On this first day of fall, Anna Sandler, a writer, blogger, and mom of three, shares the 411 on a family weekend in Brattleboro, Vermont. Her guide has convinced Georgette to plan her own family trip to the vibrant and diverse arts community up north.
In 2012, Smithsonian Magazine selected Brattleboro, Vermont as one of the top 20 small towns in America and this past summer my family learned why when we were invited to spend a weekend visiting friends. Brattleboro is a sweet small riverside town with a vibrant arts community, an annual Film Festival, a charming Main Street, great food, and a gorgeous landscape.
There’s plenty to do in and around Brattleboro, from outdoor activities to shopping and, this time of year—leaf peeping. Here are my recommendations for where to stay, things to do, and what to eat.
Where to Stay
The Latchis Hotel is in the heart of Brattleboro’s downtown with plenty of stores and restaurants within a few minutes walk. The rooms at this boutique hotel are well-maintained and spotless, and the staff is helpful and friendly.
The hotel even has a beautiful restored movie theater on the first floor, which shows first run and independent films on its four screens, including the only big screen in Brattleboro. The theater also has live performances. Prices range from $99 to $185 and require a 24 hour cancellation most of the year, but during foliage season (September 1 to October 31), rates are slightly higher from $115 to $225, and require 72 hours cancellation notice. All rooms include Continental breakfast.
Things to Do
Shopping on Main Street is a lot of fun, with a great selection of eclectic shops. Downtown Brattleboro appears to be the thrift store capital of the world, with several stores offering used goods for great prices. My favorite is Twice Upon a Time, housing 10,000 square feet of antiques, collectibles, clothing and more on three floors in a renovated department store. Off of Main Street is Everyone’s Books (25 Eliot Street) stuffed with titles for kids and adults, as well as coloring books, calendars and other delightful finds. This family owned store specializes in multicultural children’s books and books focusing on social change and environmental issues.
There are plenty of places to take a hike, with some trails even walking distance from the hotel. We hiked Wantastiquet Mountain, which we were able to walk to in about twenty minutes. It’s scenic as it includes crossing the Connecticut River by bridge, and has the added excitement of walking from Vermont into New Hampshire, all the more thrilling for kids who were taking steps in New Hampshire for the first time ever.
You can also skip the walk and park at the base of Wantastiquet Mountain. There are two trails to choose from to get to the summit; we took the more difficult one and were able to make it up in a couple of hours with a five, nine and eleven year old. The view at the top of the mountain definitely made it worth it, but it is more than a casual stroll and best for kids who really enjoy hiking. There are lots of hiking trails to choose from nearby, check out the full list is here.
Where to Eat
Food in and around Brattleboro is fresh and delicious, with a bent towards organic and locally sourced:
We also fit in a stop at Chelsea Royal Diner (487 Marlboro Road, Brattleboro), which has fantastic homemade ice cream. It’s a drive away, and definitely worth it.
The Brattleboro Food Co-Op is in the downtown area, and has a huge selection of ready-made foods as well as the usual grocery staples and a good variety of beer and wine.
The Grafton Village Cheese Shop, which is stocked with homemade cheese, maple syrup and other Vermont specialties, is also a great stop.
As beautiful as Brattleboro was during a summer weekend, I can only imagine how spectacular it is decorated with its fall foliage. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend a visit to Brattelboro.