Valentine’s day is usually synonymous with romance, most commonly in the form of dinner. For Phil and myself the holiday celebrating love is equivalent to weekend getaway. But where? We knew we wanted to explore a new destination, one that allowed for us to experience a stereotypical winter with snow, cold-weather activities, and quaint restaurants that would satisfy our foodie cravings. After some quick google searching we decided to #GoStowe and make our way to Stowe, Vermont!
We knew we wanted to make the most of this mini vacation and that Stowe is a little over 3 hours away from Boston. So a three-day weekend and a half-day Friday was a must. After packing (maybe a little too much), I swung by Phil’s office to get him and hopped on 93 North. We hit some traffic, but made it to the 89 split by 4pm at which point we grabbed some kettle corn and coffee.
Once on 89, our playlist of John Mayer, Fleet Foxes, and Ray Lamontagne set an idyllic mood as we weaved and wound through majestic mountains amongst the sunshine and crisp 30 degree weather. Excitement of the unknown burst within us as the picturesque views of The Green Mountain State unfurled around us. We arrived in Waterbury, Vermont (where our Airbnb was located) just after dark at around 6:30pm, just in time to grab some food at a local restaurant famous for its microbrews and amazing BBQ (you read that right, BBQ in Vermont).
The rest of our weekend was magical full of unseasonably warm temperatures, snowshoeing excursions, devouring delectable dinners, and road tripping around northern Vermont. We left our hearts in that snowy town, vowing to head back during the summer months for some warm-weather activities. Keep reading for our itinerary of our Weekend Getaway in Stowe, VT!
Valentine’s Day Weekend in Stowe, Vermont
- Bring layers, lots and lots of layers. Nighttime temperatures can drop below zero and daytime temperatures sometimes barely crack freezing. Extra wool socks, fleece-lined leggings, flannel shirts, and cotton sweatshirts are musts. Don’t forget mittens, scarves, hats and some sturdy winter boots. They are are the best in the heaps of snow, messy slush, and mud.
- Book a place through Airbnb or a room at a real B&B – it’s the way to go. Many of them provide the essentials and some even have amenities of a modern hotel! Most of the larger resorts are pricey and the major hotels are located outside of these ski towns.
- Think beyond skiing! Don’t get me wrong, the skiing is superb. But there are so many other activities to experience the winter-white landscape.
- Talk to the locals! Waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant? Poking around local shops? Buying tickets for a Ben & Jerry’s tour? Chat with the locals, Vermonters are the definitely the friendliest of all New Englanders and they will more than likely have some great tips of which brews to try.
Where to stay: Like stated previously, book a room at a B&B or search for an Airbnb online before your trip. Don’t be afraid to look a little outside of the area you came to visit. Our original thought was Stowe, but Waterbury is only 15 minutes away from downtown Stowe and offered its own charm. Note: If a larger resort is what you’re after, check out Stowe Mountain Resort. It offers over 116 ski trails, and lots of options for kiddos if traveling with children.
Where to eat, drink, and be merry:
- K C’s Bagel Cafe: Great breakfast option offering New York-style bagels with over 12 homemade cream cheeses to satisfy any craving. We opted for bagel sandwiches with Canadian bacon, and boy oh boy, they did not disappoint.
- Prohibition Pig: Industrial decor sets the mood in this southern haunt with dishes like southern-BBQ-meat-plus-three-sides meals, juicy burgers, and even Beruvian pretzels complete with Heady Topper mustard dipping sauce. This establishment also has a brewery – check it out for some micro brews that will warm your insides after a long day in the fresh air. Oh and try the hot sauces, I’ll let them speak for themselves!
- The Blue Stone: Rustic pizza joint with a wide array of brews. Be sure to check out their specials menu for fresh and creative toppings. You’ll want to take leftovers (or an entire additional pizza home, we don’t judge) home with you for a late night snack.
- von Trapp Family Brewery: The von Trapp Family is a Stowe staple. The newest addition to the property is the brewery. Though it has been around for only seven years, the Bierhall structure fits right in with its surroundings. This place is the perfect food break after an amazing day of exploring the acreage at the Lodge. Check out the sauerkraut mashed potatoes and the lager cheese soup. Oh and they have pretzels too, great compliment to their home-brewed lagers!
- The Spot: Looking for a great brunch place in the area with a laid-back atmosphere? How about a little a little care-free ambiance? The Spot is your spot. It’s a Hawaiian surfer spot smack dab in Vermont. Try their fish tacos, they do not disappoint.
- Magic Hat Brewery: Eclectic art mixed with beer, what could be better! Get a tasting card to try four of their tapped beers (or make friends with one of their friendly bartenders to keep the little shots of beer coming). The beer depends on the season and also what the creative concocters decide to brew up that month (specialty brews change frequently). Our favorites: Local Rocker, Laughing Stock, Fat Angel.
- Switchback Brewery: This brewery serves a wide range of ales ranging in color and taste, all of which are unfiltered. Order a ‘Founding Four Flight’ for a rainbow of options or make your own ‘Flight of Four’ with their seasonal/special brews. And if you’re hungry, they serve $2 hot dogs which hit the spot after a day of drinking!
What to do:
- Snowshoeing at von Trapp Family Lodge: There are over five trails to choose from ranging in length from 1km to 5km. Hike through peaceful, snow-covered trails sounded by towering maple, birch and pine trees. For a special treat, choose the Sugaring Tour where you trek to the Trapp Sugarhouse while listening to an informed guide tell you everything about maple syrup, including the how the von Trapp family started sugaring and an overview of the sugaring process – you even get a taste of Vermont’s finest maple syrup made right there on von Trapp property. Another option is the 5km trail that leads to The Cabin where you are treated to an amazing bowl of stew!
- Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides in Stowe: There are dozens of options for one of the most romantic winter outdoor activities in the area. This has always been one of my favorite things to do in the winter as a child with my parents. We opted to try it at the von Trapp Lodge. Though it was fun, it was a little too noisy for our liking and the route wasn’t as expansive as hoped. Try Gentle Giants Rides or the Adams Family Farm for a change of scenery.
- Road Trip to Burlington: The largest city in Vermont known for its breweries and the breathtaking views of Lake Champlain and Port Douglass, New York. Be sure to walk downtown hitting Church Street Marketplace, Waterfront Park, the Lake Champlain Naval Memorial, and ECHO (a great kid-friendly museum).
- Ben & Jerry’s Tour: I think this one is pretty self-explanatory, who doesn’t want to learn how this brand makes its famous ice cream? Be sure to check out the Flavor Graveyard, take a tour to see behind-the-scenes action, and pick up your favorite memorabilia. Oh and don’t forget to grab your complimentary sample and your favorite pint before heading back to your hotel.
- Green Mountain Coffee Cafe and Visitor Center: This well-known coffee brand is commonly seen throughout New England. Check out their Cafe for a special caffeinated delicacy. My favorite: a Cafe Vermont made with steamed cream, espresso and maple syrup. Once you taste it, you will sweeten your coffee with nothing but fresh maple syrup again.