Despite Stowe’s popularity, the resort has eschewed the modern trend of building up the base lodge with condos and restaurants, preferring to work with independent businesses in the community instead. For that reason, Stowe still feels like a real community that happens to have a ski resort, rather than the other way around.
Sights in Stowe
Trapp Family Lodge
What happens after “happily ever after?” Well, you start a ski lodge in Vermont. At least, that’s the trajectory of Baron and Maria von Trapp, whose story as depicted in the musical The Sound of Music has made generations swoon. After escaping the Nazis, the von Trapps came to Stowe to re-create the quintessential ski chalet as the Trapp Family Lodge (700 Trapp Hill Rd., 802/253-8511 or 800/826-7000), which has grown over the years into a skiers’ resort complex complete with spa and slope-side villas. The family is still actively involved, and each generation, it seems, adds its own unique stamp. Recent additions include a brewery specializing in authentic Austrian styles of beer, and a cheese-making operation which churns out award-winning alpine-style cheeses, including the popular “Oma” variety (German for grandmother).
Visiting for a linzer torte at the over-the-top Austrian Tea Room and a family sing-a-long around the bonfire at night is a requirement for any serious Rodgers and Hammerstein fan. The lodge also shows a documentary about the family three times a day (10 a.m., 4:30 p.m., and 7 p.m.) in St. George’s Hall. And of course there’s the obligatory showing of The Sound of Music every Thursday night at 8 p.m.
The Abenaki called the highest peak in Vermont Moze-o-de-be-Wadso or “Mountain with a Head Like a Moose.” The 4,393-foot mountain has come down to us as the more prosaic Mount Mansfield. In the summer, Stowe Mountain Resort operates an eight-person high-speed gondola skyride (Mountain Rd./Rte. 108, 800/253-4754, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. late June–mid-Oct., $19–25 adults, $19–25 seniors, $17 youth 6–12, $76 families) up to the summit that takes in views of the village and surrounding mountains on the way up.
Museums and Galleries
After going up the mountain you may wonder what made those first alpine pioneers decide it was a good idea to strap two boards to their feet and hurl themselves down a mountainside. Well, you might not find the answer to that question at the Vermont Ski Museum (1 S. Main St., 802/253-9911, noon–5 p.m. Wed.–Mon., donations accepted), but you will gain a greater appreciation for the lunacy of the early practitioners of the sport, as well as an appreciation for modern equipment, lifts, and clothing. Located in Stowe’s former town hall, the museum has several rooms of exhibits, a plasma screen with ski videos, and a Hall of Fame of great names in Vermont skiing history.
The community-supported Helen Day Art Center (5 School St. at Pond St., 802/253- 8358, noon–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun. year-round, $3–5 adults, $13 students and seniors, $0.50 youth 12–18, children under 12 free) has been dedicated to showcasing local art for more than 25 years. It inhabits the second floor of a Greek Revival building in the center of town, with a sculpture garden out back.
A more extensive sculpture garden fills the grounds of the West Branch Gallery and Sculpture Park (17 Towne Farm Ln., 802/253-8943, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Wed.–Sun. year-round, free), a fantasia of random metal and stone objects strewn about a bucolic landscape a mile north of town.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Vermont.