The Stowe area is a visual-art Mecca, and it has the fine art and craft galleries to show for it. Many, such as the Helen Day Art Center, are traditional indoor exhibition spaces. The West Branch Gallery and Sculpture Park incorporates outdoor elements. Check out the native cedar “goddess” totems in the woods. PICTURED: "RED NOTE," BY DAVID STROMEYER AT WEST BRANCH GALLERY
The Sheldon Museum, on Middlebury’s town green, serves as both a municipal archive and showcase of 19th-century small-town Vermont life.
The Shelburne Museum: Just do it. Electra Havemeyer Webb’s collection of fine and folk art may be Vermont’s greatest cultural treasure. The “gallery” experience could not be less intimidating. You can walk leisurely between the buildings, where people in period dress act as printers, blacksmiths and apothecaries. Or wander through the staterooms on the lovingly restored passenger steamer S.S. Ticonderoga. In the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building are some of the museum’s — and the world’s — most precious paintings by Manet, Monet, Degas and Cassat.
The same Webb family that founded the Shelburne Museum gets credit for developing Shelburne Farms, created in 1886 as a model agricultural estate. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted envisioned the campus; architect Robert Robertson designed the buildings, including the massive, fairy-tale breeding, farm and coach barns. In its heyday, the 3800-acre farm had 300 employees. Today Shelburne Farms is an educational nonprofit practicing “rural land use that is environmentally, economically and culturally sustainable.” There’s also an inn that serves amazing food.
(Published in 7 Nights 2005-06)
You can get a basic breakfast at any one of Burlington's downtown diners. On weekends, brunch is served at finer establishments like Leunig's and Smokejacks. But only one "a.m." eatery does it all, every day until 3, for a clientele so devoted it's willing to wait up to an hour and a half for huevos rancheros. Or apple-bread French toast. Or baja fish tacos.
(Published in 7 Nights 2009-10)
Middlebury is a college town, but for years — since the drinking age went from 18 to 21 — it’s lacked for nightlife. Two Brothers Tavern changed that when it opened in 2008. A steep flight of stairs leads to the “lounge & stage,” which features big-screen TVs, a lengthy bar and leather couches. Townies and students alike come in to enjoy the bountiful musical acts, karaoke and trivia night.
(Published in 7 Nights 2004-05)
(Published in 7 Nights 2007-08)
Stowe's only delivering pizzeria is also its most funky and accommodating. Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge offers sizzling-hot discs, but also a comfy lounge with cosmopolitan décor and Picasso-inspired artwork, plus a few choice prints by the master himself.
Free movies, music and poetry readings — and a popular Sunday brunch — distinguish this crunchy Richmond café. It's just far enough from Burlington to make going there feel like an adventure. It’s also a good place to load up on carbs before a hike up Camel's Hump.
The Main Street Museum in White River Junction offers an interesting mix of international and quirky Americana curiosities, such as this summer’s “Tramp and Hobo Symposium.” Want something even stranger? Check out the “Flora and Fauna Collection,” which, according to the museum’s website, represents “invasive species from the infrastructure of an economically marginal Vermont downtown. Our dried cats are not true mummies; they are merely dehydrated.”
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