A little over 10 square miles and with a downtown that’s roughly five blocks, Montpelier is the smallest state capital in America. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in vibrancy, with a plethora of boutiques, restaurants, bars and, of course, the capitol building. Montpelier is situated on the banks of the Winooski River, making the strolling even more scenic.
Drive time: 7 hours
Where to Stay
Made up of two historic buildings, the Inn at Montpelier is located only two blocks away from the state capital’s downtown area.
A continental breakfast is included with your stay. $231-$319.
147 Main St., (802) 223-2727.
Where to Eat
Get your favorite cut of aged Black Angus beef topped with a choice of sauces at J. Morgan’s Steakhouse in the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Try the
peppercorn brandy cream, the barbecue whiskey glaze with caramelized onions, or “Vermont style” with butter and blue cheese. If you’re in the mood for seafood, go all out with the Billionaire’s Cake, made with Maine lobster, lump crabmeat and shrimp. $20-$42.
100 State St., (802) 223-5222.
Montpelier is home to the New England Culinary Institute—and NECI on Main gives its students the opportunity to turn out beautiful dishes based on the seasons, local ingredient availability, and the techniques they’ve learned in the classroom. Dinner can be as simple as a burger or as elaborate as grilled beef tenderloin with Escoffier devil sauce. $12-$29.
118 Main St., (802) 223-3188.
If it seems like everybody in town has gathered for dinner at Sarducci’s Restaurant on any given night, that could very well be the case. The classic and contemporary Mediterranean specialties—like penne with shrimp and scallops, which is made in the same wood-fired ovens as the pizzas—make this casual spot a local favorite. $9.99-$21.99.
3 Main St., (802) 223-0229.
Get a locally sourced cheese board, a burger (the house version comes with cheese, pickled jalapeño and homemade peanut butter) or tapas with your craft brew at Three Penny Taproom.
108 Main St., (802) 223-TAPS.
What to Do
Whether you choose to take a guided tour or borrow a “magic wand” for an audio tour on your own, both are free at the Vermont State House. Completed in 1859, this gold-domed structure is one of the oldest and best-preserved state capitols in America, retaining many of its original
115 State St., (802) 828-1411.
Located right next to the Statehouse, the Vermont Historical Society Museum offers permanent and rotating multimedia exhibits, including films, oral histories, and life-size and hands-on displays—all tracing the state’s history from 1600 to the present. $7.
Pavilion Building, 109 State St., (802) 828-2291.
Take in a performance at Montpelier’s Lost Nation Theater. October’s production is Sense & Sensibility. $10-$30.
City Hall Auditorium Arts Center, 39 Main St., (802) 229-0492.
Main, State, Langdon and Elm streets make up Montpelier’s shopping hub, which features an eclectic mix of one-of-a-kind stores. Artisans Hand Craft Gallery features contemporary works in a variety of media by American artists.
89 Main St., (802) 229-9492.
Global Gifts boasts an international selection of home décor and personal fashion items.
9 Langdon St., (802) 229-2777.
The Cheshire Cat showcases wearable art.
28 Elm St., (802) 223-1981.
Buch Spieler Records buys and sells music from around the world.
27 Langdon St., (802) 229-0449.
And Splash Naturals stocks a carefully curated collection of organic and natural products for face and body care.
67 Main St., (802) 223-7752.
Vermont produces half of the maple syrup used in the United States. Take a tour of a long-established sugaring operation, visit the multimedia displays, and taste-test various grades of syrup—all free—at Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. Be sure to buy a maple creemee (soft ice cream)—it’s a Vermont thing.
1168 County Road, (800) 242-2740.
Drive the 20 minutes from Montpelier to Waterbury Center to watch cider being pressed at Cold Hollow Cider Mill—just as it has been for 25 years. Made at a rate of more than 800 dozen a day during the fall, the cider doughnuts have been highly praised by Gourmet magazine. Free tours.
3600 Waterbury-Stowe Road, (800) 327-7537.