Family Circle
May 11, 2013

Stowe, Vermont

It's classic New England: church steeples, country roads and covered bridges.

Hot Sports: Rent kayaks and canoes and paddle where Native Americans once ventured (pinnacleskisports.com). Walk, bike or Rollerblade along 5-mile Stowe Recreation Path, which winds over 10 bridges. Or hike the more strenuous Pinnacle Trail for great views of Stowe. Drive Mountain Road through narrow Smugglers? Notch (navigating carefully around ginormous boulders) to Smugglers' Notch State Park, with secret passages that were once an escape route for slaves and a hiding place for Prohibition-era bootleggers.

Cool Happenings: Sound of Music fans: The von Trapps settled here and opened a lodge, where you can take historical tours (trappfamily.com) . For a wild ride, zipline with ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, nestled in a valley below Smugglers' Notch (arbortrek.com). Or get pulled by a team of 10 Alaskan huskies—the sled is on wheels. Splurge-worthy tours start at $195 (edendogsledding.com).

Lodging Deals: At laid-back Stowe Motel & Snowdrift, lounge in a chaise while the kids swim. Deluxe efficiency rooms start at $126 a night; two-bedroom apartments start at $160 (stowemotel.com). Fifteen minutes north, Smugglers' Notch Resort has eight pools, four waterslides, a skate park and unlimited family fun. Five-day packages in a condo that sleeps four start at $1,780 without kids' programs and $2,140 with (smuggs.com).

Side Trip: An hour west is Burlington, Vermont, a funky college town with a pedestrian mall full of cool shops and restaurants. Picnic along the shores of Lake Champlain or go sailing on the Friend Ship, a classic New England sloop(whistlingman.com).

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