Searching for the best things to do in Stowe Vermont? Then you’ve come to the right place! This post is here to inspire you with attractions, hikes, and places to see in this gorgeous destination.
Stowe is a charming historic town in the northeast United States known for its glorious fall foliage, its covered bridges, and its remarkable hiking trails. Whether you’re seeking a romantic hideaway or an adventurous pitstop on a New England road trip, the attractions in Stowe will more than deliver.
Keep on reading to find out what are the best places to visit in Stowe Vermont and how to plan your trip.
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Table of Contents
Useful Info for Visiting Stowe VT
How to get to Stowe
Stowe is located in northern Vermont in the northeast of the United States. Burlington International Airport (BTV) is located 23.3 miles (37.5 km) away and it takes 45 minutes to transfer to Stowe by car.
Slightly further afield, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) is 200 miles (322 km) away and requires a 3-hour drive. From downtown New York you are looking at a 5.5-hour drive to complete the 333 miles (536 km). These two airports offer more connections from European and worldwide destinations.
If you are flying in from overseas or from the West Coast, you can make a decision over transferring to the local airport or turning the journey into a road trip.
Best time to visit Stowe
Stower is a year-round resort that offers something special for each of its four seasons. There are so many places to visit in Stowe Vermont that you’ll definitely want to visit more than once!
Stowe and the wider state of Vermont are known for their forested landscape which turns all shades of gold, amber, and honey during the fall season. Fall is definitely the best time to visit Stowe if you want to experience the beautiful fall foliage.
So if you’re planning to visit Vermont in the fall, don’t miss including Stowe in your itinerary!
If you are planning on hiking then the summer months provide the best conditions for exploring the local trails. July is the hottest month but temperatures rarely exceed 66°F (19°C).
Stowe is one of the best skiing and snowboarding resorts in the northeast. If you’re planning a winter break in the mountains, skiing is one of the most popular things to do in Stowe. However, be mindful that temperatures plummet well below 32°F (0°C) during December and January.
How to get around Stowe
The town of Stowe itself is very small, you can get around on foot or with a rental bicycle. You can walk to most of the things to see in Stowe center.
However, most of the landmarks on this guide are located outside the town. The best way to get around Stowe is by your own car or a rental vehicle. There is a limited bus service although taxis are available in the town.
During the winter season (late November through early April) there is a free shuttle bus service through Green Mountain Transit (GMT). This provides access to the local ski resorts.
If you intend on getting around without a private vehicle then it’s worth downloading the Green Mountain Transit App.
Where to stay in Stowe
Stowe is well-equipped with hotels, guest houses, and motels to cater to all travel styles and tastes. Staying in the town itself is more convenient for shops, amenities, and restaurants.
However, if you want to stay somewhere more peaceful you can check out the best Airbnbs in Stowe. These provide an unforgettable base from where you can easily access all the best things to do in Stowe Vermont.
If you’re in a hurry, below you can find my top picks for different budgets.
LUXURY – Trapp Family Lodge
Located on 2,500 acres of land, Trapp Family Lodge brings the feeling of Austria right to the heart of Vermont. The Lodge offers rooms with incredible mountain views and countless exciting activities in the area.
MID-RANGE – Tälta Lodge
This stunning resort is equipped with sophisticated rooms and suites that fuse convenience, comfort, and style. Located along Mountain Road, this is the perfect rural retreat for getting out onto the hiking trails and ski slopes. Parking is provided free of charge.
BUDGET – Green Mountain Inn
This central hotel features a sauna, spa, swimming pool, gym, and restaurant. Each room is decorated with hand-crafted furnishings made locally. Complimentary parking is available.
Best Things to Do in Stowe Vermont
Now over to the crux of the article, here are the top things to see in Stowe and the most unmissable attractions!
1. Mooch around Main Street
Stowe feels more akin to a village than a town and there’s no place better to soak up the vibe than Stowe Main Street.
Stowe Main Street marks the center of the town and is brimming with adorable cafés, boutiques, and historic buildings and churches. Get yourself acquainted with the atmosphere by going for a stroll, taking photographs, and picking up maps from the visitor center.
Ski enthusiasts might also want to swing by the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum.
2. Follow the Stowe Recreation Path
The Stowe Recreation Path is a 5.3 mile (8.5 km) paved walkway suitable for walkers and cyclists. It begins in the heart of historic Stowe and concludes at the Topnotch Resort on Mountain Road.
As motorized vehicles are not permitted, the walk is peaceful and safe for families, runners, and dogs. The route features idyllic rural scenes and swimming spots that you can enjoy during the warmer months.
The Stowe Recreation Path is one of the classic attractions in Stowe that is suitable for all levels of ability.
3. Spend a day at Smugglers’ Notch State Park
Access to the Smugglers’ Notch State Park is via a scenic alpine drive shrouded with trees. Once you reach the park limits, there are dozens of hiking trails of varying difficulty that you can choose between.
It is also possible to camp at Smugglers’ Notch State Park if you’re seeking adventurous things to do in Stowe Vermont.
The trails are broken down into walks of 1-2 hours ranging from easy to moderate exercise expectations, “wikes” of up to 3 hours, and hikes of 4-6 hours with challenging conditions.
The road to the state park is only open during the summer months. Hiking trails and the campsite are accessible from late May/early June when the mud has dried out.
Even if you’re not big on hiking, it’s still worth driving through Smugglers’ Notch from Stowe to Jeffersonville and back. The whole route is insanely beautiful, especially when the fall colors are at their peak!
4. Experience history at the Grist Mill Covered Bridge
The Grist Mill Covered Bridge is one of the numerous covered bridges in Vermont. The structures were constructed during the 19th and 20th centuries in the US. Due to the state’s high number of rivers and heavy rainfall, they became a staple of the Vermont landscape.
Sloping roofs meant that rain and snowfall would simply slide into the rivers without causing too much damage. They also provided shelter to walkers and helped with the transportation of livestock over the bridges.
Nowadays these bridges are one of the most unique attractions in Stowe Vermont.
The Grist Mill Covered Bridge is one of the more mysterious bridges. The engineer is unknown and it also is referred to as the Scott Covered Bridge, the Bryant Covered Bridge, and the Canyon Covered Bridge.
It’s buried among the foliage and you can walk down to the brook as well – it’s beautifully scenic. Bonus point is that it’s actually super close to the end of the Smuggler’s Notch drive in Jeffersonville so you can tick off both attractions in one day.
5. Catch golden hour at Sunset Rock
Sunset Rock is a small public park atop a wooded hill in central Stowe. It only takes around 15-20 minutes to hike up the overlook which rewards you with a view of the town and Mount Mansfield.
As you walk up to the summit, pay attention to the paintings of local wildlife who call the area home. They were created by local schoolchildren and are really sweet!
You can visit Sunset Rock at any time of day. But, as the name suggests, this is one of the things to do in Stowe to coincide with golden hour.
6. Tour a brewery
Local breweries are one of the top Stowe attractions for beer drinkers. There are several options dotted around Stowe where you can unwind after a day of hiking and exploring.
Visit the Von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall for Austrian-style brews and food that you can enjoy with a 360-degree view of the scenery. Meanwhile, the Alchemist Brewery tempts with seasonal creations and a summertime beer garden.
If you prefer cider to beer, make a beeline for Stowe Cider. They create blends mixed with different varieties of fruit and the venue often hosts live music acts.
7. Hike to the scenic Sterling Gorge Falls
Sterling Gorge Falls is one of the most incredible natural things to see in Stowe Vermont. It’s located in the Green Mountains and comprises a series of cascading waterfalls and pools.
Access to the gorge is via a pleasant walk through the woodland from the Sterling Gorge parking lot. This is an easy hike that takes around 45 minutes each way.
8. Eat at a cute café
Stowe features an array of cute cafés and restaurants where you can indulge in a leisurely brunch, grab lunch, or unwind with a coffee. Stowe has all the charms of a classic small American town and it’s worth spending some time experiencing this in between ticking off Stowe attractions.
One place to check out is the Green Goddess Café on the banks of Little River. They specialize in breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, and scrambled eggs. The café features a homely dining room or you can grab a bite to go if you prefer.
Right in town, Café on Main is a prime spot to observe local life over a morning bagel.
Meanwhile, Black Cap Coffee & Beer is a jack of all trades, specializing in coffee, craft beer, light lunches, and home-baked goods.
Another great place for a delicious breakfast is Woodland Baking and Coffee where you can fuel up with locally made pastries and yummy sandwiches.
9. Hike to the summit of Mount Mansfield
With a summit of 4,395 feet (1,340 meters), Mount Mansfield is the tallest peak in Vermont. It’s located a short drive northwest of Stowe and you can’t miss it while you’re in the town.
Hiking to the summit of Mount Mansfield is one of the most adrenaline-pumping things to do in Stowe Vermont. This is the best way to appreciate the soaring views of the state from up high.
The loop trail is 7.3 miles (11.7 km) and takes around 5-6 hours to complete. With an elevation gain of 2,880 feet (878 meters) it’s a challenging hike that takes up most of a full day. Parts of the trail are steep and require scrambling and leaping over chasms so it’s only suitable for experienced hikers with a high fitness level.
The hike starts at the parking lot on Underhill State Park off of Mountain Road. Alternatively, if you’re not up for a hike, you can take advantage of the Gondola SkyRide which takes you up to the top of the mountain without having to break a sweat.
10. Drive the Stowe Scenic Auto Road
The Stowe Scenic Auto Road is a tourist-friendly toll road that weaves its way up to near the summit of Mount Mansfield. From the top, you can enjoy views of the Adirondack Mountains and the Lake Champlain Valley.
You can drive up and then tackle one of the hiking trails at the end of the toll road. Otherwise, it makes for a great drive – even if you’re not planning to hike.
Note that the Stowe Scenic Auto Road is only open between July and December.
11. Explore Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort is the number one attraction for skiers and snowboarders. If you visit Stowe during the ski season (late November through late April) then you can hit up the slopes for a day or two.
Even if you aren’t a skier, it’s worth visiting the resort purely for the views of Vermont covered in snow. During the summer months, Stowe Mountain Resort is transformed into an outdoor paradise of hiking, cycling, and music concerts at the performing arts center.
There is also an excellent spa that is open year-round – ideal for wellness seekers after relaxing things to do in Stowe. Also, if you would like to stay in this paradise, you actually can – just book a room at The Lodge at Spruce Peak!
12. Sunset Ridge Trail
The Sunset Ridge Trail is an alternative hike for exploring the area around Mount Mansfield. At a length of 5.1 miles (8.2 km) it is a little shorter and a fraction easier although it is still a moderate hike. In fact, parts of the Mount Mansfield Loop overlap with the Sunset Ridge Trail.
Much of the Sunset Ridge Trail is above the tree line so you benefit from exceptional scenery throughout the hike. The route doesn’t lead you directly to the summit of the mountain but if you follow the turn-off for Long Trail then you can tap on a visit to the highest part of the mountain.
As with the loop trail, there are parts that require scrambling and navigating steep drop-offs. Neither of these hikes should be tackled during inclement weather or by novice hikers.
13. Visit the “haunted” Gold Brook Covered Bridge
The Gold Brook Covered Bridge is another of the fetching covered bridges that stud the state. This one is more commonly known as “Emily’s Bridge”.
Apparently, a young woman named Emily fell in love with a wealthier peer during the 1850s. The man’s family disapproved of the match due to Emily’s lowly status.
After a failed attempt to elope, Emily leaped into the Gold Brook from this location. Her ghost is said to haunt the covered bridge to this day.
The Gold Brook Covered Bridge is one of the most Instagrammable things to see in Stowe Vermont.
14. Eat the original Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry’s is one of the most famous exports from the United States. And the beloved ice cream was conceived right here in Stowe! You can visit the original factory in Waterbury Village – a short ride south of Stowe.
Besides touring the factory and sampling the latest flavors, you can also pay your respects to the past flavors. The “Flavor Graveyard” is a testament to previous creations that are no longer available but provide an essential part of the brand’s legacy.
15. Walk to the Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge
The Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge is yet another covered bridge that you can’t miss in Stowe. This one is dedicated to Giles W. Dewey, a local farmer, politician, and philanthropist who died in 2000.
This bridge is located in the town center so it’s one of the attractions in Stowe Vermont that you can visit without needing a car. The structure actually only covers the pedestrian part of the road.
16. Venture your way to Stowe Pinnacle
The Stowe Pinnacle is a 3.7 mile (6 km) out and back trail southeast of the town.
The route is moderately challenging and is not recommended during the winter months. Snowfall is heavy and you would need specialized equipment. But during the summer months, it’s a popular trail with hikers and rewards you with fresh air and gorgeous scenery.
The view from the top includes Mount Mansfield and the surrounding valleys.
17. Dip your toes in the Moss Glen Falls
Moss Glen Falls is a spectacular waterfall located in the woodlands northwest of Stowe. In fact, at a lofty height of 85 feet (25 meters), it’s the tallest waterfall in Vermont!
You can walk to the waterfall in as little as 20 minutes or opt to take a longer route of 2-3 hours.
The short trail is easy and fairly well-signposted from the parking lot. Towards the end, you will meet a fork where you can either go left up a steep section to the right to follow the outer edge of the river to the base of the falls.
Map of the Best Attractions in Stowe VT
Below you can find a customized map that includes all the locations mentioned in this guide about the best things to do in Stowe, Vermont. This way you can ensure you’re not missing out on anything!
If you open up this post on your phone and you click on the bracket in the upper right corner of the map, it will open up in your Google Maps app so you can always have it with you. Super convenient, right?
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