The Von Trapp Family Lodge, Vermont – where the hills are unbelievably alive.

The Von Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, is the spiritual home of one of history’s most loved musical families. 

The hills are alive with the sound of music, craft beers being poured, and highland cattle mooing in delightful unison. This is the Von Trapp family’s version of life in Vermont – the singing family of Austro-Italian refugees immortalized in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. And while you might not come across any singing goat herders, you’ll find plenty of delightful experiences that will add harmony to a seasonal escape to the Green Mountains. 

The mountains are calling

Vermont, or Green Mountain, is a north eastern state of the United States that borders Maine, New Hampshire, New York State, and the Canadian border. It attracted the Von Trapp family who entered America as refugees of the Nazis, as it reminded them of the alps where they grew up in Italy and Austria.

The Von Trapp Family Lodge is styled like an Austrian mountain chalet.
The best time of the year to visit the Trapp Family Lodge is in autumn.

The Von Trapp Family Lodge is located just outside of Stowe, Vermont, one of the state’s top resort towns. It stands on over 2,500-acres (10 km2) of fertile farm lands, which the family originally farmed between musical tours. Today, it’s an escape featuring hiking, mountain biking, snow shoeing, yoga, and so much more. 

But first, the real story of the Von Trapp Family

Hollywood has a habit of rewriting history in pursuit of a juicier story, and it doesn’t get much juicier than a musical about a nun who flees the order when she falls in love with a navy hero, teaching his many children how to sing. And then there’s the whole escaping from dreaded Nazis with a dramatic escape from a musical event and over the alps. Great music. One of our favorite movies, but pretty much all fabricated – starting with all the names of the children, as they were still very much alive and performing when the musical and then movie was released. 

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start 

It may surprise you that Captain Von Trapp wasn’t brought up in Austria as we know it today. He was born in Zadar, Croatia, which has been the capital of Dalmatia, but in the turn of the 20th Century, part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He became a naval officer at bases on the Adriatic coastline and as a top graduate from the academy, assigned to be an early submariner. Georg fell in love with Agath Whitehead whose violin playing enthralled him. He was 28 and she was 18 and her family wouldn’t let the couple wed until she turned 21 in 1911. Agath and Georg’s first born was Rupert, soon followed by the arrivals of Agat, and Hedwig. 

Georg and Agat von Trapp

During World War One, Agat, who was royalty, took the young family to their lake home, a safe space for women and children, far from military installations. Werner and Johanna were born during the war, when the Captain took shore leave. But it was out in the depths that Von Trapp first made his name. Leading his submarine, he spotted a French warship in the Adriatic moonlight. Submerging to attack, he torpedoed the ship and sank it – a pioneering, strategic action that earned him the Maria Theresa medal for heroism and made him an Austro-Hungarian hero for life. The Captain (and Baron) wrote his memoir in 1935 but it was out of print for 60 years. 

After World War One, the family was granted Italian citizenship, based on their residence in Zadar. Child number seven, Martina was the last born to Agath, who tragically died of scarlet fever in 1921, leaving the captain a widower with a large family. He moved the family to Salzburg, the setting of the movie, where his life took on a new direction. 

Enter Fräulein Maria 

Twenty years his junior, Maria Augusta Kutschera was born in 1905. Her mother died when Maria was two and her father left her with an aunt to be brought up, though that atmosphere was very strict and the aunt’s husband was mentally ill. Maria was very much a lover of the outdoors, just like the young woman frollicking in the meadows and jumping over bubbling brooks in the movie. 

After initially studying at college, where she held socialist views and a disdain for religion, she met a Jesuit priest, who changed her perspectives and set her on a more spiritual path. Maria dedicated her life to the convent and became a candidate for the novitiate in a Benedictine abbey near Salzburg. By being sequestered in the dark cloisters of the abbey, her doctor became concerned for her health and suggested a placement where she could spend more time outdoors. 

Maria wasn’t really a problem to solve 

Maria Augusta was assigned a one year contract to live in as a teacher for Baron Georg Von Trapp’s children, specifically homeschooling little Maria, who was bedridden with rheumatic fever. The family sat around each night singing, and the Baron was far from the stern man depicted in the movies. He taught the family to play the guitar, violin, and accordion. 

Georg and Maria married in 1927, whereas the story told in the movie compresses timelines to focus on the Anchluss, Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938. In the 11 years between, Maria gave birth to two daughters, Rosemary and Eleanor, who are still alive today. When the Great Depression hit Europe, banks were literally bankrupted, and the loyal, patriotic Georg used his family fortune to prop a bank that ended up failing. With a hit to their savings, they leased out the mansion’s rooms for money and moved into their servant quarters.  

The music didn’t stop. The family continued their nightly sessions and developed a dynamic folk act. They entered and won the Salzburg Music Festival in 1935, and promoters saw the large family unit as the “next big thing”.  As in the movie, the captain didn’t sing live with the family, instead supporting them from the side stage. 

Climb every mountain  

Everything changed for the family when Hitler’s Nazi army crossed the border into Austria in 1938. The captain was offered a commission in the navy, and the family was invited to sing on the radio to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. Seeing impending problems, the family packed up and dressed to look like they were going on a camping holiday, and caught a series of regional trains to get over the border into Italy, where they were also citizens. 

The family came to America, initially on a six-month work visa, and started touring. They returned to Europe, seeking safe haven in Denmark until they could organize formal US refugee visas, which were granted later that year. The family of ten kids, Maria, the captain, and the family priest, initially stayed in Philadelphia but didn’t like the temperatures.

Visiting a friend’s ski house in Stowe, they fell in love with the region which reminded them of Austra. They found a farm for sale high in the hills and soon moved in, working the farm seasonally between touring. When on the road, they rented out rooms, like they had in Salzburg. By the 1950s, they christened the main Chalet they built, the Trapp Family Lodge. 

The Von Trapp Family history, set in stone 

The Von Trapp Family history is rich, and the Trapp Family Lodge sells a range of books and recordings from the glory days. The lodge itself serves as a museum to the family’s place in musical history, with playbills, movie posters, and record covers from around the world wallpapering the maze of hallways and guest rooms.

Additionally, you’ll discover amazing real folklore, like the hand-built chapel up the hill, built by Werner, who, in the depths of a World War 2 battle in which he was serving, vowed that if he ever made it back alive, he’d build a chapel as a thank you to God. 

The Von Trapp Family Graves

At the Trapp Family Lodge, there is a peaceful cemetery that is home to most of the Von Trapp Family. Some members died abroad and are buried in different countries, but you can still pay your respects to most of the kids, along with Maria and Georg. 

Meet a living member of the Von Trapp Family 

As the original Maria and Captain Georg Von Trapp are long deceased and the remaining Von Trapp children and parents are all interred in a beautiful garden graveyard just to the left of the main resort chalet. Surprisingly, the granddaughter, Christina is still alive and at the resort on most days, meeting guests and signing autographs after the Von Trapp family history tour. 

Exploring the Von Trapp Family Resort 

Like the Sound of Music movie being a fabrication, sadly, the resort lodge is a remake too. The original Von Trapp Family lodge was the main chalet building of the family farm. Whilst on tours, they’d let out rooms to friends and eventually, as the children grew and moved on, transformed it into a legitimate hotel operation. In the depths of a brutal Vermont winter in 1980, in 20 below zero chills, a faulty oil heater caused a lethal fire that left one guest dead and seven injured. 

In 1983, led by Maria and her son, Johannes, a new lodge was built on the ashes, but to much more ambitious and modern specifications. Today’s Von Trapp Family Lodge has over 73 rooms, external guest houses, and even timeshare villas for rent and sale – and surprisingly, most guests return each year. 

Dining at the Von Trapp Family Resort

The Von Trapp Family Lodge has four main dining options onsite – The Dining Room, The Lounge, the Bakery, and the popular Bierhall. 

The Bakery (the Kaffehaus) serves as the best place for a coffee if you’re heading out for a day’s explorations. It has a beautiful balcony to enjoy the morning sun and offers both fresh-baked treats as well as delicatessen treats from the region. 

The Dining Room offers a blend of European and Austrian-influenced entrees. There are vegetarian options like a cauliflower risotto, or carnivorous delights like a duck leg confit glazed in maple harvested from the Trapp family farm. 

Adjoining the main Dining Room is the casual lounge, that offers more bar-friendly fare and that can be enjoyed outside on the terrace.

Von Trapp Family Lodge Guestrooms

There is a range of different guest rooms and suites. They are well appointed and much larger than you’d find at most hotels. Choose between one-room studio suites, or one and two-bedroom family suites. 

Activities at Trapp Family Lodge 

Trapp Family Lodge activities take full advantage of the resort’s alpine acreage, from spiritual yoga sessions to adrenaline-fueled mountain biking.  Unlike the Stowe ski resort, the Von Trapp Lodge experience doesn’t offer traditional skiing and snowboarding in winter, but you can hire cross country skis and snow shoes to hit the trails at your own pace. 

The Family History Tour

Get acquainted with the legends and myths of the Sound of Music and the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers. 

Highland Cow feeding

Loved by all (and especially families), take a walk out in the fields with a herd of gorgeous highland cows and calves, learning about their place on the farm and eventually to the table (vegans pleas beware). 

Yoga 

Find your inner peace in a place where outer peace abounds. The meditation platform is situated in the middle of a hillside field overlooking lush woodlands. Imagine rising to swirling early morning mists or the golden hues of autumn leaves while finding your chi. 

Horse and buggy/sleigh rides

Not officially a part of the lodge experience, you can take a ride on a traditional horse and cart or go jingling bells in a one horse open sleigh during the winter months. 

Mountain Bike Riding 

If you like to push yourself and a all terrain bike through it’s paces, hire a mtn bike from the activity center office and try out the tracks and jumps that weave around the side of the hill. 

Chapel Hike 

Situated at the highest point of the Von Trapp property, the hike will get your blood pumping and your heart racing. At the top, between bracken ferns is a hand made stone chapel, built by Johann Von Trapp, who in the heat of a world war 2 battle, vowed if he made it through, that he’d build and dedicate a chapel. It was a labor of love and devotion and it truly is worth the hike. 

Disc Golf 

Requiring less space and zero green keeping, disc golf is a game where you throw frisbees into chain covered targets rather than using golf clubs and balls. 

Wine Tasting 

Requiring zero physical effort but plenty of reward, you can try local Vermont wines and purchase bottles to enjoy later. 

Von Trapp Brewery Tour 

Get a guided tour and beer tasting at the family’s own craft brewery. 

Sugar Maple Tour

As winter ends, the maple trees become ripe to harvest their sweet syrup. And although that’s the time of the year the magic happens, you can learn about the Trapp Family maple production on this short, but tasty tour. 

The Von Trapp Brewery

Part of extensive Von Trapp Family enterprises but a decent walk from the main lodge, The Von Trapp Brewery is an active craft brewery that sells its beers across the Eastern seaboard. The brewery makes awesome German style beers along with European styled pub food at the Bierhall and it’s spacious outdoor seating area. 

The brainchild of Johannes von Trapp, the 30.000 square foot operation opened in 2015 and produces about 36,000 barrels of beer annually. Sample the kolsches, lagers and dunkels, then munch of brats, burgers and pretzels. Keep your wallet/purse handy too, there’s some great merchandise available to buy. 

Von Trapp Family Memorabilia

The Von Trapp Family Lodge doesn’t have normal wallpaper; that’s because its walls are covered with family photos, playbills, movie posts, and record covers from around the world. If you’re a Sound of Music fan (or stan), you’ll lose hours walking the halls, pouring over everything. If you want to own a little history for yourself, there’s a convenience shop of the lower level (which also sells handy things like toiletries and chocolate).  The activity center is also a souvenir/gift shop with everything from Austrian-style winter apparel to historic recordings of the Trapp Family Singers. 

The Von Trapp Family Lodge isn’t your average hotel or resort. It’s a truly family-friendly destination – and that’s what keeps them coming back year after year. Its slightly dated features create warmth and a feeling of welcome familiarity. That’s why it’s one of those Vermont experiences that shouldn’t be missed, even if you just drop by, rather than staying a while.

Looking for more vacation and road trip ideas across the northeast of the United States? We have great ideas across New York State, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine.

What?

The Von Trapp Family Lodge is a mountain lodge where you can stay at the spiritual home of the Von Trapp Family after they fled Austria in World War 2.

Where?

The Von Trapp Family Lodge is situated about 10 minutes out of Stowe at 700 Trapp Hill Rd, Stowe, VT 05672

How?

The Von Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont is one of the best places to stay in Vermont. It’s on the pricier end, but that price does include most of the activities and use of the facilities.

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