Rutland Area Attractions
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
No one loves getting lost when driving somewhere, but it can be incredibly fun and a bonding experience with family and friends when you get lost while walking through a gigantic corn maze together. There’s no better place to experience this than at Vermont’s largest corn maze, Hathaway Farms, located in Rutland Town, VT. The farm and maze is perched atop Prospect Hill, offering one of the most beautiful views of the Green Mountain State.
The maze opens for guests in late July and stays open until mid-October. It’s open from 10 am – 5 pm on weekdays, (every Saturday till 9), is closed Tuesdays, and often remains open on weekends in November and December as long as the weather permits. The business keeps an updated website and Facebook page, so visitors can check in there for updates on hours and weekend openings in the early winter. Saturday evenings are particularly popular with young teens, who enjoy wandering the maze together in the dark using glow sticks and being able to partake in a safe yet independent activity.
The farm isn’t just for show. It’s a third generation working beef and maple farm. The livestock barn is a huge attraction, allowing guests to get up close and personal with donkeys, giant rabbits, sheep, chickens, cows and more. There’s a farm store selling the farm’s own maple syrup and Vermont-made products, as well as a “Snack Shack” that serves food and refreshments for those who work up an appetite while wandering through the tall corn. Additionally, there are wagon rides, pumpkin picking, fun games to play, a corn pit (think ball pit but with kernels of corn) for little kids to play in, play houses, swings, and even a mini-maze that’s more manageable for young kids to solve.
The maze itself is set up according to a different theme each year, with the owners providing an aerial view of the design once the season is over for all to enjoy. Visitors to the maze are given a square of paper after paying their admission fee, and while moving through the corn, they answer trivia questions at different stations with the correct answer providing the proper path forward, and also collect different shaped hole punches on their papers at each station. All eight punch stations are hard to find, but those who manage to punch their paper with every single one get to enter a special raffle drawing upon exiting the maze. Additionally, several tall bridges are located throughout the maze, providing sweeping views of the beautiful surrounding area. Solving the maze is no easy task, but there is an early exit for those who choose to abandon the quest and just enjoy all that the farm has to offer.
Spending a few hours at Hathaway Farm and Corn Maze means outdoor fun for the entire family in a beautiful setting! This is a don’t miss attraction in the Rutland area!
For more information, visit https://www.hathawayfarm.com/
Take a Stroll Through the Vermont Farmers Market
By Amy Allen
Shopping locally and supporting farmers is quintessential Vermont, and there’s no better way to do that, than to shop at Vermont’s largest farmers’ market, located in downtown Rutland. Even better, the market runs year-round, allowing vendors a place to sell their goods as well as giving locals and tourists an opportunity to purchase a wide variety of items all year long.
The market is held at Depot Park in Downtown Rutland, adjacent to the Wal-Mart shopping plaza. It runs on Saturdays from mid-May through the end of October from 9 am – 2 pm. Visitors can easily find parking in the adjacent lots, and take a stroll through the vendor stalls while listening to live music and chatting with the farmers and artisans. Many enjoy the opportunity to get to know the farmers producing their food, and the chance to glean some growing techniques for their own backyard gardens. The produce available changes from week to week, depending on what’s in season. Visitors can enjoy fresh berries in the opening weeks of the market and things like root vegetables and apples as the weather turns crisp and fall approaches.
Additionally, a somewhat smaller version of the weekend market runs on Wednesday afternoons in the same location from 1pm – 5pm. In early November, once the weather turns cold, the market moves indoors to the Vermont Farmers Food Center, located just up the road from the summer location. The vendors stay there every Saturday, from 10 am – 2 pm until the month of May, when it warms up enough to be back outside.
The market has something for everyone; from fresh produce, to garden starts in the spring, to homemade jams and sauces, to fresh eggs, breads, artisan cheeses, pies, maple syrup, and a wide variety of prepared ethnic foods that can be eaten there or brought home for lunch or dinner. Additionally, a wide-variety of Vermont crafts are available, such as beautifully crafted cutting boards, unique handmade jewelry, beautiful pottery, as well as hand knit items, just to name a few. The market is a perfect place to shop for yourself, and for unique gifts for family and friends. You can feel good about spending your dollars locally, and directly benefiting the person who planted the seeds for the lettuce in your salad or knitted the yarn together to create the winter hat atop your head!
Of note, while the market used to allow pets, it currently has a no pet policy in place, so leave the dogs at home. Also, unless purchasing a pricey craft item with a credit card, you’ll want to bring cash with you to make your purchases, as well as a reusable grocery bag in which to store your items while you walk. There’s an ATM located right in the market parking lot should you need cash.
Click here to learn more about the market: https://vtfarmersmarket.org/