Conde Nast Traveler
July 12, 2017
The ski destination works its mountain terrain all year long, with all-abilities hiking trails up Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. At Stowe Mountain Resort, fans of Barry’s Boot Camp and the monkey bars alike will delight in the Treetop Adventure, a progressive obstacle course of swinging logs, wooden bridges, and rope ladders, or perhaps its mildly terrifying ZipTour, which consists of three zip lines starting at the summit. Stowe, like much of Vermont, is for beer-lovers, especially with last summer’s opening of The Alchemist Stowe, the new home of the wildly popular double IPA Heady Topper, which you must drink straight from the can; you can also catch Heady Topper at Doc Ponds Eat & Drink and local favorite Prohibition Pig in next door Waterbury. (For picky kids and pizza-fanatics, head to Piecasso.) Stay at Field Guide, which offers a ‘60s motel vibe and design details like salvaged wood headboards and papier-mâché animal busts alongside communal dining and games like corn hole at in-house restaurant Picnic Social.
A recently expanded waterfront bike path in the quintessential college town now offers 1,600 miles of routes, many of them along scenic Lake Champlain, as well as family-friendly (and harder) hikes through Red Rocks Park and Ethan Allen Park. Find a fleet of six custom-made Budnitz steel city bikes, as well as refurbished wheels from local bike shop Old Spokes Home, to borrow at Hotel Vermont, also notable for its weekly trivia night and sailing lessons on Lake Champlain. Here, “beer concierge” Matt Canning is on hand to direct guests to craft beers from local breweries that include Foam Brewers, Switchback Brewery, and Zero Gravity. Give the kids an early education in good music at all-ages venue Higher Ground; summer shows include Alabama Shakes and The Shins, then eat at the newer location of the Waterbury favorite, Hen of the Wood, which does seasonal farm-sourced Vermont without an ounce of smugness (and gets the best-oysters-in-a-landlocked-state award). Another excellent option: Butch & Babe’s, which’ll serve you (though not your kids) pickled ramps in martini form.
Woodstock is the Hollywood version of the New England small town, village green and all. On your way in, stop by Long Trail Brewing Co., the state’s OG craft brewery, for experimental brews in its new farmhouse annex, or hit farm and winery La Garagista in nearby Barnard, where the owners host a pop-up wine bar. Downtown, find wheel-thrown tableware and themed workshops at Farmhouse Pottery, located in a former Bible bindery, and paper books—remember those?—at the Yankee Bookshop, Vermont’s oldest indie bookseller. Lodging options are unanimously charming. The 506 On the River Inn features 30 river-view rooms done up in local antiques while The Woodstock Inn goes the sleeker route with a recently-renovated spa as well as a partnership with New England Falconry which connects guests with flying and handling sessions as well as “hawk walks.” For more of the great outdoors, the historic Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, named after a trio of conservationists, hosts a mix of woodland trails. Under new ownership, The Lincoln Inn & Restaurant at the Covered Bridge has itself become a destination for its multi-course dinners with wine pairings. “Farm diner” Worthy Kitchen is the more casual option, with a long craft beer list and Vermont-inspired comfort food favorites like maple-bacon free-range chicken wings.
Long known as one of the Northeast’s most serious ski spots—it’s seven miles from Canada, should you fancy a poutine side trip—Jay turns into a festival town in the summer. This year, the Jay Peak Music Series welcome acts like Dark Star Orchestra and late ‘90s flashback Big Head Todd & the Monsters as well as offering food and craft vendors, free Ben & Jerry’s, and tie-dyeing how-tos. The town also offers plenty of sportier activities. Hike a network of off-mountain trails through Hazen’s Notch, paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, or aim for Jay Peak itself, where you can reward yourself with a beer up top at the Sky Haus Deli. Save room for food truck Miso Hungry, which dishes out authentic ramen from an old tram car, or a local steak at locals’ bar Belfry, in a former schoolhouse. Stay at the recently renovated Hotel Jay, comfortable and convenient with three in-house restaurants, or Tram House Lodge, an all-suite option with locavore bedding by Johnson Woolen Mills. B&B fans might opt for the unabashedly Vermont, and pet-friendly, Phineas Swann. And most definitely not to be missed: The Pump House, an indoor waterpark (with a retractable roof) that’s not just for kids (see: La Chute, a 65-foot, 45-mph tube slide), plus “flowriding,” basically an on-water combo of skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding that is as difficult as it sounds. Relax afterwards in the outdoor hot tub.