fun in Ludlow

We Always Knew You Were #1, Ludlow!

In case you haven’t heard, Ludlow, Vermont, is the number one winter destination to buy a vacation home according to Vacasa. Even though we have been firm believers in this for a long time, we are glad that the secret is finally out! While the article will tell you statistics as to why it is a good idea to buy a vacation home here, we will tell you the real reasons.

First of all, the most obvious reason to choose Ludlow is because of the all mighty Okemo Mountain in the middle of town. Did you know that Okemo means, “all come home,” in a Native American language? This couldn’t be more true, as Okemo and Ludlow are home to so many people, whether physically or in their hearts. While Okemo does have the best grooming in the east and some great trails, it really is a family mountain. Up until recently, Okemo has been a family owned and operated since 1982, and even though Vail Resorts now owns Okemo, there is still an unbelievable sense of community surrounding the mountain. If you are looking for a winter vacation home, Okemo should be your first place to look, whether you want a small condo or a large mountain home.

Another reason to choose Ludlow as your winter destination is due to the wide variety of amazing restaurants in town. For a small town, we sure know how to cook...and eat! Whether you are looking for a slice of woodfired pizza from American Pie, Tex-Mex from Mojo Cafe, farm to table from Homestyle Hostel, or Italian from Mama’s, you truly will not be disappointed. You can also find a delicious breakfast or lunch from The Hatchery or Java Baba’s, along with dessert from Big Eyes Bakery or Sweet Surrender. Did we mention that we have some great bars, as well? You must check out Main and Mountain, Killarney, and Tom’s Loft Tavern, all for their great selection of drinks and hometown atmospheres.

We understand that not everyone participates in skiing or snowboarding, but that doesn’t mean that Ludlow can’t be your choice for your winter vacation home! There is so much more to offer including a Nordic Center for snowshoeing and cross country skiing, the Ice House at Jackson Gore for ice skating, a wonderful yoga and bodywork studio at Go With The Flow, or the recreation center at Jackson Gore with a great indoor pool. If those aren’t your style either, there is often live music at various restaurants, cute shops around town, and beautiful drives.

Have we convinced you yet? If not, come into William Raveis Vermont Properties to speak with us about our community and why we love living here or even to start looking at your very own vacation home!

Cheers to ALL the Mama's!

 

Mother’s Day is just around the corner on May 12th and it is time to spoil the special woman in your life, whether it is your Mom, wife, sister, grandmother, or just a friend. We all know that our mom’s really are just looking to spend time with their families, but if you need some ideas, check out our favorite Mother’s Day plans!

One of my personal favorite ways to spend Mother’s Day is by bringing my Mom out to brunch. A great local option to try is Coleman Brook Tavern at Jackson Gore. They do a beautiful buffet display using Vermont ingredients and the ambience of the restaurant is the perfect setting to make your Mom feel special. They have various seatings, but be sure to call for a reservation!

If you are looking for a more traditional dining experience, check out The Free Range in Chester! They have a brunch menu every Sunday, but this week they will be serving brunch all day, 9am-4pm! They always have the best cinnamon roll pancakes you can find, but they have specials this week including Maine crab cakes! They also have delicious, loaded bloody mary’s, along with mimosas with fresh squeezed orange juice; the perfect choices for celebrating Mother’s Day! Another local brunch is going on at Mama’s in Ludlow! Be sure to call for reservations for either option!

If you prefer to stay home and enjoy a lazy Sunday with the mom’s in your life because let’s face it, all moms deserve a day of relaxation! However, make sure you bring her a treat. Whether you are looking for a breakfast item like a muffin or quiche or a mouth-watering dessert (or two), look no further than Big Eyes Bakery in Ludlow! They have an awesome assortment of baked goods that you can bring home to share with your Mom. We promise she will love it!

Do you have a Mom that loves the outdoors? You may want to consider bringing her for a hike since tt is the perfect time of year to get outside! You can’t go wrong with a hike on the Healdville Trail on the backside of Okemo. If you really want to spoil your Mom, bring a picnic lunch to the top with sandwiches from Java Baba’s and pick out her favorite craft beer or a bottle of wine from Brewfest to go along with it!

No matter what you do, just be sure that the mom’s in your life know how special they are and that you appreciate everything they do. Being a mom is not an easy job and so many make it look like a walk in the park! We also want to give a special shoutout to our Vermont Properties Mom’s; Kathy Burns, Sarah Sheehan, Alyson Blodgett, Raye Lin Collins, Marlene DeArruda, and Heidi DeGraw! Also, dog mom, Abby Stone!

How to Survive Mud Season!

If you have been in Vermont over the last few weeks, you have likely seen cars that have turned brown, roads with closed signs, and everyone wearing rain boots. Even though it is spring, Vermonters know this time as mud season, one of Vermont’s extra seasons. It sounds awful, doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be!

   Photo taken by OkemoIf you are still in winter mode, you still have a few days to get some skiing in! Okemo plans to shut down this Sunday, April 14th. One of my favorite times of the year on the snow is in the spring. There aren’t any lift lines, the snow is usually great first thing in the morning, and you can get a killer goggle tan! If you are really brave, you can be one of the die hard skiers wearing shorts and a t-shirt on the hill on those beautiful 60 degree days! If you still aren’t ready to give up the snow, you can travel to Killington where they will be open typically into the end of May.

Another option is to jump on board with alpine touring, also known as skinning. This sport has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. It is not only a great workout, but an awesome way to beat the crowds in the heart of winter, or this time of year, take advantage of the snow still left on the mountain after closing. If you don’t have your own gear, check out The Boot Pro at the bottom of the Okemo Access Road, where they have a rental package that includes, boots, skis, skins, and poles! The staff themselves are also avid “skinners” and would be great people to talk to if you are interested in getting involved in the sport!

If you are anything like me and love the restaurants that Ludlow has to offer, the next couple of weeks are a great time to eat out. Not only are they usually less busy, but many of them shut down in the spring, typically right after Easter and open back up around Memorial Day. Some top choices to definitely check out are Stemwinder, Homestyle Hostel, and The Downtown Grocery!

If you are still looking for things to do, spend an afternoon at the Spring House at Jackson Gore, where you can use the fitness facility, take a dip in the pool, take a Zumba class, or play a game of racquetball! If you love yoga, take a variety of classes at Go With The Flow in the center of town. You can even get a massage to rejuvenate your mind and body after a long winter.

No matter what you are doing, be sure to stay active and enjoy all the sunshine you can get! Summer will be here before we know it!

Vermont Maple Open-House Weekend!

If you are a Vermonter, you know that Vermont has more than 4 seasons. One of our additional seasons, the best one in my opinion, is maple sugaring season! Since we have had such a cold and snowy winter, the Vermont sugaring season has been delayed. However, many Vermonters around the state are finally getting their trees tapped and have been able to start boiling! You know what this means, right? Fresh maple syrup!

Every year, all of the sugar houses in Vermont open their doors for the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend. This year, it is March 23-24th. Spend your Saturday or Sunday taking a drive to some of our favorite local sugar houses for yummy treats and to learn more about the sugaring process!

If you frequent our blog, you know that we are a huge fan of Green Mountain Sugar House, especially their maple creemees. This weekend, they will be open and offering complimentary sugar-on-snow, maple cream donuts, maple coffee, and maple milk! However, you shouldn’t leave without purchasing a maple creemee or a gallon of delicious maple syrup! They have started boiling, so hopefully you will be able to catch a glimpse of the action!

Another local favorite of ours is Papa John’s Sugar Shack! This is a small, family-owned operation, but you can tell that they put a lot of hear into what they do. They will be open for the Vermont Maple Open House weekend with many maple products to test, as well as waffles and with any luck, fresh maple syrup! This wonderful family loves teaching about how maple syrup is made, so make sure you take a tour of the sugar house!

If you have time, travel a bit further to Shrewsbury to Smith Maple Crest Farm for their open house. On Saturday, they are holding a pancake breakfast in support of the Shrewsbury Community Sharing Project, of course with their maple syrup. They will also have samples of maple syrup, sugar-on-snow, maple cotton candy for sale, and other refreshments. Keep your fingers crossed for good boiling weather and check out their boiling demo to learn more about making maple syrup!

If you want to find other sugar houses in Vermont or even if you just want to know more about how maple syrup is made, visit Vermont Maple! If you are looking for ideas on how to eat or drink maple syrup, check out last week’s blog for ideas!

Vermont Gold: Maple Syrup- Part 1

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Vermont? My answer is always MAPLE SYRUP! Because who doesn’t love syrup! Maple syrup is good on and in practically everything and for every meal.

    The obvious choice is to have maple syrup on pancakes or waffles. There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning and having someone cook you breakfast, especially when syrup is involved. Those fluffy pancakes and delicious waffles are the things that dreams are made of. Have you ever tried warming your maple syrup in the microwave before putting it on your breakfast? Let me tell you, there is nothing better! However, breakfast isn’t complete without a hot cup of coffee. Instead of sugar, try adding a little bit of maple syrup. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

    Maple syrup is also a necessity with lunch. Did you know that a ham and cheese sandwich goes GREAT with maple syrup? I know, sounds strange, right? This isn’t an ordinary ham and cheese sandwich though, it’s a monte cristo. The bread is actually french toast, with warm ham and melted cheese. This sounds delicious already, but to top it off, you dip the sandwich in maple syrup. This makes the perfect brunch meal!

    You also can’t go wrong with incorporating maple syrup into your dinner either. A very “Vermont” thing to do is simply to have breakfast for dinner, so you can double up on those pancakes and waffles, or dive into some eggs with maple breakfast sausage. However, there are so many options for adding maple syrup into your dinner or even substituting it as a healthier option than granulated sugar! I like using maple syrup in stir fry or in my recipes for slow cooker meatballs.

    Last, but most definitely not least, is dessert! Obviously maple syrup and dessert go hand-in-hand. One of the easiest choices is vanilla ice cream with maple syrup. I know it sounds simple, but it is the best combination. If you want to get really fancy you could try maple creme brulee or maple cheesecake. You can even make it a healthy dessert by roasting bananas with maple syrup and cinnamon!

    Now, to be a true Vermonter, you must have sugar on snow, which is good any time of the day. Here’s how: Heat syrup and butter in a pot on the stove (about 1 quart of syrup per stick of butter). Make sure you watch it carefully and stir regularly. You will need a thermometer because when the syrup reaches 234 degrees fahrenheit, it is ready to be poured over the snow. Poor it slowly and carefully. If the syrup sits on top of the snow, it’s ready! Peel it off and enjoy!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on how syrup is made and where to get it in the Okemo Valley! In the meantime, let us know your favorite way to have maple syrup!

 

Ski Season is Coming to an End, but the Fun Doesn't Have to Stop!

Is your driveway getting muddy? Do you notice that daylight lasts into the evening now? Have you seen more signs of wildlife? Well, we are sorry to tell you that all of these are signs that spring is on its way. However, don’t fret because there are still a lot of fun things to enjoy before the snow disappears!

Start this weekend off right and join us for some apres ski at the Sitting Bull with music by Sam Blanchette! This is the last night of the Winter Music Series, so you don’t want to miss out! However, we will be back this summer with more music during the Summer Concert Series at Jackson Gore!

Also, this weekend, check out Mardi Gras in the Mountain! Okemo is hosting a Mardi Gras parade at the Clocktower base area on Saturday, March 9th, from 1-3pm. Do you want to know the best part? You get to dress up in your best carnivale costume and walk in the parade! Wear the best costume and you could win the title of King or Queen of Mardi Gras. There will be live music and of course, Mardi Gras wouldn’t be complete without a bead toss!

Did we say that you had to wait until summer for more music? Surprise! We are sponsoring Sugar Daze, the end of winter season outdoor concert at Jackson Gore on March 16th, 3:30-8:30pm. This year’s concert is being held in the Jackson Gore Courtyard where there will be a beer garden and food!

Continue the fun next weekend by taking part in the St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Scavenger Hunt on Okemo! There will be shamrocks hidden on the trails for you to find when you are skiing or boarding. All you have to do is get the shamrock and bring it to resort services to claim your prize! Obviously, to make things more fun, wear your favorite green outfit on the hill!

The fun continues into the weekend of March 23rd with the ‘80s Retro Jam on Bull Run at Okemo! Here is another chance to dress up, but this time in your best neon colors and acid-washed jeans, and show off your best skills on the rails. Registration begins at 1pm and is free to anyone dressed in rad 80s fashion! If you aren’t into competing, make sure you take a break from skiing or boarding to go watch the competition!

Make sure you don’t give up on winter too soon because Hops On The Snow is happening on March 30th in the Jackson Gore Courtyard! There is nothing better than taking advantage of the spring ski conditions, getting a goggle tan, and enjoying some tasty brews and barbeque!

Last but not least, the final winter event of the season is the annual Slush Cup at Jackson Gore! This event is SO much fun whether you are a competitor or watching! Those who compete dress up in wacky costumes and attempt to ski or board across an 80 foot man-made slush pond. We are also sponsoring Splash for Cash again, so when the Slush Cup ends, test your luck trying to grab the cash dangling in the air at the beginning of the pond! Full disclosure, you will get wet :)

So, even though the winter season is winding down, don’t forget about all of the fun events in March and April! And just think about those killer goggle tans you can get on those bluebird days!

We LOVE our Local Ski Shops!

Have you ever heard the expression, “A little town with a big skiing problem?” Well, to us, skiing and snowboarding certainly take a priority in our lives and we are very thankful to live in such an amazing place where we can do what we love on a regular basis. However, we couldn’t be up on the hill without our gear from our favorite ski shops!

If you are looking for a shop close to Okemo, check out The Boot Pro Ski Shop right at the bottom of the Okemo Access Road. This is a family run shop, owned by a lifetime resident of Ludlow, which is very evident in the family-like vibe that the shop portrays. Not only are the owners knowledgeable after working in the ski industry throughout their entire careers, but they also have an impeccable team working with them. The Boot Pro offers a lovely selection of outdoor gear including clothing, helmets/goggles, skis, and boots. They provide tuning services, as well as demos. A new and exciting venture of theirs is Alpine Touring and if you haven’t tried this for yourself, head into the shop to demo some touring gear!

Another local favorite and family-owned shop is Totem Pole Ski Shop, which is actually the oldest family run ski shop in Vermont! This is one of the most popular shops for winter sport competitors, including many of our local Okemo Mountain School athletes. Not to mention, they have worked with Olympic athletes, as well! Needless to say, they are great at what they do. Not only does Totem Pole have great gear to demo and sell, they also do a killer tune job on skis and boards. However, if you are just visiting the Okemo Valley, they have an awesome rental shop where they can get you set up for a weekend on the hill! They also have a great selection of clothing and one of the best souvenir selections in town!

On the other side of town is Northern Ski Works, which has been a staple in Ludlow for a very long time. Northern Ski Works is known for boot fitting with a Certified Pedorthist on staff, along with a knowledgeable team with backgrounds in ski instructing, racing, and coaching. Northern is also one of the best places to go for ski clothing, carrying a wide variety of brands including Descente, Nils, Kuhl, and much more! Again, if you are coming to Okemo for a weekend getaway, Northern also does ski rentals and demos!

So, if you are looking to join in on the fun that we Vermonters have on the hill, make sure you check out our favorite local shops to get set up and on the hill in no time!

President's Week in the Okemo Valley

Wow, can you believe it is the middle of February already?! Winter is flying by, so don’t miss your chance to experience one of the best weeks in the Okemo Valley!

To start your weekend off right, join us on Friday evening at the Sitting Bull for live music from one of our local favorites, Sam Blanchette! This is the perfect setting to unwind from an awesome day on the hill. If you miss us on Friday, come back on Saturday because Lustre Kings will be in the house! Even better, if you loved Sam Blanchette on Friday, come back on Sunday because he will be back! We are also sponsoring music on February 18th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd.

To keep the party rolling, check out the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks at Okemo at 6pm on Saturday. This is an Okemo tradition that you do not want to miss. There will be a parade of skiers and snowboarders led by torchlight or join in a snowshoe adventure with Vermont Properties Real Estate Agent, Joe Karl, for a slopeside view of the fireworks and parade.

After the parade, check out the Okemo Mountain School Winter Festival at Willie Dunn’s. This is a fundraiser event for our local winter academy and is open to the public. There is a tasting of beer and wine, along with complimentary appetizers donated by local restaurants. While you are eating, drinking, and mingling, check out a large assortment of silent auction items including a Fondue Party for 10 at Stemwinder, a Pasta Making & Wine Tasting Class at Mama’s, or a Cocktail Class for 4 at Main & Mountain! Get your tickets in advance here!

If you are looking for something to do on Sunday evening, head to Jackson Gore to see Sylvia the Ventriloquist. This is a free event and fun for the whole family! After the show, head outside to the Jackson Gore Courtyard firepit and make a s’more!

On Tuesday, VINS (Vermont Institute of Natural Science) is doing a free presentation for families at Jackson Gore. The presentation includes a raptor encounter with live falcons, hawks, and owls. Learn more about these fascinating creatures, while admiring their beauty. If you like what you see, you can visit VINS in Quechee, Vermont.

By Wednesday, you might be in need of a parents night out! Join us at Jackson Gore for Paint & Sip that includes the paint, a canvas, brushes, and an apron! You don’t need to be an expert because a local artist will guide you every step on the way! To register, click here!

Do you like to dance? Do you like to ice skate? If you answered yes to both questions, then we know where you need to be on Thursday evening! Check out the Shake N’ Skate at the Jackson Gore Ice House for ice skating with a live DJ and games. This is a fun event for all ages! If you need some practice before the event, head to the Ice House throughout the week to practice your best moves!

On Friday, take a break from the slopes to check out the Vermont Specialty Food Tour. There will be an assortment of Vermont food and drinks at the Jackson Gore Base Area. This is a great chance to try local Vermont products and find your favorites to purchase and bring home with you!

With President’s Week coming to an end, it would be a great time to check out some of our local shops and restaurants. Remember, it is a busy weekend, so if you are looking to go out to dinner, be sure to make reservations! Check out some of our other blogs for ideas on where to go and what to do in the Okemo Valley!

Valentine's Day in the Okemo Valley!

Ladies and gentleman, Valentine’s Day is just days away! You know what that means, don’t you? You better make plans for that special someone in your life! Don’t worry, Ludlow has plenty of options!

What better way to start your Valentine’s Day than with a few runs on Okemo! Nothing says romance like a ride up the bubble chair with your favorite someone. Better yet, Okemo is setting the mood for Valentine’s Day with a scavenger hunt on the slopes. Ski or ride around the mountain to find “hidden” red hearts along the trails. If you find one, return it to guest services for a prize!

My perfect Valentine’s Day includes a homemade meal at home, which makes for a great way to end your day after hitting the slopes. The way to my heart is most definitely through a Singleton’s steak and their “to die for” loaded baked potato. Don’t forget to pick up a delicious dessert from one of the Okemo Valley’s bakeries! Check out last week’s blog for more ideas on the perfect sweet treat for you and your Valentine!

However, if you are looking for a romantic dinner out on the town, the Okemo Valley has many options for you! A great option that is sure to impress your significant other is dining at The Echo Lake Inn. They are hosting Saint Valentine’s Specials with a delicious four course meal with champagne for the evening. Make it a Valentine’s Day you will never forget and splurge on getting a room for the night in one of the inn’s cozy rooms.

Another option with a special Valentine’s Day dinner and rooms is The Castle Hill Resort & Spa. The Castle frequently runs winter specials for lodging that include spa and dinner packages perfect for a romantic evening. After hitting the slopes, enjoy the afternoon getting a massage and a dip in the outdoor heated pool or hottub, followed by a delicious gourmet dinner.

If The Echo Lake Inn and The Castle Hill Resort & Spa aren’t your style, checkout one of our other local restaurants for a Valentine’s Day meal. Some of my personal favorites are The Downtown Grocery, Stemwinder, Homestyle Hostel, and Sam’s Steakhouse. Even if they don’t have a special Valentine’s Day menu, I promise you and your sweetheart won’t be disappointed!

For the perfect ending to the perfect day, head to Main & Mountain for a nightcap. Their delicious house cocktails are certainly made with love, but if you prefer beer or wine, they have one of the best selections in town!

Happy Valentine's Day from our Vermont Properties team!

 

Nothing Says Vermont like a SNOW DAY!

    The internet is inundated with information regarding winter storm, Harper, that is coming to New England this weekend and it looks like Vermont is going to get the best of it! On any given weather channel, the Okemo Valley is projected to get between 18 inches and 3 feet of snow before Monday. Nothing says Vermont like a snow day and we already have your whole day planned for you!

    Since the snow is supposed to start Saturday evening, that means there is bound to be EPIC powder Sunday morning. Even though it is a snow day, that doesn’t mean you should sleep in. You know the old saying, “The mountains are calling and I must go”? Well, Okemo will certainly be calling your name and you are going to want to get the first tracks of the day! If you are an experienced skier, make sure to take advantages of the woods trails because they aren’t always in prime condition. My favorite place to ski on powder days is on the South Side, playing in knee deep snow on Loose Spruce and Forest Bump. However, if you aren’t as experienced, don’t worry, every trail on Okemo will be in excellent condition on Sunday.

    We all know that powder skiing or snowboarding can take a lot out of us, so if you aren’t able to stay on the mountain all day, that’s okay. Some of the best snow day activities can be had from the comforts of your own home. So, spend the morning at Okemo and then go home to relax in the afternoon. Before you do, make sure you stop at the store and get hot chocolate and maple syrup, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

    Once you are home, get into some comfy clothes, make that hot chocolate (add some Baileys), and if you are lucky, curl up in front of your fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace, find the coziest blanket you have and find the best spot on the couch. Turn on Netflix and find a movie or that TV show you have been waiting to binge watch. Spend a couple hours relaxing and warming up from your morning on the hill.

    Don’t spend too long though, because that snow is still calling your name. When is the last time you built a snowman? I am here to tell you that you are NEVER too old to play in the snow. Get on your snow gear and head outside. You can drag along your family or friends and see who can build the best snowman, or make it a team effort to make one giant snowman.

    Before you head inside, find some clean snow because you must make Maple Sugar on Snow! Recruit someone to go inside and heat up maple syrup on the stove until it reaches 235 degrees, while the other person fills a pan with hard packed snow. Once you reach the correct temperature, drizzle it over the snow and enjoy this legendary Vermont treat.

    If you are still looking for fun filled activities to do on your snow day, you should pull out those old dusty board games or card games. We know life is usually too busy to do this, so take the time to enjoy a game or two with family or friends. I will also be spending the afternoon in the hot tub because nothing is more magical than sitting in a hot tub in a snowstorm.

    What is the best thing about snowstorm Harper? Well, it falls on a holiday weekend! Which means, you get to wake up Monday morning and repeat all of your favorite snow day activities! Please share your favorite things to do in a snowstorm with us!