Stowe Mountain Resort is rightly famous for luxury. Visit the Spruce Peak side of the mountain and you’ll find a gorgeous village where the buildings all have soaring ceilings, the food from crepes to fries is high quality and delicious, and the amenities from the spa to the ski school are world class.
But what about if you have two teen boys who are more interested in racking up black diamonds than sipping Bordeaux and who care more about the number of runs they fit in than having finding time for a massage? I was happy to discover that Stowe Mountain Resort can satisfy their need for speed while offering a cozy, low-key alternative to the newer village area in its old-school original lodge.
Duh Mom, It’s All About the Terrain
The first time I skied Stowe with my sons Tommy and Teddy, they were 8 and 11 and only had a few years of skiing under their collective belts. It was also incredibly cold, which meant we had to stick close to places to warm up. On that trip I recommended families take advantage of the resort’s smaller, lower, easier base area at Spruce Peak, rather than crossing the street and skiing the face of Mount Mansfield.
Fast forward five years to the winter of 2018 and I had two raring-to-go teens, one of them a good six inches taller than me. Neither of them ever met a glade or bump run they didn’t want to ski as fast as they could.
It doesn’t get much better in Vermont than Stowe for teens who want to ski long, challenging runs. Mount Mansfield is Vermont’s highest mountain and the terrain there is famous around the world. From the steep, narrow, bumpy “Front Four” trails – Goat, Starr, Liftline and National – to the multiple glades, both marked and unmarked, there’s a ton of expert skiing.
Not that I saw my kids ski most of it because by the time I had my boots on and was in line, they were already halfway up the mountain without me or my husband.
You may not see your teens very often when you ski at Stowe, but you won’t hear them complaining that they are bored either. In fact, I’m not sure my kids stopped skiing much at all, as is evidenced by the insider tip that they shared: When lines build up at the popular Fourrunner Quad and the Gondola, head over to the Lookout Double to ski the Starr and the glades around it.
OK, So Mansfield Lodge is Cool
Of course, even teens have to put on and take off their ski boots somewhere (and we parents rejected the request to do so in the parking lot) – and eventually the lifts stop running at some point in the afternoon. After Tommy got off the last chair, he really liked hanging out in Mansfield Lodge, which sits just below the lifts on the Mansfield side of the resort, away from the higher-end village across the road.
The bar inside the lodge is called The Den and it has an old-school feel with photos from Stowe’s early days decorating the walls. The après scene here is fun, laid back, and appropriate for families with some great local beer options for the grown ups and hot chocolate for the kids.
We also appreciated the cozy fire and the live music. It was the perfect place to regroup, relax and share our favorite runs of the day.
Lunch at the Cliff House: Gourmet Near the Gondola
Have I mentioned that it’s hard to get my kids to stop skiing and to eat? If I would let them, they’d stuff sandwiches in their pockets and eat on the go. But since I like to have a rest and want to make sure that they don’t wear out their legs and risk injury, I’m always on the lookout for slopeside dining that might lure them inside.
The Cliff House at Stowe Mountain Resort is perfect because it’s located right at the top of the gondola. You’ve already taken your skis or board off to ride up, so you can walk over in just a minute and then spend your lunch looking at the trails you’ll ski down immediately after. Table service means no standing in line and the gourmet menu is enough to remind teens that yes, they do have a voracious appetite.
And the food at the Cliff House will satisfy both teen hunger and parental desire for something a bit more refined than fries and chili. From the cheese board to the salads you’ll find local products and fresh treats like perfect raspberries and mango.
And if you need something a bit more filling, the macaroni and cheese topped with a pile of divine pulled pork is sure to fit the bill.
Staying and Playing With Teens in Stowe
On previous visits to Stowe, I stayed with my family at Topnotch Resortand Stowe Mountain Lodge. This time we were a bit further down the road (but still only about 10 minutes away) at the Trapp Family Lodge. I recommend any of these three hotels as a great place to stay with teens. Not only do they have a variety of family-friendly dining, all of them offer onsite activities from swimming to spas to maple syrup toursand game or movie nights.
And skiing Stowe with teens isn’t the only thing for the family to do – there’s an outdoor skating rink, an indoor climbing wall, and other fun winter activities like guided snowshoe tours. And if you are interested in ski or board lessons for your teens, Stowe offers a program just for 13- to 16-year-olds.
The Early Bird Catches the Epic
Stowe Mountain Resort is now part of Vail Resorts Epic Pass program. Depending which pass you choose, you will get the option to ski a variety of resorts across the United States, Canada and the world.