A lovely sight on the Connecticut River, Brattleboro, Vermont, makes a charming getaway destination, but the journey there may be half the fun. This small, arts-focused community in southeastern Vermont is connected to neighboring New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Quebec via nearly every mode of transit. North-south Interstate 91 moves drivers up from Connecticut or down from Canada. Vermont’s Highway 30 offers scenic sightseeing, and Amtrak carries the distant Brattleboro bound by rail from Philly, New York City or the 425 miles from Washington, D.C. There is no reason not to spend a long weekend or work break here, in a city that is cultured, charming and this accessible.
Set 115 miles northwest of Boston and 80 miles northeast of Albany, Brattleboro touches the West and Connecticut Rivers. It is ringed by national and state forests, wilderness areas and parks, including 399,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest, 38 miles west. Winter brings world-class ski conditions to resorts like Mount Snow and Stratton Mountain in the national forest. Summer weather beckons prospective trekkers and paddlers, while fall foliage creates yet another Brattleboro tourist boom.
These natural wonders draw people to the oldest town in Vermont, home to 12,000 and host to scores of skiers, vacationers and arts lovers at special events throughout the year. One event that displays the local community spirit takes place at Harris Hill Ski Jump, a major Brattleboro attraction. Built in 1922 and run entirely by volunteers, the 90-meter launch facility hosts a professional competition, sanctioned by the International Ski Federation, each year in January or February. Tickets to this one-of-a-kind area event—made more festive with music and food and beer vendors—deliver an Olympic-style experience in a small-town atmosphere.
Municipal parks provide more opportunities for Brattleboro tourists to play outdoors. Living Memorial Park, on the west side, provides the backdrop for year-round recreation, with swimming in summer, showy leaves changing color in fall and ice skating in winter. Why not take a picnic and bottle of wine gleaned from Brattleboro Food Co-op along? The purveyor of natural and organic delights on the riverfront at Main Street offers bulk whole-food snacks, local artisan cheeses and prepared deli items.
Additional Brattleboro attractions that give the town its cultural emphasis include music, theater and visual-arts venues and annual gatherings. Spectator spots such as the 1938 Latchis Theatre and Gallery in the Woods, both on Main Street, are the sites of concerts, plays and art shows and sales. The city’s well-known annual performances and festivals include the acclaimed Women’s Film Festival in March and Vermont Theatre Company’s Shakespeare-in-the-Park in June and July.
In historic Downtown Brattleboro, boutique shops, galleries and museums dot the picturesque streets along the Connecticut River. The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center on Vernon Street is housed in well-preserved Union Station, built in 1915. That the town’s cultural heart beats in a vintage train station is no accident. In a most accessible little city, the non-collecting institution makes works from new artists continually accessible to the public.