13+ Best Things To Do In Stowe, VT: A Guide To Visiting The Resort Town On Less (2023)

A year-round savings guide of the best things to do when visiting Stowe, VT and the surrounding area on a budget with free and cheap fun for all ages.

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Known as the ski capital of the east, Stowe, VT is the birthplace of alpine skiing in Vermont circa 1933 and it also houses the oldest ski patrol in the nation at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort.

About 15 minutes from the ski resort is the Stowe Village Historic District which is packed with things to do off the mountain. The Village is an adorable, quaint New England small town featuring the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum as well as a smattering of shops, cafes, and restaurants situated along or adjacent to Main Street (Vermont Rte 100). Among the shops are several general stores, a bookstore, home stores, clothing stores, gift shops, and an art gallery. 

Beyond the immediate vicinity of Main Street lies the Trapp Family Lodge of the von Trapp family from the Sound of Music, Maple Syrup Sugarhouses, countless state parks and state forests with ample outdoor recreation opportunities, ski and snowboard shops as well as additional restaurants, breweries, wineries, and cideries. 

1. Make some tracks at the famed Stowe Mountain Ski Resort

On top of Mt. Mansfield in front of the Stowe sign

Check out my detailed savings guide for visiting Stowe Mountain Resort on a budget with discounts on lift tickets, rentals, tune-ups, group lessons, dining, lodging, and parking as well as tips on how to maximize your day on the slopes.

Find your Stowe, VT accommodation below!

2. Go on a free gondola ride

The Over Easy gondola at Stowe Mountain Resort is free for anyone to use and is an especially great activity for those too young to hit the slopes. The Over Easy gondola transports passengers from the base of Mt. Mansfield across the road to the base of Spruce Peak.

The Over Easy gondola
The free Over Easy gondola at Stowe Mountain Resort

3. Go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing

A great budget-friendly alternative to hitting the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort, snowshoes or cross-country ski rentals are a fraction of the price and allow you the opportunity to escape the crowds while enjoying an incredible, largely untouched winter wonderland. There are a handful of outfitters in town that provide rentals.

snow shoeing

4. Visit a Maple Syrup Sugarhouse

A true Vermont experience not to be missed! To witness “sugaring”, the process of producing maple syrup or the more refined maple sugar, visit a Maple Syrup Sugarhouse in the springtime. Be sure to call ahead before your visit as sugaring is weather-dependent. Visit https://vermontmaple.org/mohw for the spring Maple Open House schedule (typically late March/early April). Additional sugarhouse experiences accessible outside of the Maple Open House events include:

  • Stowe Maple Products on Rte 100 – the most accessible; active sugaring happens during the spring only, however, the retail shop is open year-round.
  • The Sugarhouse at Trapp Family Lodge – only accessible by snowshoe or cross-country skis with a trail pass.
  • Nebraska Knoll Sugarfarm – 4WD recommended for traversing the long, dirt road which is often muddy come spring.
collecting maple sap
jarred maple syrup

5. Spend time in the quaint Stowe Village Historic District

Walk up and down Main Street, browse the shops and art galleries, grab a bite to eat or drink, or go to a museum. This small downtown is at no loss for things to do.

6. Check out the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum

The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum is free with a suggested donation of $5 and has limited hours of operation. Check their website or call (802) 253-9911 for more information.

The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum
The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum

7. Shop ’til you drop 

The best deals were found at The Boutique inside the Stowe Mercantile where they had a $10 clothing rack, a $20 clothing rack, a 50% off clothing rack, and Stowe branded shirts and sweatshirts for <$20. And many of the sale items were actually quite attractive and stylish. I walked away with three nice dress shirts for $50!

The Stowe Mercantile
The Stowe Mercantile – home to a country store with delicious food, beautiful gifts, and souvenirs; the Boutique; Bear Pond Books; and the Café on Main.

8. Try some local flavors

von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall is a great place to grab a drink, an Austrian meal, stunning views, and a dose of history. With its location slightly outside of town and its large square footage with ample seating, it’s likely a good bet for large parties. However, it’s always a good idea to make reservations ahead by calling or on Yelp. They have an inviting atrium with beautiful views of the expansive property.

The bierhall is connected to the iconic Trapp Family Lodge, of the Trapp Family Singers from the Sound of Music, by cross-country ski trails, and the road, of course. As we arrived by car, guests of the lodge were arriving by snowshoe – how picturesque!

Enjoying a Kombucha at the von Trapp Bierhall
Enjoying a Kombucha at the von Trapp Bierhall

As we had already been to the von Trapp Bierhall for dinner previously and since we had trouble finding other restaurants that accepted reservations, we opted for Piecasso on Saturday evening for their online OpenTable waitlist ability. The process worked seamlessly for getting a table with zero time wasted waiting around, however, we went at prime rush hour on a Saturday and experienced slow service. I would recommend trying to go before 6/6:30 or after 8:30 if you want to get your hands on some of their yummy pies.

9. Go on a spirits tour

With several breweries, wineries, and cideries in the area, there’s no loss for sampling and imbibing in local cheer.

Search for Stowe tours through Get Your Guide below!

10. Marvel in the fall colors

Vermont is known for having some of the most spectacular autumn leaves in the United States. Visit after the leaves have changed to their bright fall hues for a truly unforgettable experience.

fall colors

11. Hit the trails

Visitors can enjoy a plethora of hiking and outdoor recreation options outside of ski season.

The Stowe Recreation Path

The Stowe Recreation Path is a bike-friendly greenway connecting Stowe Village to the Top Notch Resort on Mountain Road.

a map of the Stowe Recreation Path
the Stowe Recreation Path shown on Google Maps
Stowe Recreation Path

Mt. Mansfield State Forest

Mt. Mansfield State Forest consists of 44,444 acres across seven towns and three counties. The state forest is named for Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont which is home to the Stowe Mountain Ski Resort. The state forest also includes four state parks: Little River, Smuggler’s Notch, Underhill, and Waterbury Center.

Mt. Mansfield State Park shown on Google Maps

Little River State Park

  • Waterbury Reservoir for swimming, fishing, boating, picnicking, and wildlife watching with nearby hiking and bicycling  
  • Home to the largest and most popular campground in central Vermont

Smuggler’s Notch State Park

  • Good for hiking, biking, bouldering, cave exploring, and ice climbing
  • Several hikes include the Long Trail (boasts a beautiful vantage point of Lake of the Clouds), the Sterling Pond Trail, and the challenging Hellbrook Trail
  • Wetlands boardwalk near the Barnes Camp Visitor Center Bingham Falls
  • Campground

Underhill State Park

  • Best known for hiking including 4 trails to Mt. Mansfield Summit
  • Lower and upper campgrounds, neither of which are accessible by car
  • A sheltered tent site that can be rented for 8 people and includes a picnic table, 2 grills, and a fireplace

Waterbury Center State Park

  • Waterbury Reservoir, great for fishing, swimming, and boating with 27 remote paddle-to campsites

Additional highlights within Mt. Mansfield State Forest

  • Lake Mansfield
  • Madonna Peak
  • Whiteface Mountain

Beyond the borders of Mt. Mansfield State Forest

  • Sunset Rock and Upper Overlook – hiking trail accessible from Stowe Village with a view of the town and mountains
  • CC Putnam State Forest
  • Cady Hill Forest
  • Sterling Gorge Falls
  • Moss Glen Falls
  • Kirchner Woods

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12. Get a sugar rush at the Ben and Jerry’s Factory

Ben and Jerry's pint wall
A sample of Ben and Jerry's "Marshmallow Sky" flavor
posing out front of Ben and Jerry's at the pint photo booth

About 15-20 minutes from Stowe village along the Waterbury-Stowe Road is the Ben and Jerry’s Factory. You can enjoy a 30-minute tour that includes an entertaining informational video with the history of Ben and Jerry’s, a bird’s eye view of the manufacturing facility, delicious samples, and photo ops for $6 per person (ages 12 and under: $1). There’s a retail shop and a scoop shop on-site if you just want to swing by for a cone or some swag, however, the tour is 100% worthwhile. Be sure to check out the flavor graveyard on-site to see all of the retired ice cream flavors!

13. Visit the Cabot Creamery Farmer’s Store

Along the Waterbury-Stowe Road, <15 minutes from Stowe village, is the Cabot Farmer’s Store of Cabot Creamery with a wide selection of Cabot products and other Vermont specialty foods including a selection of Vermont microbrews, hard ciders, and local and international wines. This is a great place to stop on the way into town to stock up on delicacies to enjoy during your time in Stowe and/or stop on your way out of town to take a haul home with you and enjoy for the weeks and months to come as you reminisce on your trip.

Cabot Creamery logo

14. Tour the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory

Just under an hour beyond Stowe in Shelburne, VT is the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory with tours for $5 ($4 for seniors, ages 12 and under are free). Sure to be a memorable experience for the whole family as you go behind the scenes to see how the teddy bears and other stuffed animals are handmade and nursed back to life in the Bear Hospital after injury. Many of the stuffed animals can be personalized and they all have a lifetime guarantee!

Vermont Teddy Bear logo

Happy planning and enjoy your trip to Stowe!

Let the Good Dimes community know in the comments below if you have any other recommendations for must-do Stowe activities, and don’t forget to check out my detailed savings guide for visiting Stowe Mountain Resort before you hit the slopes.

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