The Ultimate Guide to Winter and Spring in Stowe
Stowe is the perfect vacation spot any time of year, but in Stowe winter months and bright springtime, this scenic spot gets even better. The change from frozen icy waterfalls and white, wintery, snow-covered landscape to ice melting and trickling over river rocks and meadows with bright green sprouts of spring flowers poking through the melting snow is always exciting.
Winter Fun Outside
Stowe has a well-deserved reputation as a prime skiing destination. But, there’s so much more to Stowe winter than just skiing. You can spend the afternoon ice skating at the Stowe Arena or Spruce Peak Village Center, or sledding down Marshall Hill in Stowe Village. You can also try something new, like ice fishing, or treat your family to a dog-sledding adventure.
You can always just wander around historic Stowe Village browsing for antiques, local art, and picking up plenty of maple candy and other Stowe goodies. Stowe Mercantile and Shaw’s General Store both have Stowe and Vermont souvenirs, locally made cheese and maple products. Then head to one of the popular après ski spots to meet up with the rest of your group.
If you love downhill skiing and snowboarding, just head to the Stowe Mountain Resort. Sprawled over Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, the resort has over 116 ski trails and over 485 skiable acres. Plus, the ride between peaks on the gondola offers amazing panoramic views year round. And the resort offers horse-drawn sleigh-rides and dogsledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing, and ice skating too.
Fans of cross country skiing should head to the Trapp Family Lodge (the country’s first cross-country ski center). Skiers of all levels can enjoy almost 40 miles of groomed trails and over 60 miles of backcountry trails. And after a long hard day of shushing along the trails (and hopefully not faceplanting!), stick around and take a tour of the von Trap Brewery, then have a bite to eat at one of their on-site restaurants. Try the popular Bierhall for beer, bratwurst, and plenty of alpine atmosphere. A moonlight sleigh ride will be the perfect end to the day.
Break out of your comfort zone with ice climbing! Book a guide to learn the techniques and find the perfect spot, then get ready to work your way up a beautiful, frozen waterfall using axes and crampons toe-in to the vertical ice face. There are more than 100 climbing location in and around Stowe, including Bingham Falls (great for beginners) and several in famous Smugglers’ Notch.
Speaking of Smugglers’ Notch, you can enjoy this historic spot all year round. If you’re ready to brave the cold, but aren’t up to a strenuous hike, start out with the Barnes Camp Boardwalk. It’s an easy short walk, but the views are still amazing. Pack some snowshoes if you’re going to hike one of the trails to Smugglers’ Notch. The area trails are popular with cross-country skiers too.
Stowe Winter Holiday Festivals and Events
Stowe joins most of the cities and towns in the country with its annual Small Business Saturday, the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Head downtown and browse through the quaint shops and boutiques, art galleries and more as you pick up those last-minute Christmas gifts, and of course, add to your collection of outdoor wear and the latest equipment in one of the many local sporting goods stores. Start your leisurely shopping day at the Welcome Center for prizes and complimentary chocolate!
If that first big shopping day wasn’t enough to get you in the holiday mood, Stowe’s A Traditional Christmas in Stowe will certainly do it. Depending on the pandemic, this event may be virtual or live. Either way, it will easily put you in a holiday frame of mind, with the Stowe Community of Lights, live music concerts, auctions, and more. Grab a cup of hot chocolate or cider and wander the snow-filled streets of downtown as they sparkle with holiday lights and decorations.
Of course, every bar, pub, restaurant, and resort in the area will be celebrating New Year’s. Stowe keeps the holiday festivities going through January with the annual Winter Rendezvous and the Stowe Winter Carnival both in January. During the Carnival, the entire town is overflowing with ice carving demonstrations and how-to-classes leading up to the Professional Ice Carving Competition and Speed Competitions. Professional ice carvers set up in front of businesses all along Main Street and Mountain Road where you can watch them do their magic, turning giant blocks of ice into amazing sculptures of everything imaginable. The weekend ends with costumed snow-golf and snow-volleyball tournaments.
In February, skiers can test their skills in one of the oldest ski races in the country. The Stowe Derby is a 20-km cross-country ski race that starts out with skiers racing down the Mount Mansfield Toll Road, along the Stowe Recreational Path and into Stowe Village for the finish. The Derby also features a Fat Bike Race, a Short Course for kids, and of course, a town-wide party afterwards!
Spring Fun Outside
Stowe begins its shift from snowy white to bright green landscape in the spring. What a great time of year to hike the mountain trails or the Stowe Recreation Path! Skiers don’t have to worry, there’s still plenty of soft snow on the ground for skiing for a little while yet, but this is the time to make the switch from skiing and ice skating to hiking, fat bike riding, and kayaking. Fat biking riding is the thing for spring. No matter what the trails look like—dry and dusty or wet and slushy—these fat-tired bikes can handle it. The weather is warming up, just get out there.
If you’re ready to enjoy the best things to do in Vermont in the spring and just start hiking, Sunset Park is right in the middle of Stowe Village, and the view back down Main Street and the Green Mountains beyond is worth the climb. You can also try Bingham Falls, one of the more popular waterfall hikes. The area is a favorite spot for swimming, snowshoeing, ice climbing, and cross-country skiing too.
Spring Festivals and Events
Spring is the start of maple sugaring season! You can smell it on the air, and you can see the steam clouds billowing out of local sugar houses as they turn the sap into that delicious syrup. The Maple Sugar Festival, at the end of March, is a time to celebrate everything maple. Local sugar farms like Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm, Stowe Maple Products and The Trapp Family Lodge Sugarhouse will be open for tours and tastings of everything maple (including cocktails and milkshakes). Stop in at Cold Hollow Cider Mill for cider-pressing demos, then visit the vintage mill shop for everything Vermont. Don’t leave without a dozen of their famous cider donuts for snacking on in front of the fire later.
Head to Stowe Mountain Resort for the Stowe Sugar Slalom at the beginning of April. Some of the best skiing in Stowe is in the spring, when days start lasting a little longer and things begin to warm up. What began as a celebration of the start of spring, is now a full-fledged festival with slalom races, live music, BBQ, and costumes. Plus, there’s a slope side maple sugaring party!
The Stowe Farmers’ Market starts back up in May and runs every Sunday from May through October. The market offers local produce, meats, flowers, cheeses, and maple products. Pick up local craft beverages, baked goods, and prepared foods, along with local arts and crafts as you wander through the booths listening to live music and sampling local goodies. What a lovely way to spend a relaxing Sunday.
Things to Do in Vermont in the Spring and Winter Season
The Stowe Recreational Path is used year-round by residents and visitors as they hike, bike, skate, cross-country ski, and snowshoe along its path. The trail starts in historic Stowe Village, meanders north along the West Branch River past meadows and forests, farms, and old churches, and a historic, possibly haunted, covered bridge. Offering amazing views along the route, the trail also has plenty of picnic areas and benches for relaxing and enjoying the view, and it winds past restaurants, shops, and lodges where you can stop in for a pint. This popular trail is great for wildlife and bird watching too. Besides cows and horses munching down in the fields, there are all sorts of creatures in the meadows, marshes, river, and forested areas along the trail, including fox, coyote, otters, rabbits, turkey, hawks, and more.
We fish year-round here in Vermont. Those northern pike keep swimming, whether the water is coated with ice or not. Ice-fishing is big here, all you need is patience. Of course, every angler is waiting for trout season to open in April! If you’re new to Stowe, hire a guide who knows the best spots for catching that trophy rainbow or brown trout or native brookie. Fly or spin fishing, lake, pond or river fishing, the fish are waiting.
Hit the Ale Trail! Take a guided brewery tour (and let someone else do the driving) or wander on your own. If you’re looking for authentic Bavarian-style beer, head to The von Trapp Brewery and the Bierhall for beer, bratwurst, and plenty of atmosphere. The Alchemist is the most popular and most famous brewery in Stowe, and a must-visit for any craft beer enthusiast. Stop in for a few samples, then stock up on what you like from their shop. Easy! There’s sitting outside in the garden too. If you only buy one beer, try their famous flagship double IPA, the Heady Topper. Start things off at Idletyme Brewing Co. with their Beer Ski Flight, or if you know what you like, order a growler. This is a great spot for the entire family, and for beer lovers and non-beer lovers both. They have a full bar and a delicious farm-to-table restaurant. They’re known for their Bavarian weizens and their award-winning American-style Double IPA, the Doubletyme, is a local favorite.
Take a tour! There’s bound to be a tour for your particular interest, from Foodie Tours, Wine Tastings and Tours, History Tours, Covered Bridges Tours, Waterfall Tours and more. The
Stowe Lantern Tour includes a bit of history along with area hauntings, lit with an authentic replica of an 18th century barn lanterns. You can also take a guided tour of select farms and rural communities practicing sustainable farming techniques.
Tired of craft brew and wine tasting tours? How about a cheese tour? Download a map from The Vermont Cheese Council of cheese makers to visit. Why not plan a visit to a local cheesemaker and support our local artisans? I’m sure you’ve heard of Cabot Creamery, and now’s the chance to learn about other award-winning Vermont cheesemakers like Jasper Hill Farm and Spring Brook Farms.
Make a visit to the Vermont Ski & Snowboarding Museum in historic downtown Stowe, winter or spring. Located in the old Town Meeting House (the oldest active building in town), the museum’s exhibits showcase the evolution of ski equipment and fashion, historic ski lifts, iconic snowboard photography, Alpine and Nordic Skiing equipment, and much more.
It’s never too cold for ice cream! What could be better than a tour of Ben & Jerry’s – especially knowing it ends with a tasting of the flavor of the day. Can’t make the tour? Pick up a few quarts of your favorite to take back to your rental to enjoy, or order ahead for easy curbside pick-up.
Stowe Vacation Homes for Winter and Spring
There are plenty of things to do here in Stowe during your winter and spring vacations. Head out on your own, book a guided tour, or attend a local festival, it’s all good. Of course, depending on the way things are going out there, some events may be canceled, postponed, or turned into virtual celebrations. Just give our knowledgeable staff a call if you have questions on any event or need suggestions for the best taco joint or moose watching spot.