A picturesque escape in the Mad River Valley.
Central Vermont: Year-Round Fun
Credit: Whitney Lawson

The Mad River Valley is set around the towns of Warren and Waitsfield, in central Vermont. It combines affordable skiing (there are two main areas: Mad River Glen and Sugarbush), biking, and hiking with country delights. Get there by car and explore by the same or, if you’re accustomed to longer rides, by cycling along the quiet roads, which lead to the occasional shop, restaurant, and pub.


Sugarbush recently received a $60-million upgrade. Former Merrill Lynch International chairman Win Smith heads up a posse of investors committed to maintaining the crunchy zeitgeist of the classic ski mountain.

Mad River Glen

Mad River Glen is an obstinate throwback. It is owned cooperatively by shareholders whose vehicles are plastered with red-and-white ski it if you can bumper stickers. Mad River Glen has no snowmaking equipment. Boarding is banned.

Inn at Round Barn Farm

Thoughtfully converted from a 19th-century farmhouse and horse barn, this romantic inn sits on 245 bucolic acres in Vermont's Mad River Valley. The property's centerpiece—a Shaker-style round dairy barn built in 1910—is one of only five barns of its kind remaining in the state; beneath this piece of history is a 60-foot lap pool. Innkeepers Ann Marie DeFreest and Tim Piper tend to every detail, from candlelit dinners with ingredients from the inn's certified organic greenhouse-garden to always-stoked fires; there's also an antique pool table, well-stocked library, and plenty of freshly baked cookies for the taking. All 12 comfortable rooms have mountain and meadow views. During winter, guests can ski at nearby Sugarbush Mountain.

Coziest Room to Book: Tucked under wooden eaves, the Richardson Room comes with generous sitting area, whirlpool tub, fireplace, and skylight—you can gaze at the stars from the king-size bed.

Warren Country Store

For quaintness, few places breathe more New England rusticity than the Warren Country Store in central Vermont. Complete with a wood plank floor and wood stove, the old timey general store sells various local gifts and food products, including handmade sausages and artisanal cheeses, but the real prize is Sean Lawson’s coveted beer, available nowhere else in the state. Upstairs, a small boutique stocks quirky jewelry, cards, clothes, and houseware. Out back, the store's bakery pumps out breads, muffins, and scones daily.

Big World Pub

Chow down on pub grub, including burgers and wood-grilled pizza, served amid ski memorabilia at extreme skier John Eagan’s restaurant.