When you first arrive here in the Mad River Valley, it’s hard to miss that Sugarbush and Mad River Glen ski areas hover above us. They offer the most obvious winter activity, but what if you are not here to ski? Luckily our unique local establishments offer everything from fine dining, to shopping, to adventures on Icelandic horses! What, in Vermont? Yes, the nearby Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm offers year-round riding expeditions on the world’s oldest horse breed. Known for their tireless and efficient movement, the Icelandic horse is the ideal saddle horse. If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, there are endless trails to explore by foot, or in the winter, by snowshoe. Forgot to bring them along, no worries, there are plenty of places to rent them. If you’d like to stay on the valley floor Clearwater Sports offers daily snowshoe rentals and they are happy to guide you on a snowshoe or hand you some maps and point you in the right direction. But if you’d like a little incline, Ole’s Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Center, Mad River Glen and Sugarbush Resort offer trails, guided tours and amazing views!
For a more leisurely way to spend your time here, there are several quintessential Vermont towns to explore nearby. South of Waitsfield is the “Almost World Famous” Warren Store in the picturesque, Warren Village. There you can enjoy one of their delicious deli sandwiches, shop for local trinkets and discover the Upstairs where they have one room after another filled with clothing for men, women and children, along with housewares, and tons of accessories. Next store is the wonderful Parade art gallery filled with local Vermont and New England artists. Across the street is The Pitcher Inn, a charming and romantic inn. They have farm-to-table dining in their upscale formal dining room and a more relaxed dining experience downstairs in Tracks, both options feature oversized fireplaces and stellar wine lists.
Travel north on Route 100 and stop along the way at The Store, a big red barn filled with every kind of kitchen gadget you can imagine. They will offer you a cup of coffee or tea for you to sip while you browse through the quaint, antique filled shop. In the shopping plaza across the atreet, is the new Mad River Taste Place where you can discover, taste and bring home samples of food and beverages from the Mad River Valley and surrounding area. Also in Waitsfield is Bridge Street, which hosts a myriad of fun and funky shops. The Artisan’s Gallery has local artist’s ceramics, glassware, art, woodcrafts and so many other amazingly talented artist’s wares! Forty Bridge is an Up-scale women’s clothing boutique that rivals any in Boston or Manhattan. Just behind these shops, along the Mad River is the Sweet Spot, the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Grab breakfast, lunch, a coffee, pastry, ice cream or even a cocktail!
Whether you spent the day exploring our beautiful valley on snowshoes, by car or by horse, you will most likely have worked up an appetite. Fortunately, there is no shortage of wonderful dining options. One of the most popular, is the original home of American Flatbread, located right in Waitsfield proper. This is more of an experience, than it is a restaurant. Your best bet is to stop in at 3:45pm, get in line and get yourself on “the list” and while you wait you can enjoy their outdoor fire pit, try a local Vermont beer and take in the non-stop action that surrounds this little gem.
Equally popular are several other unique dining establishments throughout the Mad River Valley. Starting with Sugarbush Resort’s Rumble’s Kitchen, a big mountainside dining room and Castlerock Pub, the perfect Après ski scene with entertaining live music. Tucked into the charming Sugarbush Village is a Parisian Bistro, Chez Henri. The atmosphere is both casual and romantic. Not far from the base area is The Common Man, an elegant 19th-century barn serving New American fare. This Chef-owned restaurant has a full bar, diverse wine list and warm hospitality. Of course, there is no shortage of cozy pubs as you head down from the mountains. The Mad River Barn has an enormous fireplace, fun game room, and classic bar menu. The newly renovated Tucker Hill Inn and Hyde Away Inn are both popular with tourists and local’s alike.
Within walking distant of True North Headquarters, are several more delicious options starting with Bluestone directly across the street. Pizzas, sandwiches and salads are always on tap, as well as local beers. Just up the road is the Big Picture Theater and café, where the new movies are as a good as the food. Insanely popular is Mad Taco and the Canteen Creamery, where local chefs are taking Mexican food and take-out to a whole new level! Peasant and Mint down on Bridge Street offer authentic Italian and Vegan inspired dishes that will make you forget you are in Vermont.
From Farm-to-table dining opportunities, unique shopping experiences, to stocking up on local Vermont craft beers, our little shire has it all! And we are always happy to offer suggestions and recommendations. We love to share our favorite local spots, so just give us a call or send us a note. Happy exploring!