Six days of Fun for under $200 in South Western Vermont

Planning trips to places you’ve never been can  be difficult. Where to go? What to do? What are don’t misses? What is just a bunch of hype and a waste of time? So, for those who might travel to South Western Vermont, here’s a little help. Of course, it’s just my opinion, for whatever it’s worth.

The towns we will cover are:

  • Poultney
  • Middlebury
  • Middletown Springs
  • Quechee
  • Salisbury
  • Woodstock
  • Lake George, NY
  • Glenn Falls, NY

We arrived late on a Sunday night to our home away from home, the Red Diner Guesthouse, located between Poultney and Middletown Springs. It was dark outside, so we really had no idea what it looked like outside, but inside was the cutest little diner! The owners have put attention into every little detail from the salt shakers and menu on the table, to the retro stainless steel fridge used for housing dishes. It is an older feel, by today’s standards, it’s nothing fancy when it comes to the carpet, curtains, and walls, but that’s the point. It’s supposed to be retro – not metro! Every thing fits the theme.

It was a little warm when we first arrived, but we switched on the A/C and it cooled things down very fast. It got pretty warm throughout the week, but we didn’t sweat a drop in the guesthouse. We settled in for the evening quite nicely. The shower was nice, the bed comfy, and the atmosphere just what we needed to begin relaxing. The only thing we found to be on a negative side … the see through curtains. We put some sheets up over those and we were good to go! Love it! ZZZZZZ

Oh, wait, couple of things to note. If you have cheap phones – you won’t have cell phone service at the guesthouse and most likely will loose your GPS as well. They do have wireless internet, took us a few days to figure out our tablet could pick it up, but our cheap phones, nah. If we wanted them to use the net, we had to stand on one leg, balance over a counter, and hold our breath (well, not literally, but you get the picture). But we were on vacation, so it was a kind of much needed unplug.

monday

WHOA! Good morning sunshine! The sun woke us up with it’s beautiful smile in the morning. Hung some comforters up and told the sun tomorrow morning, we’d meet her in the living room. lol Let’s see what we got outside … awesome!

dscn5951We were just off a small country road with a two story farm house behind us. The road can be pretty busy, but didn’t hear a thing all night. And no one bothered us at all from the farmhouse. It really felt like we were in the middle of the country/mountains by ourselves.

Everything we needed as far as kitchenware was there. Even some spices and cleaning products were on hand. Thankfully, the retro theme didn’t mean no modern convenience, there was a TV, VCR, DVD, microwave and a coffee maker, all the must haves for modern day living.

dscn5952Just outside the guesthouse was a shaded seating area to enjoy the quiet country setting. We were going to like this place. Good find!dscn5953

We decided to head into Poultney, which was ~15 minutes west of us. No idea what was there. It was Labor Day so we didn’t know what to expect as far as what would be open, but we were off to explore!

dscn6053-2First we came upon what is known as East Poultney. What an adorable little town with several historical buildings (there is an audio walking tour available online). We walked around the Green enjoying the architecture of long ago years and stopped in at the General Store. The owner was very friendly and helpful. We returned several times throughout the week and had several chats with her. She has a small deli, so we picked up a sandwich and a drink for $15 bucks and headed out to enjoy our lunch on the Green. We returned to the store just to give her our trash … er … I mean recyclables, she was happy to take them for us. Vermont is HUGE on recycling.

We road our bikes into downtown Poultney. Here’s the thing, we brought our bikes because when you go online, Vermont boasts of it’s bike trails and places to ride your bike. What we quickly discovered is, it just means you are allowed to ride your bike on any road, so everything is a bike “trail.” But honestly, it didn’t always seem like the safest place to ride, but plenty of people are riding. The ride into town was easy and pleasant, and people seem to be cautious and on the look out for bikes. Wasn’t much going on in town, several placed to eat were open, but other than that, it was very quiet and many stores were closed … it was Labor Day after all. We checked out some of the buildings and headed back to East Poultney.

Before we took off on our next adventure, we walked down to the bridge just a little ways from the church. We were met by a rambling brook and peaceful sight. It’s so quiet in this area we stayed for a bit and took in the view.

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We decided to head up to Rutland. There had been a lot online about Rutland, so we wanted to check it out. Well … we went, we saw, we left. Who knows what was really there, it was so busy, lots of traffic, not much to look at. Here’s where the key words “my opinion” matter. If you like busy little towns, you would love it. We, well, we like the small, quiet, quaint little towns, and Rutland isn’t that. So we took a spin through and headed back home.

No matter where you go, the drives are usually picturesque. No matter the destination, you should find something to enjoy between where you start and where you end up, even if it’s just the views on the way there.

We returned “home” and settled in for a relaxing evening watching a movie. Oh, the guesthouse, has a ton!!! Here’s a cost and time saving tip: bring a crockpot. Each morning I put in dinner, and each evening we had a very nice sit down dinner in our little red diner. Lunch is much cheaper to eat out than dinner.

tuesday

We decided to venture far north on this day. We plotted our route and the many stops along the way. One thing about traveling here after Labor Day, the stores close up earlier, and some just plain close up. So check it out before you go.

We headed north toward Middlebury, which was about an hour away. But we didn’t head straight there. First stop, Branford House Antiques, it was listed on the Vermont’s Antique Dealers Association Page as well as several other places. We couldn’t wait to see it, here’s the description from the website:

“Our 1850s farmhouse, dairy barn & hay loft are full of antiques. We have more than 300 collections of bygone Americana with everything from antique office technology to Steampunk. Open 10-5 daily.”

Sweet huh! Yeah, well, don’t get too excited. We arrive and guess what we found … nothing. Yep, there is a farmhouse, dairy barn, and hay loft, but not full of antiques. HUH? Well, with a little more internet digging, we found out they were on the road.   *Scratch-scratch-scratch* Mark that one off the list. There was a packed antique shop just down the road … not packed with people, but stuff. So we checked it out instead, just wasn’t the same though.

Next on the list, Falls of Lana, Salisbury. This requires quite a bit of up hill walking, but most of it is leisurely. If you like nature, and love the sound of rushing water, don’t miss this little gem. We spent about 30-45 minutes at the top of the falls, which we had all to ourselves. *deep breath-exhale* ahhh relaxing.

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Onward to the Middlebury Antique Center … driving, driving, what a beautiful view, … huh, wait, what, we missed it?? How did we miss it? Wife: Let’s turn around. Hubby: Let’s see what’s in Middlebury. Hubby wins. We never made it to the Antique Center – maybe next time. If you do, let us know what it was like. lol

We parked and walked through town. It’s town, what can we say. It was pretty busy, but not overwhelmingly so. A pleasant little walk as walking through towns go. We ate at the Two Brother’s Tavern. Little pricey for lunch at $32. All the money we didn’t spend yesterday … good thing!  Our review on TripAdvisor:

This is when we wish there were half stars. But today we felt generous and bumped them up to a five. We had the special pub burger. I had fries, fresh cut and delish! Hubby had the side salad. Some forgot to tell the salad it was a side. It had greens, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and onions and was a very good portion. The burgers were tasty. The burgers were a little under cooked for both of us, which could have cost them half a star. The staff were great! Friendly, attentive, and helpful. We got a complimentary brownie bite as a sweet little surprise with the check. Our dishes were $13 because of the special. Would be sure to eat here again.

After lunch we headed down across a bridge to the Historical Marble Works. The Falls of the Otter Creek were here. Pretty powerful falls. We had the Wildflower farm on our list, but they closed too early for us to make it there. From here, we headed home.

We traveled up Route 7 and back Route 30. Have to say, neither were worth writing home about – so won’t write much here either.

dscn6051We stopped back in East Poultney to see if the Picket Fence Antiques were open. We rang the buzzer and this sweet lady answered. What a find! There are a lot of items to look at, but it was the owner that made this such a find. We spent a very pleasant time visiting with her. She owns one of the historic buildings in town, and she is very knowledgeable on the history of the building and the people who occupied it. One of our favorite moments of the entire trip!

Headed “home” for the evening. No crockpot today, but we had pre-cooked ground beef for spaghetti – ready in no time. Yum!! By pre-cooked, we mean we cooked it before we left on the trip and refrigerated it.

wednesday

Today, we head up to the Quechee Gorge area, about 1:20 minutes North East. First stop, Quechee Gorge Villiage. This has several “attractions” in one.

First, there was the Cabot Quechee Store. It’s a cool store. Best part about it, you can sample, sample, sample! Oh, I can still taste some of their cheeses. We didn’t buy any, just because we were planning a stop at a cheese farm later. We won’t regret it later either!

Then we strolled through the Vermont Antique Mall. We’ve been to a lot of antique malls, but none have been as well laid out as this one. Everything is in categorized areas. There are two floors.

dscn6033There are a few more places in the Village, but we skipped them and moved on down the road to the Gorge. The view from the bridge is nice. If you’ve seen a gorge, you’ve seen this one. Nothing spectacular. We followed the path to the Dam Overlook, again, not really worth the effort, unless you just like to walk.

From here we headed to the Sugarbush Cheese and Maple Farm in Woodstock. What a drive! No, I mean, what a scenic drive, you will venture out into the farmlands, travel on dirt roads, and wind around until you pull up to this farm house. You’ll wonder, is this it? No worries, it probably is. Not sure we would have found it without GPSing it though. lol

dscn6035Take the self guided Maple Walk and Cheese tour. Then head in the back door. This was so cool! They were packaging the cheese right there. We were met by a lady who took us to a small stand with a variety of cheeses on it. She explained each cheese, how it was made, and let us taste each one. YUM!! Then she did the same with the different syrups, we never knew there was a difference, but boy there is! Double YUM! Then we headed into the shop area. Oh boy, oh boy! We chose four -4 oz bars of different kinds ($20) and purchased a small bottle of the syrup I liked (I’m not much of a syrup person), and a medium size of the kind hubby liked ($13). The cheese and the syrup were about $1-2 cheaper than in the shops, that’s what cutting out the middle man will do for you. We picked up some sodas as well. Hubby got some kind of maple soda which had no water or sugar in it. It was pretty tasty – worth trying!

Then we headed off to the Vermont Country Store down in Weston, about an hour south. Here’s the thing, it’s a nice rainy day thing to do. And if you are near one, go to it. But we aren’t sure we would drive an hour to it again. It’s not an “old-time” General Store. It has just about everything you would need. It’s nice to browse through and look at everything. The best part … you can sample just about every food product they have. Do you see a theme in this trip today? lol

With all the sampling, we really didn’t need a lunch today, so we just skipped right to the ice cream from Mildred’s Dairy Bar for about $5. There are a few other shops across the street which we walked through as well. Then we headed home.

We traveled out Route 4, down Route 100, and back Route 155. Route 100 made the drive to the General Store worth it.

One more quick stop by the “farmstand” which was about 1 mile from where we were staying. It was a self serve stand. Everything was laid out in a little shed, a note book was there to write in what you took, and you left your cash in the cash box. Got to love it!!! Veggies were VERY good. It was $3.00 for 1 lb of tomatoes.

Arriving home we had our dinner waiting on us of Turkey Kielbasi and Kraut. Used some of our delicious cheese as well! Given all the eating we did all day, this was more than enough.

thursday

Today is the Poultney Farm Market day. If you travel to this area, get the local paper so you can see when all the farm markets are. We talked to one of the people who had a booth and he said each town has a different day so the vendors make their rounds. So if you can’t make it on a Thursday, you can catch them somewhere else on a different day. This wasn’t the typical farm market set up. The vendors line up and down the sidewalk area and some of the stores put their wares out on the lawn. It’s pretty busy for a Thursday morning.

If you have the chance to go to this farm market, don’t miss out on the student education booth, wish I knew the name of them, sorry I don’t. We picked up a pint of yellow tomatoes ($1.00), a bag of lettuce, which was enough for about three-four salads and had 4 varieties in it ($1.00), and a plant marker which we bought just because ($1.00). Good deals if you ask me. All their products were cheap but high quality.

Then we headed off to the Lake George, NY area which was about an hour away, dscn6037to find the Warren County Bikeway. The Lake George area looks like a major tourist area. But the lake view is sweet. There are boats coming and going in the harbor area. Figuring out where the Bikeway started was a bit of a challenge, and where to park was a nightmare. Partly because they had some kind of major festival going on, as well as some road work. So we had to pay $10.00 to park in the Parks lot, you know, those day use fees. Then we headed off for the 19 mile round trip bike ride to Glenn Falls. The bikeway is paved the whole way and is a nice ride, not easy, but nice.

We made it to the Glenn Falls area, we didn’t ride down into town, we turned around and headed back to the ice cream shop we saw about 2 miles before. We were hungry and thought we’d get a hot dog or hamburger there, but they only had ice cream. They directed us across the 4 lane highway to O’Toole’s Restaurant Pub.

The food at O’Tooles was your typical pub fair. Lunch was about $25.00. Then we headed over to the Antique shop next to the Ice Cream shop.

The shop is called, Glenwood Manor Antiques and More, and boy is it more. There are 34 rooms of antiques! Very nicely put together, not overly cluttered, with many unique items. There are a few modern items as well. I think it was 3-4 floors of stuff. Some prices were reasonable, some not so much, but there was something like 28 vendors so that isn’t surprising. If you like antiques, stop here.

Then we headed over to Sprinkles for some Ice Cream. Ok, so trust me when I say this, get the kiddie cone, unless you LOVE ice cream. We got kiddie cones because we just had lunch and were going to get on our bikes and ride 9 miles back. Well, let’s just say, most places, it would have been a medium. I can’t even fathom what a large cone would look like! Now hold on to your hats, these so called kiddie cones, were $1.99 each! Yes, you read that right.

Full and refreshed, we headed back down the bikeway. Once we arrived at our starting point, we road a little ways into Lake George Village, it started to rain so we headed back to pack up our bikes. The trail was up and down and all around, and was a bit tough at times. Hubby biked the entire thing. I however, had to walk 2-3 hills. Not bad since this was really our first major bike outing. Figured I’d be sore the next day, but I wasn’t. Woot for me!

Dinner was … well … left over Spaghetti instead of the wonderful Meatloaf and potatoes dinner we thought we were going to have. Note to self –  don’t use 90/10 beef for a meatloaf which is going to be in a crockpot all day – it dries up! But honestly, this was perfect because we also had a nice side salad made from the days purchases. Just perfect!

Whew, we were tired. Slept well for sure!

friday

This will be our last full day here. Taking it a little easy on the traveling since we have a long drive tomorrow and we’ll have to pack up later. So we are staying local today.

First thing, we head over to the bike path we saw when we were at the Farm Market. It’s called the Delaware and Hudson Rail Trail (D&H for short). We are taking the portion that runs from Poultney to Castleton, 7.5 miles one way. Let’s just say, we might have skipped yesterday’s ride, had we know this one was so nice. The trail can be a bit hard at times as it is gravel and grass in some areas. But with the scenery which goes along with it, who cares!!

When we got to Castleton, we ate at the Castleton Pizza Place and Deli. This place has mixed reviews, but we figure it’s under new management. Seems like it’s going to be nice. Everything was fresh and tasted good. We each got a slice of pizza (read slice, but think half a pizza) for under $4 each and a a couple of sodas. We stopped and checked out the general store. Then headed back to the bike trail, stopping to look at the church in the middle of the college, and then off we were!

Once back, we loaded our bikes and set out to take a drive around Lake St. Catherine, which was a very pretty lake, from what we could see of it … the park was closed. Left us basically peering at the lake between houses as we drove by. Oh well …

On to Whaleback Vineyard, now this is an interesting place.   Pulled up, wasn’t sure if we should get out or not. Are we at the right place? What do we do? Then out comes the owner, to be honest, this didn’t make us any more surer. lol He took us into the house – which has stunning wood work all around – and sits us down at his table. I’m not a wine drinker, but my hubby enjoy’s a glass now and again. He got to taste about nine wines and made a purchase which was $15.00. The owner was very pleasant to talk with and we learned quite about about the wine.

We headed back home for a shower – boy were we filthy from the bike ride!

We decided we wanted to try a local restaurant which was recommended to us, Perry’s Main Street Eatery. When we went in, there wasn’t a seat available. But some local lady’s offered to let us join them at their table as they were almost finished. They were regulars there. The waitress took our order and we chatted as the kind women ate their rice pudding dessert. When they got up to leave, they cleared the table for the waitresses. Here’s what we wrote as a review:

If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic dinner, don’t go here. If you’re looking for a full stomach and good food, this is where you want to be.

Have you ever played Diner Dash? If you have, you’ll feel like you just enter the game as the two waitresses dash around.

It’s seat yourself and finding a seat might not be easy and you may wait awhile. I can’t say the food is better than somewhere else where you don’t have to wait. But it was good. Would eat here again but might not wait.

If there isn’t a line, you can’t go wrong!

My hubby didn’t like it much, but I didn’t mind it. It was an experience, let’s just say that. If you enjoy people watching, then it’s very much a place for you!

Headed on home to pack up.

This was the most expensive day, see how much you save when you don’t eat dinner out!

saturday

Sissy’s Kitchen – was told by some locals we had to check this place out – so we drove east to have a quick little breakfast before hitting the road west toward home.

Quaint little place. Mixed feelings about it to be honest. Hubby and I aren’t sure if we would recommend it or not. hahah! We settled on, you have to experience it, but just get a cookie or pastry or something small.dscn6086

We got breakfast for around $15, him an omelet, me waffles. Everything is fresh, local, organic, and home made. After you order, pick up your own drink in your small plastic cup (no refills by the way … even on coffee … its about $1.25 per cup), don’t forget to pick up your plastic fork/spoon/knife, and your napkin. At this point, you can choose to sit in one of the two tables on the front porch, or one of the picnic tables in the backyard. They’ll bring you your breakfast on a paper plate in a wicker plate holder. When your done, clear your table. There you have it!

You have to take a little walk around their grounds where they have vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and a nature walk in the back. There is a small barn with a few items for sale as well. One of the quaintest little places I’ve ever been at. Nothing fancy or frilly other than nature.

They have take out dinners already prepared in their cooler as well. Like we said, you have to experience it. When we finished, we took a walk down to the General Store near by.

And there you have it. Hope this will help if you are visiting the area!

Total cost for everything except lodging and gas, a little under $215 for 7 days, which coincidentally, all but $10 was food lol. None of the “attractions” or activities cost anything, everything except parking was free.

vacation

*This is for the activities, entertainment, souvenirs, and eating out.

  • Remember, we saved big by eating dinner in most nights. We would have eaten whether we were on vacation or not, so we didn’t count this cost in.
  • We brought a cooler with us each day with a few water bottles, other drinks, and snacks in it which we brought from home.
  • This does not include lodging and gas for the vehicle, either. Not much you can do in regards to those costs. Although, we think we got a pretty good deal on our lodging!

 

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