a valley, you gaze at Mount Mansfield and its craggy peak. Surrounding the mountain is an uninterrupted carpet of maples and pines billowing from ridge to ridge as far as the eye can see. The ego-boosting design has five sets of tees to ensure that birdies, not bogies, are a reality. Celebrate your low score with a drink at the golf cottage, created from the yellow birch trees found on the course.
Lift ticket prices at Stowe vary considerably, depending on age, what time of year you ski and how many days.
The Art of Smart Timing
Stowe can get crowded over New Year's week, the MLK holiday, and spring break. Go any other time in winter and the hotel rates and lift tickets will be cheaper. The lift lines will also be reduced. Fall foliage season, when the maples on the trees turn crimson, red, and yellow, is a special time of year to be here playing a round of golf. Rates are also reduced in summer, when the resort offers guided hikes and other outdoor excursions.
Stowe Mountain Lodge is a 30-40 minute drive from Burlington International Airport, a 3-hour-and-15-minute drive from Boston and a 4.5- to 5-hour drive from New York. Connect with I-89 North to Exit 10, the Stowe/Waterbury exit. Make a right at the end of the exit ramp and follow Route 100 North for 11 miles until you reach the flashing stop light. Make a left at the stop sign onto Route 108 North. Continue up Mountain Road and you will see the Stowe Mountain Lodge on your right.
A vehicle would be needed when staying at this resort.
For Mom and Dad
Leave the kids in the room or with a babysitter so you can indulge a wee bit in the massive spa. The first offshoot of the highly regarded Cooper Wellness spa in Dallas, the new space features every treatment imaginable, including music, water, and aromatherapy, nutritional and fitness counseling and seminars on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But our favorite is the Couples Massage, 80 minutes of pure bliss with your significant other.
If you can snag a babysitter at the hotel, dine at Blue Moon Cafe, one of the finest restaurants in the state. Entrees change nightly but expect freshly made soups, mahi mahi with a black bean mango sauce, strip steak, and an extensive wine list. For dessert, head to Laughing Moon Chocolates. The turtle chocolates, made with homemade caramel, are heavenly.