Stowe, Vermont is a haven for kids and families looking for outdoor adventures whether the mountains are blanketed with groomed snow for skiing, summer wildflowers for camping and hiking, or fall foliage.
The mountainside village—arguably the prettiest in the Green Mountain State—is home to Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, where much of the activity is centered. From hiking, biking, and zip-lining in the summer and fall to skiing, snowshoeing, and skating in winter and early spring, Stowe, Vermont is a year-round destination. You'll also find Stowe hotels eager to cater to families, such as the Stowe Mountain Resort, the Lodge at Spruce Peak (formerly Stowe Mountain Lodge), and the Trapp Family Lodge (of Sound of Music fame).
Read on for some of our favorite things to do with kids when we're lucky enough to find ourselves in "the Aspen of the East."
Best Things to Do in Stowe with Kids
1. Take the gondola up to the top of Mt. Mansfield (summer, fall). Once you hop off, you can bike to “the chin” or stop for a bite in the Cliff House. On a clear day, you can even see Montreal!
2. Walk, bike, or cross-country ski along the town’s 5.3-mile Recreation Path (year-round). Starting in Stowe Village and ending at a pretty covered bridge, this flat and level trail is great for beginning bikers or strollers.
3. Hike up to Sunset Rock (spring, summer, fall). This short but steep hike, leading to pretty views of nearby peaks, is a perfect scramble for young elementary schoolers. Point out the wildlife-themed trail markers (painted by local kids) and the glacier-made kettle hole halfway to the top.
Kids can follow the handpainted trail markers to Sunset Rock.
4. Hike a little farther at Sterling Pond (spring, summer, fall). This easy 2.8-mile trail is a great challenge for slightly older kids.
5. Check out one of the favorite fishing holes (summer, fall). The Fly Rod Shop offers two-hour casting lessons just right for families.
6. Zip line more than a mile through the treetops (summer, fall). One of the best zip lines in the Northeast, ZipTour Adventures starts at Mt. Mansfield's peak and glides downward, zooming up to 60 miles per hour (but riders control their own speed). Kids have to be 10 years or older to zip.
Stowe boasts one of the longest zip lines in the country. Photo courtesy of Go Stowe
7. Hit the “links” at the Stowe Golf Park (spring, summer, fall). This is a beautifully landscaped and contoured miniature golf course, right on the main drag in town.
8. Take a leap or skip rocks at Foster's swimming hole (summer). This shady swimming spot lets everyone cool off, and it's easy to get to (right near Topnotch Resort, below).
RELATED: A Parent's Guide to Vermont Ski Resorts
Stowe, Vermont Skiing and Winter Sports
9. Teach your kids downhill skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort (winter). Friendly instructors are at the ready for group or private skiing lessons but call ahead in the heart of the winter season to make sure your little shredder has a slot.
Stowe Mountain Resort has 116 ski trails—including plenty beginner courses. Photo courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort
10. Learn to cross country ski in Stowe at the country's first Nordic center at the Trapp Family Lodge (winter). There are 37 miles of groomed trails, lessons, and a spot on-site to warm up by the fire with hot chocolate, soup, and snacks.
11. Bundle up and go for a traditional sleigh ride on the Trapp property (winter). Different-sized carriages allow for a couples' ride or a journey with a family or two.
Indoor Activities with Kids in Stowe
12. Make like a monkey at the Stowe Rocks Climbing Center. Instructors prep kids on safety and will point out the best color-coded, ability-based routes. The KidZone climbing area for children ages 12 and under has a 12-foot wall featuring fun climbing spots such as airplanes, trains, and trucks.
Instructors help counsel kids on the wall at the Stowe Rocks Climbing Center.
13. Warm up at the indoor pool at The Swimming Hole. The children’s pool has a water slide that is open each afternoon. Luckily for parents who find themselves with a spare hour or two, day passes are available.
14. Catch a flick at Stowe Cinema. This little three-plex in the heart of it all features the latest movies (and the popcorn is super).
15. See glassblowing artists at work. There are no official tours, but visitors can mill around Little River HotGlass Studio, asking questions and seeing molten glass form into sculptural forms.
16. Visit the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum. Got eager skiers and boarders? This museum houses a collection of ski memorabilia that chronicles the evolution of the sport.
RELATED: 20 Fun Things to Do in Killington, Vermont with Kids
Not-to-Miss Events with Kids in Stowe
17. See soaring colors (and maybe take a ride yourselves) at the Hot Air Balloon Festival (July). Families can splurge on a ride ($200-plus) or just watch the balloons and let kids play at the "children's corner" activity area. Enjoy free admission when you stay at the Stoweflake Resort.
Glimpse (and maybe even ride) in a hot air balloon in July. Photo courtesy of Stowe Balloon Festival
18. Browse crafts and treats at the Stowe Foliage Arts Festival (October). Enjoy live demonstrations and music along with seasonal food, too.
19. Celebrate all things winter during the Stowe Winter Carnival (January). Watching artists chip and saw away at the ice carving competition is a highlight for kids at this annual fest.
Stowe Vermont Hotels, Resorts, and Restaurants
19. Go simple by staying in one of Stowe's quaint, family-friendly motels. We're partial to the Golden Eagle, which has indoor and outdoor pools, a game room, and pet-friendly rooms.
20. Enjoy first-class amenities at Topnotch Resort or the Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa. Both of these properties have pools, seasonal activities (s'mores and the like), and spas for mom or teen pampering.
21. Splurge for a stay at the Lodge at Spruce Peak (formerly the Stowe Mountain Lodge). With ski valets to handle your gear, a soaring lobby with cozy fireplace nooks, and an indoor and outdoor pool, this is truly a luxurious stay—right at the base of the ski hills.
22. Year-round activities also await at the nearby Smugglers’ Notch Resort, which Mommy Poppins editors have always enjoyed visiting.
23. Grab an easy breakfast at The Bagel. The blueberry bagels, egg sandwiches, and coffee are delicious.
24. Pack a picnic to make a stop when hiking or biking the Recreation Trail (above). Load up on sandwiches from locals' fave sandwich spot, Stowe Sandwich Company.
25. Enjoy a slice and play some arcade games at Pie-casso. This centrally located pizza spot is good for a sitdown or takeout meal.
26. Bring the whole gang to Harrison's for dinner. The comfort food and big tables will appeal to family members young and old after a long day on the hiking or skiing trails.
27. Eat like an Alpsman. If you're sick of kids' menus, try an Austrian-inspired schnitzel, torte or treat at the Trapp Family Lodge.
28. Indulge at Laughing Moon Chocolates. Chocolate dipping demonstrations happen most days around 2pm, and delicious fudge, truffles, and more are always on sale during business hours. You can even sign up for a family chocolate making workshop.
29. On the way into town, stop by the Cabot Farmers' Store for provisions. Pick up some great cheeses for apres ski or post-hike.
30. Don't leave town without a tour and a scoop at Ben and Jerry's Factory. Located in Waterbury as you drive to or from Stowe, this is the home of the famous ice cream company and the best place to sample some freshly made Chunky Monkey or Cherry Garcia.
A previous version of this article was published in 2012.