By Amy Allen

Vermont is filled with small, unique towns, each offering their own charm in the form of general stores, restaurants, and shops and Brandon, Vermont is certainly on that list. Located roughly halfway between Rutland and Middlebury, Brandon is not a spot to simply pass through in the car; it’s worth a stop.

A village green is at the center of the downtown area, and is marked by a historical monument that commemorates soldiers from the town who died fighting the Civil War. A gazebo is also located on the green, and throughout the warmer months, people gather there for outdoor concerts and craft fairs. The buildings in town are known for their historical architecture, with many referring to Brandon as a “quintessential New England village.

One of Brandon’s defining characteristics is its support of art. The downtown features several art galleries, along with a non-profit artists guild that features the work of local artists and promotes art throughout the state. Perhaps the most famous artist to call Brandon home is beloved American folk artist Warren Kimble. Kimble and his wife have lived in Brandon for nearly 30 years and until recently, owned and operated a gallery in town that showcased his work. Kimble’s distinctive art features beautiful barns, farm animals, sweeping trees and American flags.

In addition to its art galleries, Brandon features several gift shops, as well as wonderful restaurants. One of its most famous restaurants is Café Provence, a chef-owned spot featuring food from the chef’s native country of France. The spot also offers cooking classes for those interested in learning traditional French cooking techniques. For more casual fare, there is a very popular spot that sells tacos (and ice cream), a great bakery/coffee shop, and Chinese food restaurant as well.

Brandon also offers lodging, which contributes to making it a popular wedding destination. The Brandon Inn is centrally located downtown, and the popular Lilac Inn is just outside the downtown area. Also just outside the downtown area is one of Brandon’s newest and most popular attractions: the Barn Opera. Opened in late August of 2021, the Barn is the state’s only theatre specifically designed for opera. Live performances are offered throughout the year with a 110 seat capacity. Fans have raved both about the quality of the performances and the unique beauty of the theater.

Brandon truly offers something for everyone, even a beautiful, cascading waterfall in the center of town. It’s worth checking out, whether for just a few hours or even overnight, so that visitors are able to uncover all the big things this small town has to offer.

by Amy Allen

Burlington, Vermont offers something for everyone, and can be a wonderful day or weekend trip at any time of the year. Burlington’s location on the shores of Lake Champlain helps blend the best of peaceful nature with the energy of a bustling city. Burlington manages to thrive, as it’s busy all year long thanks to lake visitors in the summer and University of Vermont students and faculty during the school year.

One of Burlington’s top spots is Church Street Marketplace, an uncovered, outdoor pedestrian shopping and dining mall. The street is named for the 19th century church at the top of the street. It’s closed to traffic, runs for four blocks, and boasts over 130 specialty shops, restaurants and vendors. While some of the shops are popular stores like Lululemon, Banana Republic, Athleta, Urban Outfitters, and The Body Shop, many others are unique, eclectic boutique type shops where visitors can find original gifts for others or to keep for themselves! In addition to clothing stores, there are shops that sell books, records, housewares, jewelry, and more; there’s truly something for everyone.

Visitors to Church Street often love to dine at one of the many restaurants along the walkway, some of which offer outdoor dining which means fantastic people watching. And those hungry for dessert can visit Vermont’s own Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream, or the decadent Lake Champlain Chocolate Shop which serves up incredible handmade chocolates and treats.

Church Street is often home to festivals and events, and there are live musicians and artists stationed throughout the walkway year-round to help entertain those walking and shopping, or those waiting for a loved one inside a store!
Church Street has something to offer 365 days a year, along with gorgeous foliage in the fall, twinkling lights in the winter, flowering trees in the spring, and warm temperatures and a fountain for kids to run in during the summer. Don’t miss this fun stop that reflects the best of Vermont for locals and tourists alike.