Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Our Vermont Vacation in Stowe

Last week I checked a vacation destination off my bucket list--Vermont in the fall. I have wanted to visit Vermont for a long time and I felt there was probably no prettier time to see the state than in the fall. I was thrilled to be able to make it happen this year. We spent four nights in Vermont--two in Stowe and two in Woodstock--and it was the perfect amount of time to see all that both of those beautiful towns had to offer.

We flew into Burlington, Vermont which is about a 45 minute drive from Stowe. Burlington is home to the University of Vermont and the first Ben & Jerry's so we thought we would spend a few short hours checking it out before we drove to Stowe. The town most definitely had a college vibe to it. The University is a very short distance to Church Street which is a cool, brick paved street where people can't drive down. There are a lot of cool shops to pop into. This is where we grabbed our Ben & Jerry's ice cream and simply walked down the street to check everything out. We didn't stay too long before we felt like we had seen it all. We decided to hop back into the car and drive the short distance to the University. We drove through campus for a bit then decided to head towards Stowe. 

The drive to Stowe was easy, quick and beautiful. Gorgeous fall trees were all around us and before we knew it, we were in Stowe. Stowe was different than I imagined it to be. It has a ski-town vibe to it. It's a beautiful and quaint little town and everywhere you look is picturesque. We drove straight to our hotel to check in. 

We stayed at Field Guide Lodge. I have mixed reviews about this hotel. My good takeaways are that the location was fantastic. We had a two bedroom cabin and that was nice having more space. The decor is updated, fun, and fresh and the scenes outside of the hotel were beautifully fallish. My negatives are that this hotel is obviously old and renovated and I feel like they could have done a better job of renovating besides a fresh coat of paint and new furniture. Scott's side of the bed had a wet spot on the rug so there was obviously a leak coming in from somewhere. It was clean but didn't feel clean if that makes sense?? The bathroom situation was my least favorite. It had only a shower which is challenging with small kids. We knew this going into it though and made the decision to deal with it regardless. However, there was zero counter space in the bathroom. They had a big, modern sink but no counter space so there was nowhere for us to keep our toiletry bags which made getting ready in the mornings challenging. Overall, if we ever go back to Stowe I probably would find somewhere else to stay. 

We checked into our hotel around dinner time. We were all so tired from an early morning flight and long day of travel. We grabbed some food somewhere unmemorable. We honestly didn't care where we ate, we just needed to eat something then go back to the hotel and go to bed. And that's what we did. We were ready to rest up for a fun day of exploring the town of Stowe the next day.

We set our alarms for early the next morning so we could get the most out of Stowe. We grabbed a complimentary breakfast at our hotel then headed out. First on my agenda was getting to take THE photo I have been wanting to get for years. We were staying very close to the spot where I could tell was the best to stand to get this perspective so we drove straight there, I hopped out of the car with my camera in hand, and started snapping away. It was cloudy and foggy but I was so happy with the shot I got of this classic Stowe view.

I twisted the boys arms into getting in a few photos then we hopped in the car and headed towards Main Street to explore the town. Stowe is very, very small and the nice thing about the town is it takes maybe five minutes to get from one side of it to the other. I absolutely LOVED Main Street. I could have sat on a bench and stared at the street all day long. The street is so quaint and the shops on Main Street are so good. Everything feels old and charming and simply gives you a feel good vibe. I never wanted to leave that street. The boys loved exploring too. We browsed in a book store and picked up a few new books. The Stowe Mercantile was one of their favorites because it had all kinds of goodies like toys and candy. Every store was unique and fun to shop in. 

After browsing Main Street for a bit, we decided to head towards Cold Hollow Cider Mill. This is something I had read about being a must do when in Stowe so we wanted to make sure we checked it out. This ended up being my favorite thing about our trip. Cold Hollow is a cider mill that you can visit and watch them make apple cider and apple cider donuts. It was so interesting seeing how they make apple cider and they have a "testing tank" inside the viewing room where you can drink the absolute freshest apple cider you'll ever have. It was DELICIOUS and the boys were over-stepping their free test tasting boundaries because they couldn't seem to get enough. We decided to get them all a large cup of cold cider and it was so delicious I grabbed one for myself as well. Once we were done watching them press fresh cider, we decided to grab some lunch in their restaurant. We all ordered sandwiches (they were delicious) and I couldn't resist trying a hard cider flight for myself (also delicious!!). This was such a neat experience that we all enjoyed so much. If you go to Stowe this is 100% a must do!!

We left Cold Hollow and were nearly next door to the Ben and Jerry's Factory so we decided to go for a visit. I had read that the factory tour was closed (due to Covid) so I knew we wouldn't be able to tour it but we were still able to get some ice cream, visit their gift shop, and see the gravesite where the retired flavors go to die. I wish the factory tour had been open but it was still fun getting to see Ben & Jerry's and eat some ice cream. 

After Ben & Jerry's we decided to drive to the Stowe SkyRide and ride the gondola to the top of Stowe Mountain. I had read that the views of the fall foliage were spectacular from the gondola and we knew the boys would love riding it. It was pretty foggy so the last bit of the ride we couldn't see much but it was a beautiful site seeing the foliage from that perspective and the boys loved riding the gondola. It was a quick up and down ride and that was pretty much it--it didn't take as long as I thought it would. 

By this point we had pretty much done everything we had hoped to do in Stowe. We still had several hours left in our day so we decided to seek out the Vermont covered bridges. There are over 100 covered bridges in Vermont. While in the Vermont book stores, I spotted several books written about Vermonts covered bridges. Some people dedicate an entire trip to finding all of the covered bridges in Vermont. They are really so very neat and we had such a fun time hunting them down. It was like finding a piece of old history tucked inside of Vermont. We grabbed a map of Vermont because the map marks where all of the covered bridges are. So we went old school and used a map to find the bridges. I thought it was so fun finding them and taking photos of the bridges. Some were really out of the way and some we drove right up on. 

After spotting a few bridges then popping back on Main Street for a little more browsing, it was time for our dinner reservation. This is the only reservation we made the entire trip. I had read that Piecasso was not to be missed and I wanted to make sure we were able to eat there. The pizza was absolutely delicious and one of my favorite meals on our trip. We sat outside and the atmosphere was super cool and the service was fantastic. Highly recommend. 

Our day of leaf peeping and exploring Stowe had come to an end. We were able to do everything we wanted in one whole day and we never felt rushed or felt like we missed out on anything. I would say two nights in Stowe is the perfect amount of time. I'm not sure what else we would have done had we been there longer. 

The next morning we woke up and drove through Smugglers Notch. We knew that Smugglers Notch was not to be missed in the fall because of the incredible foliage. It was full of bright yellow trees that draped like a canopy over the beautiful curvy road. It was absolutely stunning and a pretty quick drive up then back down the mountain. We didn't realize when we were riding the gondola that we were literally right at the start of Smugglers Notch. We would have been a little more efficient with our time had we driven through Smugglers notch right before or after the gondola. 

By this point we felt we had seen all that Stowe had to offer us. We grabbed a few sandwiches at Stowe Sandwich Company and they were delicious. I wanted to snap one last picture of iconic Stowe as we were heading out of town and I loved it just as much as the first one.....

I snapped the pic then we were on our way to Woodstock. We decided to take the scenic route to Woodstock which was just a few minutes longer but so very worth it....

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