It’s crazy how things work out sometimes.
Last year, my cousin Lisa got engaged and started planning a June 2015 wedding in Stowe, Vermont. My husband and I wanted to attend, but there were some obstacles – expenses, schedules, and what on earth to do with the kids. And then when I found out that I’d be traveling to Israel just a few weeks after the wedding, it seemed like it just wasn’t going to work out.
But then a few weeks ago, when my husband and I were syncing our calendars, we realized that he’d be in New Hampshire – just an hour & a half from Stowe – the entire week before the wedding! It was such a lucky coincidence that we had to at least try to make the trip happen. And then the pieces just sort of fell into place. I found an inexpensive flight into Burlington, VT. My husband was able to extend his travel plans. And my parents agreed to watch the kids for a long weekend.
And then just like that, we were going to Vermont!
I dropped the kids off with my parents and flew into Burlington late Thursday night. My husband picked me up at the airport, and we spent the night at Hampton Inn Burlington. We’ve stayed in a lot of Hampton Inns, and this was one of the nicer ones – great fitness center, indoor pool, and a really cute room. I’d definitely stay there again.
We didn’t have to be in Stowe until Friday evening, so we decided to spend the day in Burlington. We started out on Church Street, which I’m guessing is a pretty common first stop for tourists. Church Street Marketplace is a 4-block open air marketplace with an eclectic mix of upscale boutiques, local culture, street musicians, and panhandlers. We ate lunch at Boloco (“globally inspired burritos”), got coffee at Speeder and Earl’s, and did lots of window shopping and people watching.
We also did a little shopping at Second Time Around, a designer consignment shop. (Technically I shopped and my husband wandered behind me looking tragically uncomfortable, until I released him from his torture and let him wait on a bench outside with all the other husbands.) Second Time Around was having a customer appreciation sale, and I got a peel-off coupon for $20 off my purchase, so of course I had to buy something. I picked up a tank top & a sweater, both from Banana Republic, for a grand total of $7.50. And the sweater came in handy later that night – more on that in a minute.
Before heading to Stowe, we walked down to Burlington Bay and did a bit more people watching with Lake Champlain as a backdrop. Then we hopped in our rental car and made the 45 minute drive to Stowe. We scoped out the town, then we drove over to our bed & breakfast, Timberholm Inn.
Timberholm Inn was just as pretty & cozy as it looked online, and the owners, Tom and Susan, made us feel right at home. The inn looked just like you’d imagine a Vermont ski lodge – wood floors, rustic decor, cozy and relaxed atmosphere. Our room was very small, but I knew this when I booked it, and I figured that for just $105/night, we could deal with a little less space than usual. Plus 1) we were there for a close, romantic weekend anyway; 2) we didn’t plan on spending that much time in the room; and 3) the inn had lots of indoor common areas, plus a large deck overlooking a huge backyard and a spectacular view of the mountains.
We had a little time to kill before the wedding Welcome BBQ, so we decided to explore Stowe on foot. That took us about 10 minutes, since it was after 6:00 p.m and apparently that’s the cutoff of for downtown Stowe’s nightlife. It was okay though. More time for selfies.
Then it was time for the BBQ, which was on the front lawn at Top Notch Resort. We hung out with family, ate great food, and bonded with other wedding guests while we huddled under the heat lamps – because all of a sudden it was (Florida) freezing! Thank goodness for my new Banana Republic sweater.
I was really cold when we got back to the B&B, and I was relieved that we were able to turn the heat on in our room. (I was worried that they weren’t built to accommodate Florida wimps who turn the heat on when it drops below 60 degrees outside.) But we were warm & cozy all night, and we woke up excited for the “memorable full country breakfast” that we’d been promised. We were NOT disappointed. Morning #1 included coffee, fresh fruit, freshly baked muffins, a spinach frittata, breakfast potatoes, and bacon. SO GOOD.
We decided to spend the day in true Vermont style – hiking. Neither of us is an experienced hiker, and one of us is terrifically clumsy (ahem), so we knew we’d need to stick to easy trails. Fortunately, our B&B provided us with a detailed list of trails, which included info about distance and skill level.
Our first stop was Moss Glen Falls. The hike was easy enough, and it led us to a spectacular waterfall. The total drop of the waterfall is 125 feet which makes it one of the largest falls in Vermont. We also went down to the bottom of the falls, where there are some shallow swimming holes and rocks to climb. We saw several rock balancing sculptures (I didn’t know this was a thing!), and we may or may not have made one of our own.
Our next stop was Sterling Falls Gorge, also on the list of easy trails. It was a bit of a drive, but at least driving in Stowe is always scenic (at least from the passenger’s perspective). Once we made it there, a short walk led us to several beautiful falls and shallow pools with plenty of rocks to climb. My husband was a bit braver than me, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself too – I just kept my feet on solid ground. There were a couple of steep(ish) climbs heading back, and we were glad to get the chance to work off our breakfast bacon.
We stopped for a quick bite at The Bagel (yum), then it was time to head back to the B&B to get ready for the 4:00 p.m. wedding. The ceremony was on the lawn at Top Notch Resort, and the cocktail hour & reception were across the street in the Mountain View Pavilion Tent. The entire event was just incredible, from start to finish. Highlight of the evening? (Besides the company, of course.) The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream sundae bar. Yes, please.
After the wedding, we headed back to Timberholm Inn and spent a little time in the outdoor hot tub. Then we sat in the backyard in our bathrobes and watched the fireflies in the distance. It was the perfect way to end the evening.
We woke up to another great breakfast – fruit, muffins, oatmeal pancakes, and sausage. Then we checked out and started making our way back to Burlington. On our way, we stopped at the Ben & Jerry’s factory, the Cabot (Cheese) Annex Store, and the Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center. We liked all three, although Ben & Jerry’s was super crowded – it was Father’s Day and they were giving a free ice cream cone to dads. Our favorite was the Cabot Store. If you visit, make sure you go with an appetite – the free samples are insane!
In Burlington, we went back to Church Street and made another coffee run at Speeder and Earl’s. Then we spent our last hour or so back at Burlington Bay, making plans to return to Vermont – perhaps next time with the kids.
I think we both left a little bit of our hearts in Vermont. We loved the beautiful serenity of Stowe and the eclectic bustle of Burlington. There was so much to see and enjoy, even for non-outdoorsy types like us. Plus, we were surprised by the relative affordability of everything, especially since we were there during their “busy” season. Big thanks to my cousin Lisa and the rest of the family for throwing such a fabulous wedding and giving us the opportunity for a rare child-free vacation. And congrats to the newlyweds! We love you!