Foodies can plan an entire vacation around the numerous classes for home cooks and bakers offered in this charming town on the Connecticut River. In addition to its own attractions—which also include a kid-friendly science museum that’s just as fascinating for adults—Norwich is a 15-minute drive from Quechee, home to Vermont’s “Little Grand Canyon.” Thirty minutes away is a quintessential New England living-history farm in Woodstock.
Drive time: 6 hours, 15 minutes
Where to Stay
The Norwich Inn has been around since 1797. And while the original building burned down in 1889, a gracious Victorian structure was built on its foundation the following year. Today, it houses the country-cozy Main Inn. Two other newer buildings, the Walker House and the Ivy Lodge, feature gas fireplaces in their rooms, and the Ivy offers pet-friendly options.
$199-$245 weekdays, $225-$265 weekends. 325 Main St., (802) 649-1143.
The Norwich inn.
Where to Eat
To go with its repertoire of more than 50 house-brewed English-style ales and lagers, Jasper Murdock’s Alehouse at the Norwich Inn offers a traditional pub menu with burgers, shepherd’s pie, fish-and-chips, and moules frites. $14-$18. More elaborate entrées like garlic-marinated rack of lamb and ponzu-glazed salmon are also available. $21-$30. For breakfast, the restaurant serves egg dishes, pancakes, French toast and its own blend of granola. $6-$12.
Settle in with one of the creative cocktails at Carpenter and Main, then share an assortment of intriguing, seasonally inspired small plates, including sweet-potato fried pie with cucumber yogurt sauce and braised-short- rib bruschetta. $5-$14. Or tuck into a full-size entrée like hangar steak frites or trout à la meunière. $12-$28.
326 Main St., (802) 649-2922.
Local ingredients are spotlighted on the menu at Thyme. Recent dishes included sesame pork-and-ginger meat loaf, and basil, lemon and garlic mafalda pasta with roasted cauliflower sauce. $16.95-$23.95.
85 N. Main St., White River Junction, (802) 295-3312.
Start your day with something different at Tuckerbox Café, which specializes in authentic Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine. Breakfast offerings include a sandwich made with eggs and sucuk (Turkish beef sausage) and also menemen, a traditional dish with sautéed tomato, pepper and herbs topped with egg. $6.95-$8.95. Dinner includes numerous kebabs, casseroles, and veggie- or lamb-stuffed eggplant. $15.99-$29.99.
1 S. Main St., White River Junction, (802) 359-4041.
Elixir has earned its place as a local favorite with apps like crab-stuffed calamari and a duck-confit-goat-cheese tart. Simple yet elegant entrées include cocoa-dusted petits filets mignon, shrimp scampi, and a vegetarian risotto that changes daily. $17.50-$28.50.
188 S. Main St., White River Junction, (802) 281-7009.
The Norwich Inn.
What to Do
With a history dating back to the 18th century, King Arthur Flour offers three-hour ($75) and four-hour ($100) baking classes that cover everything from the flakiest pastries to the most flavorful breads. Two-and-a-half-hour classes ($95) for families (up to four) are also available. Be sure to browse the store and watch bakers prepare fresh breads and pastries for the on-site café.
135 Route 5 S, (802) 652-3334 (baking school) and (802) 649-3361 (store and café).
More than 125 indoor and outdoor hands-on exhibits engage kids and intrigue adults at the Montshire Museum of Science. Watch a colony of live ants at work, move a three-ton rock with just string, and stroll the solar system. The special exhibit Toys: The Inside Story will be featured in the fall. $15 adults, $12 kids.
1 Montshire Road, (802) 649-2200.
Chat with the glassblowers at Simon Pearce as they craft exquisite decorative and functional items only feet away. The showroom is a worthy destination of its own. The on-site Mill at Simon Pearce restaurant serves up splendid views of the Ottauquechee River falls, along with upscale lunch ($15-$19) and dinner ($22-$40) selections.
1760 Quechee Main St., Quechee, (802) 295-2711.
Observe the care and feeding of the Northeast’s largest collections of birds of prey—including bald eagles, owls, hawks and falcons—at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. Bird and reptile meet-and-greets are on the daily schedule through October. $15.
6565 Woodstock Road, Quechee, (802) 359-5000.
You’ll cover a lot of beautiful countryside on a two-hour guided tour with Quechee Segway. $89; nature tour $69.
5573 Woodstock Road, Quechee, (802) 291-0200.
Billings Farm and Museum is a fully functional dairy farm that showcases Vermont’s rural roots and family life dating back to 1871. Among the site’s attractions are a restored and furnished 1890 farmhouse and a one-room country school. Fall events include horse-drawn wagon rides, and a barn dance. $15.
69 Old River Road, Woodstock, (802) 457-2355.
One of the best vantage points for admiring Central Vermont’s autumn colors is from 168 feet above the Ottauquechee River at Quechee Gorge—Vermont’s “Little Grand Canyon.” Take in the view of the river and waterfalls from the Route 4 bridge, or hike a mile to the bottom of the chasm.
Visitors Center, 5966 Woodstock Road, Quechee, (802) 295-7900.
Quechee Gorge Village is a collection of unique shops, including the 450-booth Vermont Antique Mall, the Vermont Toy Museum (admission is free), Vermont Spirits Distilling Company (free samples), and Green Mountain Fire & Hammer Blacksmith Shop.
5573 Woodstock Road, Quechee, (802) 295-1550, ext. 102.