Vermont is filled with picturesque mountain towns, many located close enough to popular ski areas to be an ideal home base for your next winter vacation. Most of these mountain communities have been around for centuries, surrounded by green mountains and steeped in history.
Finding the perfect ski town can be a challenge. Proximity to the right ski resort is key, but it also should have enough amenities to find things to do off the slopes. Most skiers and snowboarders enjoy their downtime exploring local dining, shops, and activities. These top ski towns in Vermont combine plenty of activities with plenty of charm to make a ski vacation feel like a unique experience.
Here are the best ski towns in Vermont, in no particular order:
In the east, it’s hard to find a better, more well-known ski town than Stowe, Vermont. Not only is it close to one of the most popular ski areas in the state, Stowe Mountain Resort, but it’s also not far from Smuggler’s Notch Resort.
With a population of 600 residents in 2020, one benefit to visiting Stowe is the sheer number of amenities. There are plenty of dining and lodging options, plus it also offers art, entertainment, and lots of outdoor recreation.
Throughout the warmer months, visitors can spend their time mountain biking, hiking, zip-lining, or visiting local museums. During the winter visitors experience some interesting and unique recreational activities. Like most ski areas, the area has snowshoeing and snowmobiling in addition to alpine skiing. Near Stowe, they can also enjoy fat biking, ice climbing, and dog sledding.
The town was chartered in 1763 but wasn’t occupied until thirty years later. Stowe’s population today may be on par with other small and medium Vermont communities, yet it’s the state’s largest town in terms of size. That’s primarily due to the ski area and nearby mountains which contain Vermont’s tallest peak, Mt. Mansfield.
Stowe began as a summer resort in the mid-1800s, then after the First World War skiing began to pique the interest of local residents. It began at the first Winter Carnival in 1921, when ski jumping was introduced. In 1933 the Civilian Conservation Corps began clearing ski trails in the area and the community has embraced skiing ever since.
When it comes to classic Vermont charm and proximity to skiing, look no further than Woodstock. From the clapboard and brick buildings surrounding the Green to the abundance of trees with multicolored leaves in the fall, this mountain town has it all.
Woodstock has a long history in the state, with the town chartered fifteen years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. It eventually became one of the busiest and largest communities in Vermont, attracting manufacturers, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs. By the mid-to-late-1800s manufacturing declined and the population decreased, turning the bustling city into a sleepy tourist town.
Woodstock boasts several historic sites to explore. At Billings Farm & Museum, visitors can learn about Vermont’s rural life on a property that has been operating for more than 150 years. Sample cheese and maple syrup at Sugarbush Farm. Or simply wander along the community’s quaint streets filled with centuries-old buildings now housing a variety of shops and restaurants.
In the winter, hiking, snowshoeing, and sleigh rides are popular activities. During the warmer months, enjoy community walking tours, fly fishing, or kayaking along the Hudson River. Hear live music at a number of beer gardens and taprooms, or explore the weekly farmers’ market. With a population of around 3,000, there is always something to do without losing that small-town vibe.
Established at a crossroads in the mid-18th century, Manchester has been a tourist destination from the beginning. Today with a population of more than 4,000, the town has an abundance of culture, art, entertainment, and activities for every season.
Even Abraham Lincoln’s only surviving child couldn’t resist the lure of the charming community. Robert Lincoln’s home is among the many places to visit in the area, along with the American Museum of Fly Fishing, Southern Vermont Arts Center, and North Meadow Farm.
The village of Manchester is the historic center of town which changed shape as the resort community flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fewer than 1,000 people reside in the village, with 4,000 living in the surrounding community of Manchester. Food and lodging choices are available in either area.
Manchester is the ideal place to celebrate the heritage of snowboarding. The town is the one-time home of Burton Snowboards, the company that many believe revolutionized and popularized snowboarding. Celebrate these accomplishments with a visit to nearby Bromley Mountain’s snow park, only 15 minutes to the northeast in tiny Peru, VT.
Just a bit further, less than 40 minutes to the northwest, Stratton Mountain Resort has a newly completed halfpipe and continually evolving terrain parks. Snowmobiling, sleigh riding, and snowshoeing can also be found, or try the Land Rover Experience any time of the year.
During the summer months, zip-lining, horseback riding, and mountain biking are popular activities. Live concerts, farmers’ markets, and pick-your-own produce stands can be found on certain days during the warm months. For those who thoroughly enjoy shopping, Manchester is home to the flagship store of Orvis, known for its fly fishing and outdoor gear.
A few minutes from Okemo Ski Resort is the charming community of Ludlow. Although the town was established in 1761, it was twenty years before settlers arrived. Today it has more than 2,000 residents. Additionally, another 1,000 residents reside in the incorporated village by the same name at the center of Ludlow.
Start at the intersection of Main and Depot Streets to find shops and dining where the Black River winds through town. With plenty of hotels, lodges, and rental properties it’s easy to find a place to stay.
In the summer months, the area is popular for biking, golf and swimming, but there are lots of activities that can be appreciated throughout the year. Explore the nearby waterfalls, sample syrup at the nearby maple sugarhouse, and visit the historic Black River Academy Museum, which has a U.S. president among its notable alumni and now is a repository of community history.
For those who can’t quite decide which Vermont ski area best fits their needs, consider staying in Weston. Although not a ski town home to a resort, the town is perfectly situated between Okemo Ski Resort, Magic Mountain Ski Area, and Bromley Mountain.
Home to a reported 623 people during the 2020 US census, Weston is an ideal home base for visiting multiple ski resorts in a single trip. The town is conveniently located along Route 100, known colloquially as the “skier’s highway”.
Proximity is one reason to visit Weston; the town’s beauty is another. The entire historic village is on the National Register of Historic Places. Although the town’s population is fewer than 1,000, there are plenty of amenities and activities in Weston and the surrounding area.
The variety of lodging includes inns, bed and breakfasts, resorts, and hotels. While there’s not much of a nightlife, there are several taverns, restaurants, and diner-style establishments. The Weston Playhouse Theater Company is the state’s oldest still-operating theater, and culture abounds in the summer with a concert series.
Weston was established in 1799. It quickly became a hub of commerce, with ten sawmills, two tanneries, a gristmill, and a machine shop, in addition to multiple shops for trades such as carpenters, shoemakers, and blacksmiths. Some of these trades continue to the present, with many syrup and cheese-making locations in the area.
Even non-skiers can find plenty to do. Hiking the nearby woods, visitors might come upon wild turkeys or deer. Shoppers will appreciate a trip to the well-known Vermont Country Store. In the winter, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing can be found in abundance once skiers and snowboarders leave the alpine slopes.
Finding a great ski town isn’t difficult in Vermont. There are a number of options in every corner near some of the most popular ski resorts. It’s easy to combine a ski vacation with a visit to any of these mountain towns to make a trip extraordinary.