Stowe is a small town in Vermont and although it is best known for being an epic ski resort, it also has a lot to offer for a Summer visit. We decided to visit Stowe as our last stop on a two week trip to the USA as we wanted something a little more green, scenic and generally more relaxing. Vermont is a beautiful state and Stowe as a destination manages to cater to tourists whilst also retaining a feeling of local community and this made it really stand out for us. A place that is absolutely packed full of natural beauty, Stowe is likely to be one of the best places you have never heard of. Unless you have heard of it of course!
HOW TO GET THERE
We arrived in Vermont by flying from Washington DC (DCA) to Burlington (BTV) with American Airlines at a cost of £100 each. The flight only took around 55 minutes making it really accessible. We stayed in Burlington for a couple of nights before hiring a car and driving to Stowe which is an easy 40 minute drive away. I would definitely recommend booking a car as public transport really isn’t the best in this part of the world. We got a Chevrolet Impala through Orbitz for just £40 per day for three days and it allowed us to explore Stowe and the surrounding area much easier.
WHAT TO DO
For a small town there is a surprising amount to do even when it isn’t ski season. There is a tourist centre in Stowe village which can offer lots of information and I also found the Go Stowe website really useful but below were my favourite things to do:
Gondola SkyRide at Mount Mansfield – I am not much of a hiker but I love mountain top views and so the Gondola SkyRide was a great resolution to that struggle. It cost $29 each which is quite pricey for 24 minutes in a gondola (12 minutes each way) but the views at the top easily justify that price tag. You can of course hike up Mount Mansfield if you wish but we were happy to get to 3600ft of elevation the easy way and enjoy a nice drink in the café.
Stowe Recreation Path – Run, walk, skate or cycle along the 5.3 mile recreation path that links Stowe Village to the Top Notch Resort. There is amazing views around every corner and if the weather is good it is a great way to spend a morning. There are various access points along the way so you don’t even have to explore the full path if you are pressed for time.
Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour – Technically this is in Waterbury which is just 6 miles from Stowe but if you have hired a car it’s really easy to get to and offers free parking. At just $4 each for a tour of this small factory it is well worth it. With it only being $4 don’t expect the earth, it’s a light hearted and fun tour that lasts about 35 minutes. The guide was enthusiastic and there was plenty of comedic moments and a free sample of ice cream at the end. Result!
Mini Golf – We stopped off at the Mini Golf Course on Mountain Road on our way back from Mount Mansfield. At $10 each it isn’t the cheapest activity but it was a little bit different from what we have in the UK and as a keen golf fan I fancied giving it a go. The course has bunkers and over hit shots can run onto other holes so it is a challenge but is great fun for all the family.
WHERE TO EAT
The Bagel – Situated on Mountain Road this awesome little bagel cafe turned out to be a great place for a cheap breakfast. For just $10 we got two filled bagels and two bottles of Tropicana. That same breakfast was costing us around $18 in New York! There is a little seating area too which means you don’t have to eat on the go.
Butler’s – Although part of a small inn that we were not staying at, this place got very busy for breakfast! There is a decent amount of seating by Stowe standards but tables fill up fast. There is a reason why this place gets busy and that is because the food, service and prices are all great. We got French Toast, Pancakes, coffee and lemonade and the total bill was just $33 which included a 20% tip. Is there a better way to start the day than pancakes and maple syrup?
Piecasso – Hands down my favourite restaurant in Stowe! You have to visit this place because the pizza is just so good and by the title of the blog you can tell I eat a lot of pizza so I know when it’s good. If you are staying in the village then you will need to drive or get a taxi to Piecasso as it is a few miles up Mountain Road but please don’t let that put you off. It is a large restaurant and we went on a Friday night and it was buzzing. We got the feeling that a lot of the customers were locals and so you know it’s a good place. A couple of pizzas, some fries, a cider and soda cost us $57 including the tip.
Plate – A Californian inspired restaurant with a limited menu and a somewhat romantic setting. Being right in the heart of the village it is a great place to sit and have a nice meal with a view of the main street. The restaurant design is chic and the food lived up to the setting. We got two burgers, a cider and a glass of wine and paid $67 including the tip. Not the cheapest restaurant in town but its a classy setting. A good chance to get your new shirt out of the suitcase!
Harrison’s – This was our most expensive meal of the trip but we ordered more here than anywhere else. If we can’t stuff our faces on holiday when can we? We went on a Wednesday night and it was full, so booking in advance is definitely recommended. Luckily there was a spot at the bar so we sat there. We had soup and brie starters followed by pork tenderloin and fish and chips, a wine and a soda. We paid $92 which included the tip but it was easy to see why this restaurant is so popular. It’s a really nice venue, the staff were friendly and the food was excellent (I highly recommend the pork tenderloin). We got talking to a few people at the bar which was nice so if you are the sociable type then sitting at the bar might suit you here!
WHERE TO STAY
Green Mountain Inn – At £165 per night we were hoping for something pretty good and we were not disappointed. The location is right in the heart of the village, right near the start of the recreation path and just across the road from both Plate and Harrison’s. The Inn is spread across a few different buildings and we stayed in The Mill House which was nicely tucked away from the main road and had free parking spots right outside the entrance.
The room was one of the biggest I have ever stayed in and had a four poster bed and Jacuzzi style bath tub as the main attractions. There was lots of windows which meant it was nice and bright and it was really well kept with all the necessities you need included. If I was really trying to pick a fault with the room it would be that there wasn’t much of a view out of any of the windows but we were on the ground floor.
Room and Bathroom – 9/10
Location – 10/10
Price – 7.5/10
Extras (WiFi, Gym, Pool etc) – 9/10
Staff – 4.5/5
Parking/Commuter lines – 5/5
TOTAL – 45/50