It all started with a deflated basketball. Though longtime friends Mike Kennedy and Eric Martin scoured downtown Boston for an inflating needle to fill it, no shops in the area carried one. They were frustrated—and they realized that other Bostonians looking for athletic gear were likely frustrated too. So in 1983, they opened City Sports, a shop stocked with all the footwear, athletic apparel, and sports equipment that the metropolis had been missing.
Nearly three decades later, Mike and Eric's neighborhood business has expanded to 20 shops across the East Coast. In addition to stocking popular brands such as Vibram, The North Face, and Patagonia, the store engineers its own CS by City Sports line. Shoppers include yogis, cyclists, and tennis players—anyone seeking to outfit active lifestyles, whether they're playing a team sport or braving the hike up the world's largest gumdrop. In addition to footwear and apparel, the staff stocks fitness equipment such as kettlebells, lifting gloves, and dumbbells.
In the tradition of the singing telegram and the gorilla-gram, PajamaGram provides a fun way to brighten the days of loved ones from miles away. Many of the hundreds of pajama designs for men, women, children, and pets can be personalized with names and monograms, before getting shipped across the country as gifts for friends, family-members, or enemies who hate sleeping. Family sets make for a cute all-clan sleepover, and head-to-toe Hoodie-Footie PJs provide a cuddly, all-over warmth.
Though members of the McCullough family began conserving their 500 acres for recreation in 1978, the land’s story begins even earlier. In 1796, Thomas Chittenden—Vermont's first governor—built his estate on the current site of Catamount Outdoor Family Center, and his old stone house still remains. Today, Jim and Lucy McCullough use the historic home as a bed and breakfast, inviting visitors to relax in three guest rooms and a sunroom overlooking rolling meadows and coniferous forests. In a formal dining room, servers ferry plates of seasonal fruits and vegetables from the homestead and local farms; in the master parlor, a baby grand piano and fireplace pay homage to historic pastimes and confuse visiting time travelers.
Outside, a panorama of the Green Mountains and the Winooski River Valley spreads out to the east. To the west, the Adirondacks stand against the sky and Lake Champlain unfolds across the horizon. The surrounding hills, woodlands, and croplands boast more than 35 kilometers of trails, where park staffers set visitors loose to hike, cycle, snowshoe, and cross-country ski at different times throughout the year.
Staffers equip visitors for outdoor exploits in the park store, renting cycling and skiing apparel as well as Bear-to-English dictionaries. Furthering a mission to educate others in local wildlife, they also host events such as cross-country cyclocross races and group trail runs. During day camps, children and adults can learn to navigate trails on mountain bikes, middle- and high-school students can practice trail running, and kids 12 and younger can grow to appreciate ecological conservation practices and nature journaling.
Framed by the tree-spotted foothills of Vermont, Rocky Ridge Golf Club’s 18-hole course unfurls across a verdant expanse of rolling farmland. Throughout the course, elevated fairways and greens offer breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding mountains, as well as a safe lookout from which golfers can detect rival armies of croquet players. Flower beds and rocky outcrops along short-grass corridors further accent the layout’s bucolic environs. Clubbers looking for lessons can seek out golf pro Ed Coleman, who roams the grounds in a zen state attained through 20 years of coaching experience and aromatherapy that uses the odor of freshly mowed fairways. Cozy, green-side seating and tables nestled in shaded porches await golfers for post-round relaxing at the clubhouse restaurant.
Stowe's location in a broad, fertile valley between the Green Mountains and Mount Mansfield—Vermont's highest peak at nearly 4,400 feet—makes it an ideal launching pad for outdoor recreation. Stowe Mountain Resort awaits skiers with 485 acres across 116 powdery trails, and snowboarders can catch big air or an aerial sighting of Bigfoot on the half-pipe.To counterbalance its adventurous outdoors attractions, Stowe also cultivates a more abstractly adventurous art scene. The West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park combines a traditional art gallery with an innovative and spacious sculpture park, showcasing the handiwork of budding and mid-career local artists.