While honeymooning in Vermont, we saw a lot of foliage while we were kayaking, canoeing, and biking, but we also took a lot of time to drive around with loose destinations in mind and see what we could see along the way. All of the fall drives took us through orange, rolling, countryside, and here are a little more details of the highlights we saw on our three drives:
Our first drive:
Highlights: Covered bridges and Jay Peak
What we did: From the town of Newport we took highway 105 to 100. We took 100 to Troy, and got on 101. Then we followed the signs to Jay Peak- on highway 242. Along this whole route we enjoyed the rolling countryside that is so different than where we live. Jay Peak is a ski area, and ski areas are just not very interesting in October. We found that Jay Peak was so deserted we didn’t even know where the hub of the area was. We stopped by the Jay Peak General store, near the gondola, and picked up some locally-made blueberry wine (mmmmmmm) and some locally-made cider (mmmmmmm). After wandering
around in the desolation of ski area off-season, we headed down 242 toward Montgomery. Being a little higher in elevation, all of the fall foliage around Jay Peak was gone, but things got more orange as we descended. When 242 ended, we took 118 north, drove through the town of Montgomery, and then went in search of the covered bridges we knew were nearby. General and common-sense rule in this search: follow the river! We found the first covered bridge in a neighborhood on the outskirts of town and stopped here to take a handful of pictures. This is also something we don’t have in Colorado, and covered bridges just feel so country quaint to me. Yep, we were being very touristy snapping pictures of a bridge right outside people’s houses. We kept heading north on 118, finding some beautiful lanes along the way. We also came across a couple more covered bridges right off the side of the road, but none quite as picturesque as the first. We went north to Richford and then got on 105 east, took a left on 101 (toward North Troy), and then got back on 105 east in Newport.
Our second drive:
Highlights: Craftsbury area and the town of Hardwick
What we did: From Newport we got on 105 to 14, toward Coventry and Irasburg. Once again, we just enjoyed the countryside and small towns along the way. Fourteen took us all the way down to Craftsbury Common, which is probably the most picturesque New England place we saw on our trip. The center of town is the soccer field, which is surrounded on all sides by a white picket fence. Quite a few maple trees also border the field. All of the buildings around the fence are clean and white: the church, the small school, and a few others. We walked around town for a while and took some hokey leaf pictures. It was in Craftsbury Common that we spotted our first magenta tree, which is something we’d been told we might see. Again, we don’t have purple and magenta trees in Colorado, so it’s pretty a wild to us! From Craftsbury Common we continued along highway 14, passing through the town of Craftsbury. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought there would be all sorts of craft fairs around these parts. There wasn’t. Not a single one! When we reached Hardwick, we stopped to pass the time and enjoy this little town. Hardwick was a very cute little town where we heard local residents talking
about how they have 10 months of winter and 2 months of bad skiing. Ahem. These folks might hear the same kinds of things if they ever came to Fraser, Colorado. After meandering through the town’s small bookstore, we visit the café that was in the co-op. We got a cup of coffee and sat outside on a bench, next to a very skinny suspension bridge over the river. Hardwick kind of reminded us of Boulder, Colorado, but much, much smaller; As if someone just cut a chunk out of Boulder and moved it to Vermont. From Hardwick, we got on highway 16 north, toward Barton. Right before Barton, we got on I-91 to Derby Center, and then on 5 back to Newport.
Our third drive:
Highlights: Smuggler’s Notch, Stowe, Ben and Jerry’s factory, Burlington
What we did: On our last day in Vermont we made our way slowly from Newport to Burlington to catch our flight out at 7p.m. From Newport, we took highway 105 to highway 100. We took 100 south to Eden. At Eden, we got on highway 118 and took this to 109. I know…we are not very direct-route kind of people. We take all sorts of loops and backtracks, and it’s rare that we’ll use anything but a good ole’ road map! Well, we did have a reason for taking this strange route south: we were in search of more covered bridges. So, we took 109 to Jeffersonville and, according to our map, should have seen some covered bridges along the way. We did not. Oh well. At Jeffersonville we got onto 108 south
toward Smuggler’s Notch. The road down is narrow and windy, but if you can swing it in your vehicle then it is definitely worth the trip. Smuggler’s Notch hosts a ski area (boring in October, as we already know), but you will also find all sorts of interesting rock formations and twisty trees around these parts. The roadside pull-offs were quite congested and hikers and rock climbers walked single file along the side of the road. With all the hustle bustle, we didn’t stop along the way but we did enjoy the rocky forests around Smuggler’s Notch.
Next up: Stowe. Everyone told us to go to Stowe! It’s pretty cute. It’s a ski town. It seemed to have a lot of yummy places to eat. Without much time to spend there, we got the drive-by version of Stowe. We took a walk on the town bike path and enjoyed scuttling the leaves and looking at the river. Then off we went! In Stowe, we got on 100 south, which led us to Waterbury.
At Waterbury, you will find Lake Champlain Chocolates, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Grand View Winery, Cabot Annex (Cheese!), Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center and Café, and the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory. We stopped at Ben and Jerry’s but did not do a tour. Maybe because it was Saturday, there were gobs of people here and we had not planned ahead to book a tour. We read the history timeline of Ben and Jerry’s and got what we really came for: ice creeeeaaammm! Alex stuck with chocolate chip cookie dough and I tried the seasonal Maple Walnut. Mmmmm. Because of my lactose intolerance, I was about 6 Lactaid pills deep as I cautiously licked away at my Maple Walnut. Those little pills are miracle workers… all went well! Anywho, next we visited the Flavor Graveyard. This is where Ben and Jerry’s pays tribute to all of their retired ice cream flavors. Along
with the name of the ice cream, each headstone in the graveyard has a little saying about the favor. Pretty funny when you really stop and read! After hanging out under the trees for a while, we headed on to Burlington.
The first thing we did in Burlington was walk the pedestrian mall, Church Street. In all seriousness, I forgot we were in Vermont for a minute and thought we were on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. Church Street, like Pearl Street, is packed to the brim with posh stores and restaurants, coffee shops, street performers, college students, dogs, and a whole lot of energy. We meandered and wandered, ducking into a few shops and generally enjoying the people-watching. Later that day we would find out that the Pearl Street pedestrian mall in Boulder and the Church Street Pedestrian Mall in Burlington were, in fact, designed by the same
architect. After our stroll we strolled a couple blocks down the hill toward Lake Champlain. Where the road ended there was a park overlooking the lake, and we hung out here for a while, enjoying the views and the afternoon sun before heading back toward the airport for our flight.