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skiing in Stowe vermont
Photo: Courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort.

According to Ski Magazine readers, Vermont has some of the best ski resorts in the US and even in North-America, whether you are looking for downhill skiing or cross-country ski or simply want to enjoy great après-ski and dining. In each of these categories, Vermont ski resorts are making Ski Magazine’s list of the “Top 10 Ski Resorts”. And others have also recognized Vermont ski resorts as… some of the best! (See where they are all located on this map of Vermont ski resorts).

Top 10 ski resorts for après-ski (Ski Magazine)
For the best après-ski, Ski Magazine readers selected 2 Vermont ski resorts in the top 10.
Here is their “top 10” list:
1. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
2. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
3. Heavenly, California
4. Killington, Vermont
Killington truly has a number of fun places to enjoy after a long day of skiing: the Mahogany Ridge bar at the K-1 Lodge, the Long Trail Pub at the Snowshed Lodge, and the Bear Mountain Lounge at the Bear Mountain Lodge, the Wobbly Barn or the Lookout Tavern. Lots to choose from. And for the very best BBQ, our personal choice is The Back Behind Saloon on route 4 and 100 S.
5. Tremblant, Quebec
7. Park City, Utah
8. Breckenridge, Colorado
9. Whiteface, New York
10. Stowe, Vermont
There is definitely an established tradition of bar hopping after a day of skiing at the Stowe Mountain Resort. There is even a name for it: it’s the “Mountain Road Crawl”! You start by warming up and having a drink at the Fireside Tavern right at the mountain, then drive down the road a little and stop at the Matterhorn Bar. Pool tables, music and great food (appetizers, pizza, etc.) are all there for you. The bar also has a dance floor. Then, The Shed and the Rusty Nail are further down the road. The Rusty Nail also has a great space and pool tables upstairs. Lots of places for lots of fun! And to make sure to stay safe, take advantage of the shuttle which will take you from one bar to another, yep, no kidding!

Top 10 ski resorts for dining (Ski Magazine)
For dining, Stowe is ranking number 10. A very respectable score. Indeed, the whole road from the Mountain to Stowe village and to Waterbury has restaurants of all kinds and all budgets, as well of course B&B and little inns. Some are fun and relaxed, some are fancy and gastronomic in quaint historic homes. We’ll just name a few: the Whip Bar & Grill, located in the Green Mountain Inn, the Blue Moon Café, the Swisspot (in town), the Cliff House Restaurant (at Mt. Mansfield), and Mr Pickwick’s at the Ye Olde England Inne. Waterbury is close as well and hosts some award-winning restaurants, such as Michael’s on the Hill, and Hen of the Wood (our previous article).

For your curiosity, here are Ski Magazine’s “top 10 ski resorts” for dining:
1. Aspen, Colorado
2. Deer Valley, Utah
3. Tremblant, Quebec
4. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
5. Sun Valley, Idaho
6. Vail, Colorado
7. Park City, Utah
8. Beaver Creek, Colorado
9. Telluride, Colorado
10. Stowe, Vermont

Top 10 ski resorts for off-hill activities (Ski Magazine)
And when it comes to off-hill activities, it’s Smugglers’ Notch which is the favorite station in Vermont. Smugglers’ Notch has the FunZone for kids, video arcades, snow tubing, ice-skating at SmuggsCentral, massages, and more…

Ski Magazine’s top 10 list includes:
1. Whiteface Mountain, New York
2. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
3. Heavenly, California
4. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
5. Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
6. Park City, Utah
7. Tremblant, Quebec
8. Vail, Colorado
9. Breckenridge, Colorado
10. Deer Valley, Utah

Top 10 ski resorts for romantic cross-country skiers (that’s a niche!) (MSNBC – February 2006)
MSNBC has selected the Mountain Top Inn. The photos on its website seem fabulous… with the view on Chittenden Reservoir. We will have to check it out!

MSNBC’s top 10 list includes:
• Callaghan Country at Whistler, British Columbia
• Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, in Alberta
• Garland Resort in Lewiston, Michigan
• Lone Mountain Ranch at Big Sky, Montana
• Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York
• Mt. Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods, in New Hampshire
Mountain Top Inn in the town of Chittenden, Rutland County, Vermont
• Royal Gorge in Soda Springs, California
• Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop, Washington
• Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

And last but not least:
Top 10 ski resorts for family in New England (Family Ski Trips)
The Family Ski Trips website listed 6 Vermont ski resorts as the best ski resorts for family.
Wow, well done Vermont! And it’s nice to know that many of these ski resorts have timeshare rentals available through their owners which are spacious enough to fit the whole family comfortably.

Okemo, Vermont
For its lesson programs…
Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
For the “most innovative instruction in snow country”, its beginners’ slopes on Morse Mountain, its kids’ ski camp and day care, and all the activities in the Village from the Fun Zone to snow tubing.
Stowe, Vermont
When the kids grow older: “your kids can night-ski while you dine at the European-style Cliff House” restaurant.
Killington/Pico, Vermont
For Bear Mountain which is dedicated to freeskiers and riders, with parks and pipes; for its Winter Adventure Center with snowshoeing, tubing and dog sledding; and for the less intimidating Pico resort. Killington also has several video arcades.
Suicide Six, Vermont
Ascutney, Vermont
Ascutney has a lot for kids of all ages: Young Olympians ski and ride camps for ages 4-12, and a Bumps Center for teens. Note that the Duckling Daycare will not be open this winter.

Other ski resorts in New England which made the list:
– Bretton Woods, NH
– Sunday River, ME
– Jiminy Peak, MA and
– Sugarloaf, ME

On that note, I hope we’ll see you this winter in Vermont… on our mountains or off the slopes. The snow is already here waiting for you.
Related article: 2009 Best Ski Resorts and Ski Hotels

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Last winter, we shared with you a list of places where you can go dog sledding in Vermont (see our article “Enjoy a Dog Sledding Tour“). Wants to see how fun it is? Check out this video made by Burlington’s Seven Days Magazine. For sure, something WE will add to our list of fun things to do this winter in Vermont!

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smugglers_notch_resort_575For 20 out of the past 22 years, Smugglers’ Notch Resort has opened on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
But it won’t be the case this year! But the weather has been too warm for snow making, and the resort has not received any natural snow… So they just announced that they are delaying opening until December 5th. Sad news for the skiers!

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skiing in Stowe vermont
Photo: Courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort.
Read in the December 2009 issue of Condé Nast Traveler: the results of the Readers’ Poll about 2009 Best Places to Ski & Stay in North America.

Well, the Rocky Mountains ski resorts win this time… no doubt. Too bad, because there is indeed some very fun places in Vermont to go skiing. In our article last year, The Best Ski Resorts are in Vermont, we highlighted some of the recognition they got, particularly in Ski Magazine, for best after-ski, best family places and more…

And Vermont is still a nice place to enjoy skiing. Some great hotels indeed made the “top 50 ski hotels” list in this recent Condé Nast Traveler survey:
31 – Sugarbush Inn, Warren
39 – Killington Grand Resort Hotel, Killington
42 – Topnotch Resort & Spa, Stowe
44 – Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock (nice hotel indeed!)
48 – Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, Stowe

And what is YOUR best ski hotel in Vermont?

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ethan_allen_cruise_190Photo: Lake Champlain from the Spirit of Ethan Allen III cruise boat.

Fall is a great time of the year to explore Vermont’s waterways!
In fact, Vermont’s rivers and lakes have been enjoyed for generations! There was a time when it even was the only way to travel in the region.
As leaves are turning red particularly quickly this year, don’t wait to come and enjoy the scenery while canoeing or kayaking, or taking a lake cruise in Vermont.

Some ideas and tips of things you can do:

– Last year, we mentioned canoeing or kayaking the wild and scenic Missisquoi river, part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, and offering some of the best flat-water paddling in Vermont. It is bordered by a large silver maple forest. It is definitely recognized as a natural resource of particular interest.
More information at: The Northern Forest Canoe Trail

– Another good option (for the less sportive) is to enjoy a nice cruise on the lake: Carillon Cruises in the Southern part of the lake (across from fort Ticonderoga) offers special foliage cruises for a few hours, the Spirit of Ethan Allen III will take you out on Lake Champlain, from Burlington waterfront, and the Moonlight Lady offers overnight cruises, in one of its 16 cabins.
More information at:
Carillon Cruises
Spirit of Ethan Allen III
Moonlight Lady

amazon_kayaker_guide_100– For more ideas, you can always consult a new book “A Kayaker’s Guide to Lake Champlain – Exploring the New York, Vermont and Quebec Shores”, which has received good reviews. It has caught our attention as a very practical guide, as each of the 50 chapters describes one day’s paddle, with route description, navigational charts, table of information with distances and launch points. We have not read it yet, but are definitely planning to put our hands on it. See it on Amazon.

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Vermont foliageFall is definitely here in Vermont! A couple of fresh nights this week and the first maple trees turned red and tonight frost will have more leaves turn red, no doubt. A nice premise for a nice week-end.
And to celebrate Vermont foliage season so dear to all of us, there are many things to do here. Of course you can go canoeing and kayaking on lakes and rivers (I will write about it next week) or hike or do a lot of other outdoor activities. But there are also some special events and festivals this week-end:
Apple picking : You are invited to participate to the annual contest « Apples to iPods » which takes place in many orchards again this year. If you find a wooden iPod in a tree at one of the participating orchards, you’ll win a real iPod. More info at: Vermont Apples.
Vermont Life Wine & Harvest Festival – Mount Snow Valley –September 25-27, 2009: It’s the second year of this event, where you can participate to cooking demonstrations by local restaurants, wine and cheese pairing presentations, wine pairing diners at some local restaurants, etc. Specialty food makers, cheesemakers and craft artists will show their products. And of course, there will be music, jazz trio and acoustic roots band… Don’t miss a Vermont style breakfast on Saturday or Sunday morning, with maple syrup (I am sure) and products (bacon and sausages) from local company Vermont Smoke and Cure, or the BBQ and Blue Grass diner on Friday night. The event is listed as one of the top ten Fall events by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce this year. More info at Vermont Life Wine & Harvest Festival.
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Annual Fall Foliage Festival – September 27 – October 3, 2009 – Towns and villages of the region offer a variety of activities during this week : food events, visits, music, etc. More info on the site of the Chamber of Commerce.
5th Annual Burlington Book Festival – September 25-27, 2009 – A book fair in Burlington is always a good excuse to come and wander the nice streets of this nice little Vermont town we all like (see our last year’s article on Burlington). Many authors will be there, there will be new and used books, free appraisal of rare books and more. More info at Burlington Book Festival.
6th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture & Woodworking Festival – September 26-27, 2009 – In the Southern part of the state, woodwork and nice furniture lovers won’t miss this event. More than 50 furniture makers and woodworking artists are expected. You can even watch Barre Pinske carve a bear on site. More info at Vermont Fine Furniture & Woodworking Festival.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – Archaeology Week-end – September 26-27, 2009 – South of Burlington, near Vergennes, it is the annual archaeology event at the museum. You can do a tour on the lake to see a shipwreck (Saturday 1pm), or enjoy presentations, movies and more. More info on the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum website.
Biking tour – South Hero and Grand Isle – September 26, 2009 – And for cycling amateurs, the Montpelier Section of the Green Mountain Club organizes a 25-mile loop in this beautiful region of Lake Champlain Islands, north of Vermont. For more info, contact: Mary Garcia at (802) 229-0153 or Mary Smith at (802) 505-0603.
– And don’t forget to read the last issue of Vermont Life magazine (we are not paid to promote it), for more info on a lot of outdoor activities you can do this Fall here, or just for the pleasure of looking at the beautiful photos they have throughout the magazine! Vermont Life Magazine Current Issue.

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pirates_lake_champlain_575Lots of events for this first week of June in Vermont, from food and music to sports, for adults and for kids.

Monday June 1, 2009 – David Byrne – Shelburne Museum
David Byrne
(formerly of The Talking Heads), a Grammy and Oscar recipient, will perform songs from his new album while taking in a beautiful sunset over Lake Champlain. His long collaboration with Brian Eno has resulted in ethereal, world-music influenced musical landscapes. The Shelburne Museum, a gorgeous venue, hosts this show on “The Green” as part of Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on the Green series.
Time: Doors open at 6:30pm, concert at 8:00pm.
Location: Shelburne Museum, 5555 Shelburne Road (US7), Shelburne.
Tickets: www.highergroundmusic.com.
Cost: $45 in advance; $50 day of show.

Thursday June 4, 2009 – “Three Girls and Their Buddy”, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin & Buddy Miller – Shelburne Museum
Folk, bluegrass and country from this quartet with Emmylou Harris, who sang on the soundtrack of “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, and Buddy Miller.
Time: Doors open at 5pm, concert at 6pm.
Location: Shelburne Museum, 5555 Shelburne Road (US7), Shelburne.
Tickets: www.highergroundmusic.com.
Cost: $50-54.

June 5-14, 2009 – Burlington Discover Jazz Festival
Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, in its 27th year, features concerts at the Art Deco Flynn Theater, with headliners like Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis and Pink Martini – as well as day-long music in the streets. Ticket prices vary, and some events free.
For the complete schedule, visit www.discoverjazz.com.

Some of the concerts of note for the week of June 1 to 7:
Friday June 5, 2009 – Anat Cohen Quartet (double bill with Esperanza Spalding) – Flynn Center
Tenor saxophone and clarinet, Anat Cohen has thrilled audiences throughout the US and Canada. She is said to be “one of the brightest, most original young instrumentalists in jazz”.
Bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding, is a remarkable performer who has played and been acclaimed on world’s stages. Her 2008 album incorporates the rich traditions of jazz, soul, Latin, R&B and world music.
Time: 8pm
Location: Flynn Center for the Arts,153 Main Street, Burlington
Tickets: $34, $27, $21; www.discoverjazz.com.

Sunday June 7, 2009 – Diana Krall- Flynn Center
Pianist and singer Diana Krall, recipient of two Grammys, doesn’t need any presentation. Millions of people have already enjoyed her vocals, her rhythmic music, her remarkable stage presence and unmistakable piano interpretation.
Time: 8pm
Location: Flynn Center for the Arts,153 Main Street, Burlington
Tickets: $99, $69, $49, www.discoverjazz.com.

June 5-7, 2009 – Strolling of the Heifers Weekend – Brattleboro
Only in Vermont – it seems – can you see a parade of 100 heifers on Main Street. What’s a heifer” may you ask. Well, it’s a young cow which has not yet had a calf of her own. Parade is at 10am sharp on Saturday June 6. It will be followed by by a dairy festival that includes the Future Chefs of Vermont tent, a Children’s Farm Fun Tent, a Royal Farmer’s Feast, and farm tour. Don’t miss as well the Great Vermont Grilled Cheese Cook-off, on Friday June 5, at River Garden, on Main Street, a contest with the aim of discovering the best grilled cheese sandwich recipes in Vermont.
More information at: Strolling of the Heifers

June 4-7, 2009 – Vermont Dairy Festival – Enosburg Falls
It’s also dairy festival time at Enosburg Falls, for the 53rd year – a family event with rides for the kids, crafts, baking contest, food vendors including ice cream and cheese, a parade on Saturday and stage entertainment all weekend.
More information at: www.VermontDairyFestival.com.

June 6-7, 2009 – Kid’s Pirate Festival – Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – Vergennes
Who doesn’t like to play pirates? Kids will love to come in costume, participate in activities, including a treasure hunt, enjoy live performances of pirate comedians.
Location: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 4472 Basin Harbor Road.
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: adults, $10; youth 5 -17 and under, $6; children under 5, free.
More information at: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

And last but not least, for the more athletic crowd:

June 4-7, 2009 – 2009 National Life Group VerMontreal Tour – from Burlington to Montreal
As part of the events for the 400th anniversary of Lake Champlain, groups of 40 and 60 cyclists will ride 139 miles in 3 days or 210 miles in 4 days. The journey will take them from South Hero to Montreal, where they will join the 30,000 cyclists, participating in Montreal’s famous day-long Tour de l’Ile. Tour includes fine hotels, full breakfasts, support vans, nightlife, historical and culinary highlights. Note: we are confirming with the organizers that this tour is indeed still happening.
More information at: Local Motion

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justin_morrill_homestead_575Photo: Justin Smith Morrill Homestead – Vermont State Historic Site – Strafford.
You’re starting to think about your summer vacation. I know it, because many of you read our article “Fun things to do in the summer in Vermont” this month…
So here are some tips and links to help you plan your summer vacation in Vermont, and some ideas on things to do here this summer:
1- Vermont Life Magazine – monthly e-newsletter – You can subscribe for free to Vermont Life Magazine’s monthly e-newsletter. They usually have a list of events for the month and more…
2- Vermont Public Radio – e-newsletter – Another e-newsletter you can subscribe to. They cover interesting topics and take you to the web pages where you can download a special program. Last month for instance, they talked about the documentary “Maple Sugar Time”.
3- Vermont Life Magazine – web extras – Free on their website. Lots of great information. In the Spring 2009 web extra, you can see maps of the 5 riverside bike rides discussed in the printed issue (zoom close to see details).  In the Summer 2008 web extra, they presented restaurant hopping suggestions for Northern, Central and Southern Vermont, recipes by awarded-chef Michael Kloeti and even a nice little documentary filmed in the kitchen of his restaurant on a Friday night “Behind the scene”…
4- Vermont Life Magazine – I don’t get anything for promoting Vermont Life Magazine but it’s a nice publication to plan your vacation to Vermont. You can start with a free issue! See their website.
5- Vermont Summer Vacation Guide – Vermont Department of Tourism has a vacation guide for each season. You can order it on line.
6- Outdoors associations websites – Here are 3 official websites for information and events on outdoors activities (Vermont Outdoor Guide Association), hunting and fishing (Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department), and golfing (Golf Vermont)
7- Vermont State Historic Sites – There are a number of events all summer long at Vermont Historic Sites, and an open house week-end in June at all sites. For the calendar of events, you can consult their official website.
8- Vermont Mozart Festival – July 19th to August 9 – The Vermont Mozart Festival is in our opinion one of the nicest series of events of the summer in Vermont. It is a series of classical music (and some jazz) concerts in wonderful outdoor settings, including some historic sites. Let’s hope for better weather than last year, when they needed to use their indoor “rain site” too often. For the complete calendar of events, see Vermont Mozart Festival.
9- The Quadricentennial of Lake Champlain – You may know that this year is a very special year in Vermont. It is the 400th anniversary of Lake Champlain and there are tons of events organized by public and private organizations. The major event is “Celebrate Champlain Burlington International Waterfront Festival” from July 2 to July 14. You can see the complete calendar of events on their Events page. They also printed a magazine you can find on local news stands or buy on line.
10- Our Amazon bookstore: right here we have compiled for you a list of travel guides, maps, outdoors books, gastronomy and more. This online bookstore takes you to the Amazon website to complete your purchase. Hope you’ll find it helpful. See our Bookstore page.
11- Last by not least, you can check our Summer 2008 articles on outdoors, Vermont historic sites, things to do, summer concerts, bike rides, etc. on our List of Articles page.
On that note, we hope you come to Vermont to enjoy a great summer, and we’d love to hear from you on ideas, suggestions, things and places you loved…

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cross_country_skiingThe Catamount Trail in Vermont is the longest backcountry cross-country ski trail in North America. It is 300 miles of trails stretching the whole length of Vermont, from North to South,  all the way from Quebec to Massachusetts… a winter Long Trail for skiers and snowshoe lovers!
Today, I came across a great article in NY Times about the Catamount Trail, which made me feel like grabbing my skis, jumping in the car and getting to the Catamount Trail immediately to ski it from one end to the other. It reminded me of this magical week-end I had with my son years ago, skiing 2 sections of the Ski Marathon in Canada over a week-end. About 35 kilometers of trails, flat terrain (mostly), open fields, blue sky and immaculate landscape… simply magical. But coming back to the Catamount Trail, I’ll let you read Sarah Tuff’s article. She is doing a wonderful job at describing her experience and making you dream…
She has you imagining the great landscapes the trail crosses, the wide-open farms, the trees covered with snow… Thanks Sarah!
Divided in 31 sections and going through about 200 private lands and 135 miles of public land, the Catamount Trail was started in 1984 and its last section completed in 2008. It follows remote wilderness routes, cross-country ski trails and old logging roads. It also goes through a number of Nordic Centers and you’ll find 12 inns along its way (according to the NY Times article).
The various sections are of different levels of difficulties and interestingly the Catamount Trail Association offers a large number of free and guided tours, for every skier group, including 3-, 4- or 7-day tours. You can consult their website for the tour schedule (check often for updates!). Upcoming multi-day tours include a 6-day tour in Southern Vermont from March 5 to 10.

For more information:
Catamount Trail Association website

General map
of the Catamount Trail
Detailed maps of each of the 31 sections

Some of the inns along the trail
:
Blueberry Hill Inn, Goshen
The Old Tavern, Grafton
Highland Lodge, Greensboro
Mountain Top Inn, Chittenden
Sleepy Hollow Inn, Huntington
Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe
Woodstock Inn, Woodstock

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Snow tubing
Snow tubing is a really fun winter activity, not only for kids but truly for the whole family. There are a few places in Vermont where you can enjoy sliding down in those inflatable tubes. Following popular demand, we have decided to give you a complete listing of the spots where you can enjoy snow tubing in Vermont. We are listing hours of operation, but you may want to check the websites, particulary early in the season to make sure they are open, or check special hours of operation during holiday periods. Note also that some websites are listing places which actually don’t offer snow tubing, such as Killington, Stratton, Stowe and the White House Inn. In some cases, they used too… but don’t anymore. And now… dress warm, get out… and enjoy snow tubing!

Northern Vermont

Smugglers’ Notch Resort
Smugglers’ Notch, VT
Sir Henry’s Hill is the place for snow tubing at Smuggler’s Notch – only available to guests of the resort however. It is included in the Club Smugglers’ Advantage Package.
Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
No ski boots.
Mon- Wed- Fri-Sat: 5-8 pm
More information at: Smugglers’ Notch Resort snow tubing

Central Vermont

Okemo Mountain
Ludlow, VT
New 4-lane snow tubing park, located off the magic carpet in the courtyard at Jackson Gore.
Minimum requirements: children must be at least 42” of height; children under 18 must have parental signature; waiver to participate
Mon and Fri: 3-5 pm
Sat: 3-6 pm
Extended hours during February vacation.
$9 for 1 hour. Tickets can be purchased after 2:30 pm. Chance that it can sell out, due to high popularity!
More information at: Okemo Mountain activities 

Southern Vermont

Grafton Ponds
Townshend Road, Grafton, VT
One of the best snow tubing spots in Vermont with its 600-foot slope!
Your own tubes are not allowed.
Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm
$15 for 2 hours
More information at: Grafton Ponds

Magic Mountain
Londonderry, VT
Tubing runs at the Alakazam tube park.
We are in contact with the ski resort for more information. 
Website: Magic Mountain

Mount Snow
Tubing Park is located in front of the Grand Summit Hotel in the Main Base Area
West Dover, VT 05356
Weather and conditions permitted.
Spaces limited. First come, first serve.
No ski boots.
Fri: 2:30-8 pm
Sat-Sun: 10:30 am to 4 pm
Check schedules for holidays.
$20 per session
More information at: Mount Snow – snow tubing

For location, consult our Vermont map of ski resorts.

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