Vermont Weekend Getaway – 15 Places to Visit
If you're looking to escape from the chaos of life, but only have a day or two to get away, Vermont is the perfect place to visit. When you do, you'll feel like you've stepped back into a slower, simpler time and right now, Vermont is experiencing the peak of fall foliage, which makes this already beautiful state even more stunning. I lived in Vermont for several years and these are 14 of my favorite places to visit when I find myself back there.
I know, it seems strange to recommend visiting a cemetery, but this is one of two that you must visit if you travel to Vermont. The Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery sits back from the rest of the world and offers spectacular mountain views. It really is God's country. To see the perfectly lined white stones bearing the names of the brave men and women who gave of their lives is humbling to say the least. Say a prayer in the chapel, walk the grounds and feel the serenity and reverence of this solitary place.
This "town," originally called "Sodom," consists of a couple houses, a general store, a post office and some really big ponds that offer the perfect landscape for picture taking. This is one of the most beautiful little hideaways in all of Vermont. Be sure to visit the Adamant Co-op because it's served as the "General store, Post Office, and Community Hub since 1935."
Have you ever had a maple creemee? No, I mean a REAL maple creemee made from maple taken from trees on-site? If the answer is no, then you've probably never been to Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. My friend Burr Morse and his family cultivate maple trees and make all of their own maple syrup, which is some of the best I've ever had. Inside their gift shop, they sell maple creemees (which is basically just soft serve ice cream) as well as the most delicious maple kettle corn I've EVER had. Plus while you visit, check out the amazing carvings inside the little cabins on the property and grab a swing and forget about your worries for a bit.
If you're expecting something massive like the famous Vermont Country Store, this store isn't for you. However, if you’re looking for a real life, not overly commercialized general store, you’ll want to visit this place. Dudley’s is an adorable old general store that sits across the street from where one of my dear friends is buried, so whenever I go to see my friend at the cemetery, I pop in for a cup of coffee and to check out the goods. Where else can you get a sticker book, wrapping paper, nails and rain boots all in the same aisle?
Barre is where I first lived when I moved to Vermont and is the self-proclaimed "Granite Center of the World." When I first drove through, I wondered what I'd gotten myself into because the town looked a bit dingy. But the more I explored, the more I fell in love with this little place. Main Street in Barre is filled with quaint shops and there's a town square with a park and some pretty cool statutes too. Ariel Zevon, daughter of Warren Zevon, and god-daughter of Jackson Browne loved the town so much that she opened a Farmer's Market there called the Local Agricultural Community Exchange. Barre is also home to the Thunder Road International SpeedBowl (I've driven the track- so fun!) and on the outskirts of town, you'll find the Rock of Ages granite quarry which offers tours and has a gift shop. Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia lives in Vermont and her husband served as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Barre until his passing in 2013.
Because it sits in front of the mountains, the Vermont State House is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Granite from Barre was used in the construction of the State House and the top is covered in gold. Tours are available weekdays and if you go, be sure to ask about the secret spot where you can stand and whisper and the whole room will be able to hear you. I didn't believe it was possible until I tried it for myself. How adorable is Montpelier as a whole? So much so that Sandra Bullock's sister, Gesine Bullock-Prado, picked it as the place to open a bakery (now closed).
If you're a cheese lover like I am, there is no better cheese than Cabot and when you visit the annex store in Waterbury, you'll have the chance to sample many different kinds before deciding which you want to buy. If you're a bit sensitive to lactose, the beautiful thing about Cabot is that they offer lactose-free cheese! After you finish checking out the Cabot Annex Store, slide over to Lake Champlain Chocolates (located in the same plaza) for some of the best chocolate you will ever taste.
Just down the road from the Cabot Annex Store is the world famous Ben and Jerry's, Yes, this really is the location where it all began. Take a tour, shop, and sample some of the best ice cream ever made! Ben and Jerry sold the company in 2000, but their vision continues to be carried out by Unilever.
This is the place that I'm most looking forward to taking my son to visit. The Cold Hollow Cider Mill is filled with so many wonders and is in my top three favorite places to visit in all of Vermont. When I lived in Vermont, I rarely went a full week without my car somehow navigating me to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for a warm cider donuts and a cup of hot apple cider. My husband asked what I want for Christmas and I told him that I want for him to have Cold Hollow Cider Mill cider donuts shipped to me (a feature they now offer!), that's how much I love them! You'll also find breathtaking mountain views as you can see in this photo I took at the Cider Mill a few years ago.
Two words: pumpkin spice. That is all. Well, that's not really all because this coffee shop and visitors center has a lot to offer, but if you're going to go to Vermont to take in the fall foliage, you need to stop here for pumpkin spice coffee because it's not only delicious but fits in with the trip theme.
The Ladder 1 Grill is located inside the old Barre Firehouse and the history of the firehouse dates back to 1904 when it was built in Victorian Queen-Anne style. The firehouse served the people of Barre until it was sold in 2007 and turned into a restaurant and inn. The food is good, the people are friendly, and the decorations are incredible. We've never stayed at the inn, but my little boy loves all things firefighting and something tells me that we'll be booking a room on one of our weekend visits just for him.
If you're planning to stay overnight in the Barre/Montpelier area, a trip to Gustos should definitely be on your agenda. If you really want an inside look at how locals spend their Friday and Saturday nights, Gusto's will give you that glimpse. At Gusto’s, you’ll find a genuine small-town gin mill complete with horseshoe pits, fire pits, a basketball area, and even an outdoor bar/hangout area.
Let me tell you, this is quite a thing to see as you're driving down the highway headed into Burlington. In the middle of nowhere, up out of the road are two whale tails and yes, it's completely random and strange even to those who live in Vermont. The whale tails can be seen on I-89 northbound between exits 12 and 13. Rumor has it the sculpture is meant to depict two tails of whales diving into a sea of grass to symbolize the fragility of the planet. One school teacher told Roadside America,
Once upon a time, what is now Lake Champlain was the Champlain Sea, and was home to many large animals, including whales. Evidence was found of this in fossils, and the famous Charlotte Whale (found in nearby Charlotte). Homage to the Champlain Sea was not the impetus for acquiring the sculpture, necessarily, but it does explain why they are not quite so out of place as one might first believe.
Either way, the whale tails are pretty neat. If you want to get a closer look, there's a walking trail that you can take to get even closer.
While this is an unbelievable place to visit in the warmer months, there's just as much to see and do in the colder months. The Church Street Marketplace is an award-winning open-air mall. The outdoor mall spans the course of four blocks and in those four blocks, you'll find food, dining, festivals, and more. Want a first-hand look at Church Street? Check out their live camera feed!
I've saved the best for last. This is my absolute favorite place in all of Vermont. The Trapp Family Lodge was once home to the von Tapp family whose lives inspired the Sound of Music. Today, the grounds offer 2,500 acres of beauty, luxury, and fun for all ages. I have been known to stand in the middle of the big field, arms stretched out, twirling while singing "the hills are alive with the sound of music." My soul genuinely feels at peace when I visit the Trapp Family Lodge. You don't have to stay at the lodge to enjoy the grounds.