The snow may be long gone, but at many of Vermont’s mountain resorts, the lifts—and the good times—keep cranking. Over the last decade these five ski havens have found new life after spring’s big melt. Once the moguls disappear, that long, bumpy run moonlights as a mountain bike trail. Snow-ringed hot tubs surrender to spring-fed swimming holes. Fireside dinners are replaced by meals alfresco (maple-chipotle chicken under the stars, anyone?). One other change: the bill. Lodging rates in summer can drop by 70 percent compared to busy winter weeks. There is, alas, one thing that can’t be altered: The summer season is excruciatingly short. By mid-August, wetland maples show the first red blushes of fall. So what are you waiting for?
Antiques and adrenaline boosts
The state’s southernmost major ski resort puts visitors squarely in the heart of photo-friendly New England, with its covered bridges, winding back roads and weathered red barns. The nearby towns of Wilmington and West Dover are home to a bevy of inns and antiques shops. The resort itself has two floyal camps: golfers and mountain bikers. Golf lovers flock to the Original Golf School, one of the country’s earliest golf academies. Seasoned mountain bikers swarm over a 30-mile network of challenging lift-served trails. Another 100 miles of gentler paths crisscross the forest and farmlands nearby. A mountain-biking school can show you how to tear up hills and through streambeds.
Vermont’s little slice of Europe
This European-style village in the southern part of the state was ahead of its time when it opened as a year-round destination resort. Austrian Emo Henrich, who was both the ski-school director and the founder of a popular oompah band, the Stratton Mountain Boys, helped give the resort its decidedly Tyrolean bent. The pedestrian only cobblestoned village makes a great home base for forays both active (golf, tennis and trails) and more consumer-driven. The designer outlets of Manchester (Armani, Coach, J. Crew) are about 30 minutes away. To indoctrinate the next generation into your favored sport, there are stellar instructional camps at the 27-hole Stratton Golf Club and the Gunterman Tennis School. Video analysis helps adults brush up their game, too.
50 miles of mountain trails
Though without a full-fledged base village, this sprawling seven-peak resort area—the East’s largest—still has plenty of affordable places to eat and stay along its access road. An extensive network of lift-served trails crisscrosses the mountains; kid-pleasing attractions range from waterslides to miniature golf and climbing walls. The area also plays host to annual wine, music and film festivals, and is close to such New England havens as Woodstock, a scenic 13-mile drive away. Perhaps most important, golfers can choose among more than a dozen courses including Green Mountain, one of the state’s best.
A classic mountain gets a once-in-a-lifetime addition
Stowe has been a summer destination since the mid-19th century, when it began attracting city dwellers with its clean mountain air and stirring views of the state’s tallest peak, 4,393-foot-tall Mount Mansfield. But until this year, the actual resort, 10 miles from town, had little to offer summer travelers. That’s all changed with the development of Spruce Peak at Stowe, a massive $400-million project that has brought the slopes a luxury hotel, spa treatments, mountain homes and a performing arts center. Oh, and there’s also a Bob Cupp–designed golf course that wraps around Peregrine Lake. Back in town, you can pedal, skate or walk the Stowe Recreation Path, a scenic and mostly fl at 5½-mile paved trail that skirts the shallow West Branch River.
A family-friendly all-inclusive
Just northwest of Stowe, “Smuggs” is a self-contained, all inclusive resort focused on keeping families—even those with hard-to-impress teens—entertained. This is accomplished quite handily with eight swimming pools, four waterslides, climbing towers and dozens of programs. Summer packages include camps for kids aged three to 17. (Nursery care is available for babies as young as six weeks.) The idea is that while the kids are amused, parents can golf, bike, hike, shop the weekly country market for local produce, or just loll about. It’s a formula that works—and keeps families coming back summer after summer.
Original Golf School: 800.240.2555
Mount Snow: 800.245.7669; mountsnow.com
Manchester Designer Outlets: manchesterdesigneroutlets.com
Stratton Golf Club and the Gunterman Tennis School: 800.787.2886; stratton.com
Killington Ski Resort: 802-422-6200; killington.com
Stowe Mountain Resort: stowe.com
Smugglers' Notch: 800.419.4615; smuggs.com