Vermont may be known for its world-class skiing, but there’s plenty to do beyond the slopes. Whether you’re up for outdoor adventure or looking to explore scenic towns and historic places, the Okemo Valley offers the best in winter fun.
See Cheese Making in Action at Crowley Cheese
Visit Crowley Cheese’s post-and-beam factory in Healdville and watch cheese made as it was by Winfield Crowley in the 19th century. Crowley Cheese began in the Crowley family kitchen in 1824, and the Crowley Cheese factory—built by Winfield Crowley in 1882—is the oldest cheese business in America. Winfield Crowley learned how to make cheese from his mother, and he passed the family recipe along to his son and grandson,
who continued to operate the factory until its sale in the 1960s.
Crowley Cheese is one of a small number of historic American cheeses as very few cheeses originated in the
United States. The factory’s award-winning raw milk cheese is similar to cheddar in ageability and comparable to Monterey Jack and Colby cheese in moisture.
Cheese here is typically made every Friday, and on alternate weeks between Monday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Galen Jones, who has owned Crowley Cheese for the past 10 years, suggests visiting from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on cheese making days (call ahead, as the schedule is subject to change). On the National Register of Historic Places, Crowley Cheese is open to the public seven days a week: Monday–Friday from 8 a.m. to 4.p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (14 Crowley Lane, Mount Holly, 802-259-2340; www.crowleycheese.com)
Take a Snowmobile Tour
Snowmobile Vermont is the state’s oldest and largest snowmobile tour company. The tours offer a range of riding opportunities in the Okemo Valley suitable for beginner to advanced riders. Snowmobile Vermont offers customized tours for all ability levels, and ages 4 and up.
The Mountain Tour features a one-hour tour through the woods on groomed ski trails, while the Back Country Tour option is a 25-mile ride into the pristine Calvin College State Forest. Child-sized snowmobiles for kids’ tours are available. Tours range from $69 to $234. Riders will be set up with the newest high-tech Polaris snowmobiles, helmets, and boots. Snowmobile Vermont offers tours in the Okemo, Killington, Mount Snow, and Stowe areas.
(802-422-2121; www.snowmobilevermont.com) See also https://vtvast.org/clubs.html.
Go Nordic Skiing at Night
Explore one of the oldest cross-country ski centers in North America under the stars. Viking Nordic Center in Londonderry offers three kilometers of night skiing and snowshoeing trails that are lit by overhead lights and old railroad lanterns. The railroad lantern section, lined with antique and new lamps, is about 100 yards long and called the Tunnel of Love.
Trails are open 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays during holiday weeks and weekends, and “by whim
and weather,” says Dana McNair, who manages the ski area with her husband, Malcolm. Your best bet: follow Viking Nordic Center’s Facebook page or check their website to see when night skiing happens. Equipment rentals
are available, and night skiing tickets cost $10 per person. Viking also has a clubhouse that groups can reserve for $180 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. to use as
a private home base during their night skiing experience. (615 Little Pond Road, Londonderry; 802-824-3933; www.vikingnordic.com)
Shop at The Vermont Country Store
At Weston’s The Vermont Country Store, one of Vermont’s most popular tourist attractions, you’ll find everything from penny candy to down comforters to vintage toys. Owned and operated by the Orton family since 1946, the store originated as a small mail-order business before becoming one of Vermont’s top visitor destinations. The original store, an old Masonic temple on Route 100, has since grown and expanded to four buildings.
The store is known for its brands from the past, such as Parcheesi and Yahtzee games, Raggedy Ann dolls, and children’s Fisher-Price record players. The store also carries jewelry, beauty products, clothing, homemade fudge, and more. The cozy atmosphere makes The Vermont Country Store a perfect shopping destination on a winter day. Open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (657 Main St., Weston; 802-824-3184; www.vermontcountrystore.com)
Go Snow Tubing at Okemo
Looking for an exhilarating ride down the mountain? Snow tubing at Okemo Mountain Resort’s Jackson Gore Inn in Ludlow is pure winter fun. Ranked among the best family-friendly ski resorts in the country, Okemo Mountain Resort is an unbeatable place for snow tubing. The tubing park at Okemo features specially groomed chutes that keep inflatable snow tubes on track for an exciting ride down a snowy slope
Snow tubes are available to rent. Take the Star Gazer magic carpet to the top of the tubing lanes for easy access. Get your tubing tickets at Jackson Gore Inn Resort Services. Kids must be at least 42 inches tall to ride, and children under 18 need a parent’s signature. (111 Jackson Gore Road, Ludlow; 802-228-1600; www.okemo.com)
Take a Sleigh Ride at Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center
Take a 25-minute winter sleigh ride at the scenic Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center. Offered by the Grafton Inn, sleigh rides are scheduled throughout winter, between Christmas and New Year’s, and over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, Presidents’ Day weekend, and at the Annual Winter Carnival
and Snow Days event. Percheron draft horses—named Killian, Moose, and Sampson—from Long View Farm in Charlestown, N.H., pull the sleighs, which leave every half hour and fit 12 to 14 people. Cost is $20 per adult, $12 per child. (783 Townshend Road, Grafton; 802-843-2350; www.graftoninnvermont.com/grafton-trails)
Ice Skate at Okemo’s Ice House
Okemo’s Ice House, a multi-functional, year-round sports pavilion, features a regulation-sized hockey rink and recreational ice skating pavilion. The arena offers a more consistent ice skating surface thanks to a relatively new advanced refrigeration system that can make ice at temperatures well above freezing. Skate rentals are available, and skaters can enjoy a hot
chocolate by the fireplace inside a nearby warming room. During winter vacations, the Ice House hosts Shake ‘n’ Skate Nights with a live DJ and disco lights—transforming the rink into one big party on ice. (111 Jackson Gore Road, Ludlow; 802-228-1600; www.okemo.com)