Fun, family friendly activities in Stowe, Vermont for year round adventure.
Visitors to Stowe will enjoy the magnificant colours in fall, the snow activities in winter, and the leisurely to strenuous mountain trails in summer.
Nestled in between the Green and Worchester Mountain ranges, along the Little River lies the picturesque Stowe, Vermont. Opportunities for year round family fun abound, especially for outdoor and winter sport enthusiasts.
Here is our list of the best 20 things to do in Stowe, VT, that both kids and adults will enjoy:
- Leaf Peeping in Fall – Stowe Pinnacle Trail & Foliage Boat Tour
- Peruse arts & crafts at the Stowe Foliage Arts Festival
- Explore Stowe Recreation Path
- Fly in a hot air balloon
- Play Mini-Golf at Stowe Golf Park
- Hike One Of Stowe’s Many Scenic Trails; Weissner Woods, Sunset Rock Trail, Bingham Falls
- Camp in Smugglers’ Notch State Park
- Mountain Bike in Cady Hill Forest
- Tour Stowe with a Four Points Mountain Bike Tour
- Gold Brook Covered Bridge aka “Emily’s Bridge”
- Drive the Stowe Mountain Toll Road
- Ride a Gondola to the top of Mt Mansfield
- Snow sports at Stowe Mountain Resort
- Tour the Historic Von Trapp Family Lodge
- Visit the Vermont Ski & Snowboarding Museum
- Indulge in Laughing Moon Chocolates
- Take A Day Trip from Stowe to Waterbury
I was dreaming of a fall road trip with my family and Stowe hits all the things we look for, mountains, fishing, hiking, fun attractions, in a charming village with good eats, quaint shops, and comfortable places to sleep.
Due to COVID and changing restrictions, we highly recommend checking out Stowe’s latest updates and resources for travellers, before planning your trip.
Family Friendly Things To Do in Stowe, VT
Fall Foliage: Leaf Peeping in Stowe
Fall in New England is enchanting, and one of the best times to take in the natural beauty of Stowe, Vermont. Prime time for leaf peeping runs from mid September to mid October. Check out Vermont’s Foliage Report for the current conditions.
Stowe Pinnacle Trail
Stowe Pinnacle Trail is known for its spectacular leap-peeping in Fall, and summit views year round. From the summit you will have an unobstructed view of the Green Mountains, and Stowe village below.
This steep 3.7 mile (6km) hike has a few rocky sections, and takes about 90 minutes. It is considered a moderate to difficult trail, so not suitable for people with mobility issues, or very young children. In winter, the route is snowed-in but can be accessed by snowshoe.
Fall Foliage Boat Tour
Now if you are looking for Fall adventures on the water, the Fly Rod Shop offers seasonal foliage boat tours on the Waterbury Reservoir. Here you can experience the explosion of colours, in between two mountain ranges from the comfort of your chartered boat.
The tours run September 18 – October 15th and last about an hour.
Keep an eye out, you might even be lucky enough to spot whitetail deer, bald eagles, or an osprey.
The Fly Rod Shop also offers a program called Family Gone Fishing. This 3 hour guided tour takes you and your family to a “secret fishin’ hole”. They include instruction and all gear. How fun is that. My seven year old would love fishing from a secret spot.
2703 Waterbury Road, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-7346 or 1-802-253-3964
Stowe Foliage Arts Festival
Every year in early October, the Stowe Foliage Arts Festival celebrates the most colorful season. With fine art and craftwork from 175 juried artisans, these artists exhibit and sell their crafs, as well as original art, photography, sculpture and seasonal food products. The festival is a great place to get a head start on your Christmas shopping.
In addition to shopping, there is live music, fantastic food and craft beers. A feast for all the senses.
PLEASE NOTE: While the festival has unfortunately been cancelled for 2020, you can still support the artists who rely on these shows for their livelihood through their Virtual Craft Fair.
Craftproducers PO Box 300 Charlotte, VT 1-802-316-5019
Explore Stowe Recreation Path
The Stowe Recreation Path is a four season greenway running from Stowe Village to Top Notch Resort on Mountain Road. Its flat, 5.3 mile (8.5km) paved trail is shared by bikers, runners and pedestrians in warm weather. In cold weather, join snowshoers and cross country skiiers for a little winter wonderland excursion.
You’ll pass covered bridges, farms, swimming holes, or take a short detour to one of the many shops and resturants that can be easily accessed from the path.
A great way to explore Stowe with your family is to take a relaxed bike ride along the recreation path. No motorized vehicles are allowed, so the littles (and their parents) have less to worry about. Stop for a swim, and a picnic along the way. Not to worry if you didn’t bring bikes, there are a few shops in town where you can rent one, or five.
Stowe Parks Division, 352 Park Street, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-6148
Fly In A Hot Air Balloon
If you plan on visiting Stowe, VT in summer, you won’t want to miss their three-day Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival. Each July, the town’s skyline blooms with rainbow coloured hot air ballons.
Don’t mind heights, join the multitude of hot air balloons dotting the sky, with mountains as your backdrop. Finding the perfect Instagram shot, just got easier.
Back on earth, delight in family friendly local entertainment, games, and kids activities like face-painting. Or sit back and relax at the beer and wine garden, while sipping your favourite beverage.
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa 1-802-253-7355, ext. 5538
Play Mini-Golf at Stowe Golf Park
Hours: Open from May until October, 10:00am – 9:30pm daily
Cost: $10 adults (13+), $8 children (6-12), 5 and under free. Discounts for groups, seniors and yearly passes.
Mini-Golf, but with a twist.
Kids and their discening adults will love a chance to check out the Stowe Golf Park located in front of the Sun & Ski Inn.
This course is a real golf course, but in miniature. Expect 18 holes of landscaped rolling greens, and natural obstacles that would regularly occur on a full-sized course. With gorgeous mountains in the background, who needs windmills? Be sure to watch out for hazards, sand traps, rough grass and trees.
1613 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-9951
Hike One Of Stowe’s Many Scenic Trails
Stowe, known for it’s natural beauty, offers world class trails ranging from easy to expert. Hiking is a popular summer activity around Stowe, and with over 40 trails to choose from it’s easy to see why.
- For short, gentle trails try the Wiessner Woods or Kirchner Woods trails.
- For a leisurely sunset walk, take the Sunset Rock Trail
- For spectacular views and a more challenging hike, climb the Stowe Pinnacle Trail (see leaf peeping above)
- For waterfalls explore Bingham Falls, Moss Glen Falls Trail or Sterling Gorge Falls
To do justice to all the trails would require multiple posts, but I will highlight a couple below.
Wiessner Woods is a 79-acre conservation area, maintained by the Stowe Land Trust. The family of Muriel Wiessner gifted the land in memory of her late husband Fritz.
The forested land has a network of well maintained trails that wind their way through the woods. This is a great place to enjoy an easy stroll with family. Along the way you will experience brooks, foot bridges and many species of trees including maples, white pine, birch and hemlock.
Wiessner Woods is used for hiking, dogwalking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. However bikes and snowmobiles are not allowed.
You won’t want to miss out on these special places:
- Meadow Overlook – for majestic views of Mt. Mansfield & old stone walls dating back to the 1800’s
- Vernal Pool – home to woodland salamanders & frogs.
- Spruce-Pine-Hardwood Forest – for 100 year old trees. Look for snowshoe hare tracks in the winter.
- Gnome Home – this one’s for the kids. Watch out for the Gnome of Weissner Woods on the way to the Sugarhouse Loop.
Edson Hill Road, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-7221
Sunset Rock Trail
Sunset Rock Trail is located in the heart of Stowe’s historic village. It is a fairly easy but steep 200 yard / 0.2km climb to the actual Sunset Rock. This lookout provides stunning views of Stowe, particularly at sunset.
Bring a picnic and let your family enjoy the sun as it descends behind Green Mountain.
If you are eager for more, the trail continues for another 0.25mi / 0.6km to the Upper Overlook for fabulous views of Mount Mansfield.
The best way to access the trail is by foot (no parking) from Sunset Street via the Sunset Rock Trail. Follow the wildlife themed trail markers painted by Stowe Elementary School students. You can also access this trail at the parking lot on top of Taber Hill Road.
In summer, taking the short, fairly easy trail to the swimming hole at the bottom of Bingham Falls, should be at the top of your must do list.
Bingham Falls Trail is located in Mount Mansfield State Park, just outside of Stowe.
The 0.5mi / 0.8km out and back hike, can be accessed by either two paved pull offs via Route 108 / Mountain Road or through the Stowe Land Trust owned Mill Trail.
Its 72 acre property is popular with both visitors and locals for hiking, picnicking, swimming, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeiing. Which does mean it can be busy during peak times.
The waterfall is a series of cascades ending in a 40 feet drop into the emerald pool below. One caution, the last part of the climb down to the falls is steep and can be slippery. Make sure to watch your young’uns.
Route 108, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-7221 (Stowe Land Trust)
Camp in Smugglers’ Notch State Park
About 6 miles (9.7km) from town, Smugglers’ Notch State Park is open year round. Here you will find campgrounds with twenty campsites and fourteen lean-to shelters, as well as access to numerous trails, including the 273 mile (439km) Long Trail that runs the length of Vermont.
For an easy route, take the wetlands boardwalk near the Barnes Camp Vistor Centre, or the popular Sterling Pond Trail. For a more challenging hike, I hear the Hellbrook Trail is fun.
Smuggler’s Notch itself, is a narrow pass through the Green Mountains, surrounded on either side by 1,000 foot cliffs. The winding road is only accessible in winter by snowmobile or skis / snowshoes.
In the past, the “Notch” was a hot bed for illegal activities. Following the US trade embargo with Britain & Canada, cattle and goods were brought through the pass from Canada in the 19th century. During prohibition illegal booze was smuggled from Canada to the US.
6443 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT Phone: 802-253-4014
Mountain Bike Cady Hill Forest
Cady Hill Forest is abandoned farmland from the 1700’s, that has regrown into a white pine and hardwood woodland area. The forest extends 258 acres, 23 of which are designated as wetlands.
The eleven miles of trails are popular with mountain bikers for the steep grade of the hill, and it’s switchbacks. In warm weather it’s also a popular place for hikers and dog walkers.
In winter grab your cross country skiis or snowshoes, and make some tracks. Although please note that some parts of the park are closed off in winter for the safety of overwintering deer overwintering.
Mountain Road, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-7221
Four Points Mountain Bike Tours
On the topic of mountain bikes, Four Points offers mountain bike lessons and guided mountain bike tours around Stowe. From beginners to advanced riders, they have lessons and private tours for all levels.
Private Group Clinics and Rides are still available right now.
For a more adult centred activity, Four Points also offers microbrewery tours. These involve three hours of mountain biking in the morning, lunch, and then a brewery tour to 5 breweries in the afternoon.
Note: Brewery Tours are currently on hold, until they can safely open back up for tastings.
Or for a more artisanal flare, try one of their Specialty Tours. You will be transported to a local glass blower, a metal worker, cheese maker and a variety of artisans in the area. They can even tailor your tour if you give them advance notice.
Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-793-9246
Gold Brook Covered Bridge aka “Emily’s Bridge”
If you are looking for a ghostly encounter, the Gold Brook Covered Bridge, more commonly known as Emily’s Bridge should be on your list of things to do in Stowe, Vermont.
Legend has it that the bridge is haunted by a girl named Emily, who died there. Stories vary as to how she died, and there is no evidence she was actually a real person. However many people claim to hear strange noises, such as footsteps, and a girl screaming.
This small, covered wooden bridge was built in 1844 over the Gold Brook and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Drive The Stowe Mountain Auto Toll Road
Hours: 9am to 4pm daily (weather permitting).
Cost: $25/car and $9/passenger
If you are keen to reach the top of Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont but don’t want to break a sweat, the Stowe Mountain Auto Toll Road has got you covered.
The Auto Toll Road is open daily to cars (no bikes motorcycles, or scooters) from May to October most years.
The Toll Road is over 150 years old, and winds it’s way 4.5 miles (7km) to the summit. From the top, enjoy views of the Adirondacks, the White and Green Mountains and the Lake Champlain Valley below. On a clear day, you may even be able to catch a glimpse of Mont Royal in Quebec.
The upper road also provides access to three trails, the Cliff Trail, Long Trail and Canyon Trail. All are about 1.5 miles long and climb about 550 feet.
7416 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-3000
Ride a Gondola To The Top Of Mt. Mansfield
Hours: Open daily from 10am – 4:30pm weather permitting, until the end of fall foliage.
Cost: Adult: $30, Child: $21, Family Pack (2 adults, 2 children): $88
If you are heading to Stowe in the summer or fall, another easy way to enjoy Vermonts highest peak is to take a gondola ride. What, you don’t have to hike to the top, you say? Not if you don’t want to (though hiking up is an option).
Visitors can ride in style at Stowe Mountain Resort. The gondola is your sweat free ticket to soaring heights, that is unless you are afraid of heights. If so we suggest taking the Auto Toll Road instead.
Wanting more of an adrenaline rush? Try their zipline back down the mountain. The Nosedive Zip is 4,462 feet long and 180 feet high. There are also shorter options.
They have two side-by-side lines on each zip span, so you can experience the thrill with a friend or family member. Kids must be 10 years or older to zip.
7416 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-3000
Winter Activities: Get Your Fill Of Snow Sports At Stowe Mountain Resort
Writing about things to do in Stowe would not be complete without mentioning snow sports, and the Stowe Mountain Resort.
The Resort offers spectacular skiing and snowboarding on Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Head out on one of their 116 trails or try your hand (or is it foot) at nordic skiing on their 26 miles (42km) of groomed cross country trails.
With abundant snowfall, diverse terrain, natural beauty and a wide variety of winter activities, it is easy to see why it has been called one of the top ski resorts in the US.
Stowe Mountain Resort is a fantastic year round destination. In warmer months it offers mountain hikes, rock climbing, golfing, and zip lining.
7416 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-3000
Tour the Historic Von Trapp Family Lodge
The Hills are alive……… Ok, I couldn’t resist. The historic Von Trapp Family Lodge was indeed owned by the very same family immortalized by Julie Andrew’s and the Sound of Music.
In the 1940’s the von Trapp Family moved to Vermont, and opened their rustic lodge in 1950. Family members still run the lodge today.
Here you will find amazing views of Stowe, an Austrian-inspired alpine lodge rebuilt after a fire in 1980, a brewery and brew hall, austrian inspired meals, and a 90 minute historical tour.
In summer they offer wagon rides, and in winter sleigh rides on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Reservations are required.
In winter you can also learn to cross country ski here at the first nordic ski centre in the country. The Trapp Family Lodge is home to 37 miles of groomed trails.
700 Trapp Hill, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-800-826-7000 or 1-802-253-8511
Visit The Vermont Ski & Snowboarding Museum
Hours: Open Friday & Saturday 12 PM-5 PM and by appointment Wednesday & Thursday
Cost: Suggested donation is $5/adult
Housed in a converted church, the Vermont Ski & Snowboarding Museum celebrates Vermont’s ski and snowboarding history from the late 19th century to present day.
Inside you can watch a documentary on the history of skiing in the US, and enjoy their exhibits which range from ski fashion and historical equipment, to the 10th Mountain Division, an infantry unit in the US Armed Forces.
Be sure to also check out the gift shop, and their hall of fame, dedicated to honoring the athletes and pioneers of Vermont skiing history.
1 South Main Street, Stowe, VT Phone: 1-802-253-9911
Indulge in Laughing Moon Chocolates
Hours: 10am – 6pm Monday through Saturday
After a long day on the slopes, or an afternoon traipsing the mountain side, something sweet is next on the list. Laughing Moon is a gourmet chocolatier located in downtown Stowe that cooks in-house their own truffle, caramel, buttercream, marshmallow, fudge and buttercrunch.
78 South Main Street, Stowe, VT Phone: 802-253-9591
Take A Day Trip from Stowe to Waterbury
Once you have exhausted all the fun things to do in Stowe, a day trip is in order. Travel the 14 miles from Stowe to Waterbury, along the Green Mountain Byway.
Driving in between the mountain ridges of the Green Mountains and the Worcester Range you will be blessed with stunning views of farmland, forests, open meadows, and three state parks. All set against the backdrop of majestic peaks.
Kid Pick: In Waterbury, don’t miss out on the Ben & Jerry Factory Tour, or one of the legendary apple cider donuts made by a Donut Robot at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. They also offer cider and hard cider tastings.
Alright, now that you have a starting list of all the best things to do in Stowe, Vermont, I hope this will inspire ideas for your next family vacation.
If you’ve been to Stowe, did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know below, or connect with us on social media. We’d love to hear from you.