Tucked between the rolling hills of the Green Mountains, the historic towns of Waitsfield and Warren exude the sweetness and charm that folks have come to associate with Vermont. You won’t find any big box stores within this bucolic and oh-so verdant area–not even when it’s all white! Known as Mad River Valley, you will, however, find a plethora of unique shops, many of which showcase handmade goods from local craftspeople.
Historic Waitsfield Village is a good place to begin because it’s both beautiful and bountiful. For a lovely selection of fine Vermont art and crafts, go to the Artisans’ Gallery, Mad River Glass Gallery & Studio and Waitsfield Pottery. Farther down on Main Street, check out Vermont Festival of the Arts & Festival Gallery tucked into Village Square.
Also within this locale, if you’re into knitting, you must go to Shades of Winter Yarn Shop. This being Vermont–where the winters can be crazy long and cold–you can imagine that there you’ll find one of the best selections of yarn around. From maple leaf red to lilac, you can purchase yarns of almost every imaginable color and texture at Mad River Woolery on Main Street. Totally the real deal, there’s even a small-scale woolen mill in the back. Be sure to enquire in advance about workshops and other fun activities.
Continue your art tour across the way at Mad River Green Shops where you’ll likely feel compelled to buy something from The Starving Artists Gang. (With a name like that, how could you not?)
Also within this shopping complex, check out Peanut & Mouse for baby and child, Whippletree Designs souvenir clothing and accessories that specialize in custom embroidering and The Collection, a store that showcases a wagon-load of gift ideas including home décor items, Vermont comestibles and toys for kids of all ages.
The Store, on the other side of Main Street, will bring out the kitchen god or goddess in the most blasé home cook. Whether or not you’re seduced by their superior selection of kitchenware, gadgets or cookbooks, you’re sure to leave here more inspired than before stopping in. Best of all:You can even take cooking classes at The Store, so lay out your plans in advance.
Every quaint little town deserves an endearing bookstore. Waitsfield is no exception and it has proudly served as home to the Tempest Book Shop since 1977. Pow, take that eBooks!
Vermont and Christmas go together like red and green during holiday time, so it comes as no surprise that it’s Christmas year-round in Waitsfield at All Things Bright & Beautiful. Their superlative collection of European, handmade and custom Christmas ornaments will hearten you to stock up on gifts for yourself, friends and loved ones even if you find yourself shopping in the dead of summer. Who doesn’t love Christmas in July?
As you travel through Vermont, you’re charmed by their wealth of general stores and farm stands–there’s even roadside firewood for sale on the honor system. It’s all very down-home and good, particularly when it comes to locally grown fruit, vegetables, meats and other speciality food products. Within Mad River Valley alone, there are five fantabulous farm stands including Gaylord Farm, Hartshorn Farm, Kenyon’s Farm, Knoll Farm and Neill Farm. Check out the Waitsfield Discovery Map for exact locations. Some of these are seasonal, somewhat like the Waitsfield Farmers’ Market, which operates from mid May through mid October. One can only hope that you come in season. (Although the skiing and riding here rank high on the reasons to go to Mad River Valley as well.)
Looking for that quintessential Vermont country store experience? Head over to the tiny little town of Warren. It’s not much bigger than a hamlet but boy is it worth the trip. The no-frills Warren Store provides an authentic Vermont moment whether you’re shopping for a piece of cheese or a super jazzy bike jersey. Don’t miss Moosewalk Studio & Gallery while you’re there as well as East Warren Market, a cool country co-op.
One more thing:Visit and shop at The Bowl Mill just south of Warren in Granville, a bowl and clapboard mill established in 1857. From antiques to today’s artisanal creations, there’s lots to see and buy here.