Scenic mountain drives, colorful fall foliage, small-town charm, and plenty of trails to keep your legs sore for days – these are just a few of the best things to do in Stowe, Vermont!
Stowe also claims its fame for having a lot of ‘firsts’: the first cross-country ski resort, the oldest long-distance hike, and the oldest non-denominational church in the United States.
Pair that up with top-notch resorts, breweries, and stunning hiking trails – it’s no wonder that people come from all over to visit Stowe, especially in the fall.
This year we finally set out to experience Stowe for ourselves and find out what the buzz is all about. It was our first time visiting Vermont and Stowe was a great place to kick off our fall road trip and spend a few days getting a feel for New England’s small-town vibes.
Psst! For more East Coast travel inspiration, check out our guide that covers things to do in the Adirondack Mountains for fall!
Table Of Contents:
- 15 Best Things To Do In Stowe Vermont:
- 1. Bingham Falls
- 2. Gold Brook Covered Bridge
- 3. Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury Factory
- 4. Cold Hollow Cider Mill
- 5. Gondola SkyRide
- 6. Stowe Mountain Resort (The Lodge at Spruce Peak)
- 7. Stowe Scenic Auto Road
- 8. Mount Mansfield
- 9. Stowe Community Church
- 10. Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge
- 11. Von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall
- 12. Idletyme Brewing Company
- 13. Explore Downtown Stowe
- 14. Green Goddess Café
- 15. Moss Glen Falls
15 Best Things To Do In Stowe Vermont:
1. Bingham Falls
Stowe has so many great activities to offer for those who love the outdoors.
To start off the trip we ventured out to Bingham Falls, a scenic trail located at Smugglers Notch State Park just slightly outside of Stowe’s downtown.
Bingham Falls trail is only 0.5 miles long but this hike passes through a mossy gorge with multiple waterfall tiers. Roaring Falls is the tallest of the tiers with a 25-foot drop which is unusually high for Vermont.
Although the hike is short, you’ll need to climb down some steep rocks, especially as you near Roaring Falls. Water-resistant hiking boots with traction will help you against slips and falls while climbing down to the base of the waterfall.
In the summertime, Bingham Falls is a popular area for swimming and cliff jumping. This gorge is made of rocks that are 500+ million years old and over time the river has carved deep natural pools that are great for cooling off on hot summer days.
This waterfall is named after William Bingham, a businessman from the 1800s. He saw the potential of Stowe and helped build many attractions, hotels, and roads that now make this scenic area a popular travel destination.
Location: Bingham Falls Parking & Trailhead
2. Gold Brook Covered Bridge
One of the most fascinating parts about visiting Stowe is learning about its rich history and tales from the 1800s.
The Gold Brook Covered Bridge is an old bridge on the outskirts of the city that I highly recommend visiting. The urban legend claims that this bridge is haunted by a ghost named Emily who took her life at the bridge after her lover deserted her on their wedding day. According to the tale, now Emily’s spirit haunts the bridge waiting for her love to return.
Whether this story is true or not, is left up for debate. But plenty of folks drive out to this bridge in the middle of the night and claim to have some type of supernatural experience.
Along with ghost stories, the Gold Brook Covered Bridge bridge is quite popular because it’s one of the last remaining wooden covered bridges in Vermont. It was built in 1844 to access a local sawmill and still stands intact with many of its original parts, thanks to the covered roof that protects it from rotting.
It’s even claimed that at one point gold was found in the river that flows below it earning this bridge the name Gold Brook Bridge.
Whether you like ghost stories, learning about history, or just visiting scenic locations – this location has it all!
Hours: It’s accessible all day and night
Location: Gold Brook Covered Bridge
3. Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury Factory
A trip to Stowe would not be complete without stopping at the Ben & Jerry’s store in Waterbury just 15 minutes south of Stowe.
This is the location of the original Ben & Jerry’s factory built in 1985 and now is a popular tourist attraction.
At the Ben & Jerry’s shop window, you can purchase a scoop (or two, or three) of fresh ice cream right out of the factory. There are tons of flavors to choose from – some classics, some sold just here plus frozen yogurt and non-dairy choices. I got the small 2-scoop ice cream option in a waffle cone and it was so big that I couldn’t even finish it!
Ben & Jerry’s is a very popular spot for visitors so be ready to stand in a 30-minute line which gives you some time to browse all the flavor options and settle on a couple that you want to try.
After ordering the ice cream be sure to check out the original Ben & Jerry’s tour bus and the flavor graveyard that features old flavors that have been retired. Ben & Jerry’s shop is such a fun attraction to visit for the whole family!
Hours: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Location: Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury
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4. Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Another great foodie spot near Stowe is the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. This is a local cider mill that is popular for apple cider drinks and fabulous cider donuts that are made on the spot all day long.
Voted as the best apple cider donuts by Gourmet Magazine, you don’t want to miss out on trying one for yourself!
Here you can also visit a gift shop that features over a hundred local Vermont products from yummy jellies to maple syrups and honey – perfect to bring back as a souvenir for a loved one.
If you’re looking for a great lunch spot, head across the parking lot to the Apple Core tasting room. Here you can grab a sample flight with their hard apple ciders and tasty lunch items. We recommend you try the ‘Vermont to the Core’ panini that comes with mouthwatering, locally-made ingredients including smokehouse bacon, Cabot cheddar, Cold Hollow cider jelly, and apple slices stuffed in between sourdough bread.
Hours: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Location: Cold Hollow Cider Mill
5. Gondola SkyRide
The Gondola SkyRide is a great way to enjoy some of the best panoramic views of Stowe from above in a gondola cable car.
The Gondola SkyRide is especially scenic in fall when the surrounding trees turn to beautiful vibrant colors. Although we missed the fall color peak time by about a week, hopping on the gondola for an afternoon ride was so worth it!
The Gondola SkyRide starts at the Stowe Mountain Resort and runs from the end of July through mid-October. It costs $30 per person to ride the gondola, which is a bit expensive, but is an experience that you won’t forget!
Give yourself about an hour to ride the gondola and enjoy the views of the surrounding area at the top. From the peak, you can also head out on some hiking trails nearby but be sure to go prepared with proper outdoor gear and slip-resistant hiking boots.
It can be very windy and chilly at the summit so bring plenty of layers and a puff jacket to stay warm!
Cost: $30 for adults, $21 for kids, $88 for a family pack (2 adults + 2 kids)
Hours: 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Location: Gondola Skyride
6. Stowe Mountain Resort (The Lodge at Spruce Peak)
If you’re visiting Stowe in the winter, one of the best things that you can do here is hit the slopes. Since we came in the fall, we were way too early for snow activities but Stowe is a great place for some winter fun between December and February.
After taking the Gondola Skyride we hopped on a free gondola that took us into the adjacent Stowe Mountain Resort complex to walk around and check it out.
The Lodge at Spruce Peak is a large ski resort with a village that includes everything you may need for an incredible vacation – a luxurious hotel, sportswear shops (in case you forget to bring something with you), restaurants, bars, coffee shops, playgrounds for kids and even a wine shop.
With so many amenities you won’t want to leave. And we don’t blame ya!
Read More: 12 Outstanding Places To Stay In Stowe VT
7. Stowe Scenic Auto Road
If you’re not a fan of heights, instead of taking the Gondola SkyRide you can also enjoy a drive in your car on the Stowe Scenic Auto Road. This auto toll road follows in the same direction as the gondola to the top of Mount Mansfield.
The Stowe Scenic Auto Road begins next to Highway 108 and it goes for about 4.5 miles up a narrow, windy mountain road that ends at the Mt Mansfield Peak Visitors Center. Along the way, you’ll experience sweeping views of Stowe and some of the best fall foliage around – the colors are just unbelievable!
Do note that the Stowe Scenic Auto Road is not free. It costs $25 for the car and driver plus $9 for every additional person. So, if you have a car with 4 people, you’re looking to dish out over $50 to drive on this toll road, quite costly!
The other downside is that there are almost no designated areas to park your car to enjoy the views or take pictures until you get to the top.
Whenever we wanted to stop or slow down, we had to pull over into the shoulder and let other cars pass us. Although the road was very scenic, I was expecting a bit more for that price.
Cost: $25 for the car and driver plus $9 for additional people
Hours: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Location: Stowe Scenic Auto Road
8. Mount Mansfield
If you decide to take the Stowe Scenic Auto Road up to Mt Mansfield Visitor Center, be sure to explore some of the nearby trails before heading back down.
Mount Mansfield is Vermont’s highest peak sitting at 4393 feet in elevation. From here you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes as far as you can see.
It was very chilly and windy up on Mount Mansfield during our visit but we threw on some extra layers and ventured out on a quick 30-minute summit trail from the visitor center.
While you don’t necessarily need technical gear to hike out here, be sure to wear good hiking boots because most of the terrain consists of slippery, wet rocks and muddy ground.
At Mount Mansfield, you can experience one of the last ice age alpine zones left in Vermont. This area consists of fragile plants so please stay on designated paths and trails.
Location: Mt Mansfield Peak Visitor Center
9. Stowe Community Church
The Stowe Community Church is a lovely historic building at the center of Stowe’s downtown.
This is one of the oldest non-denominational churches in the US and is still open to the community for services on Sundays.
The Stowe Community Church is also a popular subject for photography especially in fall when the white church stands out against the colorful trees in the backdrop. With a tower that rises 175 feet in the air, it’s hard to miss it!
One of the best locations to photograph Stowe Community Church is located in a parking lot by Salon Salon. From here you can get a direct unobstructed view of the church from a hill directly across from it.
Location: Stowe Community Church
10. Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge
Another great spot to stop by in Stowe is the Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge. This is a charming covered bridge that spans across the Little River. It’s only used by pedestrians and looks very scenic, especially with the river running below it.
If you’re going on a leisure walk around downtown, be sure to stop by here!
Location: Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge
11. Von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall
After a long day of outdoor adventures, stop by Von Trap Brewery for a delicious dinner and a beer.
The Trapp family owns a few local businesses in Stowe, including the luxurious Trapp Family Lodge down the street from the bierhall.
The Von Trapp family escaped Austria during WWII and settled in Vermont where they fell in love with the scenery that reminded them of their homeland. Since then, the Trapp family has opened multiple businesses in Stowe including a ski resort, a hotel, and a brewery that span across 2500 acres of land.
We came to the Von Trapp Brewery for dinner and tried a couple of their award-winning lagers along with delicious plates like the grilled salmon.
Cost: $7 for a pint, around $15-$20 for plates
Hours: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
Location: von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall
Looking for a fun way to spend the day in Stowe? Check out this guided brewery tour that will take you to 5 local breweries. During this tour, you’ll get to try the best beer, cider, and spirits made in Vermont. Book the tour here!
12. Idletyme Brewing Company
With over 50 breweries currently operating in Vermont, the standards for beer in Vermont are pretty high.
Idletyme Brewing Company is one in Stowe that we recommend for first-time visitors. It has a spacious outdoor patio with a charming ambiance, excellent beers, and comfort food.
If the weather is chilly, they also have indoor seating with large windows so you still get to experience watching fall foliage from their cozy indoor dining area.
Idletyme Brewing Company is best known for Munich-style lagers and some classics – like the hoppy Double IPA. For around $15 you can get The Brewsky Sampler to try out six of their favorites.
Cost: $7 for beer, around $15 for sandwiches and salads
Hours: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
Location: Idletyme Brewing Company
13. Explore Downtown Stowe
Surrounded by mountains and a dense forest, Stowe is one of the most scenic towns to visit on the East Coast. With a population of just over 4000, Stowe has a small-town vibe but it is packed full of shops, restaurants, and hotels that have been operated by local families for generations.
While Stowe’s downtown is not very big, there are plenty of cute shops to explore along with beautiful hiking and biking paths.
Tip: You can rent a bike to cruise around Stowe from Pinnacle Ski & Sports for around $12 per hour.
Stowe was established in 1763 but it really started to gain recognition as an outdoor vacation destination in the 1800s.
As skiing became popular in the 1900s, more & more people started traveling to Stowe for winter activities. Stop by the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum to learn about the history of Stowe’s winter sports.
14. Green Goddess Café
Rated as Stowe’s #1 breakfast and lunch restaurant, the Green Goddess Café is a Stowe staple that you don’t want to miss! Located in the downtown area, Green Goddess Café is a great spot to frequent for its fresh and homey meals.
Stop by here in the morning for a coffee or a smoothie along with one of their breakfast classics. We recommend ‘The Simply’ or try something a bit more interesting like the ‘Mexicali Scrambler’.
If you’re in a rush to get outdoors, call in the order ahead of time for quick pickup. There is nothing better to start the day than a hot cup of coffee and a nourishing breakfast!
Hours: 7:30 am – 3:00 pm
Location: 618 S Main St, Stowe, VT 05672
15. Moss Glen Falls
Moss Glen Falls is a wonderful hike to do on the east part of Stowe. Moss Glen Falls consists of a set of multiple waterfall tiers that total around 125 feet making Moss Glen Falls the tallest waterfall in Vermont!
The entire Moss Glen Falls trail is around 3 miles long, out and back. The waterfall itself is located about a quarter-mile into the trail so if you’re short on time, you can just hike to the waterfall and back for a total of 0.5 miles.
Some parts of the trail are very wet and muddy but wooden planks have been placed throughout for assistance. As you near the waterfall, the last section is a bit steep but totally doable.
Location: Moss Glen Falls Trailhead
Stowe, Vermont FAQ’s
Where To Stay In Stowe?
From luxurious resorts to charming bed & breakfast cottages, modern hotels, and cozy Airbnbs, Stowe has so many incredible hotels to choose from, especially around the downtown area.
To make your vacation planning a bit easier, here are some of the top places to stay in Stowe, VT:
- The Lodge at Spruce Peak. If you want to stay in a hotel that has it all, the Lodge at Spruce Peak is it! Located next to the Stowe Mountain Resort, you can spend your days skiing or snowboarding on the nearby slopes and then take a lift back that will drop you off at the center of the resort. Spruce Peak is a 4-diamond hotel so the rooms are luxurious and come with amazing amenities. This is the perfect spot if you want to splurge on a romantic getaway or a family vacation. Book The Lodge at Spruce Peak here!
- Airbnb. Whenever we plan to stay at a place longer than a day, Airbnb is our go-to option. In Stowe, you can find a variety of incredible Airbnb stays like stylish A-frame cabins, charming cottages, contemporary chalets, and unique treehouses.
- Green Mountain Inn Stowe. If you’re looking for a charming bed & breakfast, the Green Mountain Inn is one of the best ones in town. Located at the center of downtown Stowe along Main Street, The Green Mountain Inn is a boutique hotel from the 1830s. This hotel offers a mix of historic, elegant rooms and modern amenities like a heated pool, jacuzzis, massage services, and a bar. Book the Green Mountain Inn here!
- Golden Eagle Resort. While occasionally it’s nice to dish out extra to stay at a fancy hotel, on this trip we chose to stay at the budget-friendly Golden Eagle Resort in Stowe. We spent most of our days out & about exploring and chasing fall foliage with very little time inside our hotel room. Hence we just needed something clean, modern, and comfy to stay in like the Golden Eagle Resort. Book the Golden Eagle Resort here!
How Do I Spend a Day In Stowe?
If you’re thinking – there is no way I can squeeze all of these activities into a day – don’t worry! There’s still a lot that you can see & do in Stowe in just one day.
Does Stowe Have a Downtown?
While Stowe itself is pretty small, it does have a downtown where you can find restaurants, shops, and boutique stores.
Stowe’s downtown looks like some magical place out of a romantic Hallmark movie. I recommend taking a stroll along the Stowe Recreation Path to take in everything this cozy town has to offer!
Is Stowe Vermont Expensive?
That depends. We visited Stowe while traveling on a longer New England road trip so we were budgeting our costs and, looking for cheaper accommodations and things to do in the area.
If you’re planning a romantic getaway or a special vacation, there are some amazing luxury resorts and hotels in the area including the Topnotch Resort, The Lodge at Spruce Peak, and Trapp Family Lodge that start at $250/night (depending on the season and availability).
A few of the most expensive attractions on our fall road trip included taking the Gondola Skyride ($30 per person) and the Stowe Scenic Auto Road ($25 for the car and driver). Other than that, most of the attractions were pretty pocket-friendly.
Do You Need a Car In Stowe, Vermont?
If you’re coming from out of state, I do recommend getting a car rental for traveling in Stowe. Stowe’s downtown itself is walkable, but if you plan to go hiking or visit any of the attractions outside of the downtown, you’ll need a car to get there.
When traveling to New England, we usually fly into the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New York and pick up a rental car from there. This airport has the best flight deals in the area. But the Newark Liberty International Airport is located 6 hours south of Stowe so it’s not exactly down the road.
If you’re looking for a closer airport, the Burlington International Airport (BVT) is located just a 40-minute drive west of Stowe.
Pssst! We use Google Flights and Kayak to book our flights. Kayak allows you to easily search for the best flight deals from hundreds of airline sites.
Stowe is one of the best places to chase fall colors in New England, especially if you’ve never been before!
From scenic mountain drives to beautiful hiking trails, colorful fall foliage, and charming hotels, there are just so many incredible things to do in Stowe, Vermont.
If you’re looking for more fall inspiration, be sure to check out some of our other popular posts below:
- 12 Outstanding Places To Stay In Stowe VT
- 10 Fun Things To Do In Burlington, Vermont For Visitors
- 10 Memorable Things To Do In Franconia Notch State Park
- The 10 Best VRBOs in the Adirondack Mountains
- 15 Best Hikes In New England That Should Be On Your List
- Hiking Indian Head Trail In Adirondack Mountains
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Recommended Travel Camera Gear
Interested in stepping up your photography game? Here is the camera gear that I carry everywhere I go to create amazing travel photos:
- Main camera: Sony a7c Camera. The Sony a7c is tiny, light, full-frame, durable – in other words, amazing!
- Polarizer Filter: Hoya 40.5 mm Filter. Polarizing filters reduce glare in water, protect the lens from getting scratched, and bring out the best colors when it’s bright outside. Having a polarizing filter is a must-have if you plan to photograph lakes, oceans, rivers, and waterfalls.
- Wide Lens: Sony 16-35 mm F4. Great for capturing wide panoramas, nature landscapes, and cramped city streets. Mounts to any Sony mirrorless camera and features autofocus, image stabilization, and incredibly sharp images.
- Lightweight Travel Tripod: Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod. A good tripod is essential for capturing images in low light conditions, such as during sunset and sunrise, or creating smooth water effects when shooting waterfalls. The Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is very sturdy, light, and folds small so you can take it on all of your adventures!
- Memory Cards: SanDisk Extreme 256 GB. It’s always good to bring a few extra memory cards on trips. SanDisk Extreme is ultra-fast for capturing high-quality images, bursts, long exposure night shots, and 4k videos. This memory card is also durable and reliable yet very affordable.
- Camera Bag: Lowepro adventure shoulder bag. A camera bag is something you should definitely invest in! Without having a proper place to store it I would get my camera scratched, sandy, or even occasionally drop it.
- Camera Batteries: Wasabi Power Battery Set. I’ve made the mistake of getting to a location to realize my camera is out of battery. Always keep your batteries charged with this camera charger set!
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