Top 21 Best Things to Do in Stowe Vermont in the Winter

There are so many things to do in Stowe VT in the winter you may not know where to begin! Here’s a list of the twenty-one most popular things to do in this winter wonderland.

Stowe VT in the winter with a snow cover

If you’re looking for the perfect East Coast winter getaway, look no further than Stowe, VT!

This quintessential New England village features every winter activity you could imagine. From skiing to ice skating, snowmobiling to ice fishing. You even have the opportunity to ride in a horse-drawn sled and experience dog sledding!

But there are more things to do in Stow VT in the winter than just activities. Stowe is also known for its fabulous restaurants, charming downtown, and annual Winter Carnival.

And non-skiers will also find plenty to do – from taking a gondola ride to relaxing in a spa, there’s something for everyone in Stowe.

So, without further ado, here are the top twenty-one best things to do in Stowe VT in the winter.

Go skiing and snowboarding

Skiers on top of Stowe Mountain Resort - among the best things to do in Stowe VT

Skiing and snowboarding are undoubtedly the most popular things to do in Stowe VT. And the Stowe Mountain Resort is considered one of the top ski resorts on the East Coast.

This ski mountain features 116 different trails with ten chair lifts and a diverse range of terrain suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. Stowe Mountain Resort has a family-friendly atmosphere with plenty of programs for children. (5781 Mountain Road)

Accommodations at the resort are varied and upscale, with many rooms facing the mountain. Other accommodations are available in town, including the Trapp Family Lodge, founded by the von Trapp family of “The Sound of Music” fame. It uniquely blends Austrian-inspired architecture, Nordic skiing, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. (See more about the lodge below)

Go cross-country skiing

Someone cross country skiing through a forest

Another popular activity in Stowe is exploring the town’s extensive network of cross-country ski trails. The region’s natural beauty, well-maintained trails, and reputable cross-country skiing centers contribute to its popularity among locals and visitors alike.

Here’s where you’ll find the best cross-country skiing in the area:

  • The Trapp Family Lodge: This resort features 40 miles of groomed trails and access to miles of backcountry trails. Passes are required for ages six and up. (700 Trapp Hill Road)
  •  Stowe Mountain Resort Cross-Country Center: The same resort that features extensive downhill skiing also has a cross-country skiing center with groomed trails suitable for all levels. Passes are required for ages five and up. (5781 Mountain Road)
  •  Wiessner Woods: This community-owned forest has trails for both hiking and cross-country skiing. While they aren’t groomed, the trails are well-maintained and suitable for various skill levels. (Edson Hill Road)
  • Cady Hill Forest: This conservation land features a network of multi-use trails, including those suitable for cross-country skiing. The trails wind through wooded areas and open fields. (Mountain Road)
  • Edson Hill: Edson Hill, a country inn, offers six miles of groomed Nordic ski trails open to the public. Passes are required for ages six and older. (1500 Edson Hill Road)

For additional information about cross-country skiing in Stowe, click here to check out Stowe Nordic’s complete list.

Ride in a sleigh

A horse drawn sleigh in the forest with snow cover

Going on a horse-drawn sleigh through a snowy forest is an experience not to be missed! There’s no better way to enjoy winter than to sit back, relax, and quietly enjoy the scenery. And there are plenty of opportunities for a sleigh ride in Stowe.

You can find horse-drawn sleigh rides at the following locations:

  • Trapp Family Lodge: Sleigh rides are available on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 PM to 3:30 PM. Reservations are required. Fees are $40 for adults and $20 for children. Cash only. (700 Trapp Hill Road)
  • Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa: Follow Stowe trails along the Westbranch River on the back of a horse-drawn sleigh. Contact the resort for more details. (1746 Mountain Road)
  • Gentle Giants Sleigh Rides: This private company provides sleigh rides through Stowe trails pulled by Belgian or Percheron draft horses. Contact the company directly for more details and to make a reservation. (3985 Mountain Road)

Traverse trails on snowshoes

Two people snowshoeing - among the best things to do in Stowe VT

Snowshoeing is another popular thing to do in Stowe VT in the winter. While less speedy than alpine or Nordic skiing, snowshoeing allows you to explore snowy terrain without stomping through thick snow.

Most hiking trails in Stowe are ideal for snowshoeing. Here are a few of the most popular.

For a list of Stowe’s top ten best snowshoeing trails, click here.

Go ice skating

A woman sitting on ice and tying skates with red gloves on

As if you needed more winter athletic activities, Stowe has one more to offer: ice skating.

One of the more prominent and popular places to ice skate is Spruce Peak Village’s outdoor rink. This resort is surrounded by Stowe Mountain, making combining ice skating with a day of skiing easy. The rink is free, and ice skate rentals are available.

Another indoor option is the NHL-sized rink, Stowe Arena. A short drive from downtown Stowe Village, the arena offers public skate times, typically around noon. (350 Park Street)

Experience dog sledding

The view of dogs pulling a sled from someone sitting in the sled

Among the fun things to do in Stowe VT is to try the exhilarating experience of dog sledding. As you sit on a sleigh, a guide will mush you through the snowy wilderness with a team of sled dogs.

These local businesses offer dog sledding:

  • Umiak Outdoor Outfitters: offers 30-minute (15 minutes of riding) evening dog sled tours at Ryder Brook Golf Club. Reservations can be made online or by phone. (1746 Mountain Road)
  • Eden Ethical Dog Sledding: offers an extensive tour on private trails with experienced mushers and a team of well-trained sled dogs. The ride is one hour long, with additional time spent with the dogs and learning about dog sledding. (1390 Square Road, Eden Mills)

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Go winter ziplining through the canopy

Ziplining is a popular summer activity, but have you considered doing it in winter? While certainly colder, ziplining through snow-covered trees can be a thrilling experience.

ArborTrek Canopy Adventures offers a canopy tour that’s 2.5 to 3 hours. It includes traversing eight ziplines, two sky bridges, the experience of rappeling from trees, and instruction on the local ecology and natural history. (1239 Edwards Road, Jeffersonville)

Ride on a snowmobile

Someone snowmobiling through woods - among the best things to do in Stowe VT

For more adventure, a snowmobile ride through fresh powder can be an exciting experience and a great way to explore the backcountry.

Snowmobile Vermont offers a two-hour 25-mile journey through the Mount Mansfield State Forest and can accommodate beginning and advanced riders. (56 Old Farm Road)

Après-ski at Stowe Village

The perfect way to spend a jam-packed day of skiing or snowboarding is to stroll through Stowe, a quintessentially New England village. Main Street is full of historic buildings and charming architecture that exudes a small-town atmosphere.

Of course, you’ll also want to explore the quaint shops and boutiques along the way, showcasing everything from local crafts and art to outdoor gear and clothing. Stowe Mercantile, the local country store, is a popular destination, offering a mix of Vermont-made products, gifts, and traditional candies.

Stowe Village also has a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and eateries. While not exactly appropriate for après-ski, Butler’s Pantry is a popular destination for breakfast. Stowe Bee Bakery & Cafe serves up breakfast and lunch and also features an après ski menu from 2 to 5 PM. For dinner, Harrison’s Restaurant & Bar is the place to go for a casual but refined meal featuring local and seasonal favorites.

Go winter hiking

Vermont is undoubtedly known for its fantastic hiking trails, not just in the summer!

Winter hiking can be a great way to take in the scenery on days when snow cover is light. And many Stowe hikes offer breathtaking views of snow-covered landscapes.

Popular hiking destinations include:

  • Sunset Rock: this easy walk through the woods leads to a vantage point with views of Main Street below. (Sunset Avenue)
  • Stowe Pinnacle: this 3.6-mile moderate hike leads to one of the most photographed views in all of Vermont. Beware of icy conditions near the top.
  • Bingham Falls: this moderate half-mile hike leads to a 40-foot waterfall.

For a complete list and description of hikes in the area, click here to see the Stowe Hiking Guide.

Visit the Trapp Family Lodge

A view of the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe VT
Photo credit: Dicklyon / Creative Commons

Sound of Music fans will want to carve out time to visit (or stay in!) the Trapp Family Lodge. After the real-life von Trapp family fled Austria, they made their way to Vermont, purchased a farm, and eventually built an alpine-inspired inn, now a resort.

While staying at the lodge is a treat, visitors can still take a tour and walk the grounds to enjoy the architecture and mountain views. You can also grab something to eat or drink at the Kaffeehaus or von Trapp Brewing Bierhall.

Guests of the Trapp Family Lodge can take advantage of a long list of amenities, such as an indoor pool, sauna, and climbing wall. Outside, the resort also features cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails and horse-drawn sleigh rides. (700 Trapp Hill Road)

Visit Ben & Jerry’s factory

The outside of Ben & Jerry's factory in Vermont

After you’ve had your fill of outdoor activity, a fun thing to do in Stowe VT is to visit Ben & Jerry’s factory.

This iconic ice cream brand began in Vermont, and while Ben and Jerry are no longer the owners, the legend lives on. A tour provides insight into the history of the company, a tour of the factory, and, perhaps best of all, free samples at the end.

Tours are available daily from 10 AM to 6 PM. Advanced online ticket purchases are highly encouraged. (1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury)

Take a scenic gondola ride

A gondola at Stowe Mountain Resort

If you’d love to see expansive mountain views but aren’t eager to ski, a gondola ride to the top of Mount Mansfield is right up your alley.

As the highest peak in Vermont, Mount Mansfield offers incredible views. Once you reach the top, you can eat at the Cliff House restaurant, visit the gift shop, or enjoy a treat at The Waffle.

Tickets are $45 for anyone ages 13 and older and $32 for children ages 5 to 12. Ride times are 9 AM to 4 PM during the week and non-holidays and 8 AM to 4 PM on weekends and holidays.

See Stowe by hot air balloon ride

With its charming village surrounded by beautiful mountains, Stowe is a sight to behold. And there’s no better way to take in the view than from the air in a hot air balloon.

Above Reality, in Essex Junction, offers rides that traverse over Stowe in all seasons. Flights last about three and a half hours and include private or shared rides. Check the website for prices and how to make a reservation.

Visit local covered bridges

The Goldbrook Covered Bridge - seeing covered bridges is among the best things to do in Stowe VT

Nothing gives the sense of rural Vermont more than visiting or driving through a historic covered bridge.

The covered bridges in or near Stowe have their own unique personality and feel.

  • Goldbrook Covered Bridge: about five minutes outside Stowe Village, Goldbrook Covered Bridge features a walnut-stained gable built in the mid-19th century. You can find it at the intersection of Covered Bridge Road and Gold Brook Road.
  • Brookdale Covered Bridge: built in 1964, Brookdale Covered Bridge is the newest bridge on the list. It’s located at one end of the Stowe Recreational Path and can be accessed from Brook Road off Route 108.
  • Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge: although used for pedestrians instead of vehicles, the Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge still carries the same charm as other covered bridges. This bridge is near the center of town on Route 108, close to the intersection with Route 100.
  • Red Covered Bridge: just outside the town’s border and a ten-minute drive from Stowe Village is the cute Red Covered Bridge in Morriston. As the name suggests, this bridge is entirely red with a rustic exterior, built in 1896.

See related: 11 Dreamy Covered Bridges in Vermont You Must See

Attend the Stowe Winter Carnival

If you’re visiting town in the middle of January, check out the Stowe Winter Carnival.

For three days, the town puts on fun activities, competitions, and tournaments. It’s especially known for the masterful ice carvings on display by professional carvers. You’ll also find live music, dance parties, and evening star gazing.

Go ice fishing

A fish being pulled out of an ice hole

If you’re looking for a more low-key winter adventure, ice fishing is among popular things to do in Stowe VT.

The local outfitters Catamount Fishing Adventures and The Fly Rod Shop offer half-day and full-day fishing excursions with a guide. During your ice fishing adventure, the guide will show you how to ice fish and share techniques for getting the fish.

Visit the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum

Ski enthusiasts will want to visit the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum, which is “dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the rich history of skiing and riding in Vermont”. 

In addition to fascinating exhibits like Searching for Vermont’s Lost Ski Areas, the museum also features a Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, honoring athletes and individuals who have raised Vermont’s reputation as a leader in winter sports.

The museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 12 PM to 5 PM. There’s a suggested admissions donation of $5 per adult. (1 South Main Street)

Attend the Stowe Derby

If you’re in town in February, a fun thing to do in Stowe VT is to participate in or attend the Stowe Derby.

This unique event started in 1945 as a bet between two outstanding skiers: Sepp Ruschp, an Austrian, and, at the time, head of Stowe’s ski school, and Erling Strom, a world-renowned mountainer from Norway. The challenge was to see who could make it to Stowe Village from the top of Mount Mansfield the fastest. Ruschp thought alpine skis were the best method, while Strom felt Nordic skis were the way to go. Ruschp won on his alpine skis.

Today, competitors travel exclusively on Nordic skis through twenty kilometers of challenging terrain with a vertical drop of almost 2,700 feet. Winners typically complete the course in about 43 minutes, while less competitive skiers can take a couple of hours.

Not ready for such a rigorous challenge? The Derby Short Course has less of a descent, is six kilometers long, and follows the final leg of the long course.

Take a scenic drive

One way to enjoy the winter scenery is by driving along the Smugglers’ Notch Scenic Drive.

Beginning in Stowe Village, follow Route 108 north, also known as Mountain Road, to Jeffersonville. Along the way, you’ll pass through picturesque forests, Stowe’s resort village, rock outcroppings, and over a shoulder of Mount Mansfield. Keep a lookout for the many pull-offs along the way that allow you to take in the beautiful scenery.

The drive is eighteen miles in total. It’s best to allow at least an hour to drive the entire distance roundtrip, stopping to take in views along the way.

Relax at a spa

Among the most soothing things to do in Stowe VT in the winter is to visit a spa! And Stowe’s resorts have several.

These day spas are highly ranked on Yelp:

  • The Spa at Spruce Peak: includes various spa treatments and packages + a view of Mount Mansfield. (7412 Mountain Road)
  • Topnotch Spa: a full-service spa with thirty private treatment rooms. (4000 Mountain Road)
  • Spa at Snowflake Resort: a smaller-scale but full-service spa. (1746 Mountain Road)

(As a GetYourGuide affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.)

A photo of Kerry Flatley leaning against a wall

About Kerry Flatley

Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.

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