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Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Grateful Traveler: Experiencing Vermont

CRL's travel columnist takes on the Green Mountain State.

Deerfield Valley
The valley is made up of charming southern Vermont towns with great shopping, local artisans and galleries—the perfect place to stay and explore. For the foodie in all of us, Vermont is home to an amazing amount of farm-to-table businesses, and Deerfield stands out among them. There are three of the most picturesque lakes with mountains as backdrops. The mountains that surround Deerfield Valley are great to explore. The scenic roads for bicyclists and motorists make trips memorable along the way and are excellent for motorcycle devotees.

Located in Windham County, Wilmington is on scenic Route 100 in the “Southern Vermont” region of the state. The village of Wilmington is a “shopper’s mecca” with unique specialty shops, restaurants, and art galleries in beautifully constructed historical buildings, and the area’s mountains create beautiful panoramas. Winter activities in the area include skiing and snowboarding, tubing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Located about 15 miles south of Mount Snow Resort in West Dover, Wilmington is home to Haystack Mountain. The warmer months are a great time to visit Lake Whittingham, said to be the largest lake entirely within the state of Vermont. There’s public access for boating, picnicking, and swimming. Hiking and golfing are also very popular during the summer and fall with several golf courses just minutes away. Route 9, also known as the “Molly Stark Trail,” runs through Wilmington and is a beautiful drive during the fall foliage season.

Branded as a fun, funky arts atmosphere, downtown Brattleboro’s compact, walkable footprint houses an incredible variety of entertainment venues, diverse dining, unique boutiques, and local artisans, showcasing what seems like a Vermont version of Brooklyn. As with the entire state, whatever you are doing in town, it only takes a gaze around you to see the natural beauty and charm that is quintessential Vermont. The historic theatres stage live performances and festivals including the Latchis, with its elaborate art deco design. Within the store fronts in downtown are bookstores (not chains), shops for all your sporting goods that you will no doubt want to use there, as well as boutiques of all kinds. Local artisans are only a stroll in any direction. Now becoming recognized as a “foodie destination” including vegan, Thai, distillers, and breweries, there is plenty of food and drink to enjoy.

Again in the “Southern Vermont” region of the state, Dover was settled in 1779. Many think of Dover as “Mount Snow Valley.” Originally, Dover was known as a place to go for the summer and, frankly, it still is with biking, golf, scenic rides, and, of course, hiking. The Ruben Snow farm was purchased in 1953 and developed into the Mount Snow Ski Area on Mt. Pisgah. Eventually, vacation homes became popular near the base of the mountain, so skiing is amazing in the winter! Runs, festivals, and activities both on the mountain and off will keep you busy for all four seasons. Dotted with inns to enjoy, plan to exhaust yourself during the day and sleep very well at night.

The Shires of Vermont
The Southwestern piece of Vermont is within 60 minutes of most of the Capital Region. Nestled in the Green Mountains and the home of both Bennington and Manchester, The Shires reflect Vermont’s history and way of life everywhere you turn. But do not think for one moment that the area lives in the past; it does not. You need to check all there is for options in eating, inns and B&Bs, shopping and scenery spying.

The Town of Bennington was chartered in 1749. Bennington is Vermont’s first town and the original home of Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys. Attractions include museums, antique shops, art galleries, walking tours, covered bridges and the historic downtown area. Enjoy beautiful vistas during your summer vacation in Bennington and easy access to Vermont skiing during the winter. Fall is simply awe-inspiring. The Bennington Center for the Arts and The Bennington Museum are only two of the venues featuring art and entertainment while the brewers and chefs in the area showcase culinary prowess and locally grown food items. If you are a covered bridge fan, The Silk Road Covered Bridge, Paper Mill Village Covered Bridge and the Burt Henry Covered Bridge all reside in Bennington.

Shopping is king in Manchester with its fantastic options. There are outlets, artisans, food shops and more. The inns and B&Bs are quaint and fabulous spots to hang your hat after a long shopping day, and we have highlighted some in many past issues of Capital Region Living Magazine. Historical connections are made for the entire family at Hildene, the home of President Lincoln’s heirs and where numerous mementos of his life reside. Many festivals are available ranging from showing off the area’s marvelous maple products as well as cheese, wines and, yes, even leaf peeping.

Vikki Moran
Vikki Moran
Vikki Moran is a travel writer and the founder of the Grateful Traveler.

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