Okemo Valley Vermont Vacation Guide
August 25, 2014 Kristance Harlow
Here in Argentina the seasons are changing and Spring is just around the corner. This will be the second year in a row that I will be having a spring birthday! The weather has been amazing the past week but today it’s cold and overcast and feeling very much like the early days of a Vermont Autumn. Often I get asked by people what to do if they ever visit Vermont, and I haven’t written very much about that. To bring me back to those Vermont days, I’ve compiled a helpful guide for newbies who are looking for an outdoor vacation in my hometown.
Autumn is just around the corner and as the end of the summer draws near, it’s the right time to plan an outdoor trip. If you’re looking for a getaway in New England be sure to make your way to Vermont. A great stop on your itinerary is Ludlow, Vermont and the surrounding areas that comprise Okemo Valley. Famous for its maple syrup and winter skiing, Okemo Valley is an excellent getaway in the fall. The rolling green mountains transform into fiery reds and brilliant oranges, the fall foliage is breathtaking. A three and a half hour drive from Boston, there are a slew of activities at your disposal in the fall.
Ludlow overlook on Okemo, photo by the author
What To Do
Take the whole family to Okemo to hit up their Adventure Zone. Open daily, the Adventure zone offers zip lining, a mountain coaster, mini-golf, bungee trampolining, disc golf, and more. Zip line through the trees for an amazing view of Vermont’s foliage colors.
Hiking at this time of year is ideal. If you want you can pay to get involved in guided tour that brings you from Vermont Inn to Vermont Inn, orchestrated by Vermont Inn to Inn. You can choose from four different tours which you will self-guide yourself from one inn to another. Packages include four nights accommodation, daily breakfast, snacks, and dinner. Be aware that no children under the age of 15 are permitted. Just want to walk for the day? There are an endless array of free hiking options throughout Okemo Valley.
The Long Trail passes through this part of Vermont. Completed in 1930, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance walking trail in the United States. The Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail overlap for 100 miles in southern Vermont. You can invest in the official guide of the Long Trail to create your own hike, or head west of Ludlow on Route 103 and take a short jaunt along the long trail entrance just before Rutland. With a wooden bridge overlooking the water and cleared paths, you can walk for as long or short as you’d like. Familiarize yourself with the way the trails are marked prior to embarking on a hike.
If you want to see the scenery from a different perspective, rent a kayak and head out to one of the five lakes that break up the Black River, a tributary of the Connecticut River. Lake Pauline is closest to Okemo Mountain and no motorized vehicles are allowed in the waters, following that lake are Lake Rescue, Echo Lake, Amherst Lake, and Lake Ninevah. Each lake is different in size and has something unique to offer. Lake Echo has Plymouth State Park where you can spend the day and make use of one of their barbecues, take out a paddle boat, or go for a stroll. You can enter the water at any of the lakes at a number of boat launches along the roads. Don’t know where to rent a kayak? Take a drive into Ludlow and you will see a number of stores along Main Street that offer rentals.
Lake Pauline in Ludlow, Vermont. Photo by the author.
Where To Eat
If you’re kayaking on Lake Pauline, pull your kayak ashore at the Green Mountain Sugar House on Route 100 and stock up on maple sugar goodness. My grandparents founded the Green Mountain Sugar House in 1967. In 1985 they sold the Sugar House to my Aunt Ann and Uncle Doug. Today they still run it and it’s a family business. I’ve worked there for multiple busy seasons and my brother has helped tap trees in the past. When you’re there you have to get yourself a maple creemee (a delicious soft serve vanilla ice cream that is mixed with their very own real maple syrup).
If you are looking for some great pizza, check out Goodman’s American Pie on Main Street in Lamere Square, American Pie offers delicious handmade wood fired pizzas. For the best ice cream in town, hit up Scoops in Ludlow also on Main Street, just past the high school. Scoops serves food and ice cream. They have a ton of flavors and have moved into a larger space from their previous location. There is always a line out the door in the summer, it’s a staple in town.
The party doesn’t have to stop after dinner, there are several popular bars in town, in the winter Outback Pizza is the place to be, which morphs from a family friendly pizza place for dining to a happening bar with music and dancing. Killarney’s is an Irish Pub with 15 beers on tap, game nights, pub food, and a real Irish feel. There are so many great places to eat. DJ Restaurant is a local favorite. I personally am in love with Mr. Darcy’s. The food there is incredible!
Where To Stay
Depending on your budget and needs, you can easily find what you need in this tourist destination. The All Seasons Motel on Main Street in Ludlow offers a nightly rate of around $89-$100 (varies) for a room with one queen bed in early October, before the 9% Vermont tax. Or double up and spend an average of $116 a night for 4+ nights at the Best Western, also on Main Street. You can also look into renting a condo or house for a weekend or a whole week. If you have a big group of people this can save costs when split between family and friends. Okemo can help with locating these kinds of properties for rent. One reason going to an area with a resort as your outdoor getaway is that there are so many great resources at your disposal.
View from the top of Okemo, photo by the author
Okemo is the mountain and the resort, the main town is named Ludlow (Okemo is located in Ludlow). Be nice to the locals. Okemo Valley is so beautiful and picturesque because of the hard work of everyone living there. Drive safe, don’t tailgate, and take cues from anyone with a Vermont license plate. Also, if you’re from out of the country don’t forget to tip 20% when you go out to eat!
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