In the wintertime, Stowe, Vermont is a mecca for skiers with its abundant snow, picturesque lodges, lifts, and slopes.
In the summertime, Stowe is great for camping, hiking, biking, paddling, and swimming in a crystal-clear lake with a waterfall.
Fall, however, brings in the leaf-peepers to view nature's stunning display. Steve and I were there in late September, and the crowds were beginning to arrive. We found much to enjoy.
APPLE CIDER AND DONUTS
Cold Hollow Cider Mill is THE place to go for hot or cold cider and fresh-off-the-conveyor-belt cider donuts. So good! The store sells a variety of merchandise, and there's a cafe on the property serving breakfast and a full menu of sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soups for lunch.
Cabot Creamery has been the cheese source in the region since 1919. The retail location in Waterbury (which is practically adjacent to Stowe) gives ample opportunity to sample many types and make your choice. Staff members are knowledgeable and helpful. I found several new favorites.
Lake Champlain is near Stowe but not IN Stowe. The candies bearing that name, though, are in plentiful supply. All Lake Champlain Chocolates are made in small batches in Burlington, Vermont. You can actually order some to be shipped right to your door. When you're in Stowe, look for one of their outlets near Cabot Creamery. In fact, you can park in the lot between them and enjoy both stores.
GONDOLA RIDE TO THE TOP OF MOUNT MANSFIELD
What could be better than a view from the top of a mountain WITHOUT having to physically climb to see it? Travel the way the skiers travel -- on a gondola. Stowe Mountain Resort at 7416 Mountain Road is where you'll begin your Gondola Skyride experience. Fair warning. This isn't exactly cheap, but we enjoyed this nice splurge.
According to my research, there are TEN covered bridges near Stowe. If you are on a covered bridge quest, you will want to find all of them. On this trip, we just went to one -- Emily's Bridge, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of Emily who was jilted by her lover and then died at the site of this bridge.
MAPLE SYRUP TOUR AT TRAPP FAMILY LODGE
I love the story of the Von Trapp Family (think "The Sound of Music"), their escape from Nazi Austria, and their relocation to Vermont. Steve and I weren't able to spend a lot of time at the Trapp Family Lodge, but we did take the maple sugar tour, which involved a brisk hike into the woods behind a very in-shape guide. Can you see/hear me huffing and puffing? After learning the story of how much labor is involved in its production, the taste of syrup given at the end has a lot more significance.
BEN & JERRY'S ICE CREAM
The lines are long at Ben & Jerry's flagship location, but so is the list of enticing flavors. Yes, you can buy Ben & Jerry's ice cream at your local grocery store, but there's just something about eating it in the place where it originated.
TREES AND INCREDIBLE VIEWS
Everywhere you look, you'll find beauty. Take the back roads and meander your way through this part of Vermont. Stop often for photos and breathe in the incredibly unpolluted fresh air. This is the kind of place that will refresh your soul.