Shopping and Touring in Bennington, Brattleboro and Beyond
Tradition is alive and well in Vermont.
Jan 20, 2022 at 7:00 AM in Where to Shop by
Arguably known for its wealth of outdoor activities, the Green Mountain state delights visitors and locals alike surely as much for its historic character, local charms and pastoral landscapes. Add to that a wagon-load of Vermont-made products, bric-a-brac, arts, crafts and antiques and you have the components for some of the best shopping and touring in the United States.
Bennington, not far from the New York border, is a good place to start in southern Vermont. It’s the most populated town in this part of the state and also home to the renowned Bennington College, so it’s a happening place year round. Chartered in 1749, Bennington is also the oldest town in the state, and not surprisingly a veritable bastion of history. Let the Bennington Battle Monument be an integral part of your tour. This 306-foot obelisk, reminiscent of the Washington Monument, commemorates the Battle of Bennington, a pivotal event during the Revolutionary War. Opened in 1891, today this stone beacon still stands as the tallest manmade structure in Vermont. If you’re lucky enough to find the observation floor open, do take in the views from above. The gift shop here is worth a look, too.
Your history tour of the region can continue at the Bennington Museum , which showcases a rich collection of art and artifacts from the eighteenth century to present day. Highlights include exquisite furnishings and paintings from Vermont as well as the Bennington Flag, one of the oldest flags in our country. Folk art enthusiasts will find the museum’s collection of Grandma Moses paintings particularly heartwarming. Be sure to take in the Grandma Moses Schoolhouse as well, which was moved to this location in 1972. It’s sweet.
Speaking of sweet, you’ll find all kinds of goodies in historic downtown Bennington to bring home or to enjoy on the premises. Henry’s Market, for example, is an institution and much loved by visitors and locals alike. Since 1911, they have been offering all kinds of housemade sweet and savory items, including a wide selection of smoked meats, aged Vermont cheeses, maple products, bakery items and more.
In terms of arts, antiques and crafts, you’ll find plenty within downtown Bennington and beyond. Stoneware from Bennington Potters is synonymous with this Vermont town. They’ve been making handsome and highly functional pottery here for three quarters of a century. Their stores are currently closed but you can order their goods online (Bennington Potters). For antiques, you can find an abundance of dealers housed within Camelot Antiques and Eagle Bridge Antique Center. (Eagle Bridge is actually in New York state but you’d swear it was Vermont.)
An hour east of Bennington in Brattleboro, you can delve into another vibrant arts and dining scene within this old mill town situated at the confluence of Vermont’s West River and the Connecticut River. The jumble of houses and buildings built within the steep hillsides of Brattleboro create a more intimate setting for gallery going, boutique browsing and bistro dining. It doesn’t take long to discover that there’s lots to enjoy within this snug little community. Add to that a world class museum, the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center, or BMAC, the Vermont Jazz Center and the New England Center for Circus Arts and you have the formula for a quaint little town with a lot going on. First settled as a fort, today’s Brattleboro is a stronghold for arts and entertainment–largely contemporary.
So you see, you could easily spend a week in southern Vermont. Be sure to check out all that’s offered between Bennington and Brattleboro, including shopping for Vermont made arts and crafts, wines, brews, spirits and gourmet food items in Harmonyville (don’t you love that name?), Halifax and Marlboro, to name a few of the smaller towns. Putney boasts some terrific maple syrup purveyors. Sap from the region’s maple trees is collected in the early spring, boiled and bottled up to preserve Vermont’s amber-colored maple syrups in the sugarhouses that dot this area.
Yes, tradition is alive and well in Vermont and it’s largely thanks to the Vermonters’ way of life that this New England state stands out as such a great place to visit for the rest of us.