I think that Stowe, Vermont, and the surrounding area, is a traveler’s dreamland. While the area is best-known for skiing and snowboarding, there’s so much to do on a trip, regardless of which types of activities you like.
I’m actually not a snowboarder nor skier, so I thought, what could there be for me in Stowe, especially in spring, summer or fall? That’s the best secret, though: in Stowe, there’s a list this long (keep reading) of fun things to do, cool place see, excellent restaurants for eating at and nice cider mills, breweries and dessert shoppes for enjoying.
Of all the things to do in Stowe, how will you choose what to see? Check out what to see in this list, including some local insights from my good friend Jordan (the coffee-lover behind Cold Brew Vermont on Instagram!).
Where to stay in Stowe
When to travel to Stowe
Dan and I went to Stowe in early fall (first week of September), on the cusp of the end of summer, and it was absolutely perfect. The days were not too long and not too short, the daytime temperatures were a pleasure and the nights weren’t too cold (but they were chilly).
The coldest months in Stowe are January, which will have the lowest nighttime lows below freezing (single-digits F), and February, which will have the lowest daytime highs (in the 20s F).
The warmest months are July and August, with highs in the 60s (the sun may make it feel 70s!) and nights in the 50s. Stowe is a nice destination for escaping summer heat if you live in the NYC area like I do. The best time of year to travel to Stowe is May through October (high season).
Where to stay in Stowe
Some hotels in Stowe are located right downtown, while some are a few minutes outside the town center, close to nature and outdoor activities. You can’t go wrong with these inns and resorts when you researach where to stay in Stowe.
This New England-style charming inn is located right in historic Stowe, with the town at your fingertips. You can’t really find a better location for your accommodation in Stowe! Each room has traditional country character.
The Trapp Family Lodge is a destination of its own, what with the beer hall right on the premises. Staying here might trick you into thinking you’re in Switzerland, given the green mountains (during summer) and snowy surroundings in winter. The rooms are very homey and some even have rustic elements like pretty wooden beams.
I found out about this resort from my friend Jordan, who recommended the spa. The Topnotch resort is the stylish option for your hotel in Stowe, and it’s great for couples. There’s 24-hour room service, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, suites and “houses” that fit up to 7 guests.
This modestly-priced inn is a home away from home, with comfortable rooms and welcoming details. The owners are personable and each day will delight visitors with a different breakfast.
Set right outside town, this colonial-style inn with a wrap-around outdoor porch has an updated and chic interior. The porch is a wonderful place to sit back and enjoy coffee in the morning! With fabulous reviews, the rooms are spacious and the beds are comfortable. This hotel is a good spot for couples!
Things to do in Stowe year-round
Whether you’re headed up to Stowe for a ski trip or a summer weekend getaway, there is a great variety of activities in the area. We took our babymoon trip to Stowe, so we were looking for easy, relaxing and chilled-out stuff to do. Maybe you’re traveling as a family, or on a romantic couples vacation! There is something fun for everyone, even rain or shine (or snow).
Bike, walk or run on the Stowe Rec Path
The Stowe Rec Path was probably our #1 favorite thing we did in Stowe. It’s a 5.3-mile paved path that goes either way out of the town, and crosses farms, rivers and pretty areas like the corn maze and tiny petting farm I saw!
Dan wanted to get his running miles in, and I wanted to do an easy walk and get my steps. We met up at a pretty spot after Dan was done running. Along the way, I saw folks walking dogs, walking babies, playing with kids and for sure, biking.
Jordan says, You can walk any part of the Stowe Rec Path, or you can rent any type of bike to accommodate kids! You can read more and see the map at the Stowerec.org site.
Walk around shops on Main Street
There’s quite a bit of shopping in Stowe, from bookstores and toy stores to home decor, souvenirs and wine shops. You’ll find all of Stowe’s shopping on Main street, as well as turning up on Route 108. A full list of all the retail to look forward to is the Go Stowe website. Jordan says to make sure to “mosey around.”
Take a Stowe brewery tour
If you came up to Vermont to see breweries, you’re in luck: a guided tour with a local brewery expert will take you to five iconic hot spots. This is a great way to see VT’s brewery culture and not miss any of the info! It’s also a good idea for something to do on a rainy day.
Trapp Hiking Trails
If you end up at the Trapp Family Lodge for a meal, Jordan recommends going for a hike on the 35 miles of hiking trails that are for hikers at all levels. There are child-friendly paths like the easy Wildflower Walk, as well as off-trail hikes that are more moderate. See more at the Trapp Family website.
Play mini golf at Stowe Golf Park
For a mini golf adventure (a true vacation specialty), check out Stowe Golf Park. Note that it’s seasonal, and closes for winter (November to April).
Go bowling at Stowe Bowl
If your trip gets rained out (like the first day of our time in Stowe), you may need an indoor activity! Try bowling at the Stowe Bowl bowling alley, which also has a lounge and eatery.
Buy fresh goods at the Stowe Farmers Market
The Stowe Farmers Market (which runs seasonally from mid-May til the third week of October) is the town’s favorite place to get farm-fresh baked goods, berries, maple syrups, meats, cheeses, milk and more. There are also prepared food vendors, craft vendors and artisans selling everything you can think of. Visitors will also love bringing home a specialty item from Stowe!
It opens on Sundays from 10:30am to 3pm. I recommend visiting the website before you go!
See the Gondola Skyride views at Mt. Mansfield
If you’re staying in Stowe, you’re staying near the tallest point in the state! Heading up the peak of Mt. Mansfield (known for skiing) is a little pricey, but you can either drive the toll road to the top of Mt. Mansfield OR get tickets on the Gondola SkyRide to explore the top.
The SkyRide is open from mid-June to mid-October, so keep that in mind in regard to your trip dates!
Do a spa day at Top Notch Spa
Top Notch Spa is super popular, according to Jordan, and on the “ritzier end.” The spa includes an indoor pool, hot tub, full service salon, massages and facials. It is an excellent place to relax or go horseback riding as well.
Go for sunset at Stowe Sunset Rock
Going for a sunset at Sunset Rock was an activity that I carefully planned, and then we had pouring rain our first night in Stowe so we headed straight out to some downtown dining.
If it had been gorgeous weather like I had pictured, we would’ve gone up for an awesome sunset experience! It’s especially picturesque in autumn! The hike is 1 mile and takes an hour or less. See the details here.
Get lost in the Percy Farm Corn Maze
I passed by the Percy Farm Corn Maze during my morning walk on the Stowe Rec Path! It looks just like a corn maze out of a movie. What a cool activity that can really challenge the whole family! The full details are available at the Facebook page.
Go for a perfect picnic
Jordan says, “Stowe is a perfect place to buy some food and then plop down somewhere picturesque, either a park or during a short hike!” He’s right: you can picnic at some parks along Stowe Rec Path, as well as any of the nature walks I list below.
Hit up the Ranch Camp Restaurant & Bike Shop
Is there anything more “Vermont” than a restaurant that’s also a bike shop? Jordan recommended Ranch Camp to me, and the concept is super cool. The restaurant is open 11am-8pm every day (except Tuesday) and the menu has sandwiches, burritos, salads and tacos, with clear designations for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free travelers.
As for the bike shop, there’s a HUGE list of bike parts and bike gear for purchase, as well as bike tune-ups, repairs and bike consignment services. As a biker myself, this is so neat to see!
Hike Mt. Mansfield Transverse
For expert hikers, check out the Mt. Mansfield Transverse, a full-day hike that can take around six hours. I haven’t done it, but I did start reading about it at the Go Stowe website. If you were looking for ways to avoid the travel crowds, this is probably it.
Keep in mind that Mt. Mansfield isn’t exactly in Stowe, because it’s a state forest, and Stowe is a town. If you’d like to explore the forest area, use the map at AllTrails and try a moderate trail like Cotton Brook if you don’t want to engage in a trail labeled as “Hard.”
Try any of the local hiking and nature walks
As I did my research for “easy hikes in Stowe,” I came up with quite a few results! Here are my findings, along with several that were recommended by friends before we left for our trip. Some of these spots would be ideal for taking kids or dogs.
- Bingham Trail: This is a half-mile “moderate” out-and-back hike
- Cady Hill Forest: Cady Hill is an easy woods walk and is a multi-use trail for biking, running and hiking.
- Thompson Park: This park is right along the Stowe Rec Path and may be a good destination to input if you’d like to wind up on the path.
- Kirchner Woods: This family-friendly hiking area has loads of sugar maples, and is popular for seeing wildlife.
- Wiessner Woods: This area has a 2-mile “easy” hike that’s a loop trail. It’s open year-round.
- Sterling Gorge Falls: While coded as moderate, this is a short hike that takes you past a waterfall and is very peaceful.
Visit historic covered bridges
If we had had all the time in the world, I would’ve been insisting that we visit every covered bridge in the area so that we could take cool photos. Alas, we didn’t even have time to see more than the covered bridge next to the parking lot at the Best Western!
Here are two Stowe-area historic covered bridges that I starred in my maps. You can see more about the regional covered bridges at Go Stowe.
- Gold Brook Covered Bridge: Covered Bridge Rd, Stowe, VT 05672 (opened in 1844)
- Red Covered Bridge: Cole Hill Rd, Morristown, VT 05661 (built in 1896)
Where to eat in Stowe (best restaurants)
Stowe has a ton of great restaurants, and the list below is just a slice (ha!) of what you can expect and put on your wish list.
Piecasso is recommended by Jordan for great pizza in Stowe. It is probably the best pizza in all of Stowe (according to some), and you have to try the garlic knots. The lively atmosphere keeps pizza lovers coming back year after year, so it’s a must.
This cool hangout restaurant has excellent food and beer, and is a classic “Vermont fare” done well, according to Jordan. There is a rotating selection of craft brews to keep beer lovers happy, and dinner favorites like Brisket & Brie, burgers, jalapeño poppers, and the crispy fried chicken sandwich. Patio seating is a bonus!
Green Goddess Cafe
This healthy cafe immediately went on my Stowe dining bookmark list. Jordan says it’s a small and quaint breakfast place that the town buzzes about for its vegan options, coffee, salads and smoothies.
It’s in the heart of downtown Stowe, so it’s convenient if you’re passing by or staying a while. If you were looking for places to travel as a vegetarian, Stowe is it.
Von Trapp Brewery & Bier Hall
This brewery and beer hall is like a taste of Austria, but in Vermont (maybe they’re not so different after all). This is a seriously huge place that has taken in a ton of awards for its beers like the Bohemian Pilsner and Oktoberfest. Jordan says to bring a frisbee or ball and hang out outside!
There’s classic foods that kids love and beer, burgers and brats for the adults.
Maybe watch Sound of Music before coming up to get in the mood!
The Bench is for Vermont comfort food, and we ate at The Bench for a nice dinner our first night in Stowe. I loved the gluten-free pizza! We sat at the bar and got to talk to a friendly bartender. This place has great Vermont vibes with an awesome beer list, pizza, burgers and more.
Ben & Jerry’s Factory
The Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour is a big attraction in the Stowe area. In fact, it’s actually in neighboring Waterbury, so you can see more about it in our Waterbury travel guide!
Best breweries in Stowe (where to drink)
Stowe has a number of awesome cider mills, breweries, distilleries and spots for ice cream. Check ‘em out below.
Stowe Cider Mill
I’m big into cider, as someone who seeks out gluten-free travel destinations, and cider mills are fun for me! Stowe Cider is located right in Stowe, and serves cider flights in a hip and lively taproom that makes for a memorable stop on a trip.
The highly-rated Alchemist Brewery is a Vermont favorite and does tours in addition to welcoming beer fanatics to its beer cafe. Jordan told me, “You probably know what Heady Topper is, and you can get Heady Topper and Focal Banger all around the state, but the brewery normally has another 4-5 beers you can only get there.”
“There are lots of strong NE IPAs,” Jordan notes, and, “You can sample a few of what they have in line, and then decide if you want to buy any four-packs.” As a great thing to know, Alchemist is open every day of the week, which is rare for a brewery.
This brewery is also located right in Stowe and does brewery tours upon request. There’s a restaurant, brewery and biergarten, so there are a few ways to enjoy some time relaxing at the property. This is one of the higher-rated breweries in Vermont, and the atmosphere, along with the food quality, at the restaurant, do not disappoint.
Lost Nation Brewing
If you are down for a little bit of driving up to Morrisville (this one’s not in Stowe), check out Lost Nation Brewery, which also comes recommended by Jordan. It’s a chill place with outdoor seating, a small indoor taproom and friendly service are worth going up for! This brewery is popular with bikers who’re going up the road.
Green Mountain Distillery
This slightly lesser-known distillery in the Stowe area is a hidden gem up in Morristown, and it’s only a 10-minute drive up Rt. 100 from downtown Stowe. The distillery crafts organic gin, vodka and other liqueurs. The owners know an incredible amount about alcoholic beverages and are very friendly with visitor questions.
This spot is dog-friendly! Local tip: Try the maple liquor.
Day trips from Stowe (within Vermont)
We used our hotel base in Stowe to spend days or half-days in other places that we wanted to see in Vermont! With Stowe being a rather central point (that was why we chose it, and it was perfect!) we got to visit Jordan in Burlington, and my cousin in Montpelier.
Check out if these day trips from Stowe could be for you.
Burlington is Vermont’s largest city and is an idea for a day trip. We went to Burlington for a day to see Jordan, and he took us on the Burlington Greenway Walking & Biking Path. Burlington has a LOT of shopping, dining and drinking, so put this city on your list for your itinerary. It is a 45-minute drive.
Little Montpelier is Vermont’s petite capital, and my cousin lives there! I always like a trip to Montpelier to see the grand gold-domed state house, the small cafes and restaurants and the nearby accessible nature. It’s only a 30-minute drive from one city to the other.
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