For years, we had wanted to explore New Hampshire and Vermont. Why procrastinate any longer, we asked ourselves ? Below are brief highlights of our week-long summer road trip. Although our coverage is not in-depth , we hope these “tidbits” will inspire you to plan your own itinerary!
Our August road trip began in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where we rented a car to begin a trip that would take us through rural Vermont with a brief foray into New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
Grafton and environs
Grafton (graftonvermont.org) is undoubtedly one of Vermont’s most beautiful small towns. A popular stagecoach stopover in the 1800s, it has a long history of hospitality. Residents have restored many of the original buildings and preserved its authentic New England ambience. The high-end Grafton Inn (graftoninnvermont.com), which dates to 1801, is the place to stay. It offers impeccable service, luxurious rooms with antiques, an atmospheric restaurant and bar, a weekly barbecue on premises (popular with the locals), a fitness center—and a buffet of recreational activities (hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding and more).
Grafton is also a great base from which to explore other places in both Vermont and New Hampshire. Go on an afternoon driving tour, for example, to see historic, covered wooden bridges (the Inn can provide directions), including the 449-ft. Cornish-Windsor Bridge (built in 1866), the longest one in the United States. Or head north to Quechee, Vermont to hike in the Quechee Gorge or shop for the pottery and glass artworks of renowned Irish artisan, Simon Pearce. In you travel south, check out the famous Grafton Village Cheese (graftonvillagecheese.com) and other attractions in Brattleboro, Vermont (brattleboro.com) or cross the New Hampshire border to visit the shops and restaurants in Walpole, recognized as one of the most charming, small towns in the state.
Additionally, you can plan an overnight or two elsewhere, then finish your trip back in Grafton (or head directly back to Durham or Portsmouth, NH to catch the shuttle bus to the Boston airport)..
Drive an hour north, for example, from Grafton to Woodstock, Vermont (woodstockvt.com), one of the state’s most beautiful towns, where you can stroll on the large Village Green, see the local covered bridges and browse in a wide variety of shops and fine restaurants. On the way, between Grafton and Woodstock, check out the late 18th-19thcentury stone architecture of the tiny village of Chester (chestervt.gov), listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you have time (including another overnight), continue an hour and a half north of Woodstock to idyllic Sugar Hill, Vermont, located in the gorgeous White Mountains. You’ll find many hiking, cycling and skiing opportunities. Enjoy fine dining at the Sugar Hill Inn (sugarhillinn.com) or more casual fare on the outdoor terrace at the Cold Mountain Café in nearby Whitefield, New Hampshire. In Whitefield, also check out the Weathervane Theater (wvtheatreplayersnh.org), which stages top quality plays, including new productions of Broadway musicals and dramas.
Consider staying at either the historic Sugar Hill Inn (sugarhillinn.com) or at the more casual Inn at Sunset Hill (innatsunsethill.com), dating to 1880, where every room offers lovely views of the mountains. Wherever you chill out in the evening, don’t miss breakfast at Polly’s Pancake Parlor (pollyspancakeparlor.com), a longtime, family restaurant that offers one of the best breakfasts in New England. Don’t get frustrated if you have to wait in line to get in—this place is worth it!
If you can’t manage all this on your first trip, you’ll have plenty of reasons to return! We suspect we’ll go back in autumn to enjoy the foliage— and, perhaps, add to our agenda scenic Shelburne, Vermont (shelburnevt.org),located on the shores of Lake Champlain. The attractions here include the Shelburne Museum (shelburnemuseum.org), which showcases world renowned collections of art and Americana spanning four centuries.
So much to see, so little time!