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Tour Vermont

Travel Tips


Vibrant Vermont
The Road Less Traveled


Scenic Overlook from Mt. Philo State Park
Scenic Overlook from Mt. Philo State Park

VERMONT TOUR, STOWE: DAY 3

You've dipped in its cool waters and tasted its farm-fresh bounty, but we've saved what is, arguably, Vermont's best for last. While most of us think pastoral landscape, anyone with a lick of French will tell you that Vermont means, quite literally, Green Mountains. Today you'll journey to Stowethe very heart of this state's evergreen kingdom. Nestled under towering Mount Mansfield (Vermont's highest peak, at 4,393 feet), the road to Stowe village is half the fun. First, fuel up with maple lattes and a French Dip at Sneakers Bistro in Winooski. The battered croissant, stuffed with scrambled eggs and ham, is a two-handed gourmet feast that’s sure to keep you motoring through the morning.

Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak
Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak

Make your way to Route 15 East, winding lazily through rural Underhill, and drawing ever-nearer Mansfield 's imposing massif. Between stunning mountain views, you'll pass custom lamp-makers and irresistible farm stands. Grab a gourd for grandma, before detouring to Boyden Valley Winery in Cambridge. Oh yes, oenophiles thousands of miles from Napacan find solace even in these northern climes! The fourth-generation vineyard owes its harvest to rich soil outlying the nearby Lamoille River. Enjoy their fresh pâté, while sipping Cayugaa hardy, white grapethen pick up a bottle of Boyden's signature Ice wine for the journey home. Harvested in small batches at below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, this sugar-rich libation is excellent with sweets, or as dessert itself; a true Vermont specialty. Continue up Route 108 affectionately known as the Notch Road to the back side of Mansfield, where you'll catch breathtaking alpine views while snaking through the mountain pass. The zigzag alone will keep drivers on their toes, and makes for the day's first thrill.

Trapp Family Lodge, one of New England's most treasured destinations
Trapp Family Lodge

Quaint though it seems, Stowe is a world-class resort town, ranked among the nation's best in dining and outdoor activity. And while its fearsome Front Four won't be open to skiers for another month or two, there's plenty to explore in this small, deceptively active area. Whether it's handmade furniture, blown glass, or custom jewelry, you'll find the shopping here to be vintage Vermont . Indeed, no two stores are the same. As locals like to say: "Chains" are for tires in winter. After stocking up on paintings and country pottery, cool your heels at the Trapp Family Lodge — one of New England's most treasured destinations. Home to Austria's Von Trapp family (who famously inspired The Sound of Music) the Lodge offers relaxing meadow views and a delightfully European menu. Indulge in a late-morning brew and sweet apple strudel at their Austrian Tea Room, or munch on exotic spreads like pumpernickel Braunschweiger (pork liverwurst).

There are also wine tastings through Octobera fabulous way to brush up on your Côtes du Rhône. Of course, no visit to the nation's dairy capital would be complete without a stop at Ben & Jerry's famed ice cream factory, on Route 100 in neighboring Waterbury. Purveyors of super-premium flavors like Cherry Garcia, the headquarters hosts lighthearted 30-minute tours, seven days a week. So reward yourself with laughs and an après cone at their scoop shop. Seasonal purists can also nosh on sinful confections just down the road at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where hot cinnamon-cider donuts and crisply-pressed apples are a true hallmark of autumn.

If you fancy a more robust outing, Stowe can oblige. With lifts running into October, and hiking trails open year-round, there are several ways to Vermont’s storied roof. Ascend by gondola to the Cliff House, for wine pairings, seasonal game and deck seating at 3,600 feet. Then scramble to the summit itself, where you’ll spy peregrine falcons soaring below. A word of caution, though: New England's weather at elevation is capriciouseven in mild monthsso pack a jacket and watch for fast moving clouds.

Adrenaline junkies can raise the ante by riding the steeps of neighboring Spruce Peak, via the region's only Alpine Slide. Parallel concrete chutes send thrill-seekers plunging nearly half a mile, in what's undoubtedly the resort's fastest descent (at least until snowfall). Still too tame? Why not grow wings for an hour and kiss the sky? For an unforgettable adventure, let Stowe Soaring pilot you on a breathless glider flight high above the scenic mountains. It may just prove to be the capstone of your trip.

Hen of the Wood in Vermont's Waterbury serves up rustic, farm-fresh cuisine
Hen of the Wood

Not into heights? No problem. While daredevils play, those in need of pampering can slip into a robe and indulge for an afternoon at Stowe's elite Top Notch Spa. Nothing whispers luxury like cold cosmos and a body treatment – and this oasis offers both. Call ahead for one of their signature sessions (like the blissful, 50-minute Four Hand Massage), and learn to enjoy the great indoors.

No doubt famished, sojourn over to Hen of the Wood, which puts you conveniently on the road back to Burlington. Tucked beside a tumbling mountain brook, this refurbished 19th century grist mill exudes rustic elegance. Warm up with a decadent wild mushroom tartine, but don’t miss Chef Warnstedt’s pan-seared gnocchi. Each tiny forkful is a rich marriage of sheep’s milk, red pepper, and pine nuts. Sophisticated diners can also choose to journey further north, where Richmond’s The Kitchen Table Bistro promises excellent haute-country cuisine. Grilled rabbit and savory, short rib poutine (a twist on the Québécois staple) will have you dismissing fast food forever. This is what Vermont tastes like.

From its unmatched cheddars and bright maple foliage, to shimmering Lake Champlain, few states enjoy Vermont's natural riches. Its bucolic landscape beckons year round, but is best experienced in autumn, when majestic Adirondack sunsets and the earth's rich flavors linger like childhood memories. Vermont is an intrinsic piece of the American puzzle. It is the road less traveledand traveling it makes all the difference.

For more information, visit the The Official Vermont Tourism Site at www.travel-vermont.com.

MORE VERMONT INFORMATION

Farm and Mt. Mansfield, Fletcher Vermont

* Mount Mansfield image Copyright: © Jared C. Benedict. * Scenic Overlook image courtesy of the VT Department of Tourism & Marketing. Trapp Family Lodge image courtesy of the Lodge

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(Updated: 10/21/11 SG)

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