Uber-liberal North Eastern enclave. Home to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. It’s baffling that it has taken us until our fifth American roadtrip to set foot in Vermont, but here we were, the last stop on our 2014 journey around New England.
So frenetic was this roadtrip that we knew we’d only be able to sample a tiny fraction of this state, even if it is the sixth smallest in the Union (and the second least populous). As we headed in from New Hampshire to the East we knew we’d erred in leaving it so long to visit. Our first stop in the Green Mountain State was Queechee Gorge, over the Ottaqueechee River about ten miles from the New Hampshire border. We’d been advised to visit by one of our wonderful Twitter friends and boy were we pleased. The 100 year old bridge is a little on the rickety side, if a big truck passes while you’re on it prepare for some wobbly legs, but the view from 165 feet above the river below is spectacular.
After a (very) brief hike in the surrounding forest we got back in the car and headed west, deeper into the state looking for Vermont Route 100, known as the State’s most scenic road. Although it was still early September and the leaves hadn’t yet started to turn, it was still totally beautiful. We meandered through tiny hamlet after tiny hamlet until we reached Weston, home to the Vermont Country Store. The Store, some 60 years old, is in an enormous old wooden building and it houses all manner of touristy goodies, most of them delicious (they have as many different cheeses as you’d care to taste). Across the street is the less well-known Weston Village Store which is equally well stocked!
Once we’d filled our bags with trinkets we hit the road again, heading right down into the South Eastern corner of Vermont – Brattleboro was our stop for the night. We were drawn to this small town by its convenient location close to the border with Massachusetts (we had a flight to catch from Newark the next day) but it has a lot more to offer than just its location.
Brattleboro is perched beautifully on the edge of the Connecticut River opposite Wantasiquet Mountain and in a county famous for its covered bridges, so there are no shortage of photo opportunities. We were booked at the Latchis Hotel right in the centre of town which is still a working movie theatre as well as a place to rest your head. After we’d dropped off our bags we settled down at the Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery just a few minutes walk away. The brewery has a terrace which looks right out on the river which is where we sat to watch the sun go down with a couple of tasty local beers.
Once we’d wound down it was time for us to find some dinner. We’d read that there was some fine BBQ to be had in these parts at the Top of the Hill Grill, but having been in Texas just the year before we were wary of being too hopeful. We need not have been, this was proper BBQ. The Grill is nestled just of the main road a few miles outside of Brattleboro and they have a genuine, bona fide smoking pit to add all the flavours you want to your ribs, brisket, turkey or chicken. We sampled the brisket and the pulled pork and we were soon full to bursting.
After we’d struggled back into town with our full bellies we weren’t quite done yet, there was one more brewery to sample. McNeil’s, just a short walk from our hotel is a small pub offering up a wide variety of beers. Whether you want a pale ale, a stout or just a lager, McNeil’s has something to offer. After we sampled a good few of their brews we stumbled back to the Latchis to get our heads down.
Although we only had little more than 24 hours in Vermont, it was enough to know that the hype is justified. This is a beautiful, friendly, tasty and fascinating place to visit. The bigger cities to the north, Montpelier and Burlington, are calling our names (and not just because of the ice cream) so we will most certainly be back.
Rate the State:
Good for: Leaf peeping, outdoors types, beer.
Bad for: Its landlocked, so don’t go if beaches are your priority, and it isn’t the cheapest either.