Vermont's Crown Jewels: by area: Northern Vermont, Central Vermont, Southern Vermont or...

My Top Choices: The Places I Love for their special magic. Under each area (North, South, Central) you'll find attractions I enjoy visiting... but these are the places I love. The places that make me feel good about Vermont. So, without rhyme or reason:

Calvin Coolidge's Birthplace: In Plymouth. My number one pick... if you see nothing else in Vermont, see this. Widely considered the best preserved presidential birthplace in the nation, the center of Plymouth (now a historic site) features the President's father's General Store, the church, cheese factory, even the "dance hall." Ten buildings in all, and a little restaurant with real pie. Coolidge's favorite beverage was a soft drink called "Moxie" which they sell at the general store... buy one and sit on the steps with it, and you can almost see yesterday across the fields.

The Vermont State House: in Montpelier. Open M-F year round, Saturdays 11-4:30, July-Mid October, with tours. Considered one of the most beautiful, and wonderfully restored, Capitol buildings in the United States, I love this building for its history, graces, and (of all things) sound. The acoustics in the lobby make footfalls ring... it is the sound of a citizen's power in this small state. (free)

What is a vacation without shopping? Some of Vermont's best surprises can be found hidden in small towns and shops you wouldn't think to go into.  In Stowe on the Mountain Road (route 108) across from the Baggy Knees Shopping Center is a little shop called "Erica's Attic."  Who'd think to go into a consignment store to find incredible deals in antiques? Erica is the person to call when your mother is downsizing.. and in the mismatched tea cups and odd books you'll find antique persian rugs, some stunning furnishings, collectible Royal Doulton, cut crystal.. when you're out and about, look for the little places. You may find a pleasant surprise!

Ethan Allen Homestead: Burlington. You can do The Spirit of Ethan Allen, lunch on the Church Street Marketplace, and spend part of the afternoon at the Ethan Allen Homestead. Part of an archaeological site, the homestead shares its history with 5000 years of human habitation, but I love this attraction for its peaceful grounds. Although the media show in the "tavern" isn't too shabby either.

Shelburne Museum: Shelburne. Vermont's largest attraction (37 buildings on 45 acres of beautiful gardens, including a wide variety of apple trees and lilacs), Shelburne Museum's advertising is so ubiquitous its easy to think it is over hyped. But buried on these grounds are some wonderful Impressionists (Monet, Manet, Degas etc) as well as some early Vermont portraits and landscapes that give me shivers. We've used the buildings and objects at the museum to reconstruct our own farm, plan outbuildings, and restore gardens. Expensive admission by Vermont standards, but worth it. The museum opens at 10 am... be there, and plan on spending the entire day.

The Town of Weston: Home of the Weston Country Store, which does have a web site, but you really have to see it in person. Uneven wood floors, plank shelves, and merchandise your great grandmother would recognize that leaves most kids just puzzled. What the heck is a "hair rat?" Pretty, picture pretty, town green, and little shops up the main street. A tourist town, no question, but a fun little town too.

The Town of Putney: Now, I could spend a lifetime in Putney, so I'm slightly biased. Squeezed between The River and the interstate, Putney is more community than tourist attraction, with the best food coop in the state just as you exit the highway. In Putney you'll find the Green Mountain Spinnery, where they spin small lots of premium fleece and mohair into exquisite wools, and a thriving fiber arts community. Basketville has its home here, as does a pick your own orchard operation (Haskals?) I stop at every time I pass through so I can load up on the berry of the season.

continue on to Northern Vermont, home of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream (of course) <Northern Vermont Vacation Guide>

continue on to history rich Central Vermont, home of Plymouth and Billings Farm. <Central Vermont Visitor's Guide>

continue on to Southern Vermont, since Putney is a small town, you'll need some other attractions to fill out the day. <Southern Vermont Vacation Planning>

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