Sunday, May 13, 2007
Stowe, Vt., best known as a ski destination, forges a new identity as a birders' haven when it launches the first Wings Over Stowe event, with a month's worth of avian activities for all ages. And if you're not into birds, Stowe in June's still a great choice: The weather's warm by day and sweater-chilly by night, trees and flowers are in full bloom, and the area offers golf, tennis, hiking, cute-boutique shopping and restaurants galore. -- Jennifer Huget
WHAT: Wings Over Stowe celebration.
WHEN: May 27 to June 30.
WHERE: Various resorts, shops, museums, nature centers and other venues in or near Stowe.
WHAT'S UP: If the prospect of adding Bicknell's thrush to your life list makes your heart flutter, Stowe in June is the place to go: The rare bird summers in northern Vermont's high-elevation spruce forest. Nobody's guaranteeing you'll spot one, but organizers offer plenty of chances to try. Among the activities planned:
* Birding walks. Look for the thrush and others of Vermont's 269 bird species on a June 20 hike to Sterling Pond led by bird-savvy staff of the North Branch Nature Center (802-229-6206, http://www.northbranchnaturecenter.org/; $15 donation) and dozens of other excursions. The Stowe Area Birders Walk departs from the Stowe Free Library every Sunday at 7 a.m. Or waltz on up to the Trapp Family Lodge (700 Trapp Hill Rd., 800-826-7000, http://www.trappfamily.com/) for bird walks every Thursday and Saturday morning, June 7-30.
* Rather paddle than walk? Kayak tours of bird-friendly waters are offered daily, June 7-28 (802-644-8189, http://www.bertsboats.com/; $30 per person). Or take a guided canoe or kayak trip with Umiak Outfitters (802-253-2317, http://www.umiak.com/Summer/RiverTrips.html; $75).
* If you prefer your birds without all that pesky nature, the renowned Shelburne Museum of American Folk Art, about an hour southwest of Stowe, offers an exhibition of 40 prints of the naturalist John James Audubon's bird illustrations (closed till May 20, then open through Oct. 28; U.S. Route 7; $18; http://www.shelburnemuseum.org/; 802-985-3346). The Birds of Vermont Museum, also about an hour from Stowe, features more than 470 life-size, "biologically accurate" wood carvings of Vermont birds (900 Sherman Hollow Rd., Huntington, 802-434-2167, http://www.birdsofvermont.org/; $6).
GETTING THERE: Wing it. Burlington International Airport, served by Continental, Delta, JetBlue, Northwest, United and US Airways, is 40 minutes from Stowe. Round-trip fares from Reagan National on US Airways, for example, are about $238 in June. Driving from Washington takes about 10 hours. Take Interstate 95 north to I-91 north to I-89 north; take Exit 10 in Vermont toward Stowe/Waterbury.
WHERE TO STAY: The 10-room Timberholm Inn (452 Cottage Club Rd., 802-253-7603, http://www.timberholm.com/), operated by local birder Rich Drill, features a wraparound deck with bird feeders. June rates range from $89 to $159 double.
For families, the Stowe Motel (2043 Mountain Rd., 802-253-7629, http://www.stowemotel.com/), on the Stowe Recreation Path, has rooms and suites, an outdoor pool and free bicycles for guests. Rates range from $130 to $190.
For a luxurious stay, the nine-room Stone Hill Inn (89 Houston Farm Rd., 802-253-6282, http://www.stonehillinn.com/) features a two-person fireside Jacuzzi in every room and a breakfast room overlooking a garden full of hummingbird feeders. June rates range from $275 to $320 a night.
WHERE TO EAT: Gracie's (1652 Mountain Rd., 802-253-6888, http://www.gracies.com/), a dog-themed restaurant, has reasonably priced lunch items such as Pound Puppy Nachos ($4.95), Chicken Paws ($7.95) and a Monte Canine sandwich ($8.95), and welcomes your canine birding companion with a water bowl of his very own.
Mr. Pickwick's Pub at Ye Olde England Inn (433 Mountain Rd., 800-477-3771, http://www.mrpickwicks.com/) sports an outdoor dining area with a high roof for inclement weather. The English-American menu features interesting appetizers (duck confit tacos, $12.95), salads (a house salad with maple vinaigrette, $5.95), entrees (grilled ostrich fillet, $26.95) and desserts (English sticky toffee pudding, $6.95) plus more than 160 ales on tap.
For fine dining, Norma's Restaurant at the Topnotch Resort (4000 Mountain Rd., 888-460-5567, http://www.topnotchresort.com/) has a terrace with views of neighboring Mount Mansfield. Try it for breakfast, where you can get a Vermont chevre omelet with sourdough toast ($10).
INFORMATION: Stowe Area Association, 800-GOSTOWE (800-467-8693), http://www.gostowe.com/seasonal/birding.php.