Route 100, the southern gateway to the Mad River Valley, is one of the country's most scenic stretches of byway, winding through riverside farms and tiny 18th century Yankee villages. Against this agricultural backdrop, the ski shop just north of Warren village looks out of place-almost the only clue you've arrived in ski country. Folks like it that way. More than any other Vermont ski town, the community assiduously guards its rural beauty, proving it's possible to have world-class skiing, without commercial blight.
Two riverside villages-Waitsfield and Warren-make lovely bookends, north and south. By car or bike, you can strike out in any direction for rides of incomparable beauty. On foot, you can hike over sun-dappled forest floors, past tumbling stone walls of abandoned hill farms. Check in at one of the valley's charming B&Bs, or sign up for a golf or tennis package at the Sugarbush Inn. The Valley offers fishing, canoeing and kayaking on the river and a farmers market on the green each Saturday.
Sugarbush Golf Club, a rugged mountain track designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., is one of the most challenging and scenic 18s in the state. Sugarbush hosts the Ben & Jerry's One World music festival June 23, and Mad River Glen packs them in at its Barbecue Cookoff in August. But the Valley's defining event is the Warren Fourth of July Parade-always colorful, usually controversial.
DON'T MISS A glider ride with Sugarbush Soaring (802-496-2290; from $70 for 20 minutes).
BEST DEAL Sugarbush Inn's Golf Around Vermont package starts at $99 midweek. Call 800-537-8427, or visit www.sugarbush.com.