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Hitting the slopes in the Winter months in Vermont isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. If you're someone who doesn't plan on doing any skiing or riding any time soon, don’t let that stop you from still planning an epic Vermont Winter getaway. There are always a ton of options to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors this Winter - with the added bonus of never having to worry about lugging skis to the mountain or finding parking. Whether you’re dog sledding in Warren, tubing on Stratton, Ice skating in Manchester, or hot-tubbing in the Kingdom, just because skis and boards aren’t on your feet doesn’t mean you can’t have a blast. Check out some of our favorite “ski-free” outdoor Winter activities and get out there and have some fun!
Picture gliding across snowy fields and country lanes, with the crisp night air filled with snowflakes. Jingle bells ringing and a cup of warm hot chocolate in your hands. A quick stop at a warming cabin and back again into the moonlit night. Equal parts romantic and exhilarating, but also a perfect outing for a group or family. Many inns and farms offer traditional horse-drawn sleigh rides, but two of our favorites are at Taylor Farm in Londonderry, and Gentle Giants in Stowe.
If you've never tried it, snowmobiling is easy, comfortable, and absolutely addictive. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) maintain over 5,000 miles of well-marked trails. Some winter resorts offer guided rides to get you started, including Stratton Mountain Resort in Southern Vermont and Sterling Ridge Resort in the North.
The sight (and sound) of 16-dog teams racing over a frozen lake or through the woods is hard to match. If you’re looking for an epic adventure of the canine variety, look no further than a dog sled tour. Umiak Outdoor Outfitters runs several great routes, including ones in Warren and Waterbury, but our favorite way to hit the dog trail is at the Stowe Evening sled rides.
If you’re looking for a killer workout that is also a ton of fun, you’re in luck. Vermont's cross-country skiing centers offer a wide range of peaceful escapes from groomed trails over open meadows to sheltered tracks through whispering pines. Or if you prefer, you can leave it all behind on a pair of lightweight snowshoes and head out into the backcountry. And while these activities might sound downright transcendental (they are), you’re also burning a boatload of calories! That’s a win-win in our book. Three classic spots are Viking Nordic Center in Londonderry, Woodstock Nordic Center, and the trails at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.
“You mean, sledding?” Well sure, sledding is great and there are a ton of famous sledding hills throughout the state, but we’re talking about Snow Tubing and it's not just for kids anymore. Snow Tubing is sledding’s big brother, but it’s the perfect activity for families and friends of all ages. Flying down a hill on a snow tube with the wind whipping through your hair, racing your friends down, then taking a lift back to the top to do it all over again. For a great setup, be sure to look into what they're doing at Stratton Mountain Resort. At the base of the Sun Bowl, with four massive lanes, you're going to have an absolute blast. We also love how the folks at Smugglers’ Notch do tubing with two separate courses, as well as Glow Tubing where at night they set up a ton of brightly colored LEDs to really get the tubing party started!
It’s a classic for a reason, ice skating is still a blast! Whether you’re hockey-stopping, setting new speed records, or dialing in the triple axle - time seems to fade away when you’re out on the ice. Be sure to check out the complimentary ice skating setup at Stowe at the base of the Spruce Peak Village.
If you’re looking for a next-level thrill, or to really drop some jaws on your next Instagram reel, Ice Climbing is the way to go. While it may look hardcore and extreme, ice climbing can actually be a great sport to get into as a beginner, especially when you take a clinic or tour with a great instructor. We love setting a route to the ice in Smugglers’ Notch and Lake Willoughby, and the folks at Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center are some of the best folks imaginable to show you the ropes.
Ice fishing in Vermont can be rugged, or meditative, or even downright luxurious. And often times it can be all three. So whether your setup is a bucket and a hole, or a shanty with a flatscreen and WiFi - your day out on the ice is bound to be a catch. If you want to increase your odds of bringing home a trophy-sized keeper, join up with the ice fishing tours with our friends at 3rd Alarm Charters.
One of our favorite outdoor activities each Winter is to hit the trails on a fat bike. Fat biking refers to the larger width of the tire than that of a standard bike, which helps you float on some snow, as well as power through other snowpacks. Pretty much all the places that we love to trail ride or mountain bike in the warmer months also have fat biking, so there’s a ton of great variety and terrain to choose from. Be sure to check out Cady Hill in Stowe, as well as Stratton Mountain Resort for some great options.
After a day or two of checking off all of the activities listed above, you’ve definitely earned a little rest and relaxation. What better way to lean into it than an afternoon at an outdoor hot tub? Perhaps a pint of local IPA or glass of bubbly at your side, and the stress and efforts of the day just seem to melt right away. Some of our favorite hot tub locales are at The Top Notch in Stowe, as well as the Pump House at Jay Peak. Ahhhh…we could get used to this.
As always, be sure to stay up to date on all the latest events and activities here in the Green Mountains, and check out our Calendar of Events.