What should I do in southern Vermont?
March 20, 2008 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Help me get to, spend a weekend in, and return from, southern Vermont.

My girlfriend and I will be driving from NY to West Dover, VT next weekend and are looking for things to do, both on the way there, and while we're there. I've read this question, and am campaigning heartily for some BBQ on the way up (it should be lunchtime on Thursday by the time we hit western MA, which rules out Bub's, though). We'll probably stop in Northampton, so any specifics there would be nice (I, personally, am looking forward to a smoosh-in).

In any case, we've got lots of free time Friday and Saturday during the daytime hours, and would like to take a fairly easy-going hike someplace, so any recommendations for that would be welcome. We'd also like to spend a little time in Brattleboro, probably on Thursday afternoon/evening or Friday, so anything there would be good, too.

Thanks, folks!
posted by uncleozzy to Travel & Transportation around Vermont (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In Brattleboro, hit up McNeills Brewery for a drink and some darts. Sadly you are too early for Gallery Walk.

For BBQ, there is a place in Brattleboro called The Top Of The Hill Grill. There is also Curtis' BBQ not much further north in Putney.

If you are in the mood to check out some used cds, Turn It Up has stores in NOHO and Brattleboro.

Also, Herrell's Ice Cream in NOHO is awesome. They basically started the idea of a smoosh in, which Cold Stone stole. (On re-read I see you already know about it!)

Between NOHO and Brattleboro, in Deerfield Ma, there is a mountain you can drive up called Mount Sugarloaf. You can get some really nice views from up there. I'm not sure if it's open for the season yet.

As far hiking goes, there are lots of trails at Northfield Mountain. Although at this time of year, its probably more cross-country skiing trails.

Also, I'm assuming you'll be taking 9W out of Brattleboro to West Dover. If you go that way, make sure to stop at the scenic overlook for some more great views.

I grew around the area, and I'll try to think of more ideas for you.
posted by o0dano0o at 9:13 AM on March 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

*grew up* around the area..
posted by o0dano0o at 9:15 AM on March 20, 2008

Response by poster: (On re-read I see you already know about it!)

I lived in Cambridge for 8 years and ate untold quantities of Herrell's ice cream; I miss it!

Thanks for the great suggestions! Also, any ideas on where I can get some nice maple syrup (some grade B stuff which is hard to find at home) would be welcome. Thanks!
posted by uncleozzy at 9:31 AM on March 20, 2008

Maybe try one of these places.
posted by o0dano0o at 9:36 AM on March 20, 2008

Also, for a change of pace going back, you could take 9W to NY where it changes to 7W, then get on 787S in Troy, then get on 87S in Albany.

I know I get bored going back the same way sometimes...

Side note: If you do go home this way, and if you enjoy chinese buffets, GO HERE!
posted by o0dano0o at 9:45 AM on March 20, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, she'd be thrilled to drive through New Paltz on the way home. We might just have to do that. Thanks for the suggestion.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:51 AM on March 20, 2008

I just remembered - The Marina Restaurant in Brattleboro (just down the road from Top of the Hill Grill) has a pretty tasty BBQ for 2 plate.
posted by o0dano0o at 9:56 AM on March 20, 2008

Best answer: I'm second most of what o0dano0o has to say. I live in Northampton, and I'm very familier with The Pioneer Valley from here to Brattleboro. Definitely stop to walk around Northampton for a while. I don't have a ton of time to write, but I'll revisit later with more specific answers

A few things, though:

1. Mount Sugarloaf in Sunderland, per dan, is where you want to go for a light hike, definitely. There's a road that goes to the top, but it will be closed to cars this time of year. Stay on the pavement for your hike. Anywhere else, you're going to sink into deep mud. From the top, you'll get a beautiful view of the whole valley including The Holyoke Range, UMass, Northampton, Hadley, and The CT River. Also, you can easilly take very scenic side roads from Northampton, to Sugarloaf, back to 91.

2. Go to Herrell's for smoosh-ins. The manager there is my very good friend, Evan. Ask for him by name, tell him that "Scooter" who is turkishgolds on Metafilter sent you. He'll think that it's hilarious and be slightly weirded out. Then I'll get to have a great laugh about it later. It's not as weird as it sounds, he's a great guy, trust me on this one.

3. Curtis' BBQ in Putney is probably closed this time of year. I think that it's seasonal. You should call.

4. I love touring the Harpoon Brewery in Southrn, VT, right off 91. Google it, if interested.

5. PLEASE don't hesitate to MeMail me if you want more info about anything. I'd be more than happy to type out directions, make specific dining suggestions, and whatever else you might need. I love showing people around this area.
posted by TurkishGolds at 10:54 AM on March 20, 2008

Before you take 9 across southern VT, check the weather. That's not a road I'd want to be on in a snow storm. (or in anything less than a beautiful day)
posted by MtDewd at 11:18 AM on March 20, 2008

Before you take 9 across southern VT, check the weather. That's not a road I'd want to be on in a snow storm...

True words. I was driving back to college one time on this road and I got just past the new section of road by Wilmington and there were a bunch of cars slipping on snow trying to go up the hill. There was a State Trooper standing in the road physically pushing cars to help them up the hill. It was pretty wild.

So yes, if its snowing, don't go home via 9W.
posted by o0dano0o at 11:30 AM on March 20, 2008

Best answer: I used to live in Brattleboro, VT before leaving for school two years ago. I would definitely suggest Top of the Hill Grill, especially their pulled pork (a little pricey but they give you your money's worth). As for the Marina, I'm friends with the owner's son and spent a good amount of time their helping while he was on shift. If you are looking for a scenic spot to eat, the Marina is perfect. But if you are looking for a good meal, I would recommend looking elsewhere. Nearly everything on their menu is made before it arrives (from Sisco). Their kitchen is also filthy.

As for an easy-going hike, try crossing the bridge in downtown Brattleboro into Hindsdale, NH. You cross two bridges over the Connecticut River and take your first left onto a dirt road. Follow this for two minutes. You'll get to a small parking area where you can leave your car (you'll also see the Walmart behind you, remember this is New Hampshire now) and the trail will be right there. I don't think many out-of-towners know about this trail. It's about a 45 minute hike, fairly easy if you aren't in horrible shape, and the view from the top overlooks the Connecticut River/Vermont and is pretty spectacular.

For maple syrup, try The Putney General Store in Putney Vermont (15 minutes from Brattleboro).

Finally, Amherst, MA (five minutes from Northhampton) has a great restaurant called Judie's.
posted by saoyama at 11:34 AM on March 20, 2008

Response by poster: Wonderful; how's the road between Brattleboro and Wilmington? Am I going to want to toss chains in the trunk this time of year just in case?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:36 AM on March 20, 2008

During the winter the road is notorious for accidents. Some area's are steep and it winds a lot. But by this time of year, it shouldn't be bad at all. Follow the suggested speed limits--the areas that have really low ones are there for a reason.

Also, if you're looking for a meal/snack in that area, right as you enter western Brattleboro, you'll see the Chelsea Royal Diner on your left. It is by far the most popular place for breakfast in Brattleboro.
posted by saoyama at 2:39 PM on March 20, 2008

Best answer: Saoyama has some good advice, but seriously think about the mud factor. If that hike isn't covered with snow, it's going to be deep mud which is why I recommend Sugarloaf. Also, Judie's in Amherst is awesome, but it's a 20 minute drive from Northampton, at best, and it can be a lot longer if there's traffic.

If you're into vegetarian/fish/healthy/whole foods type fare, don't miss Paul and Eilzabeth's in Thorne's Market in downtown Northampton. If you want burgers and a beer in a neighborhood place, I'd check out Packard's on Masonic Street, right off of Main. If you get here before 2:00 in the afternoon and you want great sandwhiches, soups, salads, and some breakfast/brunch options, Sylvester's on Pleasant Street is top notch. If you want a delicious, high-end dinner at a reasonable price, don't miss The Sierra Grille on Strong Ave. All of these places are an easy walk from the parking garage which is a great jumping off point for downtown Northampton, and totally worth the affordable price for the convenience. If you park there, take the walkway on the second level right into Thorne's Market.

Otherwise, just wander around, enjoy the shops, and the characters. Give a small tip to "the bucket man," ignore "the dollar lady," and no matter how curious you are .... don't buy anything from "the book tape lady." Trust me.

Again, don't hesitate to MeMail me if you have any specific questions or need directions.
posted by TurkishGolds at 11:45 AM on March 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, guys. Much-appreciated, lots to think about before we leave.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:32 PM on March 21, 2008

So... how was the trip??
posted by o0dano0o at 11:47 AM on March 24, 2008

Response by poster: Actually, it was this weekend, not the one before. It was a good time, although the snow on Thursday night was a bit of a hassle on Friday morning (the B&B we were staying at was up a fairly steep path; RWD + all-season tires isn't exactly the best combination in such a situation).

It seemed like every BBQ place we could find was closed, so I didn't get my wish, although we did have some pretty decent eats at Fireworks in Brattleboro and then at Madison Brewing Co. in Bennington. We stopped at the Brattleboro Co-op for some groceries (by which I mean mostly beer and cheese), although the prepared foods there looked really good. We didn't get a chance to hit McNeill's, although I did bring home a pair of bombers.

We had sushi at Moshi Moshi in Northampton, which was good; the sushi chef there is super-friendly. And, of course, a smoosh-in from Herrell's.

We drove home on the NY thruway and stopped in New Paltz for lunch. The falafel at Moonlight there is really good, in case anyone ever passes through.

Oh, and we stopped at the Yankee Candle store on the way up. Mind-blowing, in a crazy sort of way. I couldn't smell for hours after leaving there.

In any case, thanks for the suggestions, all. We'll likely be back up there someday, so hopefully we can hit all the good stuff we missed this time.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:10 AM on March 31, 2008

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