Road Trip through Vermont: Where to Stop
Most people drive through New England in the fall to drink in the crisp air and snap pictures of the vibrant red and orange leaves blanketing the region. Unfortunately I arrived about two weeks too early and was surrounded by lush green. That’s when I discovered there’s a lot more to do on a road trip in Vermont than just stare at trees.
Vermont Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Northbound rest area on interstate 89, Sharon, VT
Heading northwest from Boston our journey began just over the state line where I spotted a sign for a Vietnam Memorial. My companion, a lifelong Bostonian, didn’t believe the sign really said that, so I convinced him to stop. To our surprise we stumbled upon a site that boasts to be the nation’s first Vietnam Memorial, erected on Oct. 30, 1982 at the Sharon Rest Area northbound rest area on interstate 89, before the famous wall in Washington, DC.
Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial
357 Lds Ln, South Royalton, VT 05068
You read that right. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wasn’t born in Utah, but Vermont. I almost did a double take when I saw the sign, so naturally we had to stop. The grounds are well kept and the property is beautiful. When we arrived there was a recording of a choir playing in the background. A granite monument stands more than 50 ft high, the obelisk 38 ft, each foot representing a year of the prophet’s life. Nearby you will find the outline and partial foundation of the teeny tiny house in which Smith grew-up. There is also a visitor’s center with a very nice man to greet you.
I didn’t spend much time in the capital city, but did see the statehouse with the gold dome. I strolled down the street where most of the buildings are about two stories. There were a handful of restaurants and shops downtown for tourist to wander in and out. I did have lunch at the Three Penny Taproom where they had an outstanding beer selection. Unfortunately it was a little too early for me to indulge, but I did get a nice spicy root beer on tap!
1334 Scott Hwy, Groton, VT 05046
I’ve been to breweries, distilleries, and wineries, but this was my first time at a meadery. Mead is also an alcoholic beverage, but it comes from fermenting honey with water. Most, as you might imagine, were pretty sweet, but not all. I tried his spicy one which had a kick—chili and cinnamon honey wine. Wow! Owner Mark Simakaski and his wife quit their jobs a few years ago and moved to Vermont to open the shop. He was very generous with his time, taking us behind the scenes and showing us how the process works. When we arrived there was a couple touring from Germany, who also just happened to stumble upon this little gem. They ended up buying several bottles to enjoy later on the trip.
Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks
1168 County Road | Montpelier, VT 05602
Not far outside of the capital did we find this gem. I met Burr Morse, 7th generation of Morse sugarmakers. The first one arrived in the late 1700s. Like most maple farms you can test and buy all the yummy products. I highly recommend a maple creamy, which is basically maple soft serve ice cream. Sooooo good! You can also take the quarter mile walk through the forest and see where and how they tap the trees. These people were so nice and passionate about what they do. I would go back if I’m ever in the area for one of their desserts.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory
1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Route 100, Waterbury, VT 05676
One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Vermont was to tour the Ben & Jerry’s factory. “When in Rome.” The tours cost $4 and run on the half hour. First you sit through a movie documenting their humble beginnings. I was saddened to learn that this company that prides itself on local and organic products was sold to giant company, Unilever, however, the video claims they are still self-governed. Walk inside and the 30-minute tour continues overlooking the factory that was cranking out flavors—sorry no pictures allowed. Then you go downstairs for the best part—a free sample. We had cookies and cream, and it was delicious!
Don’t expect to see a huge production or long tour, but it is a nice little stop along the way.
Chances are this is the only city you’ve heard of in this tiny northeastern state. It is the largest, but I would hardly describe it as a “big city.” A little more than 42,000 people live in there according to the 2010 US Census, but the downtown still has a small town feel. We took in the beautiful scenery along Lake Champlain and walked down the pedestrian road called Church Street Marketplace. It is lined with restaurants and shops and hosts local events. It’s also where we met Dave Stoll who runs Bookies, a food cart downtown. Locals say it is some of the best (and affordable) food in the entire city. It’s worth a taste, just to say hello to the outgoing and charismatic cook and get his recommendations for where to go if you are just visiting.