Quintessential Vermont at every turn
Oct 31, 2019 at 8:00 AM by
The title of this write up is extremely misleading. There’s so much to discover within the Upper Valley that one could write volumes about what you find throughout this endearing section of New England. There’s much to unearth within the jumble of small towns and villages that for the most part border the Connecticut River with Vermont to the west and New Hampshire to the east. Perhaps it’s best to start with the towns.
Norwich, a tiny little town in Vermont, serves as home to many people that work across the river at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire. Not surprisingly, the homes here rank among the most historic and beautiful in the area. Go to Jasper Murdock’s Ale House and The Norwich Inn for a whiff of Old World charm. A visit to King Arthur Flour, a company founded in Boston in 1790 but now headquartered here, is a fun thing to do, too. Of course they have a café that serves all kinds of baked goods for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
Work off your treats at Montshire Museum of Science & Nature Trails, also in Norwich. Here you can discover over 150 science exhibits and also explore three miles of trails at their 100-acre “outdoor museum.”
Over in Hanover, New Hampshire, you feel as though you just stepped into the movie “”Dead Poets Society.” Although that blockbuster film that eulogized college life was not made here, Hanover is the quintessential college town. Dartmouth College dominates the scene in all the right ways: art, ambiance, culture, theater, sports, outdoor activities–all the good things. There’s something to embrace for everyone even if you’re not a student. The Green, in the center of town, is particularly picturesque and if you come on a market day, you’ll enjoy picking up some of the best goods of the region. Museum-goers love the Hood Museum of Art, a museum that dates back to 1772 that was recently spiffed up (by Dartmouth College, the owner) to showcase their fine collection of art.
Shopping and dining in Hanover is as eclectic as the Dartmouth’s student body. And thank goodness there are price points to match everyone’s budget. Go to Molly’s Restaurant & Bar, a favorite among the students for a fun, up-close look at the local scene. The owners here are also proprietors of Jesse’s Steakhouse, the kind of place that parents might take their kids to when in town for a visit. Also on the high end in Hanover, you can shop at Simon Pearce in case you missed the magnificent headquarters of this master of table arts-especially glass blowing–in Quechee, Vermont. (For seconds shopping, visit the Simon Pearce Factory outlet in Windsor, Vermont in the lower part of the Upper Valley.)
Historic buildings abound within the Upper Valley and you’ll find some of the nicest examples of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century architecture in White River Junction, Vermont, an historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The White River Arts & Shops District is filled chock a block with wonderful little stores, galleries, eateries and other establishments housed within buildings bubbling with charm.
Lebanon, New Hampshire is another great little town along the Connecticut River. You can make it your base and enjoy all kinds of recreation in the area, since it’s surrounded by nature. The Northern Rail Trail of New Hampshire and Boston Lot Reservoir provide all kinds of terrain for outdoor fun. When here, make sure you go see the Packard Hill Covered Bridge one of the prettiest covered bridges in America.
You can enjoy both the outdoors and learning some history of the region at the Enfield Shaker Museum in Enfield, New Hampshire. Nestled in a valley between Mt. Assurance and Lake Mascoma, the site of this museum is both simple and splendid, much like the Shaker way of life. Spend time visiting the exhibits and also try to attend one of the many events held at this historic site. During the fair weather months, you can spend long, meditative moments in their herb and flower gardens.
Life is sweet in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire.