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.
Built in 1814, The Stowe Inn’s elegant Victorian mansion brims with rare antique furnishings, old-fashioned hospitality, and contemporary amenities. The bed and breakfast nods to its rich history with oriental rugs and a 35-foot mahogany bar from the early 20th century. More wood furnishings accent the 16 guest rooms, where guests can relax upon Edwardian-style beds or use wireless Internet to email their garage door back home.
During the winter, a crackling fireplace warms the inn's library, and an in-ground pool offers a place to cool down during summer. Chefs at the onsite River House Restaurant serve upscale and casual dishes forged from locally sourced ingredients, and inn staffers prep a sumptuous daily breakfast buffet.
The posh inn serves as a convenient outpost near outdoor recreation, artisan shops, and craft breweries throughout the quaint town of Stowe. In nearby Waterbury, Ben & Jerry’s factory tours bestow behind-the-scenes access to the popular ice cream's production. There, visitors find cows grazing onsite, graciously accommodating autograph requests from starstruck fans.
What do you do with 17,000 gallons of water frozen into the shape of a towering waterfall? At the Northern Lights Rock and Ice, you climb it. The winter ice-climbing wall is just one of the seasonal and year-round features in store at this outdoor wonderland, which caters to individuals, families, and corporate retreats. Also on hand: dual 450-foot zip-line wires that crown a multi-level challenge course. Come summer, there's more climbing to be had on their "L"-shaped climbing wall with separate wall faces connected at the top by a cat's walk beam 25 feet in the air. Summiting the wall and crossing the beam requires strength, determination, and an ability to slip into the feline mind without succumbing to an obsession for catnip. Their experienced staff boasts 60 years of combined experience to ensure a safe and exciting adventure. See their "What to Bring" page for additional information.
Demirel Duzgoren has used his skills in chopping, spicing, sautéing, and grilling on three continents over the past 20 years. But no matter where he goes, he creates the Turkish and Mediterranean dishes of his homeland. Now at Istanbul Restaurant, Duzgoren and his staff cook up their favorite dishes found on the Bosphorus, from savory doner beef kebabs wrapped in warm pitas to fresh seafood. Plus, they use only halal meats.
Duzgoren also whips up Istanbul's most famous and traditional drinks. He pours thick, strong cups of Turkish coffee and herbal teas, and ends evenings with glasses of raki that, when mixed with water, turn a milky white and give off the scent of licorice.
On Saturday evenings, belly dancers serpentine around the white-clothed tables and fire-engine-red chairs, making diners feel as if they were in Turkey and teaching them the best dance moves to get out of a speeding ticket. Overhead, paintings of Istanbul hang on the walls along with charms to ward off the evil eye.
Dorset is a quintessential New England town, dotted with cozy homes and shops tucked into forested mountains and valleys. Visitors perusing the region's stores are bound to come away with a haul of fresh cheeses, local maple syrup, and warm woolens. The slopes of Stratton and Bromley mountains supply ample opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and downhill speed dating. Ice skating, snowmobiling, and sleigh rides round out the area's wintertime offerings.
The Green Mountains, a branch of the ancient Appalachians stretching across Vermont, draw their name from the layers of stately conifers carpeting the range's slopes. Although itself ensconced deep in this undulating verdure, Chittenden also lies in range of a number of maintained wildlife-management areas and the expanse of the Green Mountain National Forest, opening infinite vistas for hiking, mountain biking, and game hunting. In winter, the towering peaks of Killington and Pico ski areas send snow buffs swooping down latticed networks of trails or flipping through freestyle zones. The Coolidge and Okemo State Forests are about an hour away by car.For a taste of history, lodgers can make their way toward the nearby towns of Killington and Rutland, both of which unfurl charters dating to 1761, before the creation of Vermont itself. From September 2 to 11, Rutland parades taffy pulls, pig races, and crossroads-conquering fiddlers at the Vermont State Fair. Throughout the remainder of the year, multiple weekly farmers markets studded with Vermont maple syrup and alpaca weavings array wares downtown, alongside frequent outdoor concerts and other family-friendly events, many of them free.Though The Mountain Top Inn & Resort sometimes features a discounted price online, this Groupon still offers the best deal available.