Plan My Vermont Vacation for Me
June 10, 2018 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Mrs. W and I are going to Vermont for four days at the end of July.

The last time we went, we had some destinations planned, but this time around, other than visiting a friend from a long time ago, we are wide open. We will have a rental car. I like bookstores, music, and food. Mrs. W likes needlework and art. We already went to the Shelburne Museum and farm. Other than that, hit me with anything you remotely think we might be interested in. Thanks!
posted by wittgenstein to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Well, you obviously have to meet up with Jessamyn!

I haven't been to Vermont since 1988, but I loved the Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour in Waterbury and am still wishing I could go on the Grafton Village Cheese tour in Brattleboro. Then again, I really (really, really) like to eat.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 2:42 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

So you've already been to Burlington? I'd spend a night or two in Burlington.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:58 PM on June 10

I'm a Georgian, but Vermont is my favorite place in the world to vacation.

I've been in all seasons -- summer, stick, winter, and mud! Here are a few highlights:

Essex ... We stayed at The Essex which bills itself as a culinary resort. The inn is charming and quintessentially "New England." You can also arrange to take a cooking class with a chef ... we took "Soups and Breads" and had a blast (and enjoyed the food at the end).

South and East of Burlington along I-89 - The best exit to take is Exit 10 (Route 100). If you travel north, you'll pass the Ben & Jerry's factory -- small fee, quick tour (30 minutes), and free ice cream at the end!

If you continue traveling north, you'll get to the resort town of Stowe (quaint and beautiful). Stowe has a community walking path that is beautiful in all seasons - it starts behind the church (there is only one church in town).

Near Stowe, there is a road that goes over the mountain at Smuggler's Notch (this road is closed in the winter, but should still be open in October unless they've had an early snow). It twists and turns, but the views are incredible.

Driving all of Route 100 from the north to south would be great -- and there are also several waterfalls along this route as well.

Our favorite restaurant -- Hen of the Wood -- is right off this exit in Waterbury.

The next exit to take would be Exit 9 (Middlesex, VT). You take this exit for one reason only -- Red Hen Baking Company. A great place (it will look like nothing special) to stop for fresh bread, pastries, and coffee -- or for a delicious lunch (soups, sandwiches).

Then...Exit 8 is Montpelier -- the smallest state capital in the USA! The capitol building is beautiful (and will be even more so set against the vibrant colors of the mountains). There are really only two main streets in Montpelier -- there is a parking deck at the intersection of the two streets. LaBrioche Bakery would be a great place in Montpelier to have lunch -- soups and sandwiches prepared by students from the New England Culinary Institute.

Finally...Exit 1 (Quechee, Woodstock, White River Junction). This is where we have spent most of our time. Take Route 4 in one direction (north?) to White River Junction -- another charming older town with a great restaurant (Thyme).

Also nearby in Norwich is the King Arthur Flour factory/store - it's fun for a visit and for buying a few treats. Also in Norwich is Dan & Whit's General Store -- it is pure Vermont (grocery store, deli, post office, hardware store all combined).

Take Route 4 (south?) through Quechee, stopping at the Quechee Dam/Gorge to enjoy the views (and hike to the bottom of the gorge if they are feeling up to a challenge).

After viewing the gorge, be sure to stop in the village of Quechee/Hartford and visit the Simon Pearce glass factory.

Continue south to Woodstock, one of the most beautiful of the old Vermont towns. You could spend an entire day walking the town, looking at houses, visiting the art galleries, having a coffee in the public square. Definitely stop at the Woodstock Farmer's Market for a fresh-made sandwich (or to buy some authentic Vermont cheeses).

A couple of other things to consider...visiting the Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. It's a bit more removed from the main roads, but the drive would be beautiful -- and who can resist cheese samples?

Another stop might be the Boyden Valley Winery (if they are into wine) -- you get a quick tour of the winery and then free samples of wine.

The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (Newport is the main town) is very remote, but the drive to and from would be nice.

posted by tmharris65 at 6:06 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]

Seconding Ben and Jerry’s. It’s a great tour.

If you’re a baking fan, the King Arthur store has really fantastic classes. Some good friends who took the croissant class are still talking about it months afterword.

The Montshire Museum of Science Is a fantastic science museum, if you’re into that kind of thing.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:25 PM on June 10

Some great suggestions already! Here are a few more, and feel free to drop a private line if you're in Burlington and want to try to meet up with a fellow Mefite!

Just in Burlington:

Church Street Marketplace is a must if you haven't walked it. Visit both Crow and Phoenix Books. Poke your head in Homeport.

Just up the street, in the evening is Radio Bean, Duino Duende and the Light Club Lamp Shop. Great venues for a funky live music experience almost every evening. Or if either of you are Phish fans, check out Nectar's. Indulge in the gravy fries.

Keep an eye out for whether there is anything happening at the Flynn on the evening you are in town.

Towards the south end of town is Lake Champlain Chocolate's factory with a little tour and free tastings. West towards Lake Champlain is Waterfront Park and the ECHO Center (a bit oriented towards kids, but still fun).

While you are near the water, rent a bicycle and ride the bike path or the self guided cycle the city tour of Burlington.

I won't bother listing restaurants and craft breweries - but they are numerous and fun.

Other Vermont highlights to consider:

If you can overlap travels with Circus Smirkus, it is an absolute delight and I highly recommend going.

If you head into the wilds of the Northeast Kingdom, I suggest you visit Lake Willoughby.

I'll echo the idea of a road trip through Stowe and Smuggler's Notch. The Ben & Jerry's Factory tour is iconic and worth it if you can get it quick, but I don't think merits a long wait on a short trip.
posted by meinvt at 8:36 PM on June 10

Here's answers from my Vermont vacation thread this time last year
posted by greta simone at 7:56 AM on June 11

Well, you obviously have to meet up with Jessamyn!

I am out of town! That said, if you want a free place to stay in a centrally-located adorable small Vermont town, please PM me since... I am out of town!

I like everyone's suggestions. The killer bookstores are really Northshire, Sandy's (they have a new cookbook bookstore that is to die for!), Bear Pond and Flying Pig. More listed on this page. Driving Route 100 is often a nice way to see the state depending on whether you want to keep one "home base" or go from place to place.
posted by jessamyn at 2:59 PM on June 11

I can be a very poor jessamyn proxy. If you are near exit 3 or 4 off of I-89 let me know if you want to grab a beer at Worthy Burger or something.
posted by terrapin at 2:01 PM on July 10

In case anyone reads this in the future, here is where we went:
Thursday: Zoe's Deli and Northshire Books in Manchester.

Friday: We did a lot of driving today and visited a friend I hadn't seen in 30+ years, but we did eat at Sissy's in a tiny little town on recommendation, and Mrs. W went to the Northeast Fiber Arts Center in Williston.

Friday: Rustic Roots in Shelburne and Must Love Yarn in Burlington. The Barnes and Noble there has a wonderful used book section that is worth looking at.

Sunday: We took a long drive back to Albany, NY, to catch our plane. Probably not the fastest route to get there. We ended up having a late lunch at Cracker Barrel.

Great Vacation. Would do again.
posted by wittgenstein at 7:38 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]

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