Brattleboro is a southeastern Vermont town — Photo courtesy of Greg Lesch
Close to neighboring New Hampshire and situated along the connecting West and Connecticut rivers in southeastern Vermont, Brattleboro holds its own alongside its New England counterparts. While fall foliage draws in visitors, this town has many other things to do.
Along with independently-owned stores, nature spots and a thriving arts calendar, Brattleboro’s dining scene features locally-made drinks and dishes reflecting global and area foods. Consider making the Inn on Putney Road or downtown’s Latchis Hotel your home base while you check out these 10 attractions and restaurants.
At T.J. Buckley's, eat dinner inside a restored railroad dining car — Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann
This fine dining restaurant has a neat location inside a beautifully restored 1925 Worcester Dining Car, with its cozy tables and chairs set up to evoke the charm of another era.
Within its open kitchen space, chef and owner Michael Fuller prepares locally sourced, organic and seasonal New American dishes. With a continuously changing menu, Fuller applies his classic French training toward preparing dinnertime meals. And your ticket to eating here is to book an advanced reservation.
Fire Arts Vermont
Fine Arts Vermont has workshops relating to ceramics and glass blowing — Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann
Started and still operated by master glass artist Randi Solin and ceramics artist Natalie Blake, this art studio and display showroom lets customers get hands on, making art of their own. Fine Arts Vermont regularly holds tours and classes within its glass and clay studios.
Visitors can observe techniques or get involved, from working with molten glass to understanding how ceramics are sculpted, carved and glazed. While at their gallery, you can also purchase handmade designs by Solin, Blake and other local artists.
Shopping in downtown Brattleboro
Harmony Collective Artist Gallery is among many shops within downtown Brattleboro — Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann
It’s hard to feature just one store suggestion, as shopping opportunities adjacent to and along Brattleboro’s Main Street suit various tastes and budgets. Bargain hunters can seek out deals at Experienced Goods Thrift Shop, whose sales of vintage and collectible items and neat finds goes to fund the Brattleboro Area Hospice.
Bibliophiles can browse for hardcovers and paperbacks on social change, the environment and multicultural children at Everyone’s Books. Boomerang curates their selection of vintage and new men’s and women’s apparel. The Brattleboro location of Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters is stocked with weather-related clothing and gear, and Twice Upon a Time Antiques has whimsical and conversational pieces.
Harmony Collective Artist Gallery not only sells pieces by its collective members, but also has those members working at various hours in the gallery. Amid its exhibits, the Vermont Center for Photography has a small thrift shop carrying analog and digital equipment with sales going back to its operation.
Even shopping at the Brattleboro Food Co-Op can be a good time. This grocery store and deli is stocked with natural, organic and locally-made products.
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center is a non-collecting art museum — Photo courtesy of Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
In what was once Brattleboro’s Union Station, this cultural venue is a contemporary non-collecting art museum – meaning that they don’t have a permanent collection – that presents exhibits changing over every few months.
Six gallery sections showcase works by living artists on loan from other collections, galleries or even directly from the artists themselves. Event programming also happens regularly at the museum and center. The circa 1915 building was saved from demolition in 1972 by local residents whose efforts turned it into both an arts center and a local history museum. Remnants of its past life remain, including a former ticket counter within one gallery setting.
Whetstone Station has amazing views of the Connecticut River amid its biergarten — Photo courtesy of Whetstone Craft Beers
With the Connecticut River facing the back of its rooftop garden, the Whetstone Station's restaurant and brewery can arguably be said to be a top scenic location for having a beer in Vermont.
Partners Tim and Amy Brady opened a small taproom in Brattleboro in 2006 but set their sights on something bigger by joining up with their business partner, David Hiler. They then bought and built out their current waterfront establishment that’s also along the Vermont-New Hampshire border.
The brewery produces beers with lower alcohol styles; their Whetstoner, a session IPA, is at a 4.5 abv. As for pub grub, their indoor and outdoor dining choices can range from their grilled sirloin tips to the sandwich wonder, “Crazy Happy Waitress.” Also, Whetstone’s production brewery at Frost Street is open for tours by appointment only.
They're involved with the River Garden Marketplace, which houses a craft and artist market, a beer bar and a craft kitchen with a rotating menu and chefs.
New England Center for Circus Arts
The New England Center for Circus Arts teaches performers about various acts — Photo courtesy of Elsie Smith
Ever dreamt of swinging on a flying trapeze, or ever felt fascinated by watching an aerialist at work? Here’s your chance to make it happen for yourself through enrolling at this school centered on circus arts.
Founded by two former Cirque du Soleil performers, Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, this nonprofit can fulfill your circus wishes through various adult and children’s training classes, workshops and programs led by coaches with backgrounds in the circus arts.
With two locations in Brattleboro, the New England Center for Circus Arts offers instruction in subjects including tumbling, trampolining, mixed aerials and trapeze.
The Retreat Farm hosts programming reflecting our various ties to the land — Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann
Vermont is synonymous with farms, and a visit to a farm or a farmers market in or nearby Brattleboro is a must-do.
The Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market takes place on Saturdays from May 1 through October 30 at 570 Western Ave., which is along Route 9 and past the Creamery Covered Bridge. The outdoor market often has stalls featuring farms, small businesses and food vendors selling just about every food staple for your kitchen or personal care items for your home.
The Brattleboro Winter Farmers Market also runs on Saturdays but from November through March at the CF Church Building in downtown Brattleboro. While they may carry some remaining summer produce, vendors could also offer high tunnel grown greens, root vegetables, honey, meats and baked goods.
Based upon traditional Abenaki homelands, the 500-acre Retreat Farm emphasizes the link between land and its occupants through its menagerie of grazing animals, historic barns, educational programming and a network of public trails. Food trucks are seasonally stationed here; they have included the Dosa Kitchen, Cattail Coffee and Jamaican Jewelz. Grafton Village Cheese’s specialty shop carries their cheeses and other made-in-Vermont food and drinks.
A short drive from Brattleboro, Scott Farm Orchard in Dummerston grows over 130 heirloom apples, with varieties as interesting as their names (Hubbardston Nonesuch, Cornish Gilliflower and Maiden’s Blush, among others). Plums, berries and other fruits are harvested here and sold at their onsite market as well. Owned by The Landmark Trust USA, the farm was a filming location for “The Cider House Rules.”
The Stone Church
The Stone Church is a music venue welcoming various electric and acoustic artists — Photo courtesy of David Barnum
In what was the former All Souls Unitarian Church, this Victorian Gothic building would have other purposes from the late 1960s up to its use today as a performing arts space.
After a full restoration, The Stone Church opened in 2017 and has been hosting a diverse mix of artists and bands ever since. Concerts can span from rock shows to acoustic performances, with booked acts having ranged from Martin Sexton to Agnostic Front.
Neat fact: The church was once the longtime location for Omega Optical, a thin film coating firm working on projects such as the Hubble Space Telescope, Mars Spirit Rover and The Human Genome Project.
Hermit Thrush Brewery
Hermit Thrush Brewery specializes in sour beers — Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann
Applying collected wild yeast, Vermont origin water, sourced area farm-grown hops, herbs and fruits toward brewing within their biomass-fueled brewhouse, the finished product is aged in oak barrels.
Fun label art complements creative beer blends and names that can encompass collaborations or in-house specialties. Their Party Jam series consists of fruity kettle sours, with flavor choices extending to blackberry, tangerine, mango and apricot. There’s also their Ginger Brattlebeer, a Foudre aged sour golden ale with farm apples and ginger.
Vermont Jazz Center
The Vermont Jazz Center features noteworthy musicians — Photo courtesy of Vermont Jazz Center
Based at Brattleboro’s Cotton Mill Hill complex, the Vermont Jazz Center began to take form in the late seventies, when jazz guitarist and founding director Attila Zoller invited musicians from New York City up to his home in Newfane, Vermont. There, they jammed but also unwound from city living.
Over time, the center has become a major New England arts institution, with a monthly schedule of events starring acts that have also graced the stages of the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center. It also organizes educational and community outreach programming to schools, prisons, area businesses and assisted living homes.
Their summer jazz workshop at Vermont’s Putney School has multigenerational students mentored by well-respected performers and presenters.