Weekend Getaway: Stowe
Written by Alexa Owen • Oct 12, 2016
Seeking perfect Vermont powder, horse-drawn sleigh rides and delectable eats in quaint country inns? You best book a ski weekend at Stowe.
source: Stowe Resort
Stowe is that quintessential New England town you’d expect to see on a postcard (in fact, you probably have). Dotted with cutesy shops and family-owned restaurants, the downtown area – which has grown substantially in the past 5 years – offers plenty of leisurely indulgences. Although the resort has gained the title “Ski Capital of the East,” the town has escaped over-the-top developments, thereby maintaining its small town charm.
Stowe Resort has been spinning lifts since the 1930s, and marked a number of “firsts” for New England ski resorts – like the first organized ski school in America, 4 person gondola in the East, and first resort in Vermont to use waste heat off an electric drive of a chair lift to warm an entire building. Weekending at Stowe means supporting a rich cultural history, tight local community, and eco-conscious practices that will transform the ski industry. The restaurants are superb, prioritizing the use of fresh, local ingredients for gourmet dishes. There’s plenty of intermediate terrain, but also glades that simply can’t be found anywhere else in the East. Pair these things with genuine Vermonter hospitality and a just-so-damn-cute town, and you’ve got all the reason you need to get away to Stowe.
Take Friday off work if you can swing it; Stowe is further north than mid-Vermont haunts like Stratton and Okemo – beat the traffic and have the afternoon to settle in before an action-packed weekend.
Stowe participates in the Mountain Collective Pass, a collaborative ski pass deal that includes over a dozen world-class resorts -- if you're planning multiple weekend getaways this winter, look into purchasing one.
source: Edson Hill
Fly into Burlington International Airport, which is a mere 40 minutes north of Stowe. If you’re driving from the tristate area, you’ll take I-91 to I-89 – Stowe is 20 minutes off exit 10. New York City to Stowe is under 6 hours with no traffic; Friday afternoons can add 2 hours between Hartford and Springfield. Another option is Amtrak: the Waterbury, VT station is 30 minutes from the resort.
Edson Hill is one of Stowe’s biggest lodging secrets – you’d never know it’s there from the roads. The estate is beyond picture-perfect: rambling hills, old wooden barns, and a renovated manor house that boasts under 2 dozen light-filled rooms with cozy, contemporary, décor. You’ll get the sense that you’ve stepped completely away from the hustle and bustle of life – even resort life – but the slopes and downtown Stowe are a short drive on Mountain Road.
Settle into the weekend with dinner at The Dining Room at Edson Hill. True to it’s name, you’ll likely get the sense that you’ve stepped into a private dinner party in someone’s home dining room. But this gourmet fare will wow you. Think small plates featuring local cheeses and charcuterie, and big plates that boast fish and game. Start with tempura asparagus with poached egg and chorizo, and follow with seared bass with carrot gnocchi, basil ricotta, and pea tendrils.
We doubt you’ll venture out from your cozy digs after that fine meal, but if you’re in the mood to party, head down the hill to Piecasso. This pizza joint turned late-night lounge gathers a decent crowd on weekend nights, and offers local craft beer and strong cocktails. You can also catch live music.
Head to the slopes early to get the best runs in. Grab a coffee and a breakfast sandwich at The Beanery, Stowe’s newest on-mountain hot spot. There’s space to sit inside, and breakfast options range from pastries to sandwiches to fresh pressed juices and smoothies.
Take the Forerunner Quad to the summit, and get in a top-to-bottom run on Hayride to start the day. Skier’s right along the ridge line has a myriad of winding intermediate trails that are fun to get lost on; advanced skiers can go skier’s left to the infamous Goat run, which boasts Rocky Mountain style glades.
Lunch like a local at the Octagon Café, which is located at the top of the Fourrunner Quad. Most folks go for the views of surrounding mountains, but there’s also a good lunch menu and featured local art. The vibe is casual: choose your wrap or salad from the menu at the front, and when it’s ready someone will bring it to your table. The Asian duck wrap is a crowd favorite: roasted duck confit, scallions, jicama, radicchio, apple slaw and hoisin sauce. Whew! Get there by 11 for a table.
The Stowe Mountain Lodge offers day spa treatments in luxury digs. Relax in front of the fireplace with mountain views, in the heated outdoor pool, or jet-massaging Jacuzzi. There’s an extensive spa menu to choose from, and therapeutic treatments utilize local products. Try the Stowe Cider Uber Scrub, which uses local apple cider to exfoliate and detox the skin. There’s also the Rock Art Sacred Brew-ty – an 80-minute nourishing treatment for the hair using local Rock Art beer. (P.S. – you get pinto of Double IPA at the end!)
Find cold brews, live music, and a lively local crowd at The Den. You could call it a dive bar, and that’s part of the draw. There are 15 beers on tap, most of them coming from Vermont based breweries like Rock Art, Magic Hat, and Long Trail. The small space gets crowded after 4, but hover long enough and you’ll find a table. Most Saturdays there are ski gear reps handing out free shwag.
Head into downtown Stowe for an evening at The Whip, located inside the historic Green Mountain Inn. The Whip has an that older bar and grill feel in it’s dim-lit dining room, but the dishes are fresh, creative, and locally sourced. Start with a signature drink, like the maple makers mark manhatten, and seared crab cakes with fennel and apple slaw. The entrees boast delectable meat and seafood: the gorgonzola-crusted filet mignon with fresh vegetables in a burgundy sauce is superb.
Get a taste of real Stowe nightlife at the Rusty Nail. You’ll find an eclectic crowd (old time locals mixed with plenty of 20- and 30-something weekenders) and rockin’ live music. Check their website beforehand to see who’s playing – expect anything from a 7-piece jazz fusion band to Irish punk rock to ‘90s pop covers. For those not so interested in ripping up the dance floor, there are pool tables and darts. The full bar features 24 draft beers and superb cocktails.
We like Spruce Peak for lazy Sunday mornings. Take the Overeasy Gondola from the Mansfield base area to Spruce Camp Base Loge, and enjoy the intermediate and advanced terrain off Spruce Line. Spruce draws far less crowds than Mansfield, so you can afford to get out a little later if the Rusty Nail got the best of you Saturday night. Main Street Race is good for advanced intermediates looking for a challenge – just don’t duck the rope if you see a “Race in Progress” sign!
Inside the Stowe Mountain Lodge you’ll find Hourglass, a sophisticated bar and lounge with craft beers, wines by the glass, and creative cocktails suited to celebrate a successful weekend on the slopes. The kitchen also serves up bistro fare sourced from regional farms: a rotating menu of fresh salads, appetizers, and flatbread sandwiches is available from 11am.
Save some time to wander into downtown Stowe – the town is known for its quintessentially Vermont shops. First pick up wine and cheese provisions that make great gifts from The Pantry, located at the base of the resort. Then head down Mountain Road towards town. Stop into Chalet Life for handcrafted furniture made for elegant mountain living; then Winterfell for luxury sporting apparel with unique style.
Obviously, if you have extra time before heading home, stop by the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury (it’s just before you get back on I-89). Tours show the ins and outs of ice cream manufacturing and highlight the company’s history, and the on-site scoop shop has specialty flavors difficult to find in stores!