Help me see Montpelier in under 8 hours
December 4, 2011 6:19 AM   Subscribe

What should I see/do/eat in Montpelier, VT and surrounding area during a [very] short stay?

I'll be wandering around Montpelier for a morning and the better part of an should I spend my short time?

Specifically looking for: a breakfast spot, bookstore, coffee shop or other hangout w/ wifi, lunch. I'll have a car so I'm willing to make a short trip for the right destination.

posted by pilibeen to Travel & Transportation around Montpelier, VT (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I drive between Boston and Montreal on an annual basis, and tend to stop at Montpelier for a meal when driving in either direction. The downtown area bounded by Elm, State, Main and School St. is neat to stroll around in. There are a bunch of cafes, bookstores and cute clothing / outdoor gear shops to poke your head into. Capitol Grounds is sort of the big obvious cafe in the downtown area, and it's ok. Has wi-fi but the place can be fairly packed and isn't where I'd want to spend an afternoon if I had a car. A slightly more preferred option, just a little outside Montpelier is the Red Hen Baking Co. which tends to be more chill and has some fantastic baked goods. Red Hen also has wi-fi.
posted by bl1nk at 6:36 AM on December 4, 2011

You can walk the length and breadth of downtown Montpelier in an hour or so ... you can extend that time by taking in the beautiful State Capitol and by stopping in many of the cool shops and bookstores.

While I give a big thumbs up to a stop at the Red Hen (it's at the Middlesex exit ... one more exit beyond Montpelier in the direction of Burlington), if you are interested in a tasty lunch in Montpelier proper, I'd suggest La Brioche, a bakery/sandwich shop affiliated with the New England Culinary Institute.
posted by tmharris65 at 6:42 AM on December 4, 2011

2nd La Brioche.

There is also a great used bookstore across the street from it.
posted by k8t at 8:13 AM on December 4, 2011

It's more like, how to spend a whole 8 hours in Montpelier. I would say check out the whole town. That will take about 3 hours max if you are thorough. Then spend some time in Hubbard Park. Maybe pack something with you from the Hunger Mountain Food Coop.
posted by idiopath at 8:20 AM on December 4, 2011

Welcome to America's smallest state capitol and the only one without a McDonalds! Montpelier is cute and teeny, you should have no trouble staying oriented and occupied. There's a little info kiosk on State Street that has maps and free coffee [and bathrooms] so you might want to start there. A lot depends on the weather. If it's nice, walking around and peeking at things is the way to go. If it's super cold and/or snowy, you'll want more indoor/close by activities.

Breakfast: Coffee Corner [La Brioche is also excellent, depends on what you want]
Bookstore: Rivendell & Bear Pond [right near each other] Black Sheep if your tastes skew more radical
Coffeeshop with Wifi: Capitol Grounds (agree it's noisy and somewhat crowded - public library is right near there too, often also crowded)
Non-coffeeshop with wifi and absolutely dead quiet: State Law Library in the Pavillion Building (which also houses the historical society) right by the Capitol. You have to sign in to get in there, but it's super worth it and a nice sunny place to work if the weather sucks.
Exercise: Hubbard Park
Late Lunch: Wayside Diner - not everyone's cup of tea but it's a 90 year old institution, known as "where the old people eat" has Moxie and Fresca on tap and very tasty cheap American style comfort food [a few miles outside of town]. Other great places include Positive Pie (not just pizza!) and the Skinny Pancake for interesting crepes.

If you want to take a bit of a drive, you could check out the granite quarries in Barre. They're neat in a "grand canyon" sort of way [i.e. big and sort of awe inspiring but definitely nothing to do there]. I haven't been to the Red Hen but now I'm definitely putting it on my list.
posted by jessamyn at 9:52 AM on December 4, 2011

The Royal Orchid, a local Thai restaurant, is superior to anything in Boston.

The Savoy theater is a tiny one-screen movie theater that shows mostly interesting independent films.

If you have an evening, the excellent semi-professional theater company is called Lost Nation Theater.

Already mentioned, Bear Pond Books is my go-to time killer. It's basically the definition of a great independant bookstore.

Have fun!
posted by violinflu at 11:53 AM on December 4, 2011

Sarducci's is also a good place for lunch, especially if you get there early and get a seat out on the covered porch overlooking the river. Then a walk down the bike path ("Stonecutter's Way") to the Co-op where you can have coffee, read, etc in their cafe.

Also check out Woodbury Mountain Toys if you need to do any holiday shopping, it is a seriously awesome toy store on State Street.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 6:18 PM on December 4, 2011

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