Vermont

We went to Vermont for a long weekend of skiing over New Year’s.  This was a rather last minute trip, so we chose Okemo based on their availability, reviews, and snow making capabilities.

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Our Favorites:

Skiing!

Day 1:

We both flew into Burlington, Vermont on a Thursday in the midst of a snowstorm.  Ludlow Vermont is about a 4.5 hour drive from New York City, but since he was flying from Chicago and I was coming from NYC, it made sense to meet in Burlington.  We picked up our rental car at the airport and drove the 2 hours (closer to 3 because of the treacherous driving conditions in the snowstorm at night!) to Ludlow, Vermont.  We checked into our B&B, the Andrie Rose Inn and found dinner at Mojo Cafe – a taco/burrito spot with hearty food and a good beer selection (probably our favorite meal of the trip).

Initially, we wanted to stay on the mountain; however due to last minute planning and high prices we decided to stay at a B&B in the town of Ludlow.  There was a free shuttle bus that drove to the mountain every 30 minutes.  Luckily, one of the last stops before the mountain was the Andrie Rose Inn, so leaving the B&B to hopping on the chairlift was about 15 minutes.

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Day 2:

This morning, I opted to do a private ski lesson since I hadn’t been on skis in 10 years.  Private lessons are typically $140/hour, which seemed a bit steep.  However, if you book at least 7 days in advance you get a 10% discount.  If you are willing to get up extra early and do an 8:30 AM lesson, it will only be $110/hour (this is what I did – plus the 7 day advance 10% discount made it quite reasonable).  We arrived at the mountain around 7:45 so I could pick up my ski rental and be ready for my lesson. As a side note, this meant that we missed the B&B breakfast.  We managed with a stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to the mountain.  The ski rental at Okemo is incredibly efficient and the people fitting skis were very helpful.  It would have been slightly cheaper to rent off the mountain, but the convenience of being able to swap out equipment was great.

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My ski lesson was very helpful – one hour was perfect to get my ski legs back, and while I did that Erik managed to get a few runs in.  The snow on Friday was ideal – the snowstorm ended late Thursday night, so there was perfect fresh snow on most of the runs.  Even though it was still early in the season, by Friday nearly all of the chairlifts were running and there were few runs that weren’t open.  We skied a couple of green circle runs and stayed mostly on the blue squares.  Since it was a holiday and there was great snow, people said it was more crowded than they’ve ever seen it.  While it seemed like there were a lot of people, most chairlifts didn’t have lines or if they did, they moved quickly, and we never felt like the mountain was overcrowded.

We were a bit tuckered out from getting there so early, so we left around 3pm (the mountain closes at 4pm).  We arrived back to the B&B, took advantage of the hot tub and went in search of an early dinner.  We ended up at Pot Belly Pub where we both had burgers – they were adequate at best.  The food was mediocre and the beer selection was sub par.

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His Favorite Run of the Day:

Jolly Green Giant

Her Favorite Run of the Day:

Tuckered out

Day 3:

This morning we slept in a bit and were able to take advantage of the great breakfast prepared by Irene (one of the owners).  Breakfast was delicious and hearty and they offered seconds of everything.  We made it out to catch the 9AM shuttle and were on the mountain by 9:20.  Today, the snow wasn’t quite as good as yesterday, since no new snow fell.  However, the snow making machines were out in force and once again, most of the lifts and runs were open.

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It was another crowded day on the mountain, but once again, it never felt over crowded or like there were too many people.  We also made a stop at the Waffle Cabin (at the base of the Lower Arrow run).  Trust us – this is a stop you should make… every day.  These waffles are phenomenal, especially after a morning or afternoon of skiing.  To give you a sense of the variety of the mountain, by the end of our second day of skiing, it seemed like we had done all of the blue square runs at least once (some twice).

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As Saturday was New Year’s Eve, we made reservations at the Homestyle Hostel Restaurant and Bar.  Initially, we were going to go to Downtown Grocery (which has excellent yelp reviews); however for New Years Eve, they were doing a pricey tasting menu which wasn’t what we were looking for.  The atmosphere at Homestyle Hostel was definitely not that of a hostel – it had a trendy, slightly country feel.  They had an interesting cocktail list (I tried a couple of really good ones) and a nice beer selection.  The food was a mix of small plates and entrees – we shared a mixture and liked some better than others.  Overall, some of their more interesting sounding offerings didn’t quite live up to expectations, but their basics and desserts were great.  We would recommend coming here for dinner.

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His Favorite Run of the Day:

Tuckered out

Her Favorite Run of the Day:

Jolly Green Giant to Upper Arrow to Lower Arrow to the Waffle Cabin

Day 4:

Today (New Years Day) was our final day of skiing.  The mountain was noticeably less crowded today – we had a number of runs all to ourselves.  Today was the day I skied a black diamond (or two or three).  Once again we stopped at the waffle stop, but today, since I skied a black diamond, we got a BONUS WAFFLE! By the end of the day, we felt like we had skied all of the open black diamond runs.  We planned on staying until 4pm when the mountain closed, but the light was fading by 3:30 and skiing in non-low light goggles was a challenge.  I returned my rental skis (sad day) and we caught the shuttle back to the Andrie Rose.

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Tonight, we did not have a dinner reservation.  This, we learned, was a mistake.  As it was New Years Day, a number of restaurants were closed.  Our first stop was Goodman’s American Pie.  The reviews were good and pizza sounded great.  Unfortunately, it was not to be.  They only make a few pizzas at a time, so whether your pizza is delivered or you eat in, you are put on “the list” and your pizza doesn’t get made until your time slot comes up.  Since so many restaurants were closed, it was a 2.5 hour wait.  It wasn’t the type of spot you could sit and have a couple of drinks and snacks while you wait so we opted to try somewhere else.  We walked down to the other end of town to Mojo Cafe.  To our disappointment, it was closed.  We then walked back towards Downtown Grocery, which was supposed to be quite good.  It was also closed.  We called a pub a few blocks away… a 2 hour wait.  We were getting desperate.  During this search for food, we walked past DJ’s Steakhouse a few times eyeing it as a last resort.  We walked in and asked for a table for two.  Another 2 hour wait.  Finally defeated, we went back to Pot Belly Pub for another mediocre meal.  Lesson of the night: make a reservation on New Years Day.

His Favorite Run of the Day:

Upper World Cup to Lower World Cup to BONUS WAFFLE

Her Favorite Run of the Day:

Upper World Cup to Lower World Cup to BONUS WAFFLE

Day 5:

Today, we drove back to Burlington to fly home.  On our way, we stopped at the Ben & Jerry Factory for a tour and a scoop (or two) of ice cream.  It was fun to see everything, but it was not worth going out of the way to see (luckily this was right on our way!)

After the tour, we stopped at Four Corners of the Earth Sandwich Shop for lunch.  It was the most creative sandwich shop I have ever been to.  As you may have guessed from the name, all of the sandwiches are inspired by the flavors of various countries.  Erik had an Iraqi Turkey and I had the Argentinian Beef.  The sandwiches were amazing!  After that it was time to head to the airport, breeze through check-in and hang out at the skinny pancake for a drink before our flights home.

Quick Rundown:

If you’ve only got a few days and you’re on the East Coast, Okemo is a great place to ski.  The snow was good and even though it was a holiday, it wasn’t overcrowded.  Probably easier to drive to from New York or Boston, but flying into Burlington isn’t bad.  Staying off the mountain was easy, close to skiing, and considerably cheaper.  Eat at Mojo Cafe and Homestyle Hostel in Ludlow and Four Corners of the Earth sandwich shop in Burlington.  Avoid Pot Belly Pub.

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