Best of Vermont | 2018 Editors’ Choice Awards

Planning a Vermont vacation, day trip, or getaway? From dining and lodging to attractions that are well worth the drive, here are nearly 30 of our editors’ picks for the best of Vermont.

By Yankee Magazine

Apr 16 2018


2018 Best of Vermont | Whistling Man Schooner Co

Photo Credit : Courtesy of Whistling Man Schooner Co.
Planning a Vermont vacation, day trip, or getaway? From dining and lodging to attractions that are well worth the drive, here are nearly 30 of our editors’ picks for the best of Vermont.


Best of Vermont | 2018 Editors' Choice Awards
2018 Best of Vermont | Whistling Man Schooner Co
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Whistling Man Schooner Co.

FAMILY ADVENTURE: ArborTrekJeffersonville

You’ve driven through Smugglers’ Notch, hiked its trails, maybe blasted down a ski trail—but how about soaring above it all? ArborTrek’s 4,500 feet of ziplines lace the treetops at heights of more than 70 feet, offering a falcon’s-eye view of the notch’s rugged and beautiful terrain. Choose the “Wild Ride” for up to three hours of guided ziplining, including one rappel and two sky bridges, or the shorter “Express,” which subtracts the bridges. There’s also a treetop obstacle course, for summoning your inner Indiana Jones. 802-644-9300

FARMERS’ MARKET: Capital City Farmers’ MarketMontpelier

It’s only appropriate that the state’s capital should have one of its oldest and most eclectic farmers’ markets. On Saturdays from May through October, more than 50 vendors gather to sell some of the region’s finest produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and crafts. Live music creates a festive atmosphere, and the market attracts a colorful collection of locals as well as tourists. 802-793-8347

HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE: Ethan Allen Homestead MuseumBurlington

One of America’s colonial folk heroes spent his final years in a foreign country: the Vermont Republic. Ethan Allen settled along the Winooski River in 1787, four years before Vermont became a state, and today his reconstructed cottage offers a look at his legacy as well as 18th-century farm and home life. For those who like a little exercise with their education, the museum has miles of trails through woods and wetlands. 802-865-4556

LAKE CRUISE: Whistling Man Schooner Co.Burlington

Cruising under sail—with only the sounds of water and wind—has a timeless appeal for many travelers. If that includes you, hop aboard the 41-foot sloop Friend Ship, and you’ll be sight-seeing from the only sailboat on Lake Champlain certified for passenger service. From spring to early fall, the Friend Ship offers two-hour daytime and sunset cruises that include a fascinating recap of the lake’s geology, history, and legends—and you might just spot Champ, Vermont’s very own lake monster, before you’re done. 802-825-7245

MUSIC CLUB: Light Club Lamp ShopBurlington

Yes, there are lamps here—hundreds of vintage models, in fact, the product of owner Lee Anderson’s growing obsession—and yes, they are for sale. The younger sibling of Anderson’s Radio Bean music club, Light Club maintains a “living room” vibe while serving up a range of genres and top-shelf acts. (In January, Rachel Price and Vilrary of the band Lake Street Dive played there.) Punchy craft cocktails are on the menu, as is international street food from Anderson’s other next-door business, ¡Duino! (Duende). 802-660-9346

NATURE EXPERIENCE: Southern Vermont Natural History MuseumWest Marlboro

When naturalist and taxidermist Luman Nelson began preserving animal species of the Northeast in the early 1900s, he likely didn’t anticipate that his collection would become the foundation of one of the finest natural history museums in his native New England. Today, Nelson’s work is superbly showcased—along with live animal, ecology, geology, and natural history exhibits—at this educational gateway adjacent to the Hogback Mountain Scenic Overlook. After soaking up some knowledge, stretch your legs on the surrounding 600 acres of hiking trails. 802-464-0048

SHORT HIKE: Snake MountainAddison & Weybridge

While it may not match the Green Mountains’ lofty peaks, this 1,287-foot outlier of the Taconic range rises abruptly from the surrounding terrain to offer Vermont’s finest panorama of dairy lands, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondacks. Access the five-mile trail loop from either the west side (in Addison) or the east side (in Weybridge), and traverse a 1,215-acre preserve encompassing oak, maple, and hickory forests; a 9,500-year-old glacier-born bog; ledges where peregrine falcons nest; and, at the top, the ruins of an 1870 hotel. 

SPECIALTY MUSEUM: Vermont Marble MuseumProctor

There’s marble everywhere in Proctor: a marble church, marble sidewalks, and even a marble bridge. To learn how this became Proctor’s bedrock, head to the former Vermont Marble Company, which supplied the stone for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the U.S. Supreme Court. Today it’s a museum that tells the story of Vermont marble, from how it formed to how it’s been quarried. Don’t miss the Hall of Presidents sculpture collection and the samples of over 100 marbles, including lusciously hued stone from vast underground quarries in nearby Danby. 800-427-1396

SPORTS EXPERIENCE: Vermont Lake MonstersBurlington

How do you get from Vermont to California? Try putting up good numbers with this Oakland Athletics farm club. If you can’t make the team, though, you can still get in on the action at Centennial Field, where the Monsters play their home games from mid-June through mid-September. There’s ample baseball talent on display, tasty food, and the between-inning antics of Champ, who emerges from the depths to root for Burlington’s boys of summer. 802-655-6611


Best of Vermont | 2018 Editors' Choice Awards
2018 Best of Vermont | Field Guide
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Field Guide

BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Field GuideStowe

Ideal for folks wanting a bit more than a B&B but less than a traditional resort, Field Guide occupies a longtime inn that was completely renovated in 2015 by the Lark Hotels chain. Upscale country chic is on full display, from the tree-stump end tables and birch log “walls” in the lobby to the mounted (papier-mâché) deer heads and whimsical wallpaper. Downtown is minutes away, but should you choose to stay in, the on-site restaurant, Picnic Social, is a worthy stop. 802-253-8088


Jay Peak Resort is about much more than winter these days, especially since the construction of a host of new lodging options in town—including the resort’s marquee hotel, the Hotel Jay, which has 170 rooms and suites, all with kitchenettes or full kitchens. Enjoy the 60,000-square-foot indoor water park, the aerial tram, the 18-hole golf course (day-care facilities come in handy here), and—if you just can’t wait for winter—the indoor ice rink. 800-451-4449

FARM STAY: Shearer Hill FarmWilmington

Patti and Bill Pusey raised seven children here—so when they say kids are welcome, you know they mean it sincerely. And with berries to pick and cows to feed, they know how to keep little ones busy. There are three rooms in the main house and a two-bedroom suite and handicap-accessible room in the Carriage House, all with private baths. 802-464-3253 

HISTORIC INN: The Inn at Shelburne FarmsShelburne

The centerpiece of this grand estate turned nonprofit teaching farm is the Webb family’s 19th-century summer home, now a beautiful inn with 24 guest rooms and four cottages set amid manicured grounds and views of Lake Champlain. The farm’s own meat, produce, and award-winning cheeses are menu staples at the inn’s restaurant, which is one of Vermont’s most celebrated. 802-985-8498

ISLAND LODGING: North Hero HouseNorth Hero

There’s no city on North Hero’s City Bay; in fact, there’s little more than this cozy lakeside inn, opened in 1891. But that’s plenty for us. Some of the 26 rooms, spread among four waterside buildings, have screened-in porches and/or fireplaces; most offer splendid lake and mountain vistas. The inn’s main dining room showcases produce grown on-site, and casual fare is offered in summer and on fall weekends at the bar and grill. 802-372-4732

LAKESIDE LODGING: Basin HarborVergennes

Family-owned for over 100 years, with a prime Champlain location, this place is as timeless as a resort can be. Families return year after year for summers filled with all kinds of on-site activities: biking, tennis, golfing, and water sports (ranging from paddleboarding to cruising in a vintage Chris-Craft). Plus, it’s pet-friendly—dogs even have their own swimming beach! 802-475-2311

LUXURY ESCAPE: The Pitcher InnWarren

The village of Warren provides a classic Mad River Valley backdrop for this Relais & Chateaux gem, which offers nine sumptuous rooms and two suites. From the folk murals of the Calvin Coolidge Room to the antique sports gear of the Ski Suite, no two lodging options are alike, but most do have stunning custom fireplaces. Menus at the inn’s restaurant, 275 Main, are built around locally sourced meats, produce, and cheeses. 802-496-6350

NEW HOTEL: Kimpton TaconicManchester Village

You, the kids, and even your Great Dane will be pampered at this four-story luxury hotel, one of the area’s biggest local construction projects in recent years. After settling into lodgings that offer a modern take on Vermont’s grand inns, you can relax on the sweeping porch overlooking the mountains, take a fly-fishing course at the Orvis school, or shop up a storm at the nearby outlets. 802-362-0147

WILDERNESS RETREAT: The Lodge at Seyon Lodge State Park Groton

Deep in the heart of 27,000-acre Groton State Forest, Vermont’s only full-service state park lodge offers eight cozy guest rooms (baths are shared), a spacious living room with fireplace, and, for an extra charge, three home-cooked meals daily. There’s also the opportunity to cast a line in Noyes Pond—the park system’s sole fly-fishing-only, stocked-trout waters—from a rental boat. 802-584-3829


Best of Vermont | 2018 Editors' Choice Awards
2018 Best of Vermont | Bohemian Bakery
Photo Credit : Bohemian Bakery via Facebook

BAKERY: Bohemian BakeryMontpelier

For years, pastry lovers trekked to East Calais on Sundays to line up at Annie Bakst and Robert Hunt’s homestead bakery. The journey paid off in such treats as buttery, thousand-layer croissants; sugared squares of puff pastry cradling thin-sliced apricots, apples, or plums; and cappuccinos brimming with rich froth. In 2017, Bakst and Hunt moved their operations to a light-filled space near downtown Montpelier, so the goods are more available now—the bakery’s open Wednesday through Sunday—but no less divine. 802-461-8119

BURGERS: The Worthy BurgerSouth Royalton

The superlative beef-tallow French fries here are merely the supporting cast for the always-perfect burgers, made with local Wagyu-Angus meat and seared over a wood fire. These patties (or their fish, veggie, or duck counterparts) can be had with thick-cut bacon, fine cheeses, or zippy house-made kimchi. Pair your pick with a beer: Worthy’s draft list highlights some of Vermont’s most sought-after breweries. 802-763-2575

CHINESE: Cai’s Dim Sum TeahouseBrattleboro

On most summer Saturdays, you’ll find Cai Xi and Adam Silver at the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market, dishing up fragrant rice paper dumplings and airy steamed bao. But by night—and by appointment only—they welcome guests to their Victorian parlor gallery for spice-laden stir-fries, crispy-skinned fish broiled with Szechuan peppercorns, and sesame dan dan noodles tucked beneath sweet ribbons of carrot. To complete your meal, pairings are available from the couple’s extensive collection of rare Chinese teas. 802-257-7898

DINER: Miss Lyndonville DinerLyndonville

If it’s a Sunday morning, good luck getting a table here, as folks queue up for short-order eggs and cream pies and a homey atmosphere (the coffeepot-toting servers might just call you “hon”). Look for specialties such as French toast stuffed with marmalade and cream cheese; skillet breakfasts of bacon, home fries, and eggs blanketed in sausage gravy; and buttery blueberry pancakes as big as your face. 802-626-9890

DOUGHNUTS: Miss WeinerzBurlington and Winooksi

In 2012, Chittenden County fell in love with the doughnuts at Winooski’s Misery Loves Company, where baker Ren Weiner crafted pillowy sourdough rounds flavored with in-season fruits, veggies, and even flowers. Then, in 2014, Weiner went solo. These days you can find her sweets—glistening with local ginger glaze or plump with wild grape jelly—at locations ranging from Burlington’s Scout & Company and Onyx Tonics to the farmers’ markets in Burlington and Winooski. 

FARM-TO-TABLE: Piecemeal PiesWhite River Junction

While the inspiration for this meat pie purveyor may have come from Great Britain, the flavor is pure Vermont, thanks to chef Justin Barrett’s focus on area farms. Vermont beer and cider have pride of place on the drink menu; the savory pies are stuffed with ribboned Upper Valley rabbit and bacon or curried lamb. Barrett designed his space with an open kitchen, so guests can watch as he and his and crew freeze, dry, and can flats of fruits and bushels of beans, peppers, and tomatoes for their winter pantry, ensuring that local bounty remains the star year-round. 802-281-6910

TASTING MENU: Lincoln Inn at the Covered BridgeWoodstock

Chef Jevgenija Saromova and host Mara Mehlman don’t fuss with plebeian concerns like à la carte service. Instead, they guide guests through fixed menus of four or seven courses, with plates such as holiday smoked duck and seared tiger prawns with asparagus. In the private dining room, Saromova celebrates a high mass for avant-garde gastronomy with a 12-course tasting menu. There, find beetroot spun into bubbly foams, sculptures of butter-poached lobster with crisped mascarpone, and other decadent flights of fancy. 802-457-7052

VEGETARIAN: Revolution KitchenBurlington

Tucked into an alley behind Church Street Marketplace, the Queen City’s first all-vegetarian restaurant woos herbivores with dishes that balance elegance with creative surprises. You might lament that the kitchen spaced the guac atop your black bean nachos, only to delight in finding it corralled within crisp won ton pockets moments later. And if you catch yourself thinking that the skewers of ginger-kissed seitan satay, pungent with tamari and grilled to a tantalizing crunch, far outpace your memories of eating “real” chicken-on-a-stick, all the better to revel in it. 802-448-3657

WATERFRONT DINING: The Spot on the DockBurlington

When balmy weather hits, Burlington residents look to the lake to pass the time. Last year, local entrepreneur Russ Scully opened the Spot on the Dock, a sister restaurant to his popular surf-inspired breakfast and lunch café (dubbed simply the Spot) across town. At the lakeside location, with its sweeping Adirondack views and epic sunsets, locals gather for midday mojitos, crisp Cobb salads, and tuna poke on a windswept teak patio. Come evening, you can shoot the breeze over a pork belly banh mi sandwich. Open May through October. 802-540-1778

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