Gorgeous fall weather here in Burlington where we are visiting my cousin who lives in the “new north end” by the shoreline of Lake Champlain, with spectacular views, a sandy beach you get to though a staircase in the woods, and a shady greenbelt bike path that unfortunately we didn’t have time to ride. Next trip.
We visited some fun hipster drinking spots including St. John’s Club, a private drinking spot, with a back lawn overlooking the lake, and dinner at Burlington Brewery (burgers, salads, a Mexican stew). Breakfast was Montreal-style bagels (chewier than US style) at Myer’s, including good breakfast sandwiches (ex: scrambled eggs, cheddar, sausage). It’s in a former warehouse district along the water that’s turned into arty shops and restaurants.
About a half hour east in the hamlet of Duxbury, tucked into the tree-carpeted hills is Moose Meadow Lodge, run by family friends. It’s a sophisticated but cozy contemporary log-made lodge high on a wooded hilltop with amazing views and rooms with handmade, one-of a-kind bent twig furniture, petrified wood sinks, and decorated with weathered snowshoes, ancient sleds and taxidermies mounted on the walls. Even the refrigerator and dishwasher are camouflaged in birchbark and bent twigs. Behind the lodge is the treehouse, a dreamy two stories, electrified with a fabulous outdoor bathroom/shower in the woods overlooking a gentle pond.
In nearby Waterbury, we had excellent nachos with chunks of barbecued brisket and Vermont cheddar on the dog friendly patio of Prohibiton Pig Brewery, aka Pro Pig. In the sweet smaller town of Wainsfield, we visited the covered bridge, the Vermont Artisans Store (the art and crafts here are good quality but pricey) and a little outdoor cafe, The Sweet Spot, in a pretty rock garden beside a sun-dappled stream flowing under the covered bridge. Classic Vermont. The leaves are starting to change, with a few reds and oranges and purples. In another week or so, they should be a full spectacle. We didn’t have time to visit another small town, Warren. Next trip!
Dinner with old friends who live in Burlington was fun at Leunig’s, an old fashioned “Burlington institution” specializing in steak frites and beef Bourgignon. As we were walking there, along the pedestrian mall I spotted a local celebrity…”Mrs. Bernie” (Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane.)
I think I’ve found a soulmate for The Sylvia Beach Hotel on the Oregon Coast (Nye Beach in Newport), famed for it’s bookish aura (the rooms are named after authors – most recently added are rooms honoring Amy Tan, Ken Kesey and Jules Verne), the place is full of books, no television, radio, wi-fi!). It’s the Snapdragon Inn in Windsor Vermont (photo above), in the central/southern part of the state, which apparently offers a “New York Times Best Seller” package that enables guests to choose a book from the NYT best-seller list and it will be waiting for them when they check into a room. Geddit? Book a room. Book a book. The inn is apparently the former home of a famous book editor (Maxwell Perkins) so that was part of the inspiration. No official word on whether you get to keep the book but guessing yes…
As a midwesterner – this is what I love about the east coast. Within four hours we went from rural Vermont to the beach in the Hamptons. I woke up this morning in an 19th century inn in Grafton Vermont, with a few streets lined with pristine white wood houses, a white church with a huge white steeple and red dahlias abloom, a country pond lined with field stones. Now, at sunset, I am looking out across a lush green lawn rimmed with flora and fauna, beyond it the blue still waters of Mecox Bay. Beyond that a spit of land with big homes and then the Atlantic Ocean.
We just got encouraging word from Grafton Vt. about traveling there next week. Granted we may have to go a round-about way (since we were hoping to take Route 7 from Williamstown, Mass) but still…good to know there is a road open into town.
On behalf of the entire Old Tavern at Grafton Inn family, we wanted to provide you with an update on the inn and on Grafton.
First and foremost, we are OPEN for business. In fact, most every business in Grafton is open. Hurricane Irene did not damage the inn in any way, and we are very grateful for that. Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center is drying out nicely and will be open for business this weekend.
Irene did hit southern Vermont hard and the village of Grafton experienced serious flooding. We have many bridges and roadways that are damaged. However, for those of you scheduled to visit us in September, fear not. Improvements are taking place daily.
Regarding our sister company Grafton Cheese, we did receive some water damage in our Grafton production facility, but it is being worked on and cheese making will continue there ASAP. Our Grafton Cheese retail store in the village is OPEN. Our Brattleboro production facility and retail store are fine and operations continue there as usual.
At present, getting into Grafton is through Chester, Vermont. Directions are below.
DIRECTIONS TO GRAFTON Take Exit 6 (Rockingham) off of I-91 and follow Route 103 into Chester. When you get into Chester village, take a left onto Grafton Road (next to Chester Hardware). This road will take you right into Grafton. At the end of the Road, take a right and the inn is 1/4 mile ahead of you.
If you are coming in from Albany NY for the wedding this weekend, the best way to get here is to take the Mass Pike to I-91 North into Vermont. Routes 9 and 7 in Vermont are currently closed.
We look forward to having you visit us in Grafton soon!
News reports today suggest that Vermonters are working hard – with considerable help from friends/government – to recover from the devastation caused by Irene which is good news on many fronts, primarily of course for Vermonters, especially those living in a dozen or so particularly hard hit small towns, but also for us tourists who love the place enough to travel thousands of miles (in our case from Iowa) to visit. Here’s hoping we can get there next week – although the road damage remains a big issue.
A friend in-the-know emails this lodging recommendation for Manchester: The Palmer House, upscale motel for about $150 a night. Large rooms and beautifully maintained grounds make for a comfortable stay.
She also recommends Mary’s Restaurant at the Inn at Baldwin Creek in Bristol Vermont for a treat after a pretty drive, not far from Burlington and Middlebury College. The owners are very involved in the slow food movement. The Inn also looks lovely.
After reading up on lots of inns in southern Vermont, we finally picked the Old Tavern Inn in Grafton (after I found a less expensive room than was listed online). Very hard call but I think Grafton will be the quintessential inn and village I’ve been looking for to show off Vermont to my husband – who has never been there. I was captivated by the beautiful Inn at Manchester – which is not in town but in the bucolic countryside with a pool – but was a bit put off by the outlet malls nearby. Also liked the more affordable and perhaps laid-back Stone Boat Farm Bed & Breakfast in Jamaica, Vt. Next time.
I guess there’s a reason Vermont Bicycle Touring changed its name to VBT – they don’t seem to offer many trips in Vermont, judging from their latest catalog of hiking and biking vacations all over Europe, South America, Central America and the U.S. My family was among the first to go on VBT trips back in the early 1970s (I see from the catalog that the company is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary – so that’s about right) and they were wonderful. We biked from beautiful country inn to beautiful country inn w/great food and scenery. Now looks like might not be in our price range. Oh well.
Okay, so I’m also told I should look into inns in Chester Vt. and in North Adams, Mass. (the Berkshires) there are several great albeit pricey options including Porches of MassMOCA (the contemporary art museum I want to visit there), which looks retro high-design trendy, and River Bend Farm, which looks just the opposite (it’s a 1770 Georgian Colonial one mile from town.) Another high design/price option is Field Farm Guest House in a Bauhaus box built in 1948.
My dad reminded me about the Old Tavern in Grafton, one of the nation’s oldest operating inns (according to its website) opened in 1801. Another cool thing is it’s part of a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the vitality of rural Vermont communities. Can’t argue with that.
Dad also suggested looking at where Vermont Bicycle Touring (VBT) stays on their trips – which I used to go on as a kid with my parents. Good ideas all.