Brattleboro, Vermont is a fascinating place. Set between the Connecticut and West Rivers at the foot of Mount Wantastiquet, Brattleboro’s beautiful scenery is the backdrop for a lively downtown full of funky shops, restaurants, and galleries. Brattleboro is known for its art scene, and it was named one of the top five best small art towns in the country. Vermont is the number one state on the Locavore Index, and Brattleboro offers lots of options for travelers looking for real food, from bakeries to restaurants to an amazing farmers’ market. Just 2 hours from the Boston area, Brattleboro is a great day trip or weekend getaway.
There are several restaurants in Brattleboro that focus on local, seasonal ingredients to build their menus. When I travel with my family, we tend to eat one or two sit-down meals, and we look for the rest of our food at markets, farm stands, cafes, and counter service restaurants. Brattleboro has several good options in all of these categories.
Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery: This beautiful restaurant sits at the edge of the river, and the view from the outdoor seating is stunning. The menu includes small plates, comfort foods, and grilled dishes made with local products when possible. Beer fans will also enjoy the variety of homebrewed, regional micro-brewed, and international beers. After dinner, you can take a walk across the nearby steel bridge to enter New Hampshire.
The Marina: This seafood restaurant boasts a beautiful view of the West River. They use a Vermont-based company for their primary supplier, and their menu focuses on local and regional products when possible.
TJ Buckley’s: Driving by this tiny restaurant, I wondered if it had gone out of business. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is a different story. T.J Buckley’s is a 16-seat restaurant in a classic old diner car. It was “locavore” before there was such a word. It has an open kitchen and vintage décor, and the menu changes daily depending on what local, seasonal ingredients are available. TJ Buckley’s is not inexpensive, so this is a place to enjoy on a special occasion in Brattleboro.
Chelsea Royal Diner: This vintage 1938 Worcester diner is a comfortable restaurant that serves local grass fed beef, vegetables from their own garden, and other produce purchased locally. This is an affordable place to find good, local comfort food.
Elliot Street Cafe: This casual restaurant offers an affordable breakfast and lunch menu that uses locally sourced ingredients. With the wide variety of items on the menu, you can find something for everyone in the family. We haven’t eaten here yet, but we will definitely try it out during our next visit to Brattleboro.
Amy’s Bakery Arts Café: This little bakery and cafe overlooks the river, and the food is wonderful. They partner with local farms, orchards, cheesemakers, and even a local apiary to provide fresh food for travelers and locals.
Wagon Wheel Restaurant: This isn’t in Brattleboro, but if you’re traveling south after a visit to Vermont, check out the Wagon Wheel in Gill, Massachusetts (30 minutes from Brattleboro). This casual restaurant offers a unique menu inspired by local ingredients. They don’t take credit cards, but fortunately the $27 in cash that we had left at the end of our vacation was more than enough to feed a hearty dinner to our family of four.
Markets and Bakeries
Brattleboro Farmers’ Market: The Saturday Farmers’ Market is an experience you don’t want to miss. The market is full of ethnic food stands, local produce, and locally made products including syrup, toys, and pottery. A band playing live Balkan music set the atmosphere on our recent visit, and there’s a large sandbox for the little ones right in the middle of the market. I enjoyed food from the Taco Barn, and others in my family sampled some African cuisine. After your visit to the market, you can snap some pictures of the nearby covered bridge and visit the playground around back.
Brattleboro Food Co-op: If you don’t want to spend money in a restaurant, you can get lots of great food at the Co-op. This market has an organic juice bar, fresh pizza, a deli, a salad bar, and a large bulk bin section. You could easily eat three meals a day here, and also stock up on healthy snacks.
Vermont Country Deli offers a “gourmet-to-go” marketplace with a variety of hot and cold prepared foods. They also sell many products made in Vermont, so this is a good place to stop for a gift or souvenir. Their pies are made with local fruit, and they are dedicated to supporting local businesses.
Wild Flour Vermont Bakery: You can find this small bakery selling goods at the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market. The baker uses eggs from her own chickens and honey from her own bees. Don’t miss her delicious creations if you’re at the farmers’ market.
Whetstone Ledges Farm in nearby Marlboro operates a summer farm stand and pick-your-own berry patch. On Sunday mornings in the summer, they sell freshly baked scones and coffee. We visited here and enjoyed the scenery, the local vibe, and of course, the scones.
Retreat Farm Petting Farm and Grafton Village Cheese Company: This farm and adjacent cheese shop are a wonderful stop for a family with children of all ages. We visited Retreat Farm with friends, and our group had children ages 2 to 10. After hours of picking up baby chicks, feeding goats, holding adult chickens, and gathering eggs, we had to pull all the children away from the fun. Retreat Farm also has miles of hiking trails, and we found one that worked well for everyone in our group. The Grafton Village Cheese Company shop was the perfect place to take a break, and we enjoyed samples of their cheese as well as some other local products. This is a good spot to pick up some Vermont-made goodies to bring home.
Strolling of the Heifers Parade: This annual event celebrates farmers and local food with a unique parade. Up to 100 heifers amble through town, followed by other farm animals. Tractors, clowns, floats, and bands bring up the rear. This festive event draws a big crowd every year.
Other Festivals and Events: The Brattleboro area has lots of events throughout the year to celebrate everything this area has to offer. Check out the event calendar to see what’s going on when you’ll be visiting.
Have you been to Brattleboro? I’d love to know where you’ve gotten real food here, so please leave suggestions in the comments!
Linking to Locavore Link-up.