There are few places in New England as beautiful as Vermont. So, when deciding where to go President’s Day Weekend, we chose Windsor, the birthplace of Vermont.
Knowing “The Green Mountain State” is a prime destination for holiday weekenders, we chose Windsor since it is one of the less-traveled, easiest to travel to destinations for New Englanders. Most people visit the more popular February break locations like Burlington and Stowe, not to mention the traffic that arrives at dozens of the large ski resorts. Windsor is quiet, however, and conveniently located near the White River Junction, providing quick and easy access to tons of nearby ski areas, attractions, and national parks. So, what are the best places to visit in the Windsor area? Vermont is known for its local businesses, skiing, and tasty restaurants. Here are our less-traveled dining, shopping, and skiing recommendations. You can read about them, or watch our video guide below!
If you like shopping and speciality tastings, head to Artisans Park in Windsor. There, you will find a collection of locally owned businesses that offer everything from dog sledding to beer tours and tastings!
- The Simon Pearce Glassblowing factory (www.simonpearce.com/our-stores/windsor-outlet): At the factory, you can buy discounted glassware, watch master glassblowers create their artwork, or go to a glassblowing or pottery workshop.
- Silo Distillery (www.silodistillery.com): The distillery produces high quality spirits using only local ingredients. Everything is created in house, and there you can taste freshly distilled vodkas, bourbons, and other spirits in their cozy, beautifully adorned rustic barn.
- The Cheese Board (https://cheeseboardvt.com): This store sells many local products, from Vermont maple syrup to Vermont Farmstead Cheeses. The Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company is America’s only community owned dairy and creamery, and has recently joined forces with Whitney’s Castleton Crackers. The company began as a community effort to save a local farm in South Woodstock, Vermont. The farm has since survived, and now produces award-winning cheeses! The cheese store also has offers a wine tasting of Putney Mountain Winery’s delicious fruit wines.
- Blake Hill Preserves (http://blakehillpreserves.com): If you like marmalades, gourmet preserves, and chutneys, this store will pique your interest! This shop slow cooks their products in house, and relies on whole fruits and vegetables, non-GMO certified cane sugar, and never any artificial ingredients. They have been awarded five Gold Medals, six US Good Food Awards, and a SOFI. You also get to taste all of the delicious products before choosing which to buy. Should I mention all their preserves are always fat free and low in sodium? Nice!
- Harpoon Brewery (www.harpoonbrewery.com/breweries/windsor): At Harpoon we started with an hour-long guided brewery tour where we tasted the grains which are used to produce the beer, learned about the complex process of brewing, stepped into their MASSIVE beer cooler which is emptied almost every day, and concluded with a beer tasting of some of harpoon’s finest beers. What a steal at only $5.00!
- Great River Outfitters (http://greatriveroutfitters.com) : This is an adventure outfitting company that offers awesome outdoor activities and gear. Their COOLEST offering is dog sledding! Braeburn Siberians works with Great River Outfitters to schedule incredible, 30 minute rides!
- Oh! Veggies (www.ohveggies.net): A cool shop that produces sauces and seasonings to help jazz up your vegetable recipes!
Skiing and snowboarding on President’s Day Weekend is anything but relaxing in New England. With hour-long lift lines and jacked-up prices, shredding isn’t always fun. Here are a few hidden gems to avoid the bustle and lay some tracks!
- Middlebury Snow Bowl (http://www.middleburysnowbowl.com): Less than an hour from Windsor, the mountain is the perfect destination for people looking to avoid the crowd and relax on scenic lift rides to the peak. The Snow Bowl is a local’s mountain, and on President’s day weekend provided us with walk on lifts, open trails, and a hassle free, relaxed environment. Most people head to the larger mountains, and therefore miss out on this lucky find. The trails were first cut in 1934, making the Snow Bowl one of Vermont’s first ski areas. With 17 trails, several gladed areas for skiing and riding, and a championship downhill racing course, the Snow Bowl has beautiful, scenic terrain for all skiing abilities. Have you ever heard of a mountain with walk on lifts President’s Day weekend?
- Ascutney Tow Rope (http://ascutneyoutdoors.org/ropetow) : Yes, I know most people reading this are like, “What? Didn’t Ascutney close years ago?” The answer is yes, it kinda did, but they offer a free, 806 ft tow rope AND provide ski patrollers. How cool is that? It is a super small mountain, but hey, it’s free! If you just want to get a few runs in and avoid $100-plus-dollar half-day tickets, why not ski there for free?
Most restaurants in Vermont really embrace the farm-to-table philosohy, and use fresh, local products. Here are a few places in the Windsor area you might find enjoyable!
- Riverbend Taps and Beer Garden: This casual restaurant is in Artisans Park, connected to the Harpoon Brewery. It offers a full selection of Harpoon beers straight from the source. You are guaranteed freshly brewed beer every day! They also have pairing suggestions for what beers are best with certain foods. Yum!
- enormous ‘Hollow Burger’ made from 100% Vermont Beef!Skunk Hollow Tavern (http://www.skunkhollowtavern.com): Built circa 1790, The Skunk Hollow Tavern is a local favorite, providing an English Pub atmosphere downstairs, and elegant dining upstairs. The upstairs is cool because they turned two bedrooms into small, quiet dining areas. When you arrive, order a tavern special drink at only $6.00. They won’t tell you what it is, but when it comes out you won’t be disappointed! The ‘Hollow Burger’ is also a solid purchase. It is made from 100% Vermont grass-fed organic beef. Should I mention it is gigantic!
Hope this gives you some ideas about where to go in Vermont during the busy winter weekends! Sometimes when you adventure off the beaten path like us, you discover hidden gems. Please leave you comments or questions below!