Quintessential New England charm paired with some of the best skiing in the Northeast, Stowe Mountain Resort is a family favorite.
From the moment you reach the intersection of Routes 100 and 108 in the town of Stowe, you know that you’re in a special place. Stowe Mountain Resort offers 116 trails, 485 skiable acres, and a vertical drop of 2,360 feet on two distinct peaks - Mansfield and Spruce. With 83% snow coverage, Stowe can keep the terrain open even when Mother Nature refuses to cooperate. There’s 19 beginner trails, 63 intermediate trails, 33 expert-rated trails, and six terrain parks, offering something for skiers and boarders of all abilities. For the experts, Stowe boasts some of the steepest terrain and best glade skiing in the Northeast with runs down Goat, Starr, and Haychute. For cruisers and beginners, Spruce Peak has an extensive selection of intermediate and beginner trails, complete with a bowl at its base for safe learning. Spruce has a small mountain feel where you can feel comfortable letting your kids ski on their own without getting lost or overwhelmed. If you or your kids are interested in learning to board, sign up for the Burton Learn to Ride program. On the Mansfield side, the Toll Road run is must-do for any skiing family. This narrow, winding 3.7-mile long trail provides classic New England scenery and passes right by the Mountain Chapel, where you can reflect, say a prayer, and be thankful that you chose Stowe as your skiing destination. Child care is available for non-skiers (ages 3 months to 3 years) for $165/day including snacks and lunch.
What to do besides skiing?
Ice skating, fire pits, shopping, rock climbing, and many other activities are all available at the Spruce Peak Village. At the Adventure Center, my kids love the indoor rock climbing wall. It also offers interactive video games and a movie theater. The Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center is a great place to relax and see a good show. For those that want to stay outside but aren’t interested in downhill skiing, the Stowe Mountain Cross Country Center has 42 kilometers of cross-country skiing. Equipment rentals and snow shoe rentals are available.
Where to eat?
On the mountain, you’ll find typical resort pricing for food and plenty of options. That said, I’d highly recommend the Octagon Cafe at the top of the FourRunner Quad. The breakfast sandwich with sausage, arugula, and caramelized onions on an English muffin is one of the best that I’ve ever eaten. At $9, it isn't cheap but was well worth it. My son and I shared a shaved fajita steak wrap for lunch ($14) which was delicious.
Otherwise, the options off-mountain are abundant. The Bench has an outstanding selection of steaks, sandwiches, burgers, and pizzas, using locally-grown ingredients at a decent price. After a hard day skiing, take off your boots and visit the historic Mansfield Lodge just below the FourRunner Quad. This rustic lodge provides a great spot for a beer and some live music that even the kids will love. The Matterhorn Bar & Grill is routinely named as one of the best aprés ski destinations in North America. Besides the great selection of craft beers, the Matterhorn has live music and an outstanding menu carrying burgers (the steak seasoned Matterhorn burger is my favorite), gourmet brick-oven pizzas, and sushi which was surprisingly delicious.
KidTripster Tip: By 4 p.m., the Matterhorn is packed. If you’re looking to seat a family, get there early.
If you can get a sitter for the kids and are feeling feisty, check out Burt’s Irish Pub, a lesser-known bar where the locals hang. You may get "booed" when you walk in by their loyal patrons, but they’re good people. It’s a true local experience, and the owner is a sweetheart. It doesn’t look like much, but the food is absolutely amazing. The Chicken Guizada is amazing. This pub is a true gem as long as you can take the ribbing as you enter.
Where to stay?
The Stowe Mountain Lodge offers luxury hotel rooms at the base of Spruce Peak, where you have the Spruce Peak lifts, the Adventure Center, and ice rink at your fingertips. But that convenience comes at a price; rates start at $350 and go up on weekends and holidays.
Stowe Mountain also offers slopeside condos and rooms off the Toll Road trail.
If you’re looking to save some money, the Stowe area has many other choices. We've stayed in a 2-bedroom condo at The Village Green at Stowe, about three miles from the mountain. There’s no frills here, but the rooms are clean, and for $500 for 2 nights, the price is right.
Stowe is located in northern Vermont about a 3-hour drive from Boston. Take Interstate 89 to exit 10 and follow Route 100 toward Stowe. In the town of Stowe, take a left onto Route 108 (Mountain Road) and follow approximately four miles to the Stowe Mountain Resort.
Bill Claffey is a proud father of three boys, ages 6 through 12, who all race for the Catamount Ski Team in Hillsdale, New York. He lives in Colchester, Connecticut, and loves taking his family on spontaneous outdoor adventures.