12 of life’s littlest luxuries are hiding in Stowe, Vermont


I have been visiting Stowe since I was a teenager, my parents having built a house there to escape hot New Jersey summers, and as a home base for the winter ski season. I usually visited in the winter months, and so my view of Stowe was quite narrow, shaped by snow-covered mountains, roaring fires, and early nights, to gather strength for the next day on the slopes.

Vermont, and Stowe in particular, is renowned for its fall foliage. That magical time of year when the leaves and trees decide, en masse, to put on a dramatic display of light, texture, and color. While those two seasons have reason to gloat, summer in Stowe is nothing short of breathtaking. The unsung season. The little sister to her older, more popular siblings—fall and winter. As I got older, I began to crave Stowe in the summer above all other seasons.

Getting out of town

This past July, my husband and I made a pandemic-based decision. We packed up, and headed north to Stowe. We were eager to live village life, country life, and a less rushed life, in the mountains of Stowe. My parents’ house was currently empty, which presented an ideal way to leave the oppressive DC heat behind, as well as a way to break the monotony that had gradually taken hold of us over the past few months.

We packed up only our most essential items; two dogs, two kids, a few hundred Nespresso capsules, and corn hole. Our essentials, we quickly discovered, don’t fit in one car. So, we took two, and began the 10+ hour caravan to New England.

We spent six weeks in Stowe, and while our kids may have been slightly less enthusiastic about it, it was the decision of the year for me and my husband. I learned a lot living the simple life. For a start, I discovered that while big luxuries are great, little luxuries are even greater.

12 little luxuries

During those six weeks away, I compiled a list of things that village life, and Stowe, revealed to me. A list of things that I hadn’t thought much about before, but soon became overwhelmingly luxurious. The list is by no means complete, and was collected through my rose-colored lens. I have no doubt that this list will grow, when we revisit Stowe next. But for now, and in no particular order, are 12 things that I learned to appreciate, love, and consider true luxuries, about living in Stowe, Vermont.

1. The Stowe Recreation Path

With its gently looping slopes and hills, and covering 5.3 scenic miles, is the much loved Rec Path. The path is beautifully maintained, easily accessed, and a true highlight of the town. A natural starting point for the path is directly behind the Stowe Community Church, the towering centerpiece of the village. However, there are countless places to enter, and exit, and benches at which to rest, along the meandering route.

Sixteen pristine wooden bridges appear along the way, and cry for photo ops, as they arch over the clear, shallow, stone-filled streams. The low, rumbling sound of bikes that passed over the wooden slats of the bridges, would alert me to any oncoming ‘traffic’. Toddlers on tricycles would often speed past me, their out-of-breath parents racing to catch up. Bikers, walkers, and runners alike, share the path, which curves around and behind the town’s streets.

Hidden, lovely, picnic spots dot the water’s edge. I often hear kids splashing and squealing by the banks. A scenic way to burn calories, the Rec Path has just the right balance of shade, sun, streams, fields, cows and gardens, to keep anyone entertained for a few hours.

We would occasionally bike to the back garden of Idletyme Brewing Co., a local restaurant, and enjoy a well-earned cold drink. It has an idyllic location, being both on the Mountain Road, and the Rec Path. Fried pickles were ever-tempting, which will come as no surprise should you read ahead to little luxury #4. Gigantic, soft pretzels came hanging on a stand with a variety of dipping sauces. Flights of IPA beers were another excuse, ummmm, reason to head there on a hot summer day.

2. The Quiet Path

If the Rec Path doesn’t paint enough of a Rockwell-ian portrait, the Quiet Path certainly will. Built as a low-impact extension of the Recreational Path, mown grass pathways keep the Quiet Path true to its name. I sometimes saw walkers barefooted, flip flops in hand, enjoying the trimmed, soft, grass underfoot.

The 1.8 mile panoramic route hugs the perimeter of tall cornfields. A gurgling stream filled with beaver dams sits alongside the path, which my dogs always seemed to accidentally destroy. Alpine views were within sight, as was the steeple of the community church in the distance, at certain points on the path.

As the signage dictated, only foot traffic was allowed, whether four-legged or two. I found it amusing to read that dogs needed to be under voice or leash control. Voice control was far from guaranteed with my two stubborn pups, but I somehow escaped being reprimanded.

3. Sage Farm Goat Dairy

Sage Farm Goat Dairy is an insta-ready, family-run, goat farm located on upper West Hill Road. The weathered gray barn/farm store sits beautifully next to a field of wildflowers and alongside a tattered, wooden fence. An unassuming sign invites customers to walk in. The store is unattended, and provides an honesty box alongside the refrigerated case of small-batch artisanal goat cheeses and fresh eggs.

Chickens attack and peck the ground with enthusiasm. Some days we spotted the goats roaming the fields. They have a bucolic spot, those lucky alpine goats. Noticing the smug look on their long faces, I think they knew it.

4. From Maria’s Garden

A pretty, gray, clapboard house sits at the top of Cape Cod Road. Welcome to ‘From Maria’s Garden’—a charming roadside flower stand. Mason jar-filled wildflowers were presented daily, as were hand-cut bouquets and potted plants. An honesty jar sat nearby, a system she has had in place since 1987. Honesty—a popular theme in Stowe, I observed.

Maria escaped the corporate life in NYC, to live a simpler one, in Stowe. She is a certified floral designer and aside from her daily roadside flowers, designs for weddings and events.

I was tempted to buy Maria’s flowers every time I drove past, which was often. And during our first few weeks in Stowe, I did just that. The homespun feeling that radiated from the colorful property was magnetic. I often spied Maria’s husband, shears in hand, cutting for the day’s arrangements.

After having noticed the variety of wildflowers that were blooming in our own yard, I started to create my own masterpieces. It became clear pretty quickly that my flower arranging skills needed help, and I wondered if Maria was available for lessons.

5. The Stowe Farmers’ Market

Sunday mornings became a day in which to look forward, during a time when every day felt like a Sunday. Small, unpretentious, and sitting just off the Mountain Road, is the Stowe Farmers’ Market. A gathering of local vegetable producers, cheese vendors, handmade crafts, and a variety of food stalls—the market offered different tastes for the widely differing tastebuds in my family.

Green Mountain Potstickers was an instant hit. Homemade dough that had just the right consistency, and was balanced with the optimal amount of fillings—like, edamame, tofu, scallions, and chives. Their scallion pancakes easily competed with ones I’d had long ago in China. The cold sesame noodles, topped with julienne sliced veggies, were a lovely accompaniment to the warm potstickers.

I became obsessed with the pickled goods from Gizmo’s Pickled Plus. Who knew I liked pickled things so much? Not me. Sunshine Pickles, Bread and Butter Chips, Corn Relish, Pickled Beets, and Sour Salty Dog Spears (the perfect beer drinking pickle, they advertised) are just a small sampling of what they offered. When the vendor suggested I could get twelve jars for the price of ten, I quietly scoffed. Then, I promptly went ahead and bought twelve.

As if the pickles weren’t enough, Gizmos also made homemade jams. Their famous Bear Jam, was the berry trifecta of strawberry, blackberry, and blueberry preserves. Wild Organic Black Raspberry Jam, and the unique, but surprisingly good, Cucumber Lime Jam, were others. Sunshine Marmalade, a mix of unlikely ingredients (oranges, carrots, lemons, cherries, and pineapple) won me over, as well.

All the jams and pickled goods were freshly made, and preserved in original soda-lime glass mason jars. Where was I going to source my pickle cravings when I got back to DC, I openly fretted? “Not to worry”, they told me, “we ship world-wide”. Crisis averted, phew.

6. Stowe village

The village of Stowe has a fabled, storybook setting. Just the right amount of charm, quaint shops, ice cream parlors, and lively (modern definition: ‘socially distant’ lively) restaurants, to wander and explore. Stowe village is slow-paced, an inherent part of its charm.

My son and I biked to breakfast some mornings, passing acres of cornfields and weathered red barns, and sat outside at Café on Main, his favorite spot. We eavesdropped on the locals gossiping over their coffees and Stowe Reporters. Little shops were hidden behind big shops. Stowe had so many lovely historic homes to gawk over, and photographing them became another pastime.

Stowe fact — neon signs are strictly forbidden. Just another way that Stowe is able to maintain its historical charm. Until I found myself in a non-neon environment, I realized how much of my life is neon-filled. Its absence was refreshing.

7. Al fresco Stowe

Stowe is a popular, all-season, travel destination, so it wasn’t surprising that it had restaurants and cafés to suit just about everyone. Having had years of local eating under my belt (literally, and figuratively) I came to town armed with a few favorites, and found a few new ones.

California-inspired, Plate, at 91 Main Street, became a new fave. The owners, originally from LA, have been in Stowe for years, and their menu was described as being able to satisfy everyone from meat lovers, to hard-core vegans. I’m not vegan, but gravitated towards the vegan dishes, nonetheless. I thought the vegan crab cake starter was a highlight of the menu, as was Plate’s interpretation of a veggie burger. The wine list was especially well thought-out, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t factor into our return throughout the month.

The Bistro at Ten Acres has been perched at the junction of Luce Hill Road and Barrows Road since I was a kid, and had always been a favorite of my parents. We sat outside for dinner watching a particularly remarkable sunset one night, and wondered what it would be like to cash it all in and make the simple life of Stowe a permanent one.

The Bistro at Ten Acres feels intimate, even outdoors. A musician played guitar, just far enough from the patio so that we could still hear each other speak. The dry, summer air, and late setting sun, certainly made the night memorable. The food matched the night, it was lovely.

8. Stowe hiking and biking

The countless number of hiking and mountain biking trails in the area could take up an article of their own. Suffice it to say, hiking recently became one of my go-to activities, and Stowe had more mountains, gorges, notches, summits, and waterfalls, then I had time to tackle.

One morning, we hiked to Sterling Pond. A steep, natural rock staircase welcomed us to the 2-mile climb, and got my legs fired up faster than I was prepared for. Dense foliage, streams, and wet rocks, gave way to tall pines, a signal that the summit was nearing. Wild mushrooms, moss covered stones, fallen tree trunks, and a lush carpet of ferns covered the mountain floor. The reward for our efforts was a placid and serene pond. Although in my non-scientific opinion, it looked more like a lake—it was enormous. Whatever it is called, it was well worth the effort to get there.

Another morning, we went to Moss Glenn Falls, which is known to be one of the prettiest and most photogenic waterfalls in the area. Conveniently, it was a quick ten minute drive form our house. At only 68ft tall, what it lacked in height, it made up for in beauty. The water from Deer Hollow Brook cascaded over the textured rock face like a fan, and created tiers of pools where we could swim. Since the waterfall is a short, flat, walk from the parking area, it is known for being quite busy, one inherent pitfall of an easy hike, I guess.

Another morning’s hike started with a steep, 4.5 mile, switchbacked drive to the top of the mountain Toll Road. What followed, was an hour long open vista hike, called The Long Trail, to the ‘chin’ of Mt Mansfield. There, we were rewarded with 360 degree views of the area. I looked down over the grass-covered winter ski runs, and gazed out towards the distant layers of overlapping mountains. My favorite kind of hike, one that both starts and ends at the top. Views rule.

On the way back to the car, we passed a man with a butterfly net, who we learned was searching for dragonflies. Although, not just any dragonfly—he was on a mission to spot a particularly elusive species. Since then, I took note of the dragonflies I saw each morning at the pond. Dragonflies had never been on my radar before, and the more I noticed them, the more intrigued I became.

9. Vermont covered bridges

Dairy cows, green mountains, maple syrup, and covered bridges, are all so quintessentially Vermont. Stowe boasts a few iconic covered bridges, most notably, the Stowe Walkway Bridge, that lies near the center of town. Built in 1973, this long, pedestrian bridge straddles the Waterbury River and is an ideal part of an introductory walk around the village.

Gold Brook Covered Bridge, not far from the village, I read, has an eerie past. Folklore describes a chilling love story from the mid 1800s. A girl named Emily was to meet her boyfriend on the bridge, then they were to run off and elope. He never showed up, which sent her into a wild fit of despair. It is said that she hanged herself from the rafters, and has haunted the bridge ever since. Today, the bridge is commonly referred to as Emily’s Bridge, and sometimes daring tourists head there around midnight to look for her. I was not one of those tourists.

10. Wildlife, Vermont-style

In Stowe, I saw beavers, frogs, hummingbirds, dragonflies, chipmunks, cows, gophers, snakes, horses, and even a pair of berry-eating bears. Who needs Africa to spot animals? While not the traditional ‘big five’, wildlife is fascinating no matter what the size.

An early morning in August, my walk revealed a world of grazing cows, vivid clusters of fiery tiger lilies, and dilapidated barns. If I had chosen the same route to walk each day, I would inevitably spot something I hadn’t seen the day before, which was due, in part, to the ever-changing light, weather conditions, and bovine behavior.

One day, I stopped mid-run to take a photo of a cornfield, and found myself face-to-face with a suspicious gopher. While stretching later on, I saw a Monarch butterfly feasting on a flower. I never stop in my DC life. In Stowe, I stopped, and in doing so was rewarded with the littlest, most luxurious, things.

11. Pond life

If Vermont did any one thing to perfection, it was ponds. They were everywhere, it seemed, and became an instant, gorgeous foreground to any landscape photo.

My parents’ house has a small pond of its own nearby. Some days, it was as still as glass, and I caught ethereal colors that mirrored the sky. Other days, the clouds became a contrasty, pillowy-shaped Rorschach test. If our unruly black labs were swimming in the pond, as they often did, their otter-like bodies created circular waves that gave the water texture—a slow ripple in the mirror image. Around the perimeter of the pond, frogs croaked intermittently, with low baritones that sounded like a giant rubber band being twanged.

12. Mountain scenes

Bucolic pastoral scenes that appeared to be lifted from the canvas of a Wyeth, were everywhere. Wispy streaks of yellow grasses and lavender wildflowers laid quietly against green pastures, and distant blue skies. This led to an epiphanic moment.

After having spent days wondering why the sunsets seemed to be more colorful in Vermont, or why the clouds seemed more defined, I finally realized that it actually had nothing to do with the sun, or the clouds. It was the scenery against which the sunsets were setting, and the cloud formations were sitting above, that made it more spectacular. The sky can be gorgeous anywhere, like, over the NJ Turnpike, for instance, but it wouldn’t look quite as pretty. (No offense, NJ). It was the surrounding scene that made it all the more extraordinary. A-ha.

The late afternoon thunderstorms that passed through mountainous Stowe instantly turned on all of the primary colors of the landscape. At times, I was able to see both the incoming storm, and the blue sky at exactly the same time. The dark clouds inevitably swallowed up the sky, and then bright blue reemerged. After one particularly fast and furious storm, I witnessed a full rainbow that was so bright, it glowed.

Summer isn’t over, yet

Many of us have not been able to travel like we used to, or want to, which is an unfortunate reality. Big trips have been interrupted, changed, or put on hold, indefinitely. My family’s time in Stowe gave me the chance to think more creatively, or as Steve Jobs once said, think differently.

I am back in Washington DC. My parent’s house in Vermont felt like another world, and the change of scenery was healthy on multiple levels. I realized that I can define luxury in more ways than I had ever thought. Luxury, is personal. For me, it was spotting a photo-worthy pond, buying pickles at a farmers’ market, or goat cheese from a barn with an honesty box. How do you define luxury? It’s worth finding out.

Jamie Edwards is Founder of I am Lost and Found. I am Lost and Found is a luxury/adventure travel website that inspires others to explore the world, through first-hand experiential writing and captivating photography.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.


Comments (20)

  1. Valerie says:

    That title says so much about how the world has changed this year. I heard a TV journalist talking yesterday about earlier in the year “when time stood still”.

    Looking back that was a good thing as it made us turn to the little things for our entertainment. Having to slow down and enjoy what’s close by has been good for so many of us. Strolling around a farmers’ market is far better than a supermarket sweep for doing your shopping.

    • Jamie Edwards says:

      Hi Valerie, I agree that slowing down has been one of the bigger benefits of this time. There were so many things taken for granted in my life previously, and I am looking forward to continuing that pace now that I am back in my ‘real life’. I hope it lasts. Thank you for the thoughtful comment. -Jamie

  2. Ellen says:

    You were incredibly lucky to have a beautiful peaceful place like this to escape from the middle of the pandemic and the summer heat. Interesting how Nespresso coffee capsules are still an essential even in the crisis of a pandemic! I wonder if this will become a regular summer escape for you and your family as you enjoyed it so much.

    • Jamie Edwards says:

      Ellen, yes I am a disaster without a good cup of coffee! Thankfully they were small to pack. I do think Stowe will be a welcome spot for our family throughout the year as we periodically need to escape our DC routine. And I do agree that I am lucky to have the home for when we need it. Thank you for the comment! -Jamie

  3. Jean Hall says:

    Some of my friends have got into the spirit of From Maria’s Garden this year. When shops and garden centres were closed one of them got into a much closer relationship with his garden. He started off by looking for plants that had seeded themselves over the winter and others which had multiplied. Next he started cleaning up his old pots, then he got into making his own compost. Now he’s got a really pretty garden and he is proud to say that he has done it all without spending a single penny this year. He is the most extreme of these new gardeners but quite a few of my friends have rediscovered their gardens this year.

  4. Jamie Edwards says:

    Hi Jean, Thank you for the thoughtful comment. Flowers bring so much joy to people, I am always happy to hear a story like your friend and his floral venture. I have the same dream one day, if we end up in Stowe. Seems such a nice way to live. Warm regards! -Jamie

  5. Rob says:

    When our kids were young we used to take them away into the countryside for some peace and quiet. Back then they told us how much they hated it. Though we never went anywhere as beautiful as Stowe in Vermont looks.

    Now though they tell us, as they head off into the wilds with their children, that gradually they came to enjoy it. They think it’s the right thing to do for their children. How times change!

    • Jamie Edwards says:

      I only hope you are correct, and I suspect the same will happen with our kids. I certainly didn’t appreciate the great outdoors as a kid either, but really hope they grow to love it one day. Thank you for the comment! Warm regards. -Jamie

  6. Steve Nicholson says:

    It’s a mixed blessing, due to global warming, but you’re right – summer ain’t over yet.

    If the pattern of recent year repeats we’ll get the rail-end of hurricanes but they usually keep the frosts at bay and gardens still flowering. Sometimes, even in November, we get the occasional warm day that sort of reminds us of what summer was.

    • Jamie Edwards says:

      Hi Steve, Before we blink, it will be winter here in Washington DC. We have to appreciate this warm weather while we can. Thank you for reading, and for your comment. I wish you a nice, long, colorful, fall season. -Jamie

  7. Jen Scott says:

    Sounds like this particular pandemic based decision was a good one for you and your husband, even if the kids weren’t quite as enamoured with the mountain and fresh air lifestyle. I’d love six weeks out there, but more to escape the concrete jungle rather than the heat, given as how we don’t get much of that in England. The walks there look very peaceful, and it’s got that quaint, familiar feel to it when you get those family businesses, farmers markets and Maria’s garden for the roadside flowers. I like that, it’s a bit quieter and yet it still feels very homely rather than being isolated. Quite the difference to where you live in DC by the seems of things! Vermont and Stowe could be advertised as a health destination for all the walking you can do there with something new to discover each time. It’s a great way to put a spin on the typical definition of luxury. I know we often want what we don’t have, but I really do find the idea of going there, even just for a short stay, very appealing. Are you already planning a return trip in the future? I would be! :)

    • Jamie Edwards says:

      Hi Jen, Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I agree that the charm comes from the family run businesses, the non-neon filled streets and the great walking opportunities. From what I understand, there (at least used to be) a direct flight from London to Montreal. Montreal is a scenic two hours from Stowe. Maybe to put on your wish list? As for our family, we are hoping to get back there in the fall, for a shorter stay. I am already looking forward to it! Warm regards. -Jamie

  8. Emmeline Mansell says:

    You got me first at “few hundred Nespresso”. Hey, coffee enthusiast here! I would not mind living not just for a vacation if it means that the surroundings is just as awesome as you have described. Who needs the city lights when you can have fresh air for free, every single waking moment? And I have to mention that I love Sunday markets. This is the only day that you can get the freshest produce and savoury local products. Vermont looks awesome!

    • Jamie Edwards says:

      I’d be lost without my morning coffee! Thank you so much for your comment. Places like Stowe exist in many countries and states if we just seek them out. It’s worth a try near to where you live. A farmers market always makes me feel good. I hope you find your own Stowe sometime soon! Warm regards -Jamie

  9. Rick Kesselman says:

    I have always had a special place In my heart for New England because of my many wonderful years I spent there at summer camp. Your article brought back many of those memories. I look forward to being in Stowe once again sometime in the future.

    • Jamie Edwards says:

      Hi Rick, I’m sure camp conjurs up a lot of warm memories for you. I’ll bet some of your best years were spent there! I’m glad I could help you relive those special times, and I hope you get to revisit New England someday. Take care! -Jamie

  10. Achyut says:

    Hello!! Your blog has unique and much information which is really interesting to read about it. Your photo was great to see it and which had bought a smile on my face. Hoping to see more photo and blog from you

    • Hi Achyut, and thank you for the kind comments. Bringing a smile to someone’s face is the ultimate compliment! Please feel free to look at my site for other blog posts, if you’d like, and of course I hope to write more for ALTB. The link is in my bio at the bottom of my posts. Warm regards! -Jamie

  11. Debra G. says:

    It must be relaxing to live there, looking at those scenery all day is a blessing. No wonder you keep coming back to Stowe because the town is really stunning. The views of the icy mountains in the winter while staying near the roaring fires sounds calming and peaceful, then top it off with scary and exciting stories to share with your loved ones, it would be a blast. Also, when the ice melts, it would be nice to take a hike in the mountains and see how nature blooms again as sping comes. I bet it would really be a jaw-dropping sight. Just looking at the pictures calms me down and keeps me imagining how a visit there would be so much more relaxing. If not for blog posts and photographs like these people wouldn’t even know such places exist. Wishing we could all travel freely soon and take more photos like this.

    • Hi Debra, Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It makes me happy that I was able to paint a picture for you of how lovely Stowe life is, through photos and words. It is truly a special place for me and my family. Like you, I love hearing, reading and seeing photos of places I have never known about. Warm regards! Jamie

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