Southern Vermont is the kind of place you think of venturing off to in the summer or Fall when the leaves are changing. You might now think of Vermont as a go-to destination in the middle of New England’s brutal winter, however because of its remoteness and abundance of ski resorts and inns with warm and cozy fireplaces, it’s just the place for your winter getaway list.
While it is generally colder the further north you go, there are also the added benefits of all the activities you can partake in when the snow starts to fall, such as snowshoeing, skiing, sledding and taking walks along paths or in the woods with views like this.
Vegetation is also interesting in the winter months. You never know what you’re going to discover along the way…even sprouting from a cold snowy ground.
The traditional red barn along the side of the road isn’t just a stereotype – you find them often regardless of what part of Vermont you happen to be driving through.
Here’s a comprehensive overview of what to do and where to go.
Vermont is well known as a place for finding antique treasures. Our many privately owned shops offer a wide variety of treasures just waiting to be discovered everything from fine furniture to linens and rugs as well as priceless china and art.
Museums, Farms, Factories and Shops
Billings Farm and Museum
Established in 1871 by Frederick Billings, a native Vermonter, known for his work in conservation, reforestation, and scientific farm management. Today the farm is a working dairy operation and museum. Located just outside of Woodstock, Vermont they give tours from May through October from 10am to 5pm. In winter they have varying and limited hours so it is necessary to call first.
Details: Route 12 and River Road – Woodstock, Vermont (802)457-2355 or www.billingsfarm.org.
Billings Farm Museum:
In Woodstock Vermont, there’s the Billings Farm Musuem. The farm dates back to 1871 when native Vermonter Frederick Billings set out to build a farm and forestry operation that would serve future generations. They are a first class dairy farm where you can experience first-hand care of cows, sheep, horses, oxen and chickens. It is located on Route 12 (North & River Road) in Woodstock Vermont.
Burdick’s Chocolate Shop
In nearby New Hampshire they make wonderful handmade artisanal chocolate in Walpole. The shop and restaurant are offering chocolate tasting beginning in 2011 and it is a wonderful place have lunch and spend some time indulging in gourmet handmade confections after touring the countryside.
Details: 47 Main Street – Walpole, New Hampshire (603)756-2882 or www.burdickchocolate.com
Grafton Cheese and Retreat Farm
The Retreat Farm is a 475 acres of land located in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Windham Foundation purchased the farm in 2001 to preserve the land and open it to the public. The farm contains a seasonally operated petting farm, nature trails for hiking and is a flagship location to Grafton Village Cheese. The cheese making facility and store is a great place to pick up local cheeses and gift items as well as watching the famous Grafton Cheddar being made.
Details: 350 Linden Street, Route 30 – Brattleboro, Vermont / (802)257-2240 or www.theretreatfarm.com
Grafton Village Cheese
Cheesemaking has long been a part of Vermont life. Dairy cows grazing in green pastures are a familiar sight and milk is considered one of the state’s natural resources. Cheesemaking in the historic village of Grafton dates back to 1892 when The Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company was founded by dairy farmers to make cheese from their surplus milk. A fire destroyed the original factory and in the 1960’s the Windham Foundation restored the company and a new era was born for the town.
Details: Townshend Road – Grafton, Vermont / (800)472-3866 or www.graftonvillagecheese.com
“Hildene” Robert Todd Lincoln’s Home
Hildene, descendants of Abraham Lincoln, was occupied by Lincoln’s until 1975. Take a tour of the restored Georgian Revival mansion filled with original furnishings and personal effects as well as a 1908 Aeolian pipe organ. Tour the magnificent gardens, especially during peony season, or visit the working goat farm and observe goat cheese being made.
Details: Route 7A – Manchester Village, Vermont / (802)362-1788 or www.hildene.org
Simon Pearce Glass Blowing
From inception Simon’s vision has been to create beautifully designed products using premium materials and time honored techniques intended for a lifetime of everyday use. The shop moved from Ireland to Quechee in 1981 when Simon bought and restored the old Woolen Mill in Quechee. You can observe glass being blown, potters at work, dine in the Mill Restaurant or visit the store.
Details: (802)295-2711 or www.simonpearce.com
American Museum of Fly Fishing
Established in 1968 by a group of interested anglers, the museum was created to preserve and exhibit the treasures of American angling. The museum serves as a repository for, and conservator to, the world’s largest collection of angling and angling related items. The collections and exhibits document the evolution of fly fishing as a sport, art form and craft and include the tackle of many famous Americans.
Details: 4104 Main Street – Manchester, Vermont / (802) 362-3300 or www.amf.com
The museum was founded in 1852 as the Bennington Historical Association to celebrate and preserve Bennington’s Colonial past and commemorate the historic Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington in 1777. The museum houses a large collection of early furniture, decorative arts, tools, toys, military artifacts as well as Grandma Moses paintings and memorabilia.
Details: 75 Main Street – Bennington, Vermont / (802)447-1571 or www.benningtonmuseum.com
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
The museum and art center is a nonprofit organization founded in 1972, with a mission to present art and ideas in ways that inspire educate and engage people of all ages. New exhibits by regional and internationally acclaimed artists are shown each season.
Details: Union Station corner of Main St. & Routes 119 & 142 – Brattleboro, Vermont (802)257-0124 or www.brattleboromuseum.org
Grafton Museum of Natural History
The Nature Museum is a dynamic and educational place to visit. They sponsor many off-site, naturalist-led public programs as well as teaching classes in schools and public libraries across the region. The museum grounds have walking trails and a wildlife garden that are open year round. A wonderful place to explore Vermont’s natural beauty.
Details: 186 Townshend Road – Grafton, Vermont / (802)843-2111 or www.nature-museum.org
Southern Vermont Art Center
Vermont’s oldest cultural organization, the Southern Vermont Arts Center is located in a National Historic Trust Mansion in Manchester, Vermont. The Center’s ten galleries feature classic and contemporary art on display and for sale.
Details: West Road – Manchester, Vermont / (802)362-1405 or www.svac.org
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Museum
A ways away but if you are going by on your way home it is definitely worth stopping. In 1950 Sterling and Francine Clark chartered the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute as a home for their extensive art collection. Opened to public in 1955, the Institute has built upon this extraordinary group of works to become one of the most beloved and respected art museums in the world, known for its intimate galleries and stunning natural environment. One of the few institutions in the United States that combines a public art museum with a complement of research and academic programs including a major art history library.
Details: 225 South Street – Williamstown, Massachusetts / (413)458-9545 or www.clarkart.edu
Williams College Museum of Art
One of the finest college art museums in the country, houses eleven thousand works that span the history of art. The collection emphasizes contemporary and modern art, American art from the late 18th century to the present and non-western art.
Details: Main Street – Williamstown, Massachusetts / (413)597-2429 or www.wcma.org
Bromley Sun Mountain Adventure Park
Sun Mountain Adventure Park is Vermont’s Sun and Fun Park. The Alpine Slide, Sun Mountain Flyer Zip Rider, Miniature Golf and Big Splash Water Slide rides are loads of outdoor fun. A KidZone for children and many more attractions, make Bromley the Vermont amusement park to visit each summer.
Details: Route 11 – Manchester, Vermont / (802) 824-5522 or www.bromley.com
Equinox Skyline Drive
A scenic 5.2 mile drive to the summit of Mount Equinox, 3,835 feet above sea level, providing a breathtaking 360 degree view of 5 mountain ranges, four states and Canada.
Details: Route 7A South of Manchester Village.
Stratton Mountain Gondola Rides
Scenic ride to the top of Stratton Mountain in a gondola. Spectacular views particularly in fall foliage season. Weather permitting.
Details: Stratton Mountain, Vermont / (802)297-2200 or www.stratton.com
State Parks & Nature Services
Jamaica State Park
Hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, camping and picnicking. Long scenic trail along the West River provides a wonderful hike to Hamilton Falls, Ball Mountain Dam and Jamaica overlook.
Details: Just off Route 30 / Jamaica, Vermont / (802)874-4600 or www.vtstateparks.com
Merck Forest and Farmland Center
An environmental and educational organization with over 3,100 acres available to explore and enjoy in the heart of the Taconic Mountain Range in Southwestern Vermont.
Details: Rupret, Vermont – (802)394-7836 or www.merckforest.org
Townshend State Park
A visit to Townshend State Park, located at the foot of Bald Mountain on a bend of the West River, feels like a step back in time. The park was constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public works program aimed at putting young men to work. There are camp site and hiking trails as well as a nice swimming hole on the West River. A wonderful place to take a day and explore the great outdoors.
Details: 2755 State Forest Road – Townshend, Vermont / (802) 365-7510 or www.vtstateparks.com
Townshend Lake Recreation Area
Spectacular dam, hiking trails, swimming beach, boating and picnic areas.
Details: Route 30 – Townshend, Vermont / (802)874-4881 or www.recreation.gov
Theatre & Music
Year-round theatre entertainment in a fabulous country setting. Dorset Players offers four community productions over eight weekends, fall thru spring. The Dorset Theatre Festival offers five professional productions six days a week, mid June through mid September.
Details: Dorset, Vermont / (802) 867-5777 or www.dorsetplayers.org
Marlboro Music Festival
Since its founding in 1951, Marlboro has transformed the world of chamber music and played a vital role in developing generations of new musical leaders. Marlboro was created by eminent pianist Rudolf Serkin, its Artistic Director until his death in 1991, and co-founders Adolf Busch, Hermann Busch and Marcel, Blanche and Louis Moyse. Marlboro Music’s 60th Anniverisary will be in the 2011 summer season taking place July 16th – August 14th. Performances feature chamber music for diverse instrumental and vocal combinations from all musical periods.
Details: Marlboro, Vermont – (802)254-2394 June 20th – August 15th or www.marlboromusic.org
Saxtons River Playhouse
One of the few remaining barn playhouses in Vermont. The season begins in June and runs thru August. Childrens theatre, comedy, cabaret and musicals are preformed each season.
Details: Westmister West Road – Saxtons River, Vermont / (802)869-2030
Vermont Jazz Center
The history of the Vermont Jazz reaches back to the early 1970’s, when the late founding Director, jazz guitarist Attila Zoller, would invite numerous musicians from New York City to unwind and create at his home in Newfane, Vermont. In 1997 Zoller past the torch to pianist, Eugene Uman, who together with his wife, Elsa Borrero developed the jazz center into a year ‘round program that hosts monthly concerts.
Details: 72 Cotton Mill Hill, Studio 222 – Brattleboro, Vermont (802)254-9088 or www.vtjazz.org
Vermont’s oldest professional theatre company. In 1935, while Franklin D. Roosevelt was coping with the Great Depression, Weston-born architect Raymond Austin was putting the finishing touches on a playhouse that one New York critic would later call “the most beautiful theatre in New England.” Weston Playhouse produces a broad spectrum of dramatic works and educational programs. Their season runs from mid June thru mid September.
Details: 730 Main Street – Weston, Vermont / (802)824-5288 or www.westonplayhouse.org
The small village country store is also not an uncommon finding in Vermont. Below, the West Townshend Country Store also poses as a thrift shop, a market, pizzeria and a post office.
Other notable country stores is the Vermont Country Store (yes, its real name), with locations in Weston and Rockingham Vermont. The store is renowned coast-to-cast as the Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-to-Find.
Vrest Orton, a frugal Yankee at heart, founded the Vermont Country Store with an unwavering commitment to products that must be useful, work and make sense. In the Weston location, you can take a hike on their nearby nature trail or dine at the Bryant House Restaurant and in the Rockingham store, you can take a stroll through their covered bridge to a grist mill and water wheel museum. If you’re there near Christmas time, you can cut your own tree on their Christmas tree farm.
Stowe and Stratton Mountains are all within easy driving distance. Stratton with their nearly 100 trails and easy access and Stowe with their “Great 48,” touting that no two trails are alike.
Snow Farm Vineyard:
In South Hero, Vermont, they have an incredible vineyard, which have views of both the Green Mountains and Adirondacks. Snow Farm is Vermont’s oldest vineyard and grape winery. It is located on 190 West Shore Road in South Hero Vermont.
Many of the items of this fabulous list was provided by Windham Hill Inn. Thanks Katja and team once again.