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Picturesque Landscapes, Good Food & Fabulous Skiing: A Winter Getaway to Middlebury

Jan 09, 2017 12:09PM ● By Victoria Pipas
If you’re looking for a sweet escape from the Upper Valley for a weekend of picturesque pastoral landscapes, good food, and fabulous skiing, consider a quick trip to Middlebury in Central Vermont.

Only 90 minutes from Lebanon, Middlebury is a perfect distance to offer a change of scenery without taking much time in transit. Head north on I-89 for an easy adventure guaranteed to refresh and relax you.

Below, we outline a weekend plan for your time in the tiny town. Whether you like spending time outdoors or cozying up by a fireplace with a mug of cocoa, Middlebury will more than meet your needs.

Friday Evening: After work, hit the road by 5pm to arrive close to 6:30 from Lebanon or White River Junction. Be careful on the winding mountain roads, however, and watch out for critter crossings in the dark. Arrive at your pre-booked inn of choice. The Middlebury Inn offers a step into the past with its historical presence and Victorian-style accommodations. Be sure to book a room in their main lodging rather than in the more-recent annex to get the full effect of this hotel’s grace and charm. This time of year, you may enjoy booking one of their ski or historical packages, which allow you to experience nearby sights at discounted rates. For dinner, take a seat in the cozy comfort of the Morgan Tavern, located on the first floor of the inn. The Middlebury Onion and Fennel Soup, made with Otter Creek Stout, will warm your spirits on a cold night, and the Black Angus Burger is a hearty classic. Tuck into bed early for your busy day ahead.

Saturday Morning: Wake up rested and bundle up for a morning of touring around town. For breakfast, head straight to the European-style Otter Creek Bakery to pick up some early-morning croissants before they are sold out!, Ranging from sticky pecan buns to hearty multi-grain breads with berry jam, their selection of pastries and breads is astonishing. Pick up a box of cookies or muffins to take back for everyone at home. Next, enjoy the local shopping. Visit Wild Mountain Thyme for quirky, particularly Vermont-style women’s clothing, or hit Mendy’s Clothing and Accessories nearby for something a little more city chic. For cute gifts, visit Clementine, also on Main Street. Finally, for outdoor wear and high-quality fishing goods, check out the Middlebury Mountaineer. Enjoy a fresh, healthy lunch at the Middlebury Food Co-op, where you can find a colorful salad bar, to-die-for panini, and bright smoothies, all made to order and enjoyed easily in the café area. If you have time and are craving a bit of fine art, head up the street to the Middlebury College Museum, which is open to the public (noon–5pm on weekends). You may also want to check out the Middlebury College Performing Arts Schedule for your visit.

Saturday Afternoon: If you’re feeling like it might be time to burn some energy and see the great outdoors, head to Snake Mountain or Buck Mountain for an easy afternoon hike. The former is slightly longer, but both offer a round trip in under two hours, depending on how much time you take at the top for the breathtaking views. The trails are accessible even in winter, but make sure you have sturdy, waterproof hiking boots and even crampons for icy conditions underneath the snow. For an afternoon pick-me-up following your hike, return for hot drinks at Carol’s Hungry Mind Café. This nook is a favorite of college students holing up for the day to study, and the place is always filled with locals in contemplative discussion and fascinating artwork adorning the walls. For beverages, we can’t help but recommend the Sap Sucker, hot or iced. It’s effectively a frothy latté with a shot of maple syrup, just for kicks. As they say, when in Vermont . . . .

Saturday Evening: After a warm shower, head out (to a reserved table) at the  Storm Café, one of Middlebury’s hidden culinary treasures. Located right on the banks of Otter Creek in the basement of the Old Stone Mill, this restaurant offers top-quality local ingredients prepared in a variety of cuisines. Their seasonally inspired salads offer the flavors of the region; the Winter Salad is bursting with fresh greens, salty Gorgonzola and bacon, pears, walnuts, and caramelized onions. You can’t go wrong with the Vermont Fresh-Pasta Ravioli; all their pasta dishes are flavorful, fortifying meals.


Sunday Morning: Book a table for Sunday brunch at The Lobby, one of Middlebury’s finest restaurants. The Lobby offers metropolitan fare made with well-chosen local ingredients. After a mimosa or an Irish coffee, try the Maple Cardamom French Toast to satisfy your sweet tooth, or enjoy the signature Brunch Duck Burger for something more savory. When you’ve had your fill, pack up and check out of the Inn and drive back toward the Upper Valley area, stopping about 20 minutes into your drive for some good Vermont skiing. If you prefer cross-country skiing, your location is Rikert Nordic Center, where you can ski around the beautiful wooded trails for hours, maybe even making it out to the Robert Frost Cabin. The center offers more than 55 kilometers of groomed classic and skate trails (you can rent both types there), as well as opportunities to try your hand at snowshoeing or fat biking. If you are more of a downhill junkie, drive up the road a few minutes more to reach the Middlebury College Snow Bowl, a favorite among families and college students alike. Enjoy short lift lines and spectacular views.

Happy slopes!

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