This Tiny Vermont Town Is One of the East Coast’s Best Kept Spring Secrets
Crowned the ski capital of the east, Stowe has welcomed visitors since the 1860s
With the burgeoning warmth and revival of spring comes an equally renewed interest in travel. As the days grow longer and temperatures improve, we begin scouting warmer destinations from Palm Springs to West Palm Beach, determined to throw on a layer of sunscreen and a pair of shorts after months of cold and snow. But hidden among sugar maples and old oak trees of New England, Stowe has positioned itself as a premier spring destination for its shoulder-season skiing, steepled churches, historic character and premier accommodations. (And a Ben & Jerry’s factory).
Originally a summer destination known for its green mountains and reliable transportation connections, Stowe also found its footing as a winter haven when residents began traveling through town on wooden boards in the early 1900s. Over a century later, it stands as Vermont’s largest town by land area with over 500,000 acres, a permanent population of only 5,000, and plenty of runs and resorts that have earned it the title of “Ski Capital of the East.”
A darling spring destination that embraces its proximity to nature, visitors lean into the area’s mild days on the slopes, cool nights by the fire and multiple award-winning retreats. To discover what makes the area so special this time of year, we partnered with Nissan and caught a ride from New York City in the new Armada, navigating New England’s windy, scenic and sometimes snowy roads before arriving at the postcard-perfect destination.
Before booking accommodations, consider how you’ll arrive at this adorable hamlet. Many choose to fly into Boston or Burlington before embarking on a three- or one-hour drive, respectively. But as we found traveling from New York City, the expanse between Stowe and the Big Apple is rife with roadside attractions.
A capable SUV with room for family, friends and gear (such as the one we took) offers more than enough comfort and capability to tackle New England’s unpredictable weather in style. For those interested in the many hidden gems New England has to offer, consider flying into a major city that’s a little off the beaten path for a greater look at the region.
Stowe wouldn’t be the premier east coast destination if it if it weren’t for the world-renowned accommodations, of which there are many. From the recently opened and incredibly opulent Tälta Lodge to the historic Green Moutain Inn, visitors are sure to find a hotel or inn that meets their needs. But in order to experience a blend of Stowe’s indoor and outdoor activities, we booked a room at the stately Spruce Peak Lodge, the only ski-in/ski-out resort in the area.
Calling attention to the town’s once-booming agriculture and lumber industries, the lodge’s design makes use of raw wood, trees and warm earth tones throughout the main lobby and beyond. Its in-house eateries supply various New England staples, from the Alpine Hall’s Maine mussels and maple syrup-infused cocktails to the Tipsy Trout’s extensive beer menu containing classics from nearby Von Trapp and The Alchemist breweries. Outback, an alpine village complete with restaurants, rental shops, apparel stores and an ice rink allows visitors to wander and explore to their heart’s content. Whether it’s a want or a need, chances are you’ll find it within walking distance of your room.
Then there are the views — endless panoramas of the surrounding snow-capped mountains reflect the day’s energy, throwing midday white light across the valley before softening with hues of pink and orange by sunset. Catch the last gondola ride to the top of the mountain for unfettered views of northern Vermont or simply enjoy the day from your room’s balcony, where you’ll find a little slice of sky and mountain that’s all your own.
After a day spent skiing, hiking or exploring the town, the lodge’s rooms and suites range from comfortable to capacious. Features include indoor fireplaces, private balconies and lounging areas, with colors and textures that retain the same woodland theme found in the lobby. And the bathrooms, complete with a glass-and-tile shower and a soaking tub, provide plenty of reason to spend time in your room should you choose to cocoon yourself from the hustle and bustle of the world beyond.
For those traveling with family and friends, the mountain cabins, townhomes, penthouses and multi-bedroom suites offer more than enough room for large groups. Guests at every accommodation can make use of the lodge’s spa, heated outdoor pool, restaurants, halls and more.
While the restaurants, taprooms and accommodations are enough to keep you content, it’s the world beyond Stowe’s many resorts that shines in the midst of spring. Consider stopping by the Trapp Family Brewery, a pillar of local culture owned and operated by the famous von Trapp family of Austria who fled for the U.S. in World War II. Equally popular (and only a walk down the road) is The Alchemist Brewery, a beer-maker whose Heady Topper DIPA has consistently won awards for the best beer in the country.
Beyond well-established drinking destinations, visitors also flock to the local Ben & Jerry’s factory for a pint, enjoy guided backcountry snowmobiling tours, hike any number of the region’s maintained trails, relax in one of Stowe’s many spas or find a general store selling local maple syrup. Because conditions turn more favorable come spring, the ability to enjoy both warm- and cold-weather activities in the same day improves with each passing week.
Once visitors to Stowe have thoroughly explored nearby attractions, adventures further away remain within a day’s drive. After all, the Green Mountain State is the 45th largest in the Union — it could fit in Texas 28 times. From the waterfront boho refuge of Burlington to the covered bridges of Montgomery along the Canadian border, the state boasts a wide variety of opportunities to see something new.
How Beautiful Change Can Be
We often think of spring as a time in which the natural world returns to life after a restful winter. Seedlings sprout, animals awaken and the bitter cold that once took hold releases its thawing grip. Though tropical destinations tempt us with pristine beaches, lively nightlife and world-class events, sometimes it pays to visit a place where spring is worth celebrating.
With its sleepy charm, historic significance and dynamic seasons, Stowe remains a best-kept secret destination reserved for ski bums, New Englanders and small crowds. But like all secrets in this world, the word will get out and visitors will flock to the breweries, bakeries and slopes in time. Book a stay in Stowe this spring, before everyone else does the very same in years to come.
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