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Travel: Spend a weekend in Vermont with city sights, country charm

October 22, 2018


The old and new live in harmony with vintage general stores and an ever-growing number of new craft breweries. Few fall getaways are better than a trip to Vermont.

There’s all the natural beauty of mountains and valleys as you wind through the state. The old and new live in harmony with vintage general stores and an ever-growing number of new craft breweries. Lake Champlain sparkles as do the industrious chefs who serve up local goodness in rustic-ly designed restaurants.
Set Burlington as your destination, but make stops along the way. It’s 265 miles, or about a 4½-hour drive, from Providence.

Snack at King Arthur Flour Café and Store in Norwich. All are invited to stop at 135 U.S. Highway 5, seven days a week. How long you stay is up to you. This is the flagship campus of the flour company. You can get a latte and pastry for breakfast or a sandwich on their freshly made bread for lunch. You can shop til you drop in The Baker’s Store, where everything from pretzel mix to rolling pins are on sale. You can even take a class in their Baking School, but they book up fast so plan ahead.

If you love beer and smoked meats, dine at Prohibition Pig Brewery. The place is small and fun and the food is simply delicious whether you go for soup, a burger or wings. Of course you pair it with one of their beers including seasonal choices. It’s at 23 South Main St. in Waterbury, a location which makes it a favorite of the skiers heading to Stowe.

Just across the street at 3 Elm St., in Waterbury, is a Craft Beer Cellar store that carries the crazy popular and acclaimed Alchemist Beers including Heady Topper. This is the quintessential get for visits to Vermont. They don’t ship it out from their Stowe brewery but they distribute to this local store. There’s a two four-pack minimum per person.

When you get to Burlington, Hotel Vermont, at 41 Cherry St., is the popular choice. It was just named the 3rd best hotel in New England by Conde Nast Traveler. This place is so Vermont that the bathrobes are multicolor plaid instead of terry white, the hallway benches all have plants potted in them and there are coffee stations on every floor. It also has a nice bar and restaurant and a huge fireplace in the lobby where they have live music on the weekends. I loved the built-in sofa in my room that allowed me to look out at Lake Champlain.

It’s also nice to walk along the waterfront of the lake. Or you can take a shoreline cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen.

Nighttime is magical in downtown Burlington. It’s not just the sparkle lights up over the pedestrian mall, Church Street Marketplace. It’s the many restaurants and bars, 130 retail businesses in all, that line the street.

Meals here can be enjoyed in rustic restaurants that showcase Vermont grown, raised and produced ingredients including the Farmhouse Tap and Grill. This place is a gem which also has 30 taps of draft at the ready. I had a delicious dinner of chicken and biscuits, a beet salad and local cheese board. They also do brunch. It’s at 160 Bank St., Burlington.

Need more beer adventures? Check out two very cool spots for innovative brews. They are Foam Brewers, 112 Lake St., and Zero Gravity Brewers, 716 Pine St., both in Burlington.,

You can spend an entire day exploring the nearby Shelburne Museum, 6000 Shelburne Rd., Shelburne. It’s set on 45 acres, has 39 buildings, many of them moved to the museum from their original location, and is home to one very big steamboat. The Ticonderoga was a Lake Champlain steamboat that was moved over land to the museum for preservation in 1955. It’s something to see and touch and walk through. The museum, and its collection of paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, transportation and architecture, was founded by Electra Havemeyer Webb. Her husband was the son of Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt, whose relatives were building summer cottages in Newport while she and her husband built Shelburne Farms. After Electra’s death in 1960, six of the rooms from her Park Avenue apartment, and her European art collection of Monets, Manets and Cassatts, were moved to the museum and occupy the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building. It’s truly remarkable.

Welcome morning with a meal at Monarch and the Milkweed, where everything is as cute as the name. This is a pastry shop, fine diner and cocktail bar that’s open early till very late. The brunch waffles are minis and piled high and the cortado coffees are potent. The line was out the door here for Sunday brunch but it was well worth the wait at 111 St. Paul St., in Burlington. There is whimsy in the air with a huge hummingbird painted on the side of the four-story brick building that houses the restaurant.

Before you head home, shop at the Vermont Country Store, which specializes in brands from the past. That includes everything from Turkish Taffy and Charles Chips to Tangee lipsticks and Lemon Up shampoo. I find it easy to stop at 1292 Rockingham Rd., Rockingham, which is Route 103 and easy on and off I-91. I load up on penny candy that includes chocolate-covered everything. But the fresh cheese is a must, too. Love kitchen gadgets? They have them all. Colorforms anyone? (The original store is at Main Street in Weston and includes a restaurant next door.)

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