Places To Visit For The Best Of Fall
Head north for autumn’s glory to Vermont, where the golds, yellows, and reds provide the perfect backdrop for the bucolic small towns and mountain resort areas that welcome you. Both Stowe and Okemo Mountain Resorts offer ideal bases for taking in the colorful views from the top of the mountains or enjoying outdoor activities, shopping, or dining amongst the beauty of the season.
Lodge At Spruce Peak Located just across the street from Stowe’s Mount Mansfield— Vermont’s highest mountain—the Lodge at Spruce Peak is set right in the pedestrian-only alpine Spruce Peak Village. Accommodations here include its Studio Rooms, which feature King size beds, handy kitchenettes, and oversized bathrooms. In addition, many of the rooms’ balconies face the mountain providing your fall foliage vistas.
Leaf peepers staying at the Lodge at Spruce Peak are steps from gondola access to the top of Mount Mansfield. The free gondola sweeps you across the parking lot to the Stowe Gondola SkyRide to take you up 3,832 feet below Mount Mansfield’s summit. It runs through mid-October. The view on the 17-minute ride each way can only be topped by the one you see once the ride is over. While there, plan to have lunch at The Cliff House with an outdoor table that lets you relax with views that reach for miles.
The Lodge at Spruce Peak is not only steps from the gondola but also dining, shopping, Spruce Peak Outfitters, and an Adventure Center all right in Spruce Peak Village and open mostly on long weekends in fall. Spruce Peak Outfitters can help organize fall foliage tours, nearby kayaking, hikes, and other special requests. For dining, the property offers Alpine Hall for American fare with seating inside and out and Tipsy Trout for seafood lovers. Nearby, you’ll find Skinny Pancake for breakfast and lunch and The Pantry for salads, sandwiches, and more, ideal for picnics paired with a view.
Spruce Peak Village is also home to a large green area where you can play cornhole and large-sized Jenga and participate in extraordinary events. During the winter months, the location is transformed into an ice-skating rink. Small, separated, covered seating areas surround it with heat lamps that provide a cozy spot. At night, outdoor fireplaces with seating offer another place to relax after a day of exploring.
Guests of the Lodge at Spruce Peak have access to a large year-round outdoor heated swimming pool and two large outdoor whirlpools. A full-service spa pampers with a host of treatments. Also, look for Healing Lodges with steam rooms, hot tubs, and a sauna. Relax further with yoga or other fitness classes or at the fitness center. The Mountain Course at Spruce Peak golf course offers some of the best vistas of fall foliage in its back nine holes, including the stunning 14th hole with sweeping views of the entire area throughout its play. If you’re not a golfer, find someone who is and ride along on the golf cart for the views. Info: sprucepeak.com
Topnotch Resort Another option for lodging in Stowe is the 120-acre Topnotch Resort set in the foothills of Mount Mansfield. Topnotch is a true retreat just down the road from Spruce Peak Village and about a 10-minute drive to Stowe Village. The resort boasts three pools, including a heated indoor pool and two outdoor pools, one of which is heated for year-round use. The outdoor pools are surrounded by mountain vistas, offering fall foliage at its best. Warning, it will be hard to leave the majestic setting as it covers you with true relaxation. Don’t miss the indoor pool’s hot tub with cascading waterfall. The retreat feel continues in its 35,000-square-foot spa offering more than 120 treatments and services. Activities at the resort include a fitness center and classes; the Equestrian Center offers guided trail rides and a Tennis Center with indoor and outdoor courts. The resort can also set you up for area mountain biking. Nightly fire pits with surrounding seating provide comfy spots for conversation and relaxation before bed. (topnotchresort.com)
Near Topnotch is the Stowe Recreation Path, a more than five-mile scenic paved multi-use trail along the West Brach of Little River featuring mountain views. It’s great for walking, jogging or cycling. It runs parallel to Route 108, where many town shops and restaurants are located. A walk around historic Stowe Village offers more shopping opportunities. For a taste of the season, the self-guided tour of the working Cold Hollow Cider Mill (coldhollow.com) on Route 100 in the nearby Waterbury Center provides a glimpse into the process of tastings.
Another choice for a half or full-day in Stowe is a visit to the Trapp Family Lodge (trappfamily.com), owned by the family that inspired The Sound of Music. They offer a host of tours, including a von Trapp Family History one that provides fascinating details about the family’s life in Austria, their daring move to the U.S., and the eventual choosing of Stowe as their permanent home. The tour ends with the chance to meet one of the Captain and Maria’s grandchildren, who will warmly and openly answer your questions. The ticket also includes spending the day enjoying the Lodge’s trails. Fall brings the chance to see how cider is made from the property’s apple trees. Grab a table for lunch at the on-site Bierhall for Austrian cuisine and fresh lager beers with surrounding views. You can also opt to stay at the resort itself. For more information on Stowe, visit gostowe.com
Okemo Mountain Resort For families looking for the glory of foliage with activities to keep the kids happy, Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow is the spot. Scenic Route 100 is one option for driving south from Stowe to Okemo if pairing the two areas. A two-bedroom/three full-bath unit at Jackson Gore Inn offers plenty of family space, including a full kitchen, living room, and large dining room table for game nights. Fall activities are available on weekends through mid-October.
Step outside the Jackson Gore Inn to the Adventure Zone to get the family’s adrenaline pumping. Pay for a day pass or individual activities that include a challenging three-level ropes course with ziplines high above the forest floor, a year-round mountain coaster, mini golf, bungee trampoline, panning for “gems,” and a bouncy house. The adjacent year-round Spring House Pool and Fitness Center has a heated indoor pool, hot tub, and a dedicated children’s pool with splash features and a frog slide. Mom and dad will appreciate the range of fitness classes. Dine at Coleman Brook Tavern in the hotel and enjoy indoor and outdoor seating with mountain views.
Though offering trailside lodging, the chairlift at Jackson Gore Inn is only open for winter ski-in/ski-out access. However, a view of 3,344 feet above is only a short drive from Jackson Gore Inn to Okemo’s Sunburst Six bubble chairlift to the top of the mountain for panoramic foliage vistas. At the top of the chairlift, Robin’s Roost offers quick service food with picnic tables outside (and tables inside) facing the beauty of the region all around it. For more information on Okemo Mountain Resort, visit okemo.com