The Deep Dive
Montpelier Tips + FAQs
What are the local, must-see attractions or hot spots?
An excellent launching point for your Montpelier exploration, getting started at the gold-domed State House puts you smack in the middle of downtown. While taking in the striking neoclassical architecture, you’ll often find festivals and events spread out across the State House lawn. One of our favorites is the Independence Day celebration, complete with parades, music, vendors, and of course fireworks!
Just up the street, be sure to visit the Capital City Farmers Market, which has been going strong for more than 40 years!
If you only had one night in town, where are you going for dinner?
There are a ton of excellent options to choose from, but for our dollar, we’re always happy going to Sarducci’s. Top-notch service is paired with a consistently delicious food and drink menu, and the ambiance is just right. Local Tip: If you’re visiting during the Summer be sure to request a table out on the deck. With the windows open and the sounds of the Winooski river running nearby, you’re guaranteed to have an outstanding meal.
We’re looking to splurge a little - where are the best digs in town?
Fresh from recent improvements and renovations, The Capitol Plaza Hotel is family owned and operated, yet partnered with the Hilton family of hotels. This means the service and amenities are top-notch, and you’ll still enjoy the personalization and attention to detail that a boutique property provides. With a perfect central location, you’ll easily be able to hop out of bed and explore all Montpelier has to offer. Local Tip: Be sure to visit the attached J. Morgan Steakhouse for an excellent classic, old-school steak.
Where should we go for unique, one-of-a-kind shopping?
There are a ton of great, local shopping choices in Montpelier. Having moved to their brand new and improved digs on Main Street, Bailey Road is a must-stop anytime we’re out shopping in the capital city. Offering an assortment of women’s clothing, home goods, gifts, and furniture, we’ve consistently been impressed with the quality and selection of unique items available. Do you know those stores where when you step inside, you’re instantly more at ease and zen? This is one of those stores.
Just next door, be sure to visit local favorite Bear Pond Books. Open since 1973, Bear Pond Books is the perfect mix of new and used books where you can get lost among the volumes of pre-owned treasures, as well as pick up the hottest new piece on the NYT Best Sellers list. They have a great kids section, so if you’re looking to spend an hour or two out and about with the little kiddo, this is a perfect spot. Local Tip: Be sure to say hi to the tortoise, Veruca!
We are nothing if not suckers for an excellent vintage clothing store, and the Getup Vintage doesn’t disappoint. Some “vintage” shops really feel like nothing more than a thrown-together tag sale aimed to empty out the family garage, this is not the case at Getup. Instead, the selection here is highly curated and of the highest quality, and you can’t help but feel a bit boho chic as soon as you walk in the doors.
We have our kids with us, where should we go with the entire family?
So, like many answers when it comes to Montpelier - you have to start things off at the State House. Nearly 160 years old, the Montpelier State House is one of the oldest and best-preserved capitol buildings in the country, but from a kid’s perspective, they’ll be wowed by the grand scale and proportion of the building itself. The impressive gold-domed exterior with its towering columns and sprawling lawns is a perfect place to run around or have a picnic. Guided tours are offered from mid-June to the end of October, and self-guided tours are available throughout the year.
Just behind the State House sits Hubbard Park. A massive 200-acre oasis with more than seven miles of hiking and skiing trails, a soccer field, pavilions and picnic shelters, and perhaps most scenically, Hubbard Park Tower. A 54-foot stone tower built between 1915 and 1930, Hubbard Park Tower can be climbed for absolutely stunning views of the city and valley below.
Set just a few minutes outside of downtown Montpelier you’ll find Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. A simple yet idyllic sugar farm, Morse’s is a great place to tour how a working sugar shack runs. With a full gift shop complete with all manner of local goods and products, you’ll be able to spend a great afternoon exploring. Local Tip: Morse Farm is rumored to have one of the best maple creemees in the state, and we feel the word on the street is spot on.
We’re looking to start the day off right, breakfast recs? Is there a famous, local breakfast sandwich?
If you’re looking for a classic American breakfast, the folks at Wayside Restaurant have been dishing out the goods since 1918. That’s right, for over 100 years, the Wayside has been keeping local Montpelierians and visitors from near and far, very well fed. Stop by for some old-school Americana and deliciously priced eats.
Another excellent breakfast spot is the much-loved Skinny Pancake. Serving their breakfast menu all day, we love to get the morning going with their Breakfast Burrito Crepe. Vermont black beans, scrambled eggs, and cheddar, rolled up in an unbelievably tasty scallion crepe. This bad boy is served with both Ranchero Sauce and cilantro-lime sour cream as sides, and it’s just the kick we need in the morning.
We want to get out and breathe in some fresh air, what do you suggest we check out?
We’ve already mentioned Hubbard Park’s over 200 acres of trails, scenic vistas, and community gathering spaces, but be sure to keep the park on your list during all seasons! The over seven miles of trails are perfect for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and fat biking. During the warmer months, if you venture towards the center of the park, you’ll find yourself at Seven Fireplaces, where you can grill and relax the afternoon away.
Coburn Covered Bridge is also an excellent outdoor getaway. Located just outside downtown Montpelier, you can walk the scenic dirt road that meanders past Vermont farmland and along the banks of the Winooski River, until you find yourself at a quintessential Vermont Covered Bridge. If you’re feeling like an impromptu photoshoot might be in order, trust us, we get it.
One of the great outdoor resources to take advantage of in Montpelier is the North Branch River Park trail system. With excellent parking around the Montpelier Rec fields, there are a plethora of trails to choose from which will lead you through a great variety of natural habitats. Our suggestion is to meander through the trails and head North until you find yourself at the North Branch Nature Center which has it’s own network of trails and features. To be honest, there’s no wrong way to go about heading out here, just enjoy being out in nature!
We’re coming up for a couples getaway - where should we go for a romantic dinner?
Back after a brief hiatus, if a romantic farm-to-table dinner is what you’re after, Kismet is the place for you. A small intimate dining room, featuring a thoughtful and highly curated menu, Kismet is the brainchild of Crystal Maderia. With a creative craft cocktail menu as well as a continually evolving dessert selection, your romantic evening will go smoothly and deliciously and you’ll be back for more as soon as possible.
How about local music or entertainment?
Great music of all varieties can be found throughout the Capital City! Some of our favorites include Capital City Concerts where some of the world’s finest classical musicians collaborate with outstanding Vermont artists in producing unique and incredible chamber music.
Then there’s Charlie O’s World Famous, a self-titled “dive for nice people”. This is just our type of gin joint; cold drinks, hot music, and excellent people-watching. What more could you want in a watering hole? Charlie O’s has live music and events most nights of the week, but give them a holler to check out the lineup.
Next up on the hit list is Bent Nails Bistro. Formerly Sweet Melissa’s (a much-loved venue and hangout), Bent Nails Bistro has successfully stepped up to the plate to help fill the void. Aided by an impressively robust bistro menu ideal for sharing and snacking, Bent Nails Bistro has become a linchpin location in the Montpelier music scene. With live music from Tuesday to Saturday, you’re guaranteed to hear eclectic and exciting bands hit the stage each and every time you visit.
We’re looking for something special for lunch - suggestions?
While technically not exclusively a lunch spot (we love grabbing dinner here as well), Three Penny Taproom is an absolute favorite to grab a mid-day meal. Fun creative dishes served up quickly by an efficient, well-trained staff - these should be the staples of any restaurant, but TPT consistently hits the ball out of the park in these regards. Local Tip: You really can’t go wrong anywhere on the menu, but the TPT Cuban always hits the spot. Additionally, we know it might be a lunch rec. you were after, but the cocktails here are also really on point. Just sayin’.
After a long, fun day a cocktail sounds perfect! Where are we headed?
Tons of great spots for exciting and unique cocktails are to be found throughout Montpelier (Sarducci’s, Three Penny Taproom, Charlie O’s to name a few). Still, our recommendation is to head to where they’re making the actual liquor itself and go visit Caledonia Spirits. Makers of the highly lauded and awarded Barr Hill line of liquors, the tasting room at Caledonia Spirits is to be similarly praised. With a constantly rotating and robust menu filled with compelling choices, your most difficult decision will only be which to order first.
We don’t want to be complete tourists - where are the locals going?
Montpelier is a locals town, but not in an intimidating or inaccessible way at all. Quite the opposite, locals here are extremely welcoming and quick with a helpful recommendation. What we mean is that the folks who live here really take a lot of pride in their town and are always out supporting local businesses. It’s great to see and one of the many things that makes Montpelier so special. That’s a bit of a long-winded answer, but it’s meant to tell you that when you go out for a night in Montpelier, you might be sitting next to the Governor, a local artist, a 4th generation farmer, or anyone in between. Bottom line, just jump on in! Also, Charlie O’s - it’s great there.