Our absolute favorite winter family vacation is a ski trip, and a  Stowe, VT  winter weekend has become a local destination for our family.   It doesn’t hurt that we usually stay with friends at their Topnotch resort and spa townhouse when we go.  Topnotch has an amazing pool area, complete with hot tub, sauna and steam room,  van service to and from the mountain, and plenty of space for both of our families.   The spa is supposed to be wonderful too, but for some (4 kids) reason I haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet, and although my family skis downhill only, our friends rave about the cross-country facilities as well.   We have other friends who always stay at the Stoweflake, which is also supposed to be wonderful and has the added benefit of shopping nearby for those who don’t ski.    As much as we go for the skiing, there are lots of other fun things to do in the Stowe area which makes it  an ideal family getaway.  We love being active with our kids and surrounded by the natural beauty of the outdoors, and Stowe provides plenty of opportunities to do so.  New England temperatures can get quite low, so we are sure to be prepared with the right gear to keep us comfortable, good thermal underwear, balaclavas that go under our ski helmets, and for my husband his Chaval heated ski gloves.  Stowe knows that some skiers may come unprepared and has great shops stock with neccessities stategically placed on the mountain just in case.

 Winter Carnival is held  in the end of January, which was the weekend we happened to be there this year.  Sculptures of ice lined the Spruce Peak Courtyard from the Ice Carving contest , and a bonfire was lit in the outdoor fire-pit for the kids to roast marshmallows, and make s’mores while hot chocolate was served nearby.  We spend a couple of days skiing the mountain, fitting in as many stops as we could at the Waffle Cabin at the top of the gondola for the kids, and the Octagon at the top of the high speed Quad lift for lunch, where you can get deluxe meals like a shredded asian duck wrap (my fave) or seared tuna wrap (my husband’s fave) along with the typical ski fare. While in town we make sure to fit in some time to visit the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory and if you have never been it is worth it to take the tour (yes, you get free samples!).  We love the great food and cozy Italian atmosphere at Trattoria La Festa for a dinner out, and when we have time we head over to the Von Trapp Family lodge to sing and reminisce about one of our favorite family movies, The Sound of Music.  The kids are fascinated with the fact that this is owned by THE Von Trapp family from the movie, and that it is actually a true story.  The Trapp Family Lodge offers tours of the lodge which is lined with family photos, sleigh rides, cross country skiing, or you can visit the bakery, and brewery on the property to taste Austria pastries, and try the Trapp Lager that they brew on site.   The Von Trapp family settled in Stowe because it reminded them of the beautiful Austrian Mountain range of their homeland, and we agree that Stowe, VT is a spectacular setting.   On our way home we play the Sound of Music movie on our car DVD player to keep the kids entertained the whole way back.

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