MONTPELIER, Vermont — There’s no shortage of answers to the question of what to do when you aren’t skiing or riding in Vermont. Great shopping excursions are near most mountains; spectacular culinary options for all palettes, relaxing spas, guided snowshoe tours, charming towns and museums tempt even the most devoted skier and rider. Sample the other side of the mountain and you’ll find more affirmation of why Vermont ski vacations are so unique. Our good-time attitude and activities are much like our maple; we pour it on.
The new Stowe Mountain Lodge at the base of Stowe’s famed Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak, offers luxurious guest rooms, a world-class spa and Cooper Institute-endorsed wellness center, 12,100 square feet of meeting space, twice-daily housekeeping, 24-hour in-room dining and artisan-inspired cuisine. The lodge also offers highly customized services and personalized in-room amenities.
The Spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge journey begins in the “healing lodge,” a private water sanctuary integrating an herbal steam chamber, Jacuzzi pool, dry sauna and cooling rain shower designed to encourage relaxing and unwinding. The spa also features two harmony rooms with reclining “sound chairs, therapeutic facials, massages and body treatments that reflect the changes of New England’s four seasons.
Cooper Wellness at Stowe is a unique experience for guests who seek better health, personal well-being and relaxation on a long-term basis. Here, guests take advantage of special programs, seminars, classes and personal training, focusing on healthy lifestyle choices. For more information visit www.stowe.com/press_room.
After a day ducking in and out of the glades of Stratton’s Shredwood Forest, linking big turns across the wide open corduroy of Sunriser Supertrail and catching big air in the Suntanner Terrain Park, visit the bustling Stratton Village for apr??s ski or visit the Wired Coffee Shop with Internet access. Guests never need to leave the comfort and convenience of Stratton Mountain Resort, however, for a change in scenery, a 20 minute drive to Manchester serves up great food options, Orvis and the American Museum of Fly Fishing and the Hildene Mansion.
Okemo ??вЂњ it’s not just for skiing and snowboarding anymore. Renowned for its commitment to snowmaking, world-class grooming, and its vast selection of trails that span five distinct mountain areas, Okemo Mountain Resort excels at providing a memorable winter vacation experience off the slopes, as well as on. Visitors to the resort enjoy ice skating, snow tubing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, swimming, year-round indoor golf, racquetball, fitness classes, aerobic and weight training, massage, sauna, relaxing by a fire, or soaking in a hot tub. Throughout the season, Okemo offers fireworks shows, torchlight parades, family movie nights, interactive presentations with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Kids’ Night Out pizza parties and other evening events.
The village of Ludlow and the entire Okemo Valley serve as a gateway to Okemo Mountain Resort. Visitors can enjoy dining, local attractions and a variety of community events that are open to the public.
At Smugglers’ Notch Resort guests like to simply leave their cars parked and find the many ‘playgrounds’ right in the resort village. Here is a selection of the favorite options: kids love the FunZone, a spacious indoor play center filled with a giant slide, obstacle course, ball games and a variety of challenges for different ages. Outside, they gravitate to snow tubing, ice skating, and the I-Did-A-Sled competition. They also stream to all the pools and three popular shows: Showtime Theatre, the Whacky Wizard Science Show and Marko the Magician. Teens are keen on socializing at the teen centers, wild about the newest Airboarding craze and avid participants of Nightspiker volleyball and the Glowbal Dance Party. For those family members responsible for bringing the kids along, there is a large sampling of on-site diversions such as guided snowshoe and cross-country treks, craft workshops, a choice of massage modalities and reflexology, snowmobile tours and the Snowshoe Adventure Dinner. A new favorite is the daily Winter Walking program.
Once the boots come off, skiers and riders at Mount Snow head to Cuzzin’s or the Snow Barn for apr??s ski, or indulge in upscale dining at Harriman’s Restaurant. Those who want to unwind in the Grand Summit Hotel’s full spa can choose to soak, steam or sauna before their massage.
In addition to its cross-country skiing, Trapp Family Lodge offers a number of unique activities for guests of all ages. Fresh mountain air reins supreme as the Trapp Family Lodge resident horses, Burt and Rex, glide over snow covered meadows and into the woods. Guests will enjoy the panoramic vistas as they listen to the jingle of the sleigh bells and the sound of horse’s hoofs on the snow.
Other entertaining activities include animal tracking, rock wall climbing, pool games, snow-fort and snow-sculpture competitions, and for the holidays, ginger bread house making. Guests can also sign-up for one of Executive Pastry Chef Marshall Faye’s delicious baking classes. Novice and expert bakers alike, learn to create classic Austrian treats including scrumptious apple strudel and Trapp Family Lodge’s famous Linzertorte. After sweets, guests can savor weekly wine tastings featuring estate bottled Austrian wine and other libations from around the world and for a nightcap, guests can enjoy a cup of piping hot cocoa and a dip in the outdoor hot tub soaking in the serenity of the Green Mountains, Trapp Family Lodge and a million stars in the sky.
Killington and Pico Mountains’ activities include dog sledding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice skating combined with more than 100 restaurants and bars to choose from. Killington is one of the top resorts in the East for apr??s and lively evening entertainment. For a rare treat, Hemmingway’s Restaurant in Killington is one of only two restaurants nationwide to receive AAA Four Diamond ratings for the past 20 years.
Friendly Pico Mountain features affordable walk-to-slope lodging options that are tailored to families and groups. Located in the base village is the newly-renovated Pico Sports Center with a 75-foot indoor heated pool, free weights and aerobic classes.
In the Mad River Valley, try a sled dog ride, rent ice skates at the local open air skating rink in Waitsfield, try sledding down a local hill — or visit a local caf?В© for a steaming cup of hot chocolate and some free wi-fi time.
Visitors to the Magic Mountain and Londonderry area will find an endless list of activities and options on top of the classic Vermont skiing and riding offered at Magic Mountain. The town of Londonderry, only 3 miles from the base of Magic Mountain provides visitors with a glimpse at a classic Vermont town complete with numerous dining options, shopping opportunities and an authentic small town feel. At Magic Mountain, guests are invited to sit back and relax in the base lodge and Goniff’s Den bar or head to the Alakazam Tube Park for some exhilarating runs down southern Vermont’s longest tube park.
Up on the mountain or down in the valley, Bromley and its neighboring towns add up to one of the most complete winter-sports experiences in Vermont. Ice skating is found on the great ice at Riley Rink at Hunter Park, 802-362-0150. Horse-Drawn Sleigh rides are available at the Taylor Farm, 802-824-5690 on Route 11, Karl Pfister in Landgrove, 802-824-6320 and Horses for Hire, 802-297-1468 in Rawsonville. Cross-country skiers visit Wild Wings, 802-824-6793 in Peru or Hildene in Manchester, 802-362-1788, Tater Hill in Windham, 802-875-2517 and
Guided snowmobile rides: Equinox Snow Tours 802- 824-6628 at the junction of Routes 11 & 30 and Alpine Tours on Stratton Mountain, 802-297-1207.
Just a short drive from Bolton Valley, some of Vermont’s most popular attractions await. Join the pilgrimage to Ben & Jerry’s Homemade factory to take a free tour to learn about how the world’s favorite ice cream got its start right here in Vermont. Watch the fabulous flavors being made and then enjoy the best part of the tour, a tasting.
The Burlington area is also home to the University of Vermont, Champlain College, Saint Michael’s College and the Flynn Theatre for Performing Arts, which presents an incredible schedule of musical and theatrical productions throughout the year.
Burke Mountain is sweetly near the Maple Grove Farm where tours of the factory reveal how syrup, candy and other maple products are made. There is also a gift shop where you can purchase Maple Grove products. For art and history buffs, the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is an historic library and gallery focusing on local history, 19th century paintings, marble sculptures, and community records. Just down Main St. from the Athenaeum, visit the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium to view highlights of 19th century agricultural, industrial, and household life, as well as exhibits focusing on world cultures, natural sciences and Vermont history. It is also home to the first and only public planetarium in the state.
For more winter sports, go to the Fenton Chester Ice Arena, for public skating or to watch a local hockey or figure skating event. But, if relaxation is on the Northeast Kingdom to-do list, Stepping Stone Spa and Wellness Center offers health and wellness programs, massages, body wraps, salt glows, personal training, exercise classes and sauna therapy.
By staying at Ascutney Mountain Resort, you’re not only getting to enjoy the beautiful ski slopes, great children’s programming, and onsite restaurants and entertainment but you’re also getting the added convenience of being surrounded by charming New England towns. A short drive can bring you to art galleries, sleigh rides, museums, shops and more. Guests can easily stick to their exercise program while away from home, as Ascutney’s Fitness Center & Spa is the place for relaxation and fitness. It features an Olympic size indoor pool, hot tub, dry heat saunas, racquetball courts, free weights and a cardiovascular room.
Visit the Mountain Top Inn and Resort in Chittenden for a snowshoe or Nordic adventure. Enjoy 60km of Nordic trails as well as snowshoeing on hundreds of acres of trails. Accommodations in a classic lodge and a Vermont country breakfast ensure luxurious rest and satisfaction. While at Mountain Top, take advantage of the quality resort’s facilities including a sledding hill and ice skating rink.
THE OTHER STRAPPY SHOES: SNOWSHOEING IN VERMONT
Whether scaling 2,000′ of vertical or tromping on a beginner’s Nordic Quest scavenger hunt, a snow-shoe tour is never far. Killington, Mountain Top, Okemo, Pico and Smugglers’ Notch all mentioned their ample snowshoeing opportunities in descriptions above. Here’s a few more.
At Mount Snow, guided snowshoe and snowmobile tours are available, while miles and miles of pristine cross-country ski trails will charm the Nordic-minded.
The Viking Nordic Center provides snowshoeing in the same relaxed and family friendly atmosphere as found down the road at Magic Mountain and Bromley.
Trapp Family Lodge’s snowmaking system will help to ensure Trapp Family Lodge’s snowshoe-dedicated terrain is ready for action. For the nature-lover, snowshoe nature tours are offered throughout the week ??вЂњ moose, peregrine falcons, bobcats, and snowy owls are tucked away amongst the birch and pine trees.
In Stratton, visit the Sports Center for a guided Moonlight Snowshoe trek to the historic firetower.
From Burke Mountain, families and adventure seekers can immerse themselves in the Kingdom Trails. Snowshoeing is permitted on the sides of the cross-country ski trails. Rentals are available from East Burke Sports and the Village Sport Shop in Lyndonville.
SHOPPING merits its own section??В¦
From Bolton Valley, Vermont’s historic capitol building and boutique lined State St. is a half-hour away in Montpelier. Also, just 30 minutes west of Bolton is Vermont’s largest city, Burlington. On the shore of Lake Champlain, craft shops, mainstream stores and scores of dining options adorn Church St., the Queen City pedestrian mall.
How about some quality shopping time in a picturesque downtown? There are no chain stores in the Mad River Valley. Hand-crafted wooden bowls, top quality sporting equipment, blown and sculpted glass, hand-made stoneware pottery, an extraordinary collection of European Christmas ornaments and stuffed animals, quilts and quilting supplies, books, fine clothing and home furnishings are just a few of the items to find in the shops of the Mad River Valley. Enjoy an afternoon just poking around the owner-run shops and enjoy the personalized service of a bygone era.
Killington and Pico both provide as an excellent base for diverse shopping options throughout the region. Try a tour of the Killington Mountain Rd. for a sampling of gift shops, chic winter gear and sports outfitters.
The town of Manchester is given laudatory praise from bargain shoppers and name-brand aficionados alike. Outlet shopping anyone? Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, Brooks Brothers, Coach, Escada, Giorgio Armani, J. Crew, Polo and TSE are just a few of the stores within a short drive of Bromley, Stratton and Magic Mountain.
In the Stratton Village, shop for the latest styles and equipment at Syd and Dusty’s ??вЂњ with the largest selection of Burton outside the factory. Also, visit the North Face Summit Shop, Bogner, and First Run Ski and Snowboard Shop. Guests can also enjoy the services and art of Von Bargen’s jewelry, a full service day spa, Mountainside Photo and more.
The heart of downtown Wilmington is just a short drive south of Mount Snow on Route 100. Of the 2,225 locals ??вЂњ one would think much of the town is comprised of artisans, as an abundance of unique shopping and dining await.
The village of Ludlow offers visitors to Okemo Mountain Resort the option of shopping for an eclectic mix of quality goods. Custom toys, rare books, gourmet foods and jewelry shops satisfy any shopper’s cravings.
Don’t forget to send a postcard.