Fair warning: The Very Small Donuts sold at Waitsfield’s Big Picture Theater & Café are addictive. Luckily, you can bag a dozen for $6.50 while watching, say, Cheaper by the Dozen in one of the two screening rooms. Throw in a microbrew: This retro-themed spot, which has sea-foam-green decor, leather couches and killer brunches and burgers, is one of the state’s only movie theaters that allow dinner and a show.
Waitsfield anchors one end of the Mad River Valley, where you’ll find the ski areas Mad River Glen and Sugarbush. The other marquee town around here is Warren, home of the Pitcher Inn and the Warren Store. The latter is famous for its No. 6 (turkey on a baguette with a secret-recipe cranberry mayo) and other overstuffed sandwiches, but the toys, women’s clothing and housewares at the top of the rainbow-colored stairs are just as tempting. The Tracks lounge, across the street at the Pitcher Inn, is a fine place to snack on duck rillettes by the fire.
But there’s more poking around to be done in Waitsfield. Park near the covered bridge to check out works by more than 200 Vermonters at the Artisans’ Gallery. Then head for a meal at Mint, a vegetarian restaurant that should convert even the most devoted carnivore, at least temporarily. If you must have meat, try the New Vermont Sausage pizza at the perennially popular American Flatbread, made with maple-fennel sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions.
Once you’re ready to click into your skis, you’ll find natural snow, zero snowboarders and a time-capsule vibe at Mad River Glen, a laid-back ski area that has barely changed since its founder decided in 1948 that it wouldn’t be a “mountain amusement park” but a “winter community.” Over at 578-acre Sugarbush, more-modern upgrades let you score first tracks in the fresh snow of Lincoln Peak in a heated snowcat dubbed the Lincoln Limo. It’s very—well, sweet.
Mad River Glen: 57 Schuss Pass, Fayston; 1.802.496.3551; madriverglen.com
Sugarbush: 1840 Sugarbush Access Rd., Warren; 1.800.537.8427; sugarbush.com
Artisans’ Gallery: 20 Bridge St.; 1.802.496.6526