Situated in central Vermont at the intersection of three scenic routes, Waterbury woos visitors and locals alike with its wide variety of shopping, touring and tasting. Plan to come to this crossroad of Vermont along the Winooski River on an empty stomach and allow yourself to graze your way through some of Vermont’s tastiest treats. (Cows aren’t the only ones known for grazing in Vermont.) Plan to stock up, too, on a carload of Vermont-made goodies that will remind you of your trip once back home. (It’s also a great place to shop for gifts galore.)
Downtown Waterbury boasts many favorite food and drink emporiums and stores including Prohibition Pig and Stowe Street Emporium. For more extensive foodie touring, you’ll want to head out along Route 100, often referred to as the Stowe Road. Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first to establish the tour and taste theme of the area and they remain one of the biggest destinations in Waterbury, if not all of Vermont. (Who doesn’t like ice cream?) Enjoy a half-hour factory tour from late May through December, find out how the yummy goods are made and how this progressive company continually strives to bring about change. Indulge in ice cream and gifts year-round and top off your visit to the Flavor Graveyard where you can weep over the de-pinted flavors that have been retired–it’s a hoot!
Keep that sugar high going practically next door at Lake Champlain Chocolates where you’ll discover a ginormous candy box-sized offering of confections in the most chocolate-y of forms including hot chocolate, hand-whipped fudge, ice cream and a gazillion different chocolates.
By now you’re likely in need of some real food. You’ll find one of the best turkey sandwiches around at Apple Core Luncheonette, Cold Hollow Cider Mill’s lovely little eatery. Wash your sandwich and chips down with a perfectly chilled apple cider and you’ll feel like you’re experiencing the best of Vermont. Even if you’re vying for your place among a group of leaf peepers that just stepped off the tour bus, don’t worry, you likely still feel like your savoring Vermont’s finest. Save time for shopping for apples, cider, cider donuts and an orchard-sized selection of gift items in the main building. And if you delight in a little nip, know that there’s plenty of hard cider to be tasted as well.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, now part of Kuerig Green Mountain, Inc., firmly established Vermont and more specifically Waterbury as coffee central back in the eighties. Head over to Waterbury’s historic train station to check out Green Mountain’s Café & Visitor Center where you can learn about the making of a good cup of joe and then indulge in some specialty coffee drinks and homemade goodies. Enjoy an especially authentic coffee moment at Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co. Shop here and sip some of the finest blends at their European-styled coffee bar. Free tastings and tours are offered on Saturdays and if you’re really serious about your brews, sign up for one of their coffee bar workshops or clinics where you can learn to be a roaster or barista par excellence.
Vermont is also known for its cheese and Cabot ranks as the biggest name among cheesemakers in the Green Mountain state. Pick up a nice hunk of cheddar and other Vermont specialty products at Cabot Farmers’ Store, also on the Waterbury-Stowe Road.
Now that Waterbury’s biggest and best known food and drink purveyors have been outlined, it’s up to you to sniff out the smaller eateries and shops peppered throughout this historic town and its outlying area. Remember two things though:go hungry and go big. You can always hike or ski it off. And in terms of shopping, stock up because sourcing out interesting gift ideas here is more fun than going to a big box store, the corner mall or even ordering online.