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Article: Our Family Trip to Stowe

Our Family Trip to Stowe

Our Family Trip to Stowe

My husband and I have been traveling to Stowe, Vermont since we were fresh out of college. We started going up with our friends on annual ski trips. We'd all rent a house, pitch in for food and booze and make a weekend of it. As we've gotten older and are very much in the family building phase of life alongside our friends, gradually our group trips have slowed down. But we still make a point to visit as a family, and always end up running into other families we know from various phases of life.

The memories and nostalgia definitely help with our affinity for Stowe, but beyond the social aspect, what keeps us coming back is the natural beauty of the mountain and the serenity of the landscape in town. We've done leaf peeping trips in the fall where we've taken the gondala to the top of Mt. Mansfield, and hiked along the river path into town. This summer we traveled to VT and enjoyed the swimming holes and cool shade of the forests. The winter draws us for the obvious attraction - skiing! 

As a result, our children have come to love Vermont as well. I grew up skiing with my family; some of my fondest memories are of the roadtrip there, the pond hockey, the time around the fire, the chats on the lift and of course the skiing too. My brother and sister are quit a bit older than I am, but skiing has always been something we could do together.  Seeing my two older children ski alone together (albeit just up the magic carpet) literally brought me to happy tears as I flashed back to ski trips with my brother and forwards to when my own little guys will be ripping around by themselves in the years to come. 

 

Where we stayed

While I would love to stay on the mountain at the Lodge for the ease of ski accessibility (and its luxurious ambiance) at this point our family of  5 (soon to be 6) humans, and two dogs, is better suited for a stay in a house. Next year, we'll have another baby in tow and things might be a little different but this year without any strict routines the house was really just a landing place for the end of the day. We were out the door by 7:30 each morning to ski and didn't come back until after the slopes closed down at dinner time. We booked a house rental through Stowe Country Homes. It was a lovely farm house in Elmore, about 10/15 minutes to both town and the mountain. It had a wood stove, a small game room, a fully functional kitchen, and a nice yard for the kids and dogs to romp in the snow. 

 My two year old is a bit of a wild card with sleeping arrangements right now. He's in and out of a crib at home but is too big for a pack and play on the go, so on our most recent trips I have brought along this inflatable toddler bed. It comes up on the sides to provide that familiar contained feeling.  I've tucked the base of it under the sheets in a bed and used it with the inflatable mattress section on the floor and it works great. Extra bonus is that all the kids use it as a "boat" in their imaginary play which is a useful prop when traveling without many toys to work with. 

The other kids were in bunk beds and other than chatting and laughing for an hour before finally falling asleep each night they slept great. We always bring sound machines to drown out any unfamiliar squeaks and creaks, and also the sound of us staying up later chatting with friends or catching a game on TV. Another reason I prefer renting a home to most hotels, for the ability to get the kids a decent night sleep without sacrificing our adult decompression time at night.

We usually do a mix of cooking and dining out while traveling both to not spend a fortune while we're away, and also because sometimes bringing three exhausted kids to restaurant can be a total liability. So we like to rent a house with a fully equipped kitchen to have the option of staying in as well.

The first afternoon we went to the mountain, showed the kids the lay of the land and let them do some ice skating while we secured our lift tickets for the trip and caught up with some friends we ran into around the base of the mountain.

 

We went back to settle into our accommodations, stoked up the wood stove and threw together an easy dinner of  frozen lasagna and salad while they explored the rooms, organized their things and negotiated who got top/bottom bunk. 

 

The main event... the skiing!

The first day my oldest and I spent the majority of the day skiing together. He's totally hooked! It has been our thing to do and I am loving every moment. There's not that many common interests I share with 8 year old boys...as much as I go through the movements, I can't really get into Pokemon or basketball, so when he requested to ski with me I didn't hesitate for a moment. I look forward to the day when we can all ski together as a family but I will forever cherish this one on one time with him. There are so many life lessons hidden in skiing.

The next day all the kids were off to their programs.

I can't say enough good things about the ski school at Stowe. My kids have done it for a few years and they always have a blast, advance in their skills, make new friends, seemingly drink bottomless hot cocoa, and come home exhausted. I wish I could be one of those moms out there with the toddler in the harness but it just isn't in my wheelhouse. Especially this pregnant. So I very much appreciate the ability for them to learn from the pros, and the freedom it gives me and my husband to have some time to ski together like the old days. 

Ski school starts at age 3, but Cubs Care is a full day program available for children 24 months - 4 years old. They provide snack and meals and tons of fun. I'm pretty particular about babysitters/childcare and they really embrace you and your child as if you're registering for an entire school year even when you are just passing through on vacation.  The first day our toddler was unsure at drop off, but we felt so at ease given the warmth and professionalism of the staff that I truly was not worried at all. I think that's pretty remarkable. He did a total 180 and had a great day playing in the snow, eating snacks, making friends, and even taking a two hour nap. He ran right in the next morning without even turning back to say goodbye! 

Dining out

While I miss the apres evenings of yesteryear, there is a plethora of family friendly dining options  between the mountain and town in Stowe.  We enjoy letting the kids run around with their new ski school pals / ice skate at the base of Spruce Peak while enjoying a drink from the Whistlepig Pavilion before taking off for dinner. There are fire pits and cabanas around the rink available for rental so you can really post up if you're in the mood. There's a couple restaurants, a waffle stand, smores shack and I believe skating stays open until 9.

Our oldest has decided Doc Ponds is his favorite restaurant and I actually whole heartedly agree. I love the relaxed vibe, the records spinning, the fresh local ingredients and (when not pregnant) appreciate the plethora of brewskis from Alchemist brewery on hand. This trip I shared in my kids' joy for the root beer floats which feature locally brewed root beer on tap and homemade vanilla ice cream. Other stand outs include the cheese fritter starter plate, smash burger (according to my son), and the ginger dressing on their house salad. We were seated in our favorite spot down on the lower level by the fire. With the dim lighting and fire roaring, I actually thought my daughter might konk out before we even got our food.

Note: This is not a hidden gem, and the wait can be very long. We threw our name in the online queue on our way home from the mountain, went back to the house to let the dogs out and change up and then by the time we got back our table was just about ready for us. 

 

Our other dinner out this trip was at The Bench. Another very popular spot with notoriously long wait times. We stopped in person and put our name on the list and then cleaned up while we waited for our table. I'd never been and loved the atmosphere, friendly service and house salad with salmon topped with local chevre really hit the spot after my lodge lunch of chicken fingers and fries. The kids pizza kept the littlest diners happy and the few bites I stole were excellent. 

 

The only other meal we had out was on our last full day when Phill and I opted not to ski (it was 7 degrees and well, the fact that I'm 6 months pregnant started to really make itself known to me physically). We did some shopping in town and sat at the bar at The Whip, located inside The Green  Mountain Inn. We reminisced about some meals we've had with friends over the years including one infamous 'farewell brunch' back in 2016 before hitting the road. There was a snow storm coming through so all the husbands were trying to get an early start but the ladies refused to let the good times come to an end and kept ordering 'one last round.' It was a long trip back to the city (I'm told, I passed out happily in the passengers seat) but totally worth it. 

I had a hankering for wings and they were delish. I also got a turkey blt and it hit the spot. We sat at the bar and made some new friends. We had mutual connections, conversation flowed like the Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA I was drinking and I took an order for a bracelet, naturally. They told us about how they used to come up with several other families and tailgate in the parking lot on Mountain Road for apres. Sounds ideal.

If you've read this far I very much consider you my friend, and you can consider this a very early invitation for Stowe 2025. Meet in the parking lot. You bring the grill, I'll bring the Heady Topper and few basket koozies. And all 26 of my kids. 

 

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