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State Guides are a collection of all the places, recommendations, things to do and other tips I have for that specific state organized by county/region. They will be updated as I continue to travel an explore. Relevant posts that offer even more details will be linked.
When looking at Vermont on a map, don’t be fooled (like I was) into thinking that it’ll be manageable due to its elongated shape. There are plenty of things to do in Vermont and, as far as I can tell, they are scattered across this lush and also somewhat remote state. There are areas that could be any town or city in any state and then there are more rural areas where remember that you are definitely in an extreme part of Northern New England.
Vermont Things to Do by County
Old First Church of Bennington
You can’t visit New England without seeing a relic of colonial religious zeal. With bright windows and creaky aisles, the Old First Church of Bennington is the perfect contender. Enjoy a leisurely walk through at your own pace or ask one of the lovely docents for a mini-tour. They also house a fairly famous poet in their sloping cemetery outside. (See below)
Robert Frost’s Grave
Most readers probably don’t care, but it would be irresponsible for me to not add it. (Here’s the Find a Grave entry in case you need it.)
Harvest Brewing Company
With a family that not only likes different kinds of beer, but also members who don’t like beer at all, breweries are always a tough call. However, Harvest Brewing Co., with food options and a barista who makes a mean cappuccino, everyone in our party was happy. (Seriously. My mom was ready to suggest that they send this girl out to train baristas at more established coffee shops…) Plus, they are located right in downtown Bennington, so you can stop for something to eat or drink and then continue wandering.
Calvin Coolidge Historical Site
Good ol’ Silent Cal might not be your favorite president. You might not even have known he was a president until I just said that. No judgement. (Ok, maybe just a little bit of judgement – I’m not a perfect person…) However, even if you have no interest in him, I really think this is a good road trip stop. Why? One word: cheese.
Think the Coolidge Historic Site in just a weird old house with very few artifacts? Think again. The Site is actually a village with multiple historic buildings, a restaurant, and cheese factory. Plus the cemetery where he is buried is located just up the hill from the village and, unlike most presidential graves, the little American flag is the only thing that marks him as different than anyone else. Most other presidential graves are somehow enclosed or encased to prevent the public from touching them. Not so in Plymouth Notch. (I don’t want to say that an enclosure depends on the president’s popularity, but we all know that’s probably true…)
Joseph Smith Birthplace
Maybe not the most popular tourist site in all over Vermont, but, once I saw it on the list of potential attractions, I knew we had to go. After we visited Palmyra, NY a few years ago, I had assumed we had seen the most major of all the Mormon sites. Not so. While Joseph Smith may have been visited by an angel and inspired to translate the Book of Mormon in New York, he was actually born in Vermont.
Marked by a small museum and an obelisk (that looks very similar to the Washington Monument), I have to say that we didn’t enjoy this one as much as Palmyra. This tends to be a problem for most sites that only are birthplaces as they don’t usually have the same level of history and offerings as places that served other functions.
However, as with Palmyra, the staff is very friendly and there is no entrance fee, so the only thing you’re at risk of wasting is time. There also was a huge tour group visiting while we were there, which inevitably impacted our experience, even though they were all kind and respectful.
*Note – I know that there are plenty of cultural pieces that mock Mormonism or some of its practices. I am not a Mormon (nor do I condone some of the things they believe) but, if you do choose to visit, please be respectful. Just as I wouldn’t visit a historical cathedral in Europe and start arguing with the priest, I also wouldn’t chastise the Mormon folks at the Joseph Smith birthplace.
The Town of Vergennes
In an attempt to stay outside of the hubbub of downtown Burlington, we booked an AirBnB in Vergennes without knowing much about the town. While it is certainly on the small side, our little apartment was only a few blocks from downtown, which has plenty of restaurants, a brewery, and an ice cream shop. If we head back to upstate Vermont, I would definitely put Vergennes at the top of my list of places to stay.
Bar Antidote (In Vergennes)
Bar Antidote is such a local spot in downtown Vergennes that, if you didn’t know to look for the sign and walk down the stairs, you just might miss. A menu full of familiar favorites with unique twists, we made the mistake of ordering French fries (with their delicious dipping sauces) as an appetizer and ruined ourselves for the actual dinner. Regardless of our rookie mistake, this is the perfect place for dinner after a long day of exploring.
Ben and Jerry’s Factory
Before going to Vermont, multiple people warned us that the Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour is lame, underwhelming, and crowded. I think the first two completely depend on your expectations and the third is just plain obvious. As it is a working factory, there is only so much that you can see on a tour. The website is very clear that the tour lasts thirty minutes and costs $4 for adults. That information alone should be enough for you to set reasonable expectations.
And, yes, the complex is crowded, especially with families. It is a major tourist attraction themed around ice cream. Expect lots of people and expect many of them to under a certain height. I’m usually the first one to complain about poorly behaved children, but Ben and Jerry’s does a good job of having plenty of kid friendly exhibits and activities to help keep them occupied and happy.
Tickets can only be bought in person, so I was a little nervous that we would arrive and be out of luck. However, we arrived a little before noon and were able to purchase tickets for the 12:10 tour. If you do have some time between arrival and the start of the tour, you can visit the flavor graveyard(a testament to the ‘dearly depinted’ flavors of the past) or get yourself an ice cream cone and a seat outside. Kids can also play on the playground or do crafts. All in all, I would consider this a fun road trip stop. Don’t let the haters convince you otherwise.
Magic Hat Brewery
Alex and I had different assumptions before visiting Magic Hat Brewery. He thought it would be a slightly overrated tourist spot, as the brewery has gotten so popular and well-known over the years. I was holding out hope that their funky style would carry over into an eclectic tap room and good selection of beer. Since it’s on this list, you can infer who was right. (Me. It was me.) Out of the four VT breweries we visited on this trip, Magic Hat was absolutely my favorite.
(At risk of the haters coming for me, I may even go so far as to say it is the BEST brewery in Vermont…)
Depending on when you visit, I’m sure they will have different beers on tap, but if they have the margarita sour, you need to get it. If you’re going during the nicer weather months in Vermont, they have a great outdoor area too. My only disappointment is that we didn’t have enough to take a tour, which I imagine is just as amusing and manic as their main area.
Von Trapp Brewery
Did you know that the Sound of Music actually ends in Vermont? (Honestly, I have no idea how it ends because I’ve never seen the movie, but I’m going with it…) After singing about hills and fleeing the Nazis, the Von Trapp family ended up in Stowe, where they made a new life for themselves and an Austrian style lodge and brewery for East Coast Americans.
As Alex loves all things Austrian, a visit to their Beerhall (Bierhall?) was nonnegotiable. They both brew their own beer and offer Eastern European staples on their menu. With a nice view of the VT mountains, you may have do some humming, twirling, and general reenacting of the famous movie.
Having only been to Vermont for the first time during Summer 2019, there is still so much more exploring to do! Do you love Vermont? Do you have a great spot to share? Let me know in the comments!
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Hi, I'm Dylan, a photographer in the Philadelphia Metro Area. I love iced coffee, red wine, and am always up for binging Gilmore Girls or Parks and Rec..