by Jackie Shannon
photo by Geena Grant
While an urban jungle is an exciting and fast-paced environment, living in a big city can be overwhelming and claustrophobic at times. With skyscrapers abounding and concrete covering every crevice, one has to wonder: where’s the fresh air? Luckily, Boston is just a drive away from many quintessential New England towns with mountains that––when the conditions are favorable––rival those out West. Southern Vermont is a weekend hotspot in the wintertime for New Englanders; in the middle of winter, it is well worth making the trip to visit the mountains and surrounding towns, especially if you are a snow bunny.
Stratton Mountain is just over a three hour drive from Boston and is Southern Vermont’s tallest peak, according to stratton.com. The mountain truly has something for everybody. Skiers and snowboarders can rent equipment on the mountain; it also offers a college student discount on lift tickets, which can be purchased online ahead of time to avoid lines. Pro tip: Take the gondola to the top of the mountain for the best views and the most trails to choose from.
For those who do not want to hit the slopes, there is a tube park on the back side of the mountain––which locals refer to as the “Sun Bowl.” Be sure to check the schedule, because the hours vary on holiday weekends.
“The Coca-Cola Tube Park features four lanes of lift-serviced snow tubing, warming hut, with light refreshments and fire pit,” according to stratton.com.
After your last run, stop by the Stratton BaseCamp for a sweet waffle before you leave the mountain. Once you return your rental skis, walk through Stratton Village at the base of the mountain. Here, you can enjoy an array of après-ski activities such as window shopping at local boutiques or stopping by some of the eateries.
Those seeking a bit more adventure should make their way towards Manchester, which is a twenty to thirty minute drive from Stratton, past beautiful forests and cattle-filled farms. Manchester is home to the Manchester Designer Outlets, the historic Equinox Resort (spa day!), and a handful of restaurants.
If you venture into Manchester in the morning, have your pancake fix at Up for Breakfast. Morning or afternoon, stop by the Northshire Bookstore, but beware that you might lose track of time if you decide to check out their wide collection of books. Stop by the café on your way out for a classic Vermont grilled cheese. For some southwestern comfort food and a delicious lunch or dinner, stop by Gringo Jack's, which is just a couple of blocks away from the bookstore––in fact, everything in Manchester is within walking distance.
For those wanting a finer dining experience that is a little closer to Stratton Mountain, SoLo Farm and Table is an absolute must. It is easy to mistake this quaint, plum-colored restaurant for a family home. Be sure to make a reservation though, because it is always bustling.
When you find yourself ready to head back to Boston, make the trip home a little easier by stopping by Honeypie, a tasty fast-food burger joint with a variety milkshakes, owned by the same people as SoLo. Grab The OG burger, an Oreo Milkshake, and enjoy the scenic drive back to the city!