For the small-town nostalgia
This sleepy town in the heart of Vermont is sort of the anti-Philly, the kind of place that hardly exists outside of Norman Rockwell paintings. There’s a village green, for instance, where festivals take place on random weekday afternoons and kids frolic the ways kids used to before video games, doing somersaults in the grass. There are wooden covered bridges and white picket fences and little stone steps that lead to benches nestled beside gentle streams. Shopkeeps hang “Be Right Back!” signs on their doors; sidewalk rage doesn’t exist; cars stop for pedestrians; and chances are good that you’ll hit absolutely no traffic whatsoever on the drive from the airport. Woodstock village is postage-stamp small, with a central triangle of activity: library, post office, general store, a smattering of charming shops. It’s the sort of place that makes you swear that once home, you’ll slow down, appreciate the nature we do have, and heck, maybe even smile at strangers. And who knows? Maybe you will. —Emily Goulet
BEDDING DOWN: The Woodstock Inn & Resort (14 The Green, 802-457-1100; from $149 a night), mere steps from the village green, is a study in rustic luxury. Roomy suites are outfitted with Vermont-made blankets, furniture and artwork (book a room in the Tavern Wing to cozy up to your own wood-burning fireplace); morning coffee and afternoon tea are served in the lobby; and a heated pool, a granite fire pit and an impeccable golf course provide ample outdoor options. A can’t-miss? The brand-new spa, where you have to try the hour-and-40-minute seasonal Pumpkin Spice treatment (full-body exfoliation followed by a hydrating body mask and head-to-toe rubdown, from $252).
DINING: For no-frills grub and regional microbrews, go to Bentleys Restaurant (3 Elm Street, 802-457-3232), a quaint corner spot just beyond the green. Miss West Chester’s Simon Pearce Restaurant, with its seasonal, local meals? Then you’ll be happy to visit neighboring Quechee’s outpost (1760 Quechee Main Street, Quechee, 802-295-1470), about a 15-minute drive from Woodstock. (Don’t skip the downstairs glassblowing workshop, where you can watch master artisans craft the stemware from which you sip.)
STATE FARE: Maple syrup is a must, of course, and the Cabot cheddar on the cheese plate at the Inn’s Red Rooster restaurant is divine. But if you visit nearby Sugarbush Farm (591 Sugarbush Farm Road, 802-457-1757), you can sample local
cheeses and syrups.
PASTIMES: Billings Farm and Museum (5302 River Road, 802-457-2355), a half-mile walk (or bike ride; rentals are available at the Inn) from town, offers an up-close look at a working dairy farm that’s been in business since 1871. Admission is free to Inn guests, and it’s worth the trip to stroll the beautiful grounds and say hi to the newborn calves in the nursery. Also: Antiquing here is unmatched, and the charming F.H. Gillingham & Sons General Store (16 Elm Street, 800-344-6668) has a bit of everything.
DAY TRIP: Many a good microbrew is made in the undulating hills of Vermont. We loved the (free!) tour of South Burlington’s Magic Hat Brewery (5 Bartlett Bay Road, 802-658-2739), a scenic 90-minute drive from Woodstock. Good for kids: the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour (1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury, 866-258-6877), which is sweetened by a generous free sample at the end.
GETTING THERE: The easiest trip is a quick just-over-an-hour flight into Manchester, New Hampshire. From there, you’re a 90-minute drive from Woodstock.