Touring Vermont has been like driving through a Norman Rockwell painting. The lush mountains, the pure air, the sweet villages with their covered bridges that are even better than my imagination. Rod says this is his favorite state so far, and when we landed in Stowe, I thought I might just lose him.
It started with a stay at the Topnotch Resort and Spa. Oh my goodness … where should I begin?
Nestled on 120 acres in the Green Mountains, Topnotch is an award winning hotel, spa, and tennis facility situated at the foot of Mt. Mansfield – Vermont’s highest peak – near the town of Stowe. The views are spectacular … it must be stunning when the fall colors appear. And they’ve been dog friendly since they opened in 1958!
We’ve talked many times about degrees of dog friendliness, from barely dog tolerant to over-the-top doting, and Topnotch is definitely in the over-the-top range! From the moment we pulled up, the staff was pleasant and helpful – and happy to see the dogs. Our room was spacious and beautiful, decorated like a European country manor, with a bed that was dangerously comfortable. (I say dangerously, because I didn’t manage to drag myself out of it until 10am, and I can’t remember the last time I slept so late!) The boys also slept like babies on their fleece-covered beds and felt right at home with the bowls and welcome gift from Carol, the resort’s concierge.
The whole first floor of the hotel and all of the grounds (with the exception of the pools, of course) are dog friendly. That includes the comfortable living room with it’s gigantic fireplace, the tea room for daily snacks, and the patio seating area at the restaurant, Norma’s. You can even schedule an in-room Reiki or traditional massage for your pooch, if they need a little extra pampering.
Carol at the concierge desk always has treats and can help you find anything you’ll need – from a great hike, to dinner reservations, to a local pet sitter. When you’re ready to head into town, don’t worry about parking – the bellmen will be happy to drop you and your pooch off and pick you up. All of this, and the hotel doesn’t charge any additional pet fees or impose any weight restrictions – does it get any better than that?!? We think not.
Update 3/13/2015: The pet policy has changed since our visit. There is now a $25 per dog, per night fee to stay at Topnotch Resort and Spa.
Though Stowe is small, there are plenty of pet friendly activities to keep you busy. Just across the road from Topnotch you’ll find the Stowe Recreational Path, a 5.2 mile, paved bike and walking path that winds along the river into town. Sculptures have been placed along the way and dogs are welcome, as long as they are on-leash. The Rec path connects to Stowe’s Quiet Path, a mowed greenway where dogs are allowed to romp off-leash.
When you’re ready to see the mountain up close, head up the road to Stowe Mountain Resort and jump on the pet friendly gondola ride. The views are as gorgeous as you’d expect and you can choose to take the gondola back down or walk the trails to the bottom.
Once you’ve worked up a good appetite with all the walking, riding, and hiking, Stowe has a few pet friendly restaurants you’ll want to try. Norma’s at the Topnotch Resort is a great choice – they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the scenery can’t be beat. Between the resort and downtown is Gracie’s, an eatery named for a dog and sporting an appropriately themed menu. The patio is super pet friendly – but be forewarned, you may have to fight your pooch for the “pound puppy nachos.” Finally, Frida’s Taqueria has a pet friendly deck right on Main Street where you can enjoy the food and a little people watching at the same time.
Disclosure: We received one free night accommodation at the Topnotch Resort and Spa in Stowe, Vermont. The opinions expressed here are my honest assessment of the hotel based on our experience. We were not paid for this post.
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