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Published: January 16th 2009
Covered Footbridge, Stowe VT
Footbridge which connects central village to majority of lodges and resorts.
I wanted to take some time to summarize our trip, from the traveler's perspective. Also, attached to this post are some photo highlights from our trip.
I highly recommend the village of Stowe, and Mt. Mansfield, for a ski vacation. For anyone who lives in a city, or is overrun with commercialization, advertising, and everything else that accompanies a fast-paced lifestyle, Stowe is a refuge. The village is flavored by plenty of old-style shops (like Stowe Mercantile) and plenty of old-world charm. From its quiet Main Street with Town Hall, Church, and Visitor's Center all in a row, to its precision crafts-men and women, to its comfortable and inviting "everyone's-a-local" atmosphere. I speak for, at the very least, Jess and I when I say that we felt rejuvenated from all the stress and anxiety of city life thanks to our time in Stowe.
Our trip wouldn't nearly have been as much fun without the lodge we stayed at. Our room was wonderful (and actually represented one of the best deals in the area, financially speaking), with a large whirlpool bath in-room, a kingsize bed, TV and wireless access. We even had a back porch, which I guess
Golden Easgle Resort entrannce, Stowe VT
Main entrance sign to the lodge we stayed at during our vacation.
is more useful in the summer. The place is very quiet at night, but our room was next to an office or kitchen or something, because every morning there was a lot of noise from someone working behind one of the walls of our room. It was strange when we wanted to go use the indoor pool because you had to get dressed in all your outdoor gear, walk over to the poolhouse, get charged into your swim gear, do your swimming, and then dry off and change back to return to your room. Seemed counter-intuitive, but all-in-all, getting to swim in some toasty-warm water was very relieving after a long day of skiing. Jess' and my favorite amenity of this lodge goes totally unsung by their website, staff, or guestbook. On a late-night stroll around the grounds, Jess and I found sleds at the top of a tall hill! At probably 11:30 at night, there was plenty of light from the parking lot to sled under the stars. It was really just so much fun, getting to be a kid and have some nonsense.
As far as eats, I have a few recommendations. But as a precursor,
First view of Mt. Mansfield
On our first drive up to the mountain, Jess snapped this photo when the mountain first came into view.
I feel I should add that the time we spent in Stowe is technically just before their "peak time". So I can't speak for the service or availability of restaurants if you visit during a different (more busy) time of their tourism seasons. That said, the first restaurant I want to praise is the Malt Shop. Great ice cream, as you would expect from a place named the Malt Shop. But more impressive is their delicious food. And at very reasonable prices. I personally advise you to try the turkey club, and Jess was a big fan of their Broccoli and Cheddar soup. "Get a bowl, not a cup," she says. The atmosphere in the place is great too, lots of 50's-era decor all over. And hand-assembled collages under the glass of each tabletop. Service is attentive, but not in your face.
We tried two places for pizza, Pie In The Sky and Pie-Casso. The first is an outer-space themed pizza joint; the second is a Pablo Picasso-themed pizza joint. I was not terribly impressed with P.I.T.S., whose acronym is totally unfair, as their food is just fine, and there was nothing wrong with it at all. I
Gondola Ascending, Stowe VT
Spruce Peak trails are featured in the background.
am not a big fan of flatbread pizza, so that is really my only complaint. Again, fast service and fair prices galore. Pie-Casso was a much bigger hit with me, since their pizza was new york style, with plenty of cheese to go around. The ambiance in Pie-Casso was great too, with lots of Picasso-inspired paintings and mosaics, modified to have his subjects eating pizza. We finished the meal with a really good Cannoli.
As far as fancy/expensive meals, we had two. One accidentally, one intentionally. First fancy meal we ate was at 3,500ft. The reason it was accidental is because we were dressed in ski gear, and as it turns out, Stowe's summit restaurant is the only place to get eats on the summit and is rather fancy. Being dressed in ski gear from head to toe, we really weren't sure if we were allowed to let our wet clothes drip all over their shiny and seemingly black-tie-only restaurant. However, there was no mention of our gear, so this is apparently quite the norm at this high-altitude dining choice. As I said, this restaurant was pretty up-scale, and my plate came with a lot of foods I
Mt. Mansfield trails, with Spruce Lodge
Spruce Lodge is the mountain's main lodge, with brand new dining and lodging facilities.
didn't recognize. Those of you who know me know that I am not the kind of guy to go for the flashy stuff; I'd just as soon have a burger and fries at the pub. So I can't speak as to the exclusivity or exoticness of the ingredients. I ordered Salmon, which was really quite delicious, but like I said there was a lot of things on the plate I didn't recognize, and quite frankly did not enjoy. On the other hand, Jess had a delicious Greek Spinach salad with "the best feta cheese I've ever had in my life!" The waitress we had was extremely friendly and a really great person. She told us about her history with skiing, and helped us plot a fun course down the mountain. This being a fancy restaurant, with something of a glamorous locale, it was a bit on the pricey side, but still not ludicrous. I've eaten in Philly for more.
Our second fancy dinner was just a short walk across the street from our Lodge, at the Partridge Inn Seafood Restaurant. I had some mouthwatering Swordfish, and Jess had a plate of delicious Crabcake-Stuffed Shrimp. The service left something
Rooms 118 & 119, Golden Eagle Resort, Stowe VT
This is where we lived! We had Christmas lights on our signpost!
to be desired, and the first thing our waitress asked us when we sat down was whether or not we would like a glass of iced tap water. I'm not kidding, she made a point of letting us know it was tap water. Now that's not to say that there's anything wrong with the tap water in Stowe, it tasted just fine to me. It was just strange to hear a server actually say that. Otherwise, the time in between visits to our table by our server were a bit longer than I would have liked.
As our last big dinner before we shoved off for home, I was hoping for a bit more luxurious of a meal, but like I said, we weren't there in peak season. Maybe they step it up when there's more people around.
We only went out for breakfast once, and when I say "went out", what I actually mean is we walked down the path to our lodge's breakfast restaurant. The food was fine, nothing to go crazy over. I was served fresh Vermont Maple Syrup, but I assume most breakfast restaurants would do the same up there. (As a quick aside,
The Perpetrators, last seen in Stowe VT
Posing for a shot in front of the first tunnel I've ever skied through.
I should mention that Vermont is very, very proud of itself. Everything is locally grown, locally harvested, manufactured, printed, what-have-you. Nothing wrong with it at all, in fact I think it's why most of our food was so tasty. Just be ready to hear all about exactly how great Vermont is while you're there.)
I will sum up with a review of the mountain herself. Even if the village of Stowe was founded before there were skiers on Mt. Mansfield, Stowe is still very proud of its mountain. And it shows, with their high-speed lifts, ubiquitous staff presence, and brand-new lodge and dining hall. Mt. Mansfield is the tallest mountain in the Eastern US, which means there's plenty of miles to ski on. Stowe mountain resort is actually comprised of two peaks, Mansfield and Spruce. Jess and I spent more of our time on Spruce, given its abundance of intermediate trails. Both mountains are well-maintained, and some of the views along Mansfield's Toll Road are simply breathtaking. I highly advise even the most seasoned of triple-black-diamond skiers to take at least one leisurely ride down Toll Road on a fair-weather day. The ride is so enjoyable. Skiing, as
Luke, Stowe VT
Luke comes to a halt after a great run down Mt. Mansfield!
anyone who does will agree, is different person to person. What I may love about that mountain may bore you, or may not be a big enough challenge for you. I will say that there were a few trails that frankly would have bored the hell out of me, and there were certainly plenty of trails that would have scared the hell out of me. All-in-all, this was some of the best skiing I have ever had the pleasure to experience.
To summarize the entire trip as a whole, I would have to repeat myself in saying that this was simply one of the best vacations I have ever been on. I highly recommend this trip to anyone who enjoys skiing. Even more so would I recommend this to the skier who not only CAN, but actually WANTS to go without Starbucks, and McDonald's, and Vera Bradley. This is the place for people who have a deep appreciation for a town that sticks to its roots, and supports its local artisans and restaurants.
If anyone wants to hear anything more specific than this, feel free to send us a message through this website, and we'll answer
Jess, Stowe VT
Jess takes a ferocious stance as she tackles the trails in Stowe!
anything and everything we can, including specific dollar-and-cents numbers.
Until the need to explore strikes again,
much love to all.
-Luke and Jess
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