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Stowe, Vermont is one of those charming northern towns that puts the “England” in New England—except come wintertime, it’s a bit less England and a bit more Swiss Alps. You can spend mornings on Mount Mansfield (home to the highest geographical point in the state), catch sweeping Vermont vistas as you ski down the groomers, and then après downtown at any of the critically acclaimed breweries before skipping off to the spa for a state-of-the-art relaxation treatment. Dinner in an igloo? Sure. Evening ice skating below twinkling lights? Of course. Raclette from an enormous open fire? Yep. How about post-ski cryotherapy for sore quads and shoulders? Certainly. You’ll stay at the Lodge at Spruce Peak, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, where the penthouse apartments are so cozy that you might have trouble leaving the property without investing in some real estate (which, of course, you can do).
While for most, exploring the slopes of Stowe Resort will be the main event of a day spent in this alpine wonderland, there are plenty of activities worth planning the trip around. The ski town is only a quick 45-minute drive from Burlington, but those who prefer to fly private can explore Tradewind Aviation’s Stowe routes to the Morrisville-Stowe State Airport.
From legendary Vermont breweries to off-slope outdoor activities, here are our recommendations for how to have a European-inspired winter vacation in Stowe, Vermont.
7:30 a.m. Grab a quick breakfast crepe at Skinny Pancake, a Vermont staple featuring local ingredients that pack a serious protein punch—ideal to get you through a few hours of morning skiing (and it's located right next to the Spruce Peak lift or the Over Easy gondola).
8:30 a.m. Hit the slopes. Since Stowe Resort is owned and operated by Vail, it is included in some of the Epic Pass packages. Regardless, check here to make lift ticket reservations (and take note that reservations must be made in advance and online only due to COVID-19 regulations).
For those who don’t downhill ski or snowboard, Stowe is home to a few excellent dog sledding operations. Check out Eden Ethical Dog Sledding and spend a morning with a pack of adorable huskies who will whisk you around stunning alpine trails. (Pro tip: if you’re looking to book a winter excursion for a larger group, Destination North, headquartered in Stowe, offers curated experiences like ice climbing, snowmobiling, and more.) Another excellent option for getting outdoors is a cross country ski experience on the 37 miles of groomed trails (or 62 miles of backcountry trails) at the Trapp Family Lodge.
12:30 a.m. And speaking of the Trapp Family Lodge (yes, it’s that Von Trapp family from The Sound of Music!), we recommend grabbing lunch at the Lodge's Bierhall for an Austrian-style meal and a few pilsners. After lunch, take some time to explore the local scene; Stowe Cider is close by and offers excellent locally-crafted ciders, and for those who live for a good New England IPA, Alchemist Brewery (just around the corner) is worth a stop for stocking up on a local favorite.
2:30 p.m. Enjoy a relaxing spa treatment at the Spa at Spruce Peak. Highly recommended are the cryotherapy treatments, which use heat cycles delivered through an Italian-crafted Cryo T Shock machine to sculpt features, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and unwanted fat, and aid in pain relief.
4 p.m. Sit for après at Whistlepig Pavilion, which delivers a truly authentic Vermont cocktail hour (order the Hot Buttered Pig). Those visiting the Pavilion must try the raclette, which is prepared over an open fire using a setup crafted by a local welder (now that is Vermont character).
5:30 p.m. As the evening light descends, step outside Whistlepig and hit the ice rink, located steps away within Spruce Peak Village, which lights up against the blue-grey mountain peaks at nightfall.
7:30 p.m. You can’t beat dinner inside a cozy igloo at Spruce Peak’s Mansfield Terrace. Here’ you’ll find an impressive sushi menu, craft cocktails to help you warm up, and a picture-perfect arrangement of plush seating, cozy blankets, and an in-igloo woodstove.
Another excellent dining option, for those who prefer to be truly indoors, is Edson Hill. Here, Chef Jason Bissell offers elevated New England fare in a decidedly elegant atmosphere.
Where to Stay
Nothing is better than finishing out a long ski day by soaking in a hot bath and the opportunity to just spread out—with anything you could possibly need at your fingertips. The Lodge at Spruce Peak is the perfect place to do just this—and it's steps from the gondola and lifts. Whether you opt for a penthouse (think gourmet kitchens, spacious balconies, and two to four bedrooms) or work with the knowledgeable luxury rental team to reserve one of the mountainside cabins (sweeping views included, of course), the private concierges at Spruce Peak anticipate guests' every need and ensure the ultimate home-away-from-home experience and tastefully luxe accommodations.
In case you and your family find yourselves falling in love with Stowe (don't be surprised if you do), take some time to tour One Spruce Peak, the Lodge's newest real estate project. Upon completion in December of 2021, the luxury units will feature elegant alpine decor (like oak cabinetry and marble bathrooms), exclusive ski-in ski-out slope-side access, views of both Mansfield and Spruce Peak, and penthouse units boasting floor-to-ceiling windows and five bedrooms.