Take away the ski area, the shops, the splendid spas and restaurants of Stowe, and what's left would be a pleasure in itself. A quaint Vermont village to stroll, streams to picnic beside, mountains to hike and endless dirt roads to meander. Locals used to keep their lush, breezy summers to themselves, but less so these days. Stowe has grown busier in summer than in winter. Especially on special-event weekends: The Balloon Festival floats through July 6-8; the Trapp Family Lodge's concert meadow rings with the music of the Mozart Festival and other events (Sunday evenings, July 1-Aug. 5); klaxons announce the arrival of the Antique Car Rally (Aug. 10-12).
Some prefer quieter weeks, when there's still plenty to do. A leisurely 18 at Stowe Country Club, perhaps, or lift-served mountain-biking. Or ditch the bike and ride the gondola to the Cliff House, where lunch with a view awaits. Walk, skate or bike the riverside recreation path in the afternoon, and in the evening, linger over dinner at any of the dozens of restaurants (good bets: Mes Amis, Chelsea Grille, Blue Moon Café). Then retire to your room (the Topnotch, Green Mountain Inn or Stoweflake, perhaps) open a window, and let the sounds of a soft summer evening lull you to sleep.
DON'T MISS A drive up the Mansfield Toll Road ($14 per car): all the rewards without the sweat.
BEST DEAL Early season golf (before June 15) at Stowe Country Club: $67 per person for mountainside lodging and greens fees. Call 800-253-4754, or visit www.stowe.com.