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Montpelier Neighborhoods

Montpelier itself is compact—just 10 square miles packed with independent shops, locally-focused restaurants, yoga studios and leafy residential areas. The surrounding north-central region, however, offers nearly every facet of Vermont life. To the south, Berlin and Barre are still dominated by the stonecutting industry while the rural towns of Adamant, Plainfield, Marshfield, Cabot and Calais (to the northeast) are focused on agriculture and agritourism. For a slightly ritzier vibe, head west to Waterbury and Stowe, where skiers unwind with maple-sugar body scrubs at one of many local spas.

Downtown Montpelier

Anchored by the gold-domed, Greek revival State House (easily visible from Interstate 89) at its southwest end, downtown Montpelier has two main thoroughfares. State Street includes the post office, a Gothic Episcopal Church and Federal-style buildings housing knitting shops, a Mexican cantina, a coffeehouse and more. It crosses the North Branch of the Winooski River before intersecting with the more expansive Main Street, which is lined by galleries, bookstores, restaurants and (naturally), a Ben & Jerry’s shop. The side streets are worth a detour, for such spots as Langdon Street Café and Onion River Sports, on Langdon Street; and Hunger Mountain Coop on Stone Cutters Way. Just behind the State House is the 185-acre Hubbard Park, which is linked to hiking and biking trails around Montpelier, and to the 28-acre North Branch Nature Center. It all combines for a highly pedestrian-friendly area—even in winter, thanks to cross-country skis.

Barre-Berlin

Though grittier than Montpelier, Barre has its charms, too; namely, the Barre Opera House and the rich granite history here—this is the self-proclaimed Granite Capital of the World. And that’s visible at Hope Cemetery, Rock of Ages Quarry and in abandoned pits turning mountain biking destinations. In between Barre and Montpelier is the town of Berlin, speckled with discount strip malls and car dealerships. Barre is also home to the Vermont Frost Heaves, a Premier Basketball League team that also plays in Burlington, and to the Thunder Road SpeedBowl, a racetrack topping Quarry Hill.

Adamant and Plainfield

The rural beauty and unique pit stops of these two towns (though, technically, Adamant is an unincorporated village) make them fine road trip destinations, by car or by bike. Adamant, eight miles north of Montpelier and next to the East Montpelier Town Forest, celebrates Vermont’s spring harbinger with the Black Fly Festival—which includes a black fly pie contest—in May. Meanwhile, the piano-focused Adamant Music School hosts concerts throughout the year. You’ll find a general store, post office, groceries, gossip and more at the Adamant Co-op. On the way, stop at Morse Farm Maple Sugar Works for Vermont’s sweet side (there’s cross country skiing in winter, too). Or head east to Plainfield, where Positive Pie dishes up New York style pizza and big-city culture; the town’s Goddard College boasts the members of Phish among its alumni.

Waterbury-Stowe

Ever since the Civilian Conservation Corps cut trails on Mount Mansfield—Vermont’s highest peak at 4,393 feet—the resort area of Stowe has been a premier eastern skiing destination. More than anywhere else in the state, this area is pure Vermont charm, with twists partly European (thanks to the Trapp Family Lodge) and partly western (thanks to the new, glitzy Stowe Mountain Lodge). Visitors can fuel up at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, just west of Montpelier off Interstate 89. Waterbury is also home to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the Green Mountain Club and Cold Hollow Cider Mill. The sublime byway of Vermont 100 connects the two towns, and, except for winter months, winds and climbs up Smuggler’s Notch for myriad hiking opportunities.

Brookfield-Barnard-Woodstock

Each exit south of Montpelier on Interstate 89 leads to Green Mountain delights. First comes Brookfield with its Floating Bridge, dusty lanes that pass for roads and Norman Rockwell vignettes of fishing and swimming in Sunset Lake. Moving on, the town of Barnard features the super-swanky Twin Farms retreat and the 1932-established Barnard General Store. Outside of Woodstock the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and the Billings Farm & Museum tell stories about how and why Vermont has always been an epicenter of an environmental conscience and ecological sensitivity.

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