A vibrant and active college town.
Bucolic Middlebury, VT
Credit: Bob Handelman / Courtesy of Middlebury College

This charming college town has a place in TV history with Newhart and in literary history with poet Robert Frost. And it’s little wonder why: there’s an array of boutiques and bookstores, a surprisingly sophisticated food scene, and access to the Adirondacks. It’s good to have a car, but you’ll spend a lot of time exploring on foot, too.

Vermont Folklife Center

Located in a state that steadfastly protects its rural image, the Vermont Folklife Center strives to preserve the art and cultural life of the region. Founded in 1984, the center has since collected approximately 4,000 audio recordings, 200 videos, and 15,000 photographs and manuscripts that cover the entire lifespan of the state. At the center downtown Middlebury, visitors and researchers can access the archives, as well as purchase regional crafts like whirligigs, quilts, Native American baskets, and rugs at the Heritage Shop. Numerous education workshops are also held throughout the year in ethnography, oral history, and cultural documentation.

Middlebury College Museum of Art

Although small, Middlebury College in western Vermont maintains a sterling reputation, and its museum of art is no different. Heavily used by students, the thick-granite facility displays its diverse collection, ranging from Assyrian reliefs to Jasper Johns serigraphs, in four galleries across two floors. Highlights include an Early Renaissance triptych and Gilbert Stuart’s iconic portrait of George Washington. The museum also hosts half a dozen temporary exhibitions each year with equal variety. Reproductions of the work are available for purchase in the gift shop.

Otter Creek Brewing

With the highest number of breweries in the country per capita, Vermont is known for its beer. One of its oldest sits alongside Otter Creek in Middlebury and offers free guided tours of the brewing and bottling process (albeit through large windows). For most, the highlight is the tasting room, which also serves drafts of Wolaver’s organic ale and beer-themed pub fare like IPA chili, copper ale cheddar soup, and the ploughman’s meat and cheese plate. A gift shop sells a wide range of clothes and barware embossed with the Otter Creek logo.

Robert Frost Interpretive Trail

The Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in western Vermont commemorates the 22 years the poet lived there with a 1.2-mile trail through the woods and fields of Ripton. Throughout the meticulously maintained grounds, mounted plaques of poems like “The Last Mowing” and “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” can be read among the tall pine trees, wild flowers, berry bushes, and wetlands. The hiking level is generally easy and a wooden boardwalk makes the first portion handicap accessible.

Waybury Inn

The 1810 inn has photos of Bob Newhart on display (the exterior appeared on the show) and affordable suites with four-poster beds.

Swift House Inn

Enjoy a fancy meal (think Australian rack of lamb) in a comfortable setting.