Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our Favorite Vermont 'Hot Spots'

We have been fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a week at Smugglers Notch in Vermont every year for the past five years.  While the 'Notch' runs family oriented activities and programs, we utilize the condo as a base and travel extensively through northern and central Vermont.  

Vermont is a truly beautiful state.  The people are very friendly and engaging.  In addition to spending some time seeking out and exploring Vermont's covered bridges, we have made some friends in the past five years that we visit annually. 

Mr. and Mrs. Walker live in Underhill, VT and they make maple syrup.  Many years ago, my uncle and aunt gave us a bottle of their maple syrup.  They purchased several bottles as Christmas gifts while their son and daughter attended St. Michael's College in Burlington.  We looked forward to that bottle every year and once my sons began to eat waffles and pancakes, I needed more than that one bottle.  I called the number on the bottle's sticker and Mrs. Walker filled an order or me, shipping out a gallon bottle and told me if we were ever in the area, stop by and say hello.  She said her husband would give us a tour of their farm.  About five years later, during our first trip to Vermont, we showed up on their doorstep, restocked our dwindling supply of maple syrup and sure enough, as promised, Mr. Walker showed us around their property, explaining how they gather the syrup and then finishing with a tour of the sugar house, where the raw syrup is made into the finished product.

The Sugar House, where the magic is made!
The Walkers have a stunning view of Mt. Mansfield from their home.
During that first visit to Vermont, while exploring the area close to the Notch, we discovered a quaint country store, Miller's Country Outfitters in Morrisville, Vermont.  They had a sign in the window saying Vermont Sweatshirts $10.00, so we stopped in.  The store had an extensive selection of clothing, from Levis and Lee jeans to high end knitted sweaters.  They also had a wonderful selection of men's shoes and my husband wound up with a couple of pairs, some sweatshirts, hats and I got some jeans and shirts.  We struck up a conversation with the owners Brent and Jan and have visited them every year.  A couple of years ago, their daughter Jamie took our sons next door to their farm to see their dairy cows.  She had married and moved to the Burlington area, but happened to be at the store this week when we stopped in for our annual visit.

Miller Country Outfitters
Montpelier, the state's capital is an interesting place to visit.  There is a small museum on Main Street that the boys enjoyed, and we have visited the capital twice.  Last year, we took a free tour of the state house and our tour guide who is a volunteer, took us into the house and senate chambers and even the governor's office where she took a photo of me sitting at the governor's desk.  

Me, sitting at the Governor of Vermont's desk, Montpelier, VT
J. Morgan's Steakhouse is a must do if ever in Montpelier.  The food is wonderful, the service is impeccable and the restaurant was recently redecorated and is gorgeous inside.  

Inside of J. Morgan's Steakhouse, Montpelier, VT
If you are lucky enough to have Rod as your bartender and Josh as your server, you will go back there again and again, as we have done.

Rod's Cosmo with Champagne Floater
 if you like Cosmo's, you will LOVE this one.
Chicken Mediterranean is scrumptious!
Creme Brûlée trios are just a perfect for a sweet treat.
Burlington offers a lot to do and see, including a children's museum on the waterfront and the Spirit of Ethan boat tour of Lake Champlain.  

If you like Mexican food, Madeiras is fantastic.  It is currently on the waterfront, however, our waitress told us this week that they were moving about a block away.  The food is fantastic!  They have a great selection of margaritas, entrees and deserts, although their flan is so good that we never try any other deserts.
Fajita Burrito - Madeiras in Burlington, VT
Flan - Madeiras, Burlington, VT
Just this year we were looking for a late night dinner which is nearly impossible to find in Vermont as most restaurants are closed by 9:00pm.  We found a place called Sweetwaters on Church Street in Burlington which had a limited menu from 9pm - 11pm.  My husband and I ordered French Onion soup, he ordered a specialty salad and I ordered a tomato and mozzarella salad.  The food was so good, we will be going back on our trip next year for a full dinner.

French Onion Soup
Sweetwaters, Burlington, VT
Tomato & Mozzarella Salad with Balsamic Glaze
Sweetwaters, Burlington, VT
Smugglers Notch is near Stowe.  The town before Stowe is Waterbury which is the home of Ben & Jerry's.  They offer tours and beautiful grounds where people visit the graveyard of discontinued flavors as well as a factory tour of their ice cream making process. (no photos are allowed inside the factory, but there are fabulous photo backgrounds outside!) This is a must see for young and old!

Ben & Jerry's - Waterbury, VT
Great Photo Backgrounds at Ben & Jerry's
Waterbury, VT
These are a few of our favorite places. Hope you have enjoyed looking at them and perhaps you will have the opportunity to visit yourself!

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