Experience authentic New England by driving on a scenic road
Beginning at the Massachusetts border and continuing north for nearly 200 scenic miles along the rugged spine of the Green Mountains, the winding two-lane Route 100 is one of the most beautiful drives in the country, connecting some nine major alpine ski resorts, including Stowe, Killington and Mad River Glen.
In three hours of unhurried motoring, you can travel its full length, from Wilmington in the south to Newport in the Northeast Kingdom, gateway to Canada. But this might, in fact, defeat one of its main pleasures—that of stopping to explore its small wonders. Rolling up and then down through the peaks and valleys that define the state, Route 100 has plenty of waypoints to pull over, stretch and take in the quiet rural isolation and gorgeous forests stretching as far as the eye can see. Enjoy what you don’t see: large and gaudy road signage, banned by the state legislature back in 1963.
As it meanders from one river valley to the next, Route 100 also runs through a string of villages (one called Podunk begs for a visit) that are typical of this Yankee heartland. One of the most appealing is Weston (population 630), where the entire village is on the National Register of Historic Places. The town’s biggest attraction is The Vermont Country Store, famous as ‘purveyors of the practical and hard-to-find’, founded here in 1946 by Vrest Orton, whose proud family still owns the old-fashioned Yankee business. The store specialises in revived and much-missed products of yesteryear, like Evening in Paris cologne, Beeman’s Clove Chewing Gum and coloured Princess telephones, along with Vermont necessities like long underwear and woolen socks.
Weston’s vital cultural scene includes small museums, art galleries and the Weston Playhouse Theater, which features top-notch acting by the state’s oldest theatre company. Just steps from the green is the Inn at Weston, where 13 luxurious rooms (nine with fireplaces) are individually decorated with antiques, Persian rugs and thoughtful touches like orchids from the innkeepers’ impressive greenhouse (with one of the northeast’s largest private orchid collections at 375 unique species).
Spiritual solace can be found just three miles from the village, at the Weston Priory, a Benedictine monastery built in 1953, where common prayer services are held in a large, barn-like structure. Several times a day, the gentle echoing sound of the blended voices of 13 monks drifts out across gardens, meadows and into the shadowy woodlands, providing another glimpse of the profound beauty of Vermont.
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Trip idea text ©Patricia Schultz. For contact information about the places mentioned and many more USA trip ideas, see Patricia Schultz's blockbuster book.