Stowe, Vermont: Dubbing itself the “Ski Capital of the East,’’ Stowe is down the road from what may be the prettiest town in ski country. Main Street, draped in snow and sparkling lights, offers views of Stowe’s slopes, inviting store fronts like Shaw’s General Store, and the beautiful church steeple (Disclosure: I was married here). Even if you stay slopeside at the posh Stowe Mountain Lodge, you should visit the village for boutique shopping and après-ski at too many pubs to mention up and down the vibrant Mountain Road.
Jackson, New Hampshire
Jackson, New Hampshire: Entering Jackson Village over the 1876 “honeymoon’’ covered bridge is your introduction to this winter snow globe. Cross country skiers glide across snowy fields. The Wildcat Tavern, Shannon Door Pub, and The Shovel Handle are humble but happening après-ski institutions filled with locals and visitors. Jackson is quainter than North Conway, but still within 20 minutes of four ski areas: Black, Attitash, Cranmore and Wildcat. The Eagle Mountain House offers old-world hospitality and spectacular views of the White Mountains just up the hill from Jackson Village.
Manchester, Vermont: Steeped in history going back to the Green Mountain Boys while also being home to modern restaurants and outlet shopping, Manchester is the best of both worlds. From the Village Green, all covered in white in winter, you are an easy drive to Stratton or Bromley. Stratton Mountain Resort is impressive as well, with a Bavarian-style pedestrian village, signature clock tower and a beautiful, renovated base lodge.
Waitsfield and Warren, Vermont:
Waitsfield and Warren, Vermont: The Mad River Valley is true Vermont. At its heart are two very different ski areas: Sugarbush and Mad River Glen. The towns of Waitsfield and Warren offer timeless general stores, artsy boutiques, covered bridges, organic pubs and cafes, and pastoral scenery at every turn. Staying at the Pitcher Inn in Warren in the perfectly themed Ski Room is the ultimate after a day on the slopes.
Ludlow, Vermont: On the National Historic Registry, Ludlow is the hometown of Okemo Mountain Resort. It is homey, folksy and fun. Main Street and Depot are lined with great home-style restaurants, book stores, brewpubs, and ski shops. The Killarney for après-ski is the place to be, it’s like an Irish “Cheers’’ in ski country. You can stay by the slopes at Okemo Mountain Resort, or in a castle—at the aptly named Castle Hill Inn.
Bethel, Maine: Billing itself as Maine’s most beautiful village, Bethel in winter is a humble, happy place with just the right amount of craft shops and cafes — from Irish, Asian and Italian to pizza and pub fare. While there, check out Maine gems (we’re talking about tourmaline, not the locals) and then Funky Red Barn for late night. In Bethel, you’re 10 minutes to the ski slopes of Sunday River or Mt. Abram, and few decades from modern.
Woodstock, Vermont: While not slopeside, Woodstock qualifies as a great ski town thanks to its beautiful parks, historic homes and local shops. Don’t worry, it has the requisite covered bridge. Skiing is just minutes away at the historic Suicide Six. It’s also just a 20-mile drive to Killington’s ski lifts. The 1969 Woodstock Inn, where you should go for gorgeous Nordic skiing, graces the center of town. Have an après-ski drink by the grand fireplace or, better yet, stay the night.