In a cozy valley where the West Branch River flows into the Little River and mountains rise to the sky in all directions, the quintessential Vermont village of Stowe (founded in 1794) bustles quietly. A high concentration of local artisans shares gallery space with those of world renown. A bounty of inns and eateries lines the thoroughfares almost all the way up through stunning Smuggler’s Notch, halted at the border of the Green Mountain National Forest where the highest point in Vermont, Mt Mansfield (4393ft), towers in the background. More than 200 miles of cross-country ski trails, some of the finest mountain biking and downhill skiing in the east, and world-class rock and ice climbing make this a natural mecca for adrenaline junkies and active families. If the Sound of Music is one of your favorite things, there’s also a lodge built by Maria Von Trapp, which offers activities and accommodations.