12 Best Things to Do in Vermont in Winter
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Vermont is one of the loveliest places to visit in the winter, with idyllic villages blanketed in snow, plenty of outdoor fun, and a great variety of indoor activities for the extra-chilly days. The green mountain state is home to many excellent mountain resorts, where tourists will find skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and many other classic things to do in winter.
Vermont inns and bed and breakfasts are also a destination in their own right, hosting couples for romantic getaways, singles and friends for themed retreats, and families for some old-fashioned quality time together.
Whatever your interests, you will find plenty of options in our list of things to do in Vermont in Winter.
1. Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Ludlow's Okemo Mountain Resort is one of the best ski resorts on the east coast, featuring 121 trails (and counting) with top-rate snowmaking and grooming. RFID ticketing ensures quick access to the high-speed chairlifts, ensuring that skiers and boarders spend their time on the slopes instead of waiting in line. Snowboarders will be impressed by Okemo's nine terrain parks and the longest superpipe in the east.
Stowe Mountain Resort occupies Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak in Stowe, and is another one of Vermont's top ski resorts. The mountains boast 19 beginner trails, 116 intermediate trails, and 29 expert runs that are accessed via conventional lifts and gondolas, as well as three terrain parks for snowboarding and a freestyle terrain for kids who are learning. Both Stowe and Okemo are part of Vail's Epic Pass program, a bonus for visitors who want to try out more than one mountain.
Other excellent mountains for downhill skiing and boarding include Jay Peak, Stratton Mountain, Killington, Smuggler's Notch, Bolton Valley, Mount Snow in West Dover, Bromley Mountain in Peru, Magic Mountain in Londonderry, and two in the town of Warren: Mad River Glen and Sugarbush.
2. Treat Yourself to a Spa Getaway
Somehow it's just that much easier to relax when the world around you is blanketed in snow and the world seems to pause in appreciation – and that's when it's the perfect time to indulge in a spa getaway.
Topnotch Resort on Stowe's Mt. Mansfield is an ideal spot to get pampered with a view, offering a full suite of services, including a variety of massage techniques, reiki and energy healing, and several skincare options – all within a gorgeous facility with stunning views.
The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa hotel in Manchester is home to a full-service spa in a peaceful setting, with the added benefit of great shopping nearby at Manchester Center outlets.
Castle Hill Resort And Spa in Cavendish is another top spa destination in Vermont, specializing in honeymoon and anniversary packages, as well as weddings. Their spa offers a full range of services, including couples' treatments.
Read More: Top-Rated Resorts in Vermont
3. Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Most Vermont ski areas offer cross-country trails, and among those, Stowe Mountain Resort and Smuggler's Notch Resort in Jeffersonville offer some of the most diverse terrain. Those who are going just for the cross-country skiing have many other excellent options, though, all of which avoid the hustle and bustle of a big ski resort in winter. Tourists interested in trying out snowshoeing should ask their inn or resort, as many have equipment readily available to rent or borrow.
The Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe has operated a Nordic cross-country ski center since 1968, offering rentals, lessons, a kids' club, and almost a hundred miles of trails. You don't have to stay at the lodge to enjoy the ski center, but once you see it, you will wish you had – the beautiful property features ski-in and ski-out chalets, an on-site spa and fitness center, swimming pool, multiple restaurants, and plenty of indoor activities for all ages.
Another excellent choice for cross-country skiing is the non-profit Craftsbury Outdoor Center, located on Big Hosmer Pond and offering over 50 miles of trails, as well as rentals and lessons. Other top choices include the Hazen's Notch Association in Mongomery, with 40 miles of trails; the Woodstock Nordic Center, located right next door to the Woodstock Inn & Resort; and the Bolton Nordic Center in Richmond, which specializes in backcountry skiing on its 12,000 acres.
4. Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides
For the most authentic horse-pulled sleigh ride, visit a traditional Vermont farm like the Adams Family Farm in Wilmington. Belgian draft horses pull the sleigh through the maple trees and evergreens to a cozy log cabin stocked with hot cocoa and a warm fire, where guests relax and warm up before the ride back, an hour-and-a-half trip total. Their sleighs can accommodate up to 15 people, and there are also private couples' rides for an extra special romantic date.
The Trapp Family Lodge also offers horse-drawn sleigh rides on weekends that explore this lovely 2,500-acre resort, which is reminiscent of the Alpine origins of the von Trapp family. The resort is located in Stowe, one of the top places to visit in Vermont and one of its loveliest small towns, home to the Stowe Mountain Resort, the Vermont Ski Museum, and more.
5. Go on a Dogsledding Adventure
Located in Eden Mills, Eden Ethical Dogsledding offers tours that are thrilling and scenic while also being educational. Owned and operated by dogsledding and Skijoring champion Jim Blair, Eden takes pride in their care for the Alaskan huskies who work hard to make every visit special. The huskies are treated like family and are friendly to all, and the facility takes pride in their "chain-free" approach that puts the dogs' health and happiness first.
Guests enjoy the chance to get to know their canine guides before each ride on the custom-designed trails, and packages are available for those who want to tour the facility and learn more about the care and training of the pups.
If you find yourself in the area during the summer, take one of their unique "dogsledding on wheels" tours that includes playtime with the dogs at a pond. No matter what time of year you visit, be sure to reserve your spot early.
Another good dogsledding operators is Atii Sled Dogs Mad River Valley in Moretown, and both of these facilities also offer rental equipment and trail use for skijoring.
Official site: www.edendogsledding.com
6. Go on a Crafting Retreat
As more people look to reconnect with hobbies and their creative pursuits, craft-themed retreats are becoming more common, and a cozy Vermont Inn is the perfect setting for some uninterrupted crafting time.
The Strong House Inn in Vergennes specializes in quilting retreats, offering two- to four-day retreats that include the use of their sewing machines and plenty of space to work, as well as lodgings in their beautiful inn. Offering varying themes, some are for those who want to bring their own projects, and others are classes that focus on special projects, including an instructor and all the required materials.
The Mountaineer Inn in Dover offers knitting retreat packages that include lodgings and meals, as well as individual assistance with projects. Sheep to Shawl Knitting Studio in Barton also coordinates knitting retreats, partnering with top-notch Vermont hosts like the Trapp Family Lodge and the Highland Lodge.
7. Storm Watching
It's a rare Vermont winter when there isn't a good snow on a regular basis, and for those lucky enough to be visiting during a snow storm (big or small), having the right place to enjoy it from is key. Ideally, the best place to be is where there is a good view of the landscape, a toasty fireplace or outdoor fire pit, cocoa and snacks, and good company.
The historic Rabbit Hill Inn in St. Johnsbury is a great choice for couples, and adults-only getaways, offering luxury suites with fireplaces, and private balconies with views of the White Mountains. If you get snowed in, there is plenty to keep you occupied on-site, including snowshoeing, spa services, and a well-stocked game room.
8. Dine on a Mountaintop
Mountaintop dining can be perfect for a special occasion, a unique romantic dining experience, or even as an adventure. Most of these restaurants are open only when the lifts are in operation, although some can be accessed via snowcat or even snowshoe. No matter how you get here, a memorable meal is guaranteed.
Stowe's Cliff House is accessible by gondola for a cozy and scenic ride up Mt. Mansfield. This fine restaurant features a wall of windows that overlook the valley and surrounding mountains, and an exhibition kitchen where guests can watch some of the best chefs in Vermont prepare mouthwatering meals from local ingredients. Although typically open only for lunch, be sure to check for special nighttime meals that reveal the sparkling town below.
The Mid Mountain Lodge at Stratton Mountain Resort is accessed via lift or snowcat, open for lunch only except for a few evenings in the winter; reservations are required for all meals.
At Smugglers' Notch Resort, guests can take the ski lift to Top of the Notch Cabin and, if they choose, make their way back down by snowshoe.
Killington Mountain boasts two mountain dining options, including the Motor Room and the Ledgewood Yurt, a unique restaurant that offers candlelight dinners.
Sugarbush Resort also has two options: the Glen House on Mount Ellen for casual fare or Allyn's Lodge, which offers fireside dining with multi-course meals.
9. Sledding and Tubing
Kids and adults alike can enjoy the thrill of flying down a snowy slope without the unexpected risks of a hidden rock or runaway sled on a professional tubing hill, or go for the full experience on one of the many public sledding hills throughout Vermont. Tourists will find tubing hills at all the major ski areas, and Okemo Mountain Resort also offers the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, a unique roller coaster that operates year-round.
Visitors can also find sledding hills maintained by local businesses and towns. In Chittenden, the Mountain Top Inn & Resort offers sledding and tubing, and Ascutney Outdoors Center has a 500-foot tubing hill with a lift. The Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville also offers sledding and other winter activities.
There are also plenty of free sledding and tubing hills for those who don't mind the climb in-between runs. In Woodstock, the Mt. Tom sledding hill is on the grounds of the Rainbow Playschool, within walking distance of the center of town.
The Quechee Club, part of Highland Golf Club, also permits the public to enjoy its groomed sledding hill, which is fenced for safety. In St. Albans, the Hard'ack Recreation Area offers sledding, and even has a limited number of sleds to borrow.
10. Take a Winter Zipline Canopy Tour
For a different spin on a typical summer thrill excursion, Smugglers' Notch offers winter canopy tours at ArborTrek's zipline just above the resort's village. Adventure seekers will get the chance to see the forest as few ever do, snow-covered and from above while sliding down 4,500 feet of zipline.
The excursion can take from two to two and a half hours, and it can be especially chilly on windy days while up at that height, so guests should come prepared and dress warm. There are multiple time slots available daily, as well as additional times if reserved in advance.
Official site: www.smuggs.com
11. Ski after Dark
Skiers and snowboarders who want to experience the magic of after-dark skiing won't find it at the big resorts, but at Bolton Valley, it's still offered five nights a week. Visitors get more slope time for their money with a day ticket valid for the full 13 hours the lifts are in operation, and those who have other plans during the day can swing by for just the evening at a significantly reduced rate for six full hours of night skiing and boarding. As a bonus, the ski area's slopes face west, giving guests a spectacular view of the sunset as they ascend on the lift.
Official site: www.boltonvalley.com
12. Learn about Vermont's Weather at the Fairbanks Museum
The Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury is the perfect place to learn about Vermont's weather and natural world, and the museum's planetarium works in conjunction with Vermont Public Radio's "Eye on the Sky" meteorological team to keep the state informed. This includes the "Eye on the Night Sky" programs, which track significant astronomical events, as well as explore the historical and cultural associations with these events.
A great place to visit for all ages, this tourist attraction is also home to a variety of fascinating natural history exhibits, including specimen collections, a wildflower exhibit, the interactive Exploration Station, and a unique display of "bug art" mosaics created by John Hampson using various insects.
Official site: www.fairbanksmuseum.org