Mad River Valley/Waterbury
A river runs through it, and there are mountain ranges on either side. But that’s only part of what makes the Mad River Valley so scenic. The farms and settlements are charming, too. The best way to see it all is from two wheels. A 16.3 mile loop takes you off the main thoroughfare — Route 100 — onto the back roads of Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston, through covered bridges and along ski slopes, past art galleries and antique shops.
(Published in 7 Nights 2009-10)
Only a few Vermont restaurants consistently deliver exquisite food and gracious service. Michael’s on the Hill, located on a scenic stretch of Route 100 between Waterbury and Stowe, is one of them. There, in an intimate farmhouse setting, Michael and Laura Kloeti reign over the kitchen and dining room, respectively. When it’s warm enough, seating extends to an enclosed wrap-around porch with views of the surrounding countryside.
New England’s favorite cider mill is a must stop for all Vermont travelers. Enjoy FREE samples of cider, fudge, and other specialty foods. Natural foods bakery featuring apple pies, turnovers, and legendary cider donuts. Watch cider making and live beehive. Also, winery, Gift Shop, Christmas Shop, and mail order house. Located on Route 100 between Waterbury and Stowe.
There is no better setting in Vermont to see a summer show, according to Seven Days theater critic Elisabeth Crean. Barn owner, producer and actor Peter Boynton “blends Broadway talent with Vermont vets and greener gems into a smashing cast,” Crean effuses. “The result? The best musical theater in Vermont.” Catch Boynton’s “Broadway Cabaret” on Sunday nights in July; Always... Patsy Cline runs for two weeks in August.
The 830-acre Waterbury Reservoir was dry for seven years while the dam was being repaired, but has since been restored to its former boating-fishing-swimming glory. The only “development” on its pristine shores is Little River State Park, central Vermont’s largest and most popular campground, with 101 sites. Look for cellar holes, an old sawmill and other evidence of an abandoned 300-year-old farming “campground” that preceded it.
In winter, the road to Stowe sees a lot of slope-seeking Saabs and Subarus. The summer crowd tends to be driven by ice cream: The Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury is one of the top tourist destinations in Vermont. If your visitors have heard of one thing in the Green Mountain State, sadly, this is probably it. The guided tour doesn’t dwell on the company’s founding entrepreneurs — you have to search high and low for signs of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield — but it maintains their “If it’s not fun, why do it?” philosophy.
Find more than 10 miles of intermediate and advanced single track mountain bike trails, including the "Skywalker," "Yoda" and "Millenium Falcon" loops. You can also connect to the trails in the Hinesburg Town Forest, maintained by the "Fellowship of the Wheel."
The Mad River Valley attracts the outdoorsy, artistic and enlightened. All three types frequent Waitsfield’s only cinema-restaurant-cafe. German-born Claudia Becker and her husband, filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, own the moviehouse, which shows first-run films on two screens and sells popcorn. But the place is really more of a cool community center, hosting festivals, lectures, concerts — you name it. They even make and sell their own donuts. PHOTO: PURE MINT MEDIA
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