We are beginning this week with a bang discussing part no. 2 of our Vermont series, Stowe! I chose Stowe when researching Vermont for its relevance to where I grew up: a small town nestled above the Green Mountains and, of course, vibrant fall colors surrounding the entire region. Stowe sits closely to several other desirable destinations, making it the perfect jumping off point to take in the state. Let's get right into what Stowe (and others!) has to offer!
Before we jump in, I want to note that traveling from out of state (New England residents excluded) requires a COVID test 72 hours before departure. Did they pull us aside at the airport to check? No. However, I have heard that they have done this with people traveling to the East Coast. However, we did need the test for entry into one museum. Overall, my take on travel with COVID is to be respectful of state mandates and not put others or yourself in a position to spread the virus. Wear a mask, people!
Planning for the Time of Year
(Reposting from my last Vermont blog as a disclaimer) Every region of Vermont offers different peak times for viewing fall leaves. Before our trip, I religiously followed Vermont Instagram accounts and fall foliage reports to ensure we were visiting during peak times. A challenging feat when traveling/planning from across the country! By Vermont standards, we were probably a week shy of peak season. However, as Californians, it was tough for us to tell at the time as Vermont was so beautiful!
Where We Stayed
Stowe is situated on a stretch of road clad with beautiful shops and restaurants. We opted to stay close to downtown at a local air BnB right off the main highway, and boy, it did not disappoint. Marion was an unbelievable host and an award-winning wedding cake baker! I cannot rave enough about our experience staying with her and exploring her property, featured above! If you are opting to stay in a hotel in Stowe, the Stowehof and Edson Hill are excellent options as well.
The downtown area of Stowe is home to some fantastic shops and restaurants to browse through. Take a quick walk to Stowe Mercantile, which has incredible knick-knacks that made me want to pay additional money for another checked bag. They also had an array of local beer and sweet treats for purchase. I featured some treasures we found above as we could not resist buying beer and fudge (judge us)! Take a walk further up the street and visit Stowe Kitchen and Bath, where you can browse for fun kitchen gadgets and wonder why Smeg products cost an arm and a leg. Further down the main drag is the Stowe covered bridge along the river, a charming view of the town's center.
Where to Eat/Drink in Stowe
There are great options for restaurants & breweries walkable or a close drive to downtown Stowe. Head to Butler's Pantry for breakfast (we did not have breakfast there but heard amazing things!) or Stowe Bee Bakery for coffee and pastries.
For lunch and dinner, visit Doc Ponds or Piecasso for casual dining options. The Bistro at Ten Acres and Edson Hill Manor are two sophisticated options for your dining experience. I would highly recommend calling these restaurants before you visit, as closures, reservations & weird hours are familiar with COVID travel!
The brewery experience is a fantastic way to sample the unique local brews and ciders in the area. We stopped into Stowe Public House for a couple of rounds of beer and cider and loved connecting with the owners. The outdoor space is adorned with Adirondack chairs and tables to enjoy the crisp fall weather while you sip Shacksbury cider (my recommendation!). A couple of miles up the road, Von Trapp Lodge is an authentic Austrian/German beer hall that is home to where the actual Von Trapp family resided in the Sound of Music (order the spaetzle!). Also, check out Idlyetime Brewery and Alchemist Beer for more options!
Lastly, head to the outskirts of town to Waterbury and the first stop for coffee at Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co. (it's in the cutest red barn!) as you head toward Cold Hollow Cider Mill, which has the best cider and apple cider donuts in town!
Smuggler's Notch State Park
Image by Allison Gray of Mount Mansfield via Hellbrook Trail and the Long Trail
Although we had inclement weather and could not venture here, I suggest venturing to Smuggler's Notch for a hike! All trails have curated trail maps to easily plan your morning hike!
Burlington and Shelburne are located in Northwestern Vermont and host an array of fun activities and dining options. About a 40-minute drive from Stowe, Burlington is the gateway to Lake Champlain and a college town.
We first drove to Shelburne, which is a town full of incredibly adorable fall activities. Shelburne Farms & the Inn at Shelburne Farms are two of the first properties I wanted to visit. This beautiful farm is home to animals, apple orchards, and breathtaking fall foliage. Down the road is Shelburne Orchards and The Shelburne Country Store, and our initial intention was to apple pick here and a little shopping. However, the rain prevented us from venturing too long on the grounds.
Burlington has more of a 'city' feel, with lots of shops, restaurants, and breweries to choose from. We ended up dining at a local French restaurant, Leunig's Bistro. We had the most incredible duck fat poutine french fries that you did not know you wanted to try. The food was unbelievable and a pleasant surprise. The Gryphon looked terrific as well (look up their hours!). For drinks, Foam Brewers was suggested by locals, and if we weren't so full from lunch, we would have absolutely stopped by (the lights outside are beautiful). For shopping, head into Common Deer for local goods and where I purchased a cozy Vermont sweater.
Overall, I was disappointed the weather didn't cooperate with us for this town as I would love to go back and visit!
What are your favorite spots in Vermont? Let me know in the comments below! Up next, New Hampshire & Maine!