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Weekender: Woodstock, Vermont

What to Do

SHOPPING

Thanks to the Killington Ski Resort, 20 miles away, and the heavy traffic during leaf-peeping season, dozens of shops have popped up along Woodstock's main streets. N. T. Ferro (11 Central St.; 802/457-1901) sells estate diamonds and vintage watches in perfect repair. At Who Is Sylvia? (26 Central St.; 802/457-1110), owner Janet Eller stocks the racks and shelves with mid-18th- to mid-19th-century clothes, Victorian undergarments, beaded evening bags, and a fine selection of vintage baby clothes.

At Wigren-Barlow Antiques (29 Pleasant St.; 802/457-2453), you can find Rococo consoles, an early-20th-century music stand, and elegantly rusting weathervanes. For some contemporary collectibles, head to Aubergine (1 Elm St.; 802/457-1340), which sells quirky kitchenware, or to Arjuna (20 Central St.; 802/457-3350), for seemingly out-of-place Balinese baskets, as well as hand-dipped candles and hippie jewelry. Should your plans call for rugged activities, or just some time exploring the town, pick up outdoor gear at Woodstock Sports (30 Central St.; 802/457-1568) and books and maps related to Woodstock at Shiretown Books (9 Central St.; 802/ 457-2996).

COUNTRY STORES

Since there are only about 7,500 permanent residents in the Woodstock area, no big-chain supermarket has ever bothered to set up shop. Locals buy groceries and dry goods at the nearest general store. F. H. Gillingham & Sons (16 Elm St.; 802/457-2100) is the classic example: owned and operated by the same family since 1886, it stocks everything from butterfly nets to mango chutney. You can even register there for your sport-fishing license or pick up a bow and arrow. Taftsville Country Store (Rte. 4; 802/457-1135) opened in 1840, and serves much the same purpose now that it did back then. Aside from its selection of maple syrups and Cabot cheeses, the store houses the town post office and a pet-retrieval service, and acts as the central gossip depot. Barnard General Store (Rte. 12, Barnard; 802/234-9688), established in 1832, is more like an after-school hangout than a country store, but it still makes sandwiches that pack well for picnics, as well as freshly brewed coffee. The true focal point of neighborhood social life is the Woodstock Farmers' Market (468 Rte. 4; 802/457-3658), which sells fresh organic produce as well as just-baked blueberry pie and fresh crab-and-artichoke dip. If you can find a parking spot on Saturday morning, you're in luck.

OUTDOORS

With so much to do, even year-round residents have a hard time exploring every corner of their town. If you're overwhelmed, ask for advice at the information booth on the green. With any luck, town crier Kevin Dann will be starting one of his hour-long historical tours ($8 per person; call 802/457-5063 for schedule), which usually concludes with a serenade.

If you're traveling with kids, let them get up close and personal with injured birds of prey—owls, hawks, vultures, ravens—at the Vermont Raptor Center at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (27023 Church Hill Rd.; 802/457-2779). Successfully treated raptors are released into the 78-acre nature reserve. Children can also pet Jersey calves and learn about dairying at the Billings Farm & Museum (Rte. 12, Woodstock; 802/457-2355), the former residence of George Marsh, then of Frederick Billings, who reforested this region in 1871 (he also built the Northern Pacific Railroad). It's part of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (802/457-3368), which celebrates the conservation ethos of its three founders. The only way to enter the Rockefeller mansion and its gardens is on a tour, but you can wander the park's 550 acres without a guide (hike up to Mount Tom for a picnic at Pogue Pond).

Anglers should get in touch with Brad Yoder, co-owner of Trout on the Fly (802/685-2100; www.troutonthefly.com; half-day wading trips $130 per person). He'll float you down the White River on a 13-foot drift boat, or take you to streams full of wild fish for short casting. Thrill-seekers can ride downstream with the help of Wilderness Trails (802/295-7620); they customize canoe and kayak trips on the White River. Should you need an easy come-down off an adventurous day, sample a refreshing fruit wine at the Ottauquechee Valley Winery (Rte. 4, Quechee; 802/295-9463).

Getting There

The Woodstock area, which includes the villages of Taftsville, Barnard, Quechee, and Bridgewater, lies 280 miles north of New York and 150 miles northwest of Boston. Amtrak (800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) serves two towns close to Woodstock: White River Junction (15 minutes by taxi) and Rutland (45 minutes). US Airways (800/428-4322; www.usairways.com) flies into nearby Lebanon, New Hampshire, and from there it's 20 minutes west to Woodstock . Distances can be greater than they appear, so it's best to have a car; if you plan to do anything outside Woodstock proper, you won't find any other means of transportation.

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