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With its rolling hills, vibrant colors, and winding roads, Stowe is often regarded as one of the best places in New England during the autumn. Nestled near the Green Mountains, Stowe has numerous hiking trails, bike paths, and scenic drives, providing ample opportunities to appreciate the incredible fall foliage.
The best time to visit Stowe in the fall is usually the first two weeks of October. Leaves start to change at the end of September in higher elevations with peak usually being early fall. It is tricky to hit it right on the nose and colors vary from year to year. Sign up for the “I love NY fall foliage tracker” newsletter to receive weekly emails starting in September with the best foliage predictions.
You’ll want to plan your visit ahead of time including booking accommodations as early as possible as fall is extremely busy in Stowe and the rest of New England with the weekends sometimes becoming unbearable with thick traffic, limited parking and busy streets. Accommodations can also sky rocket (budget hotels into the $500-$700 a night) but there are a good amount of campsites in the area with tent sites around $30-$45 a night.
From the tranquil beauty of the outdoors to this small town’s warm and inviting ambiance, Stowe, Vermont, is one of my favorite destinations for a fall road trip! Read on to discover 30 of the most festive things to do in Stowe, Vermont in the fall.
Explore Smugglers Notch State Park
The Smugglers Notch area along Mt. Road is smothered with some of the best things to do in Vermont in the fall from hiking trails, cozy resorts and breathtaking scenic drives this area is a muse see!
Smugglers Notch State Park offers a variety of outdoor activities amid the beautiful fall colors, including hiking, rock climbing, and picnicking. Some of the most popular hikes in this state park include Hellbrook Trail and Sterling Pond Trail.
Named after the famous Smugglers’ Notch, a narrow pass through the Green Mountains, this park is also home to a campground, making it the perfect destination for an autumn camping trip.
Explore Stowe Mountain Resort
In the fall season, Stowe Mountain Resort boasts breathtaking mountain views, lovely fall foliage, and various outdoor activities. Take a scenic hike, try mountain biking, or even play a round of golf surrounded by vibrant autumn colors.
After your adventures, grab a bite to eat at one of the resort’s restaurants or relax in the spa. Later in the fall, you might even be able to go cross-country skiing – the mountain opens up for snow sports in November. This is easily one of the most beautiful places in Vermont!
Stay at The Lodge at Spruce Peak
Nestled in the heart of Stowe Mountain Resort, the Lodge at Spruce Peak is the only slopeside hotel in the area. With ultra-cozy guestrooms, suites, and residential offerings, this charming lodge is a great place to warm up during the fall season.
Options range from cozy studios boasting breathtaking mountain views to spacious 4-bedroom penthouse residences equipped with all the comforts of home. This is one of the best places to stay for a romantic getaway or a family fall vacation – they are even dog-friendly!
Ride Along the Stowe Recreation Path
The Stowe Recreation Path is a 5.3-mile paved trail that stretches from Stowe Village to the Top Notch Resort on Mountain Road. This internationally recognized greenway offers stunning views of the peak foliage, the West Branch River, and the surrounding mountains. It’s perfect for walking, biking, or even rollerblading while enjoying the autumn scenery.
Discover Shops and Eateries in Downtown Stowe
Spend an afternoon exploring downtown Stowe’s gift shops and restaurants, where you can find unique gifts, locally-made crafts, and delicious treats. As you stroll down Stowe’s historic main street, stop into the Country Store on Main for home goods and gifts, or The Boutique for stylish pieces at affordable prices.
After working up an appetite from all that shopping, check out one of the many downtown Stowe restaurants. Whip Bar & Grill is a great place to cozy up next to the fireplace and enjoy burgers, seafood, and corn chowder. For hearty comfort food, stop into Harrison’s Restaurant, a comfortable tavern with a heated patio. Local favorites include mussels, oysters, and venison. Don’t forget to take a photo with the Welcome to Stowe mural on the Laughing Moon Chocolates’ building.
Shop at Stowe Mercantile
As you explore Stowe, check out Stowe Mercantile, a family-owned country store in the heart of the historic village. This quaint, family-owned store will make you feel like you stepped back in time with its long candy counter, quaint bookstore, and small town atmosphere.
Stowe Mercantile is known for its exceptional customer service and a wide array of Vermont-made products, making it one of the best places to find Vermont-made products and souvenirs. While you’re here, you can even sample the local gourmet treats!
Stowe Theater Guild
If you love community theater, head to the Stowe Theater Guild for one of four yearly productions. The theater is completely run by volunteers sharing the same mission: to produce the highest quality theatre in central Vermont. All performances are in the historic Town Hall.
Rock of Ages Granite Quarry
One of the most unique experiences while in Stowe is visiting the Rock of Ages Granite Quarry. This renowned and historic granite quarry is located in Barre, Vermont, 30 mins from Stowe. It is one of the largest granite quarries in the world and has been in operation for more than a century. The quarry is famous for producing high-quality granite that has been used in a wide range of applications, including monuments, buildings, sculptures, and memorials.
A visit to the quarry offer a glimpse into the history, geology, and craftsmanship related to granite. Enjoy guided tours and scenic views from the Visitor’s Center.
There’s no better way to experience the fall foliage of Vermont than on a hiking trail. With stunning views and fall colors, the paths below are some of the best options near Stowe.
Sunset Rock Trail
Sunset Rock is an easy hike located in the heart of Stowe’s historic village. This short hike offers a forested backdrop, recreational opportunities, and scenic vistas, making it the perfect spot for a picnic with a view. The trail starts at the end of Sunset Street and ascends steeply for about 200 yards, with an elevation gain of 100 feet to the actual Sunset Rock. Here, you’ll be rewarded with the famous white steeple Stowe church view.
Sunset Ridge Trail and Long Trail
Sunset Ridge Trail, part of Vermont’s Long Trail, is considered one of the most scenic trails in the state – and with the panoramic views, water crossings, and picturesque outcroppings, it’s hard to disagree. However, this hike is not for the faint of heart! This 5.9-mile loop is considered challenging, with steep hills. Don’t forget to bring water, a windproof layer, and good shoes or boots.
Stowe Pinnacle Trail
Another excellent hiking trail in Stowe is the 3.5 mile out and back Stowe Pinnacle Trail. It’s a moderately challenging hike with an incline the entire way up. The steep and rocky trail leads to a wonderful viewpoint beneath Mount Putnam. It gets muddy, and the rocks can become slick with rain so make sure your hike during a dry weather day. For a slightly less challenging hike, but the same distance, and to the same summit, take the Pinnacle Meadow Trail to the Stowe Pinnacle Trail.
Visit the Trapp Family Lodge
Experience a taste of Austria in Vermont at the Trapp Family Lodge, founded by the von Trapp family, who are well-known for their Sound of Music fame.
In the fall season, this 96-room alpine lodge offers stunning views of the surrounding foliage and activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and birdwatching throughout its 2,600 acres of land. Don’t forget to visit their on-site bakery, European restaurants, brewery, and wine cellar for delicious food and drink!
Enjoy the Top of Mount Mansfield
Bring your camera and experience Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield! You can reach the top of this majestic mountain from the comfort of a Gondola Skyride or by driving the Auto Toll Road, a steep and curvy 4.5-mile road. Whether you ride in a car or a gondola, you’ll experience incredible views of the peak foliage and the surrounding mountain views.
If you’d rather get a workout in, spend the entire day hiking on the Mount Mansfield Loop Trail. This 7.7-mile hiking trail is considered challenging, but you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views at the top.
However you decide to get to the top of Mount Mansfield, once you’re there, you can explore the summit on foot, enjoy a meal at the Cliff House Restaurant, or simply take in the view.
Take a Factory Tour of Ben & Jerry’s
No trip to Vermont is complete without a visit to the famous Ben & Jerry’s Factory. Located just a short drive from Stowe, the factory offers guided tours where you can learn about the company’s history, ice cream-making process and even sample some delicious flavors.
My favorite part of this tour was visiting the flavor graveyard, a cemetery with gravestones of the past flavors that this company has since retired. Here, you can mourn the loss of flavors like Sugar Plum, Wild Maine Blueberry, and Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. If you have a sweet tooth, this is a fun and tasty way to spend an autumn afternoon!
Marvel at Moss Glen Falls
Located just a short drive from Stowe’s historic district, Moss Glen Falls is a picturesque waterfall surrounded by vibrant fall foliage. The short trail to the falls is one of the best hikes to enjoy the season’s beauty up close. The length of this easy trail ranges from 0.6 to 4.2 miles, depending on which path you take.
Enjoy a Scenic Drive
Take a leisurely drive around Stowe and the surrounding areas to enjoy the stunning fall foliage from the comfort of your car – there’s no shortage of scenic drives in this area!
The Auto Toll Road boasts a scenic route to the summit of Mount Mansfield. This road may be steep and narrow, but it is one of the most beautiful places in the area. Other scenic drive options include driving along the Little River in Moscow, or up Edson Hill and down West Hill in northwest Stowe.
Vermont 108 through the Smugglers Notch area is another must see scenic drive if you like tree lined streets and towering mountain vistas. For low key country charm head out on Stowe Hollow Road. You will see lovey farms and barns nestled in an array of colorful trees like the Grand View Farm (in the photo above), and be able to stop at a famous Vermont Covered Bridge, the Gold Brook (also called Emily’s Bridge) Covered Bridge.
Visit Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is located just two hours from Stowe, so it’s worth taking a day trip to enjoy a fall afternoon at the lake or tack this one onto the end or beginning of your trip to Stowe and spend some time in Burlington, Vermont’s most populous city. Unlike other lakes, Lake Champlain isn’t over-developed or too busy, making it a great place to relax and unwind. While it is possible to catch a glimpse of Lake Champlain at the top of Mount Mansfield, there are several other places to enjoy views of this lake.
Take a short drive to Mount Philo State Park from Burlington for beautiful lake views. While the park isn’t directly on the lake, you’ll get some fantastic hiking, biking, and picnicking experiences. Burton Island is another great option – in fact, it’s been named one of the best state parks in the United States. Here, you can enjoy boating, fishing, waterfront campsites, and a lively marina.
Go on a Self-Guided Covered Bridge Tour
Vermont is home to many historic covered bridges, and Stowe is no exception. Visit the Gold Brook Covered Bridge, also known as Emily’s Bridge, which crosses Gold Brook. Take a stroll through the Dewey Memorial Covered Bridge in downtown Stowe, a pedestrian-only walkway honoring the memory of a local politician and resident, Giles Dewey. 20 mins outside of town is the Red Covered Bridge and the town of Waterville, about 40 mins from downtown Stowe hosts another 5 covered bridges.
Vermont’s covered bridges are even more magical when surrounded by vibrant leaves, so visiting these spots are some of the best things to do in Stowe, Vermont, in the fall!
Sample Local Brews
If you’re a beer enthusiast exploring Stowe, Vermont, stopping at Idletyme Brewing Company is a must! This friendly and inviting brewery is known for its wide variety of creative and delicious craft brews and fantastic live music. Sample a diverse selection of their offerings in a warm and welcoming tasting room – from hoppy IPAs to smooth porters, there’s something for every palate at Idletyme.
Another fun local brewery is The Alchemist Brewery, which boasts hip and modern brewing facilities. Sample brews in the tasting room, sit out in the seasonal beer garden, or take a guided tour. Visitors love the funky and colorful accents both on the inside and outside of this brewery!
Try a Local Apple Cider Tasting
Sampling the delicious apple cider at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Stowe, Vermont in the fall! This family-owned, family-run, and family-loved small business has a rich history and a reputation for creating some of the best cider in the region. Not to mention, this cider mill has some of the best apple cider donuts in the area- no wonder it gets packed!
If you need something a little stronger than donuts, stop into the hard cider tasting room. This spot is one of the best places to sample Stowe cider! Some other local cider favorites include Stowe Cider and Von Trapp Brewing.
Go for a Maple Syrup Tasting
Maple syrup tasting in Stowe, Vermont, is an experience you can’t miss during your visit to this charming New England town. Stowe Maple Products is one of the best places for maple syrup tasting, where you can find 100% pure Vermont maple syrup.
Another must-visit spot for maple enthusiasts is Butternut Mountain Farm, one of the largest maple processors in the United States. Pick up some fresh maple syrup from their local farm store, Marvin’s Country Store.
Take a Day Trip to the Adirondack Mountains
Located only a couple hours from Stowe, the Adirondack Mountains offer a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts and lovely small towns exuding that New England Charm. Embark on a scenic hike through the numerous trails, while enjoying the breathtaking views of the mountains, forests, and lakes.
My favorite hike with stunning foliage views is Indian Head which now requires a permit for both parking and hiking. Visit AMR for Hiking Information. For a shorter but still challenging hike, hike head up to Mt. Jo for sunrise. It only took me 30 mins to get to the top and 15 mins to walk down along the short trail. (Trail parking is $15 USD).
Bring your fishing gear and try your hand at catching some trout or bass in the serene and unspoiled waterways. If you’re feeling adventurous, mountain bike on the extensive network of trails, or even give rock climbing a go on some of the region’s world-class climbing routes.
Try Rock Climbing
Rock climbing in Stowe, Vermont, is an exhilarating experience for both novice and experienced climbers alike. One of the best ways to experience rock climbing in Stowe is by booking a guided tour with Sunrise Mountain Guides. They offer climbing tours for climbers of all skill levels, providing a safe way to experience autumn scenery from a different point of view, making this one of the most unique things to do in Stowe, VT, in the fall.
Have a Spa Day
Stowe, Vermont, is not only famous for its fall foliage, but also for its luxurious spas. After a day of hiking or biking amongst the fall colors, nothing beats a soothing spa treatment to relax and rejuvenate your tired muscles!
One of the top spas in Stowe is The Spa at Spruce Peak, which is conveniently located within the Lodge at Spruce Peak resort. This spa features an extensive menu of treatments, including the WhistlePig Toddy, a warming CBD mud wrap and massage experience that is perfect for when the temperature drops. The Stowe Cider Uber Scrub is another excellent option for autumn. Guests can also access the spa’s hot and cold Healing Lodges, heated outdoor pool, and fitness center.
Another top-notch spa option is the Topnotch Resort (pun intended), which boasts a serene ambiance with its light-filled solarium and airy atmosphere. With 30 quiet treatment rooms, Topnotch Spa offers a variety of treatments featuring products from Vermont’s own Tata Harper skincare line. The Moisture Infusion Facial, which includes a Raw Organic Honey Mask, is perfect for soothing wind-blown, dry skin after a day on the slopes. A 90-minute Sports Massage, combining Swedish massage, deep-tissue techniques, and assisted stretching, is also available to help get your legs in prime condition for another day of hiking or cross-country skiing.
Relax at a Wine Tasting
You might be surprised at how many wineries are popping up all over Vermont. There are several scenic vineyards with award-winning wines. Enjoy the extensive local and international wine selection at the Trapp Family Lodge Wine Cellar or live music in a low-key outdoor setting at Shelburne Vineyards. The cozy and inviting atmosphere of Vermont’s vineyards is the perfect way to wind down after a long day of leaf peeping.
Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin-picking is one of the most festive things to do in Stowe, VT in the fall! Nestled in the small town of East Hardwick, Vermont, just a short drive from Stowe, lies the charming Snug Valley Farm, home to Ben’s Pumpkin Patch. What began as a 24-pumpkin project has blossomed into a thriving pumpkin harvesting tradition that provides thousands of pumpkins to adorn homes across New England.
A visit to Snug Valley Farm during the enchanting fall season presents a wholesome retreat for both locals and visitors alike – selecting the perfect pumpkin is a must-do during the autumn. From pie-making and jack-o-lantern carving to imaginative fall decorating, Ben’s Pumpkin Patch has you covered with an array of beautiful pumpkins that are sure to capture the essence of the season.
Find Your Way Through a Corn Maze
The Percy Farm Corn Maze is one of the best things to do in Stowe, Vermont in the fall. This corn maze is suitable for all ages and offers a delightful challenge to navigate through the twists and turns of the corn labyrinth. On average, it takes around 30 to 40 minutes to complete the maze, so it’s not too long or too short!
And, if you need to take a break or simply want to enjoy the scenic surroundings while you’re here, there are plenty of spots to rest and take in the beauty of Vermont’s picturesque countryside.
Enjoy a Horseback Ride
Stowe is known for its beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities, and horseback riding is a popular option for exploring the region’s natural beauty. Enjoy guided horseback tours through the hills of Stowe at Stowe Mountain Ranch or Topnotch Resort.
Enjoy Nature at the Waterbury Reservoir
About a half-hour drive from Stowe, the Waterbury Reservoir has several recreational activities perfect for a warm fall day including multiple state parks. One of the most popular activities is picnicking, with 17 picnic sites available for a lovely outdoor meal. Each site has picnic tables and charcoal grills, perfect for a cookout with friends and family. The park’s picturesque location on a 90-acre peninsula provides a serene backdrop for a relaxing day outside.
This reservoir is an excellent spot for anglers of all levels. With two universally accessible fishing platforms, everyone can cast a line and try their luck at catching some of the various fish species found in the water. The reservoir’s maximum depth of 100 feet provides a diverse habitat for fish, increasing your chances of reeling in a big one.
Get Spooked on a Lantern Tour
During the fall season, there’s nothing more festive than a lantern tour! Stowe Lantern Tours offers candlelit tours detailing the legends and stories of early settlers, historic buildings, and of course, the local ghosts. Enjoy a one-hour walking tour that will make you feel like you stepped back in time into the shoes of an early settler, narrated by a professional guide. If you love a bit of a thrill, this is one of the most fun things to do in Stowe, Vermont in the fall!
Take a day trip to Burlington, Vermont
Burlington, Vermont, is known for its picturesque lakeside beauty and vibrant seasonal changes, especially in the fall. During autumn, Burlington transforms into a stunning landscape of colorful foliage, making it a popular destination for leaf peeping and outdoor activities. Enjoy miles of scenic biking trails, harvest festivals, and fall farmers’ markets. There is much to see and do in Burlington, including enjoying the local shops and restaurants on Church Street Marketplace and the scenic beauty of Lake Champlain. You could spend days here!
Visit Woodstock, Vermont
Another fantastic day trip from Stowe, Vermont, is the charming, quaint village of Woodstock. There are plenty of things to do in Woodstock on a fall day from sipping hot cider and walking down tree-lined streets to fall festivals on the town Green. Woodstock is one of the best fall towns in Vermont and is considered one of the most picturesque small towns in the state.
I hope you enjoy your fall visit to Stowe! Stowe, Vermont, is a charming and picturesque town that offers a variety of attractions and activities that make it a great destination for visitors. From outdoor activities, scenic drives, historic downtown and lovely mountain resorts, Stowe does a great job blending its natural beauty, outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and relaxation, making it a fantastic destination for a memorable vacation.
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