On September 19, 2012Larry Olmsted answered the question:Forbes Travel Guide editors found that those traveling to Southern Vermont can expect to discover idyllic little Vermont towns, usually built around a main green, surrounded with galleries, shops and restaurants. Manchester, Woodstock, Quechee, Ludlow and others all fit the bill. Vermont is also widely known for its artisanal products — “Made In Vermont” has an aura of purity and simplicity recognized worldwide. Items that you can actually watch being made include cheeses, maple syrup, craft beers and ice cream. Southern Vermont is also known for its iconic imagery: red covered bridges spanning pristine streams, waterways seemingly made for fly-fishing, mountains covered with nothing but green foliage (or snow in winter) and a complete absence of billboards, cell towers and high-rise buildings.
On September 19, 2012Larry Olmsted answered the question:Vermont is known for its many craft culinary goods, and Forbes Travel Guide suggests bringing home a delicacy or two — think artisanal cheeses, maple syrup and related maple products like sugar, candies and pancake or waffle mixes. There is an official cheese trail of dairies to visit, but a quick stop in any gourmet store will provide an instant opportunity to snap up some excellent cheese. If you’re worry about transporting the dairy items, grab a bottle of syrup to take home — after all, Vermont is considered the world’s best syrup producer. To go along with the sweet stuff, head to Norwich to visit King Arthur Flour’s new Baker’s Store. Here you can get some fresh unique flours to bring home with you, too.
On September 19, 2012Larry Olmsted answered the question:Given that much of Vermont is farmland and the state caters to visitors, it’s not surprising that food is taken very seriously here. According to our Forbes Travel Guide editors, the five best dining experiences in Southern Vermont are:
1. Maple syrup-filled breakfasts. Vermont and maple syrup are hopelessly intertwined, probably because Vermont has a well-earned reputation as the world’s best syrup producer. For this reason, any breakfast item on which maple syrup can be poured is revered, most notably pancakes (especially blueberry) and French toast.
2. Church suppers. You don’t have to be religious to attend these dinners and people come from neighboring states like Massachusetts (two hours each way) just to attend these traditional small town social affairs and fundraisers. They are frequent but hard-to-find — ask locals about any upcoming events. Those in the know tend to go early, so if it starts at 5 p.m., expect a line to form at 4 p.m.
3. Ice cream. Vermont famously has a lot of cows and all that milk seems to go into cheese and ice cream — or gelato, which is rapidly proliferating. And although Ben & Jerry’s is the most well known, it’s hardly the only one. Craft ice cream prevails, usually organic and hormone-free, such as Strafford Organic Creamery, Leonardo’s Gelateria or Island Homemade Ice Cream.
4. Farmer’s markets. There are farmer’s markets almost every day of the week, and many on weekends. In addition to fresh meats and produce, many feature ready-to-eat foods such as Vermont-made samosas, crepes and barbecue. Some of the best are found in Norwich, Woodstock, Ludlow, Manchester and Brattleboro.
5. Cheese. Vermont makes some of the best cheese in the world — its cheeses often beat the best of Europe in competition. Cheddar was once the gold standard, but today Vermont produces world-class cheeses of every style: raw, aged, hard, soft, goat, cow, sheep and bleu. There is an official cheese trail to visit, but a quick stop in any gourmet store will provide an instant cheese-centric picnic or meal.
On September 19, 2012Larry Olmsted answered the question:The Killington resort area has long had the best nightlife in all of the Eastern ski region, and certainly in Vermont as well. It is considerably slower in summer, but several of the popular places such as Charity’s (where the bar food and beer is essential nourishment after a day on the slopes) and the lively Casey’s Caboose (famous for its wings) are still open. In fall and winter, the big venues for live music are the Pickle Barrel and Wobbly Barn but there are things happening the entire length of the resort’s access road, nearly five miles long. Head out early and be ready for hearty food and plenty of drinks.
On September 19, 2012Larry Olmsted answered the question:To see the best of Southern Vermont in just a day, you’ll want to rent a car. The Forbes Travel Guide recommended driving route can be done starting at either end, Manchester or Norwich. (Use your driving time to take in the natural beauty of the landscape.) When starting in Manchester, take time to explore (by foot) the town’s ample shopping and great mountain vistas. Next, drive to Woodstock stopping briefly on Main Street. Have lunch in here, and explore the village shops and galleries before driving to nearby Quechee. Here you can tour the Simon Pearce glassblowing factory, with optional stops at Sugarbush Farm or the Harpoon Brewery. Finish in Norwich, and visit King Arthur Flour for some local souvenirs.
On September 19, 2012Larry Olmsted answered the question:The town of Manchester is the single best shopping destination in Vermont because it has so much variety in one place. Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you walk the sidewalks lined with shops and take in the mountain views — there aren’t many places where world-class shopping and vistas collide. The town is home to the flagship store of Orvis, the nation’s oldest catalog retailer, fly-fishing expert and outdoor outfitter. It’s also home to kitchenware and butcher block producer J.K. Adams. There are unique factory outlets from companies that rarely have them, like Giorgio Armani, TSE Cashmere and Hickey Freeman. The best of the rest? A slew of art galleries, jewelry stores, a local artist and craft consortium and some of the best bookstores in the state (be sure to check out the local favorite Northshire Bookstore). The authentic general store, Vermont Country Store, is also along the Manchester strip.
On September 19, 2012Larry Olmsted answered the question:Between natural wonders, wildlife and arts and crafts, Southern Vermont is an ideal place to explore with the family. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best things to do with kids in the southern part of the state:
1. Trek Vermont’s little Grand Canyon. Quechee Gorge is perhaps the state’s most visited attraction — you can overlook the impressive gorge and rushing whitewater flowing 165 feet below. Take a short and family-friendly 20-minute hike to the base of the torrents where you can wade into the calm section beyond.
2. Learn science the fun way. The Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich is small but first-rate, designed to be very interactive, educational and hands-on for kids. Most of it is indoors but the outdoor attractions are impressive, especially a scale model of the solar system that inspires kids to grasp the vast distances between the planets by walking the model in pedestrian scale.
3. Live like an early settler. At the Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, life goes on as it would have for farmers two centuries ago — milking cows by hand, churning butter and using period tools to work the land. Children adore this interactive living museum. Bonus: Visitors can even try the freshly made butter.
4. Shop the quintessential general store. Traditional general stores are a vanishing breed — except in Vermont. The most famous is the Vermont Country Store, which is stocked to the rafters with penny candies, oddball devices and things you didn’t know you needed. Two other similar stores of note are Dan & Whit’s in Norwich, carrying everything from hunting boots and cow bells to sushi wrappers, and F. H. Gillingham & Sons in Woodstock, which sells vintage Bordeaux alongside classic wooden toys and fishing gear.
5. Explore the mountain. Bromley ski resort in southwestern Vermont has the state’s largest adventure park open from spring to fall. It has one of the world’s longest alpine slides, mini-golf, bumper boats, Vermont’s longest water slide, a zip line for younger kids, the state’s largest zip line canopy park for older kids, and the Sun Mountain Flyer, a thrilling downhill zip line that reaches speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
On September 19, 2012Larry Olmsted answered the question:This part of the state is home to several picturesque small towns, those that combine the Green Mountain State’s pastoral quaintness with good shopping, dining and cultural activities. Southern Vermont is packed with outdoorsy attractions between towns, making this area ripe for road trips. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors picked the five best things to do in Southern Vermont:
1. Visit the other Woodstock. Not to be confused with New York’s Woodstock where the famous music festival took place years ago, Vermont’s is home to the state’s only National Park, the historic Woodstock Inn & Resort, and is the legacy of onetime resident Laurance Rockefeller who bestowed the town with vast improvements and reserves that keep it quintessentially Vermont. It is full of charming shops and excellent restaurants.
2. Go beer tasting. Vermont was one of the first states to embrace craft brewing more than two decades ago, and is now home to many respected beer makers. Two have excellent visitor facilities with brewery tours and good restaurants — the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor and the Long Trail Brewing Company Bridgewater.
3. Stop by Manchester. Tucked in the state’s southwestern corner near the Massachusetts and New York borders, Manchester is perhaps the most visitor-friendly Vermont town. It has the state’s preeminent resort, The Equinox Resort & Spa, a slew of excellent restaurants, a historic downtown Main Street, a newer area with one-of-a-kind factory outlet shopping, the headquarters and flagship store of retailer Orvis and historic sites including Robert Todd Lincoln’s Hildene estate.
4. See stuff get made. Vermont is all about craft, and in a relatively small region around Quechee, Norwich and Bridgewater, you can see the best of the best at work: famed glassblower Simon Pearce; Charles Shackleton, a renowned fine furniture manufacturer; the bakery and impressive headquarters of King Arthur Flour, well known to foodies nationwide; and cheese and maple syrup producer Sugarbush Farm.
5. Take a Hike. Excellent outdoor adventures can be found all throughout Vermont, but this region is especially rich for hiking: the famed Appalachian Trail enters the state in Norwich on the New Hampshire border, and runs east to west all the way to Killington ski resort. Here the trail is crossed by Vermont’s Long Trail, another long distance route that runs the length of the state from Canada to Massachusetts. Both offer plenty of options for day and multi-day hikes.
On July 25, 2012Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Forget what you think you know about Vermont cuisine and be prepared to encounter everything from haute Caribbean to Cambodian. The recent farm-to-table trend, along with artisanal cheeses and grass-fed beef, partly originated in Vermont. But it’s no passing fad here — eating locally produced food has been standard for so long it’s simply the norm. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors tracked down the five best places to eat in Southern Vermont:
1. Four Columns Inn Restaurant. There’s a reason celebrities frequent this fine dining establishment — it’s the delicious, innovative cuisine. The six-course chef’s tasting menu is a great way to sample the chef’s work. The Newfane restaurant has won quite a few awards, including one from James Beard and from Wine Spectator.
2. Windham Hill Inn. This spot in West Townshend is known for its eclectic menus, fresh produce and local meats and fish. If you make a reservation here, be sure to ask about the Wine Series dinners — the restaurant features an extensive menu of international wines, dessert wines, Champagnes and sparkling wines, by the bottle or glass.
3. Simon Pearce. Located at the flagship plant of renowned glassblower Simon Pearce in Quechee, this spot is widely regarded as one of Vermont’s best dining experiences. Plus, it may be the only restaurant you will ever visit where in addition to the food, the glasses and even plates were made on site.
4. Osteria Pane e Salute. This tiny gem is owned by two chefs who once lived in Tuscany. It is as authentically Italian as you can get, but you’d likely never find it if you didn’t know to look for it (even though it’s on Main Street in the most popular tourist town in the state, Woodstock). There are only a handful of tables, so reservations are vital.
5. Stella’s Restaurant. Located in tiny Hartland, Stella’s is only open for breakfast and lunch, but its experienced chef/owner never skimps on first-rate ingredients and making everything from scratch. Vermont is famous for its breakfasts, but this is the best place to find out why, from the fluffy pancakes full of local blueberries to the best corned beef hash this side of the Atlantic.
On July 25, 2012Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:From world-class luxury resorts to mountaintop ski hotels, Vermont has an amazing selection of lodging for a state with such a small population. These are Forbes Travel Guide’s choices for the five best places to stay in Southern Vermont:
1. Woodstock Inn & Resort. This is the only member of Laurance Rockefeller’s original vaunted Rockresorts that the billionaire did not sell. Instead he turned his favorite into a non-profit trust that continues to operate the Woodstock Inn for its own historical protection. It is classic New England, perfectly set on the town green, featuring white colonial architecture with vast porches; it has a large sports center, a golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and a complete downhill ski resort, Suicide Six.
2. The Equinox Resort & Spa. The most full-service resort in the state — and once a sister property patterned after Scotland’s famed Gleneagles — The Equinox offers such esoteric outdoor pursuits as falconry and off-road driving instruction, along with shooting and fly-fishing, while offering guests the finest spa in southern Vermont, several restaurants and a Rees Jones-designed golf course.
3. The Jackson House Inn. This isn’t your standard bed-and-breakfast experience. Located just west of Woodstock, the 18th-centurty Victorian home-turned-inn is full of charm and luxe amenities like four-poster beds, updated suites with fireplaces and walk-out patios, and complimentary Champagne every evening.
4. Windham Hill Inn. Set in the secluded Green Mountains on 160 acres of land, this hotel has its own network of hiking and skiing trails, a heated swimming pool, a clay tennis court and gardens. As part of the Relais & Châteaux hotel group, the luxury hotel offers a cozy spa and three-course breakfasts and dinners.
5. Castle Hill Resort and Spa. On the outskirts of Ludlow, a major ski town, this unique luxury inn actually resembles a castle, right down to the stonework. The main building contains ten rooms, all unique and luxurious; resort homes are available for larger groups or more privacy. The Castle has an excellent restaurant and Vermont’s only Aveda concept spa, just minutes from the slopes or fairways of the Okemo Mountain Resort.