A Design Lover's Guide to Vermont

A Design Lover's Guide to Vermont

Dabney Frake
Jul 11, 2013

Visitors to Vermont come for the outdoor activities, physical beauty and a glimpse of rural life. They might not expect a long tradition of simple, functional design, locally-sourced and well-prepared food, and generations of thoughtful living. Today's destination guide combines all these things in a handy on-line primer, perfect for travel around the Green Mountain State. Enjoy the drive!

  • Covered Bridges (Statewide): These products of Yankee ingenuity and design are everywhere. Drive across one and see their construction up close. If you have trouble finding good examples (but you won't), here's a map to help you out
  • Burlington Waterfront (Burlington): The waterfront of Vermont's largest city looks out over Lake Champlain and is a great spot to take a moment and enjoy being outdoors. A downtown community park, there are boardwalks, a seven-mile-long bike path.  You can also take a ferry over to the New York side of the lake (all the while watching out for Champ). 
  • Old Round Church (Richmond): The sole-surviving example of a sixteen-sided (!) wooden meetinghouse, and home to town gatherings and church services since 1812. A National Historic Landmark, today it's open to the public during summer and fall months. 
  • Fall Foliage (Statewide): If you are lucky enough to visit during the fall, you can make sport of peeping the leaves. Track color across the state, and plan accordingly, with this website.

  • Billings Farm & Museum (Woodstock): Both operating farm and museum, Billings gives visitors insight into Vermont rural life, and the chance to see the resident sheep, draft horses and oxen. Head into the town of Woodstock afterwards to see one of the quaintest of quaint towns.
  • Dog Mountain (St. Johnsbury): After having a near death experience, woodworker and artist Stephen Huneck created this special spot where people and their dogs are always welcome. There is a dog chapel on the property — with his custom-made stained glass and carved pews — where thousands have left remembrances of their canine friends. 
  • Rock of Ages Granite Quarry (Barre): See quarriers at work on sublime mountains of rock and finally understand where all of those countertops come from.
  • Calvin Coolidge Homestead (Plymouth): Birthplace and boyhood home of our 30th President. The homes and village buildings have all been carefully preserved, with most of their original furnishings.
  • Shelburne Museum (Shelburne): Beautiful museum of art and Americana exhibited in a campus of historic buildings. 

  • Simon Pearce (Quechee): Against a stunning backdrop, this well-known glass shop and restaurant has tons of beautiful Vermont-made products to drool over. Glassblowing demonstrations take place downstairs. Eat lunch afterwards on the deck, with views of an impressive waterfall and Quechee's (recently reconstructed) covered bridge.
  • Chelsea Flea Market (Chelsea): This town-wide market takes place the second weekend in July, and covers both town greens and numerous side streets in a tiny town in mid-Vermont. Like most flea markets, the offerings are perfectly random.
  • Bennington Pottery (Bennington & Burlington): Stoneware, handmade since the 1940s, that's functional and rustically beautiful. If you can't afford retail, head for their factory seconds. 

  • Local Town Suppers (Statewide): Hosted in town halls and churches across the state, communal dinners are served family-style by volunteers, often as fundraisers. Look for them while perusing the bulletin boards at general stores, and buy your tickets in advance for a set seating time.  
  • Hen of the Wood (Waterbury & Burlington): Located in an old brick feed store, this homey and warm restaurant is only open for dinner and serves up simple food using delicious, local ingredients.
  • Cheese Tour (Statewide): Vermont has the highest number of cheesemakers per capita of any state, with tastings available. The Vermont Cheesemakers Festival takes place each July. Held at Shelburne Farms, the event is a delicious cheese-a-palooza of Vermont goodness.
  • Maple Creemees (Statewide): While some head to Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury, others head to general stores and creemee stands for maple-infused soft serve ice cream cones. You might be compelled to do the more famous factory tour, but I recommend these instead.

  • Woodstock Inn & Resort (Woodstock): If you want a large classic Vermont inn experience, then this is a good option. Featuring traditional furniture and a gracious lobby with a roaring fire in the winters, the Inn is a well-run institution.
  • Hotel Vermont (Burlington): Burlington's new kid of the block, just open this Spring. Bringing the boutique hotel experience to the Green Mountain State, Hotel Vermont blends rustic and modern, with higher-end dining and stylish interiors.
  • Snapdragon Inn (Windsor): A great location in Central Vermont, and a more personal experience than those above. Owned and operated by a generation of young Vermonters and their spouses, the Snapdragon Inn is cozy and cleanly furnished.

Since this covers the whole state, there's tons more to see and do in each and every tiny town. These are just some of the most notable, and some of my personal favorites. Please add yours in the comments.

(Images: 1. Dabney Frake; 2. Shutterstock; 3. Dabney Frake; 4. Flickr, for use with Creative Commons; 5. Photos by Nancy; and 6. Fodors)

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