Reuters - Online
February 25, 2011

STOWE, Vt (Reuters Life!) - Nestled in a valley in north-central Vermont, near Mount Mansfield the state's highest peak, Stowe is the quintessential New England village with picture-postcard vistas.

It is also one of the top ski and snowboard destinations in the northeastern United States with the longest average trail length in the region, a vertical drop of 2,360 feet and 485 skiable acres.

For Nordic skiing enthusiasts the Trapp Family Lodge, the first cross-country ski resort in the nation, offers 62 miles of groomed and back-country trails.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a short stay in the area.

FRIDAY

4 p.m. - Arrive at your hotel or inn and unpack before exploring the town. Visitors are spoiled for choice with Stowe's range of hotels and lodges.

The Green Mountain Inn (www.greenmountaininn.com) in the heart of the village dates back to 1833, while the road leading from Stowe to the mountain is dotted with motels and lodges for every budget. Guests at Stowe Mountain Lodge (www.stowemountainlodge.com) at the base of Spruce Peak can ski-in and ski-out and enjoy a spa and wellness center.

5 p.m. - Take a stroll through the village. The Stowe Visitors Center (www.gostowe.com) on Main Street provides information about cultural events, accommodation and activities. Browse in the quaint shops, stop for a coffee or hot chocolate or visit the Vermont Ski Museum in the village.

7 p.m. - Stowe has more than 40 restaurants to suit all tastes. Try the Blue Moon Cafe (www.bluemoonstowe.com) on School Street, just off Main, which has a menu that changes weekly, or Frida's Taqueria & Grill (wwwfridastaqueria.com) in the historic Butler House building on 128 Main Street.

9:00 - For music, comedy and theater check out what is on at the new Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center at 122 Hourglass Drive. Tickets and times are listed on www.sprucepeakarts.org.

SATURDAY

8 a.m. - Wake up early to make the most of a day on the slopes. Have breakfast at your hotel or try The Bagel at 394 Mountain Road (tel: 802 253-9943), which opens at 6:30 a.m. and boasts 18 varieties of bagels, or eat at The Dutch Pancake Cafe at 990 Mountain Road (tel: 802 253-8921), where 80 types of pancakes are served.

9:00 - Head to the mountain. If you don't have your own equipment ski shops on Mountain Road and at the base of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak can outfit skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. A free ski shuttle bus runs throughout the day from Stowe making frequent stops along Mountain Road to the ski slopes.

The two ski areas, Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, cater to skiers of every level. The 3.7 mile-long Toll Road enables beginners to practice their technique, while the black double diamond trails provide plenty of challenge for experts.

1 p.m. - Time for lunch. At the top of the Mount Mansfield gondola The Cliff House restaurant (www.cliffhouse@stowe.com) combines stunning mountain views with award-winning American cuisine. For simpler food such as soups and burgers try Mansfield Cafe at the base lodge or the Midway Cafe and Bar.

2:30 p.m. - Head back to the slopes for some afternoon skiing or try other outdoor pursuits such as dog sledding with Alaskan Huskies (http://www.edendogsledding.com), snowmobiling with Stowe Snowmobile Tours (http://www.stowesnowmobiletours.com) or enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride at Sterling Mountain Farm (tel: 802-253-5895.

4:30 p.m. - After a day outdoors enjoy some apres ski activities and refreshments at Stowe's numerous lodges, cafes and inns such as Spruce Camp Base Lodge and Stowe Mountain Lodge and the Cactus Cafe on Mountain Road (http://www.cactuscafestowe.com).

8 p.m. - Whether you prefer Mexican, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Latin or American cuisine, there is a restaurant in Stowe that will provide it. For pizza, pasta and calzones try Piecasso at 1899 Mountain Road (http://www.piecasso.com) but don't be in too much of a hurry because it is usually very busy. For something more exotic, head to Red Basil at 294 Mountain Road, which is known for its sushi and Thai cuisine (802 253-4478).

10 p.m. - If you're not ready to call it a night many cafes and lounges have live entertainment during the ski season and on weekends, including Charlie's Pub & Restaurant (tel: 802-253-7355) and The Shed Restaurant & Brewery (theshedstowevt@aol.com).

SUNDAY

9:00 a.m. - Along with downhill, Stowe is considered a mecca for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. After eating breakfast at your hotel, or a more leisurely brunch at the Green Mountain Inn, get your cross-country skis ready for a morning of exercise at the Trapp Family Lodge (http://www.trappfamily.com), just a few miles from the village.

11 a.m. - After fleeing Austria during World War Two, the von Trapp family, whose story was depicted in the award-winning 1965 film "The Sound of Music," settled in Vermont and opened a lodge on a hilltop overlooking Stowe. The ski center at the lodge features groomed and back-country trails and provides equipment and lessons.

1 p.m. - Take a break for lunch at the Austrian-style lodge and stop in the gift shop which has books and memorabilia about the singing family.

3 p.m. - For ice-cream lovers, a stop at the Ben & Jerry's factory (http://www.benjerry.com) on Route 100 is a must. A tour of the factory shows how childhood friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, established the global ice cream empire.

If there is plenty of snow on the ground, combine the tour with some snowshoeing. Umiak Outdoor Outfitters (http://www.umiak.com) offers half-hour snowshoe tours in the woodland behind the factory on Saturdays and Sunday. 

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