The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
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.
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 Essex is Vermont’s culinary resort and spa, and it includes a vast inventory of serious leisure tools such as complimentary snowshoe rental, afternoon cookies, high-speed Internet access, and a pool/hot-tub combo. The Essex is set in an 18-acre nook between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, offering guests splendid views and unfettered access to wealthy, cosmopolitan Yetis who just finished shooting their third History Channel special. Groupon holders will be put up in a double-occupancy room for two nights (a $269-per-night average value) and will get two hands-on, front-row seats to a Cook Academy class (up to a $220 value). Learn to wrangle a delicious and aesthetically impressive meal, rendering Pollack-inspired abstract pizza deliveries thankfully obsolete. Choose a class from the culinary calendar and begin cooking up a romantic getaway replete with self-concocted sustenance at The Essex Resort & Spa.
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.
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.