Just what makes a classic ski town? It starts, naturally, with skiing and snowboarding so good they attract people like youth-bestowing fountains. Then add an inviting mountain burg steeped in ski heritage, amenities, and culture. These are the 25 best. For insider tips, we asked local luminaries where to stay, play, and party, whether you're on a budget or indulging. (Read the about the other 24 towns here.) —Aaron Teasdale
Best For: Patrician eastern U.S. skiers with a taste for fine dining
The archetypal New England ski village, Stowe is an impossibly quaint town of clapboard houses and steepled churches set in wooded hills at the foot of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Main Street and Mountain Road are alive with boutiques and eateries. The larger community harbors more three- and four-star restaurants than any ski town in the Northeast. Partiers take note: Luxury lodging abounds, late-night revelry does not. You come to Stowe to live in a postcard, not a Harold and Kumar movie.
The skiing takes place a 15-minute drive up the road at Stowe Mountain Resort, where high-speed quads and gondolas whisk you up two separate mountains. Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, has plenty to offer adventurous skiers and snowboarders, including the famed “front four”—four double-black diamond runs that are among the most challenging in the East. Spruce Peak, newly connected by a short gondola ride to Mansfield, is the place for beginners, with its ski school and gently arcing blue and green runs. Side- and backcountry skiing from the area is some of the best in the East, including Mount Mansfield’s original run, the Bruce Trail, a narrow, twisting, 2,400-foot drop cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s.
Ask a Local
Sam von Trapp, from the family made famous by The Sound of Music, is a ski instructor and helps to manage the Trapp Family Lodge, a world-class Nordic lodge and the first commercial cross-country ski resort in the United States. Here are his recommendations.
Budget: Town and Country Resort at Stowe offers great bang for the buck.
Swank: Stowe Mountain Lodge is ski-in, ski-out and five stars.
Cheap: Pie in the Sky Pizza
Gourmet: The Blue Moon Cafe, right in the center of town
Best After-Ski Party Spot
The Mattherhorn bar is a Stowe institution.
Best Rest-Day Activity
The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum is right in the center of town and a great opportunity to indulge in ski culture while resting the legs.
Stowe’s Classic Ski Run
There are tons of great lines off-piste, but try the Goat. It’s narrow, steep, and challenging.