We discovered the pretty little town of Chester by accident on our way to Okemo Mountain Resort. It’s tucked into the southeast corner of Vermont, where three branches of the Williams River meet, surrounded by rolling farmlands and Green Mountain peaks. The town has two historic districts, which should put it on the map for history and architecture buffs. The Stone Village Historic District has 10 beautiful Greek Revival buildings, made of stone from local quarries. A few blocks away is the Chester Village Historic District, with a mix of significant Victorian and Federal-style buildings, now housing a cluster of shops and inns.
The old-timey Fullerton Inn & Tavern (40 The Common, 866-884-8578, www.fullertoninn.com, $99-$209) has 20 no-frills rooms with simple country decor and private, though small, baths. The lobby, with its large fieldstone fireplace, and the inn’s tavern, with another wood-burning fireplace, are great places to hang out on cold winter evenings. Guests rave about the gracious innkeepers and elegant accommodations at romantic Inn Victoria (321 Main St., 802-875-4288, www.innvictoria.com, $130-$299). Each of the eight rooms, named after Queen Victoria’s children, features period antiques and plush fabrics and linens. Most also have large, modern baths, with spa tubs and separate showers. Rates include a full, three-course breakfast and high tea. Relaxed and casual Stone Hearth Inn and Tavern (698 Route 11 West, 802-875-2525, www.stonehearthinnvermont.com, $110-$125) is a creaky but cozy 1810 Federal-style farmhouse with lots of character, like old pine floors, exposed beams, and original fireplaces. Rooms can be small and rustic, though all have private baths. The Henry Farm Inn (2206 Green Mountain Turnpike, 802-875-2674, www .henryfarminn.com, $100-$170), set on 56 acres of rolling farmland and forests, has nine guest rooms with private baths. There are original details and woodwork throughout and a fireplace in the parlor.
Moon Dog Cafe (287 South Main St., 802-875-4966, www.moondogcafe.blog
spot.com, $6.50-$9.95) is a New Agey sandwich shop and organic market serving such fresh-made specialties as mango habanero chicken salad or ham, apple, and cheddar melt. Old Town Farm Inn (665 Route 10, 888-232-1089, www.otfi.com, entrees $23-$33) is an unlikely Japanese restaurant housed in a historic Vermont farmhouse. The tempura is fabulous; try the ebi (shrimp) or hamaguri made with whole Ipswich clams. For entrees, go for the broiled miso sable fish, the aged and marinated teriyaki tenderloin, or the house specialty water eel marinated, grilled, and doused with an old family recipe sauce. Grab a fireside seat in the tavern at Fullerton Inn (see above, $7-$19) for classic comfort food. On a cold winter’s night in Vermont, it’s tough to beat a thick slice of meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy or a bubbling bowl of mac and cheese. Skip a traditional lunch and have high tea at Inn Victoria (see above, $19.99), a classy, three-tiered offering of sandwiches and sweets, and a choice of more than 70 types of tea. You can pick your teapot from the inn’s large collection and a cup from the more than 100 on display.
DURING THE DAY
Start with a stroll along Main Street and the Village Green, where you’ll find a collection of local shops and boutiques. DaVallia Arts & Accents (78 The Common, 802-875-1203, www.thedavallia.com) is a great little art boutique showcasing the work of about 40 local and nationally recognized artists, including jewelry, pottery, and custom furniture. Country on The Common (80 The Common, 802-875-3000, www.countryonthecommon.com) boasts that 75 percent of its merchandise is $30 or less, most from regional artists. Shop for items like the flattened wine bottle cheese board, unique jewelry, hand-sewn doll clothes, and Sharon Baker’s bright colored shawls (she’s the owner of the shop.) Misty Valley Books (58 The Common, 802-875-3400, www.mvbooks.com) is a beloved mainstay on Main Street, a wonderful independent bookstore with a great selection of new and classic titles and a friendly and knowledgeable staff. If you’re ready for outdoor adventure, head to Okemo Mountain Resort (Ludlow, 802-228-4041, www.okemo.com, weekend adult lift ticket $89, ages 13-18 $79, 7-12 $62), where riders and skiers have 120 trails spread across 655 skiable acres to explore. For thrills, board the resort’s high-flying Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster ($13 driver, $9 rider), reaching speeds up to 30 miles an hour as it twists, turns, and loops through the forest. The nearby Grafton Ponds Recreation Center (783 Towns-hend Road, Grafton, 802-843-2400, www.graftonponds.com) has cross-country skiing in the backcountry or on 15 kilometers of groomed trails ($16/day adults, $10 students with college ID, $5 ages 6 through high school.) The center also has 10 kilometers of snowshoeing trails ($14, $10, $5) and a popular wine and cheese snowshoe tour on Saturdays throughout the winter ($25). For a simple walk in the woods, you can’t beat the Lost Mine Trail, a pleasant 2-mile loop in Chester’s 550-acre Town Forest that follows an ice-edged stream to an old mining site.
The Pizza Stone (Pleasant St., 802-875-2121, www.pizzastonevt.com) has live music on select nights, 15 or more tap selections of regional craft and micro brewed beers (and PBR in a mason jar) and decent specialty pizzas ($15-$18). MacLaomainn’s Scottish Pub (52 South Main St., 802-875-6227, www.maclaomainns.com) is a local favorite for its thoughtful beer selection and late-night bites ($9.95-$11.95), including sandwiches and burgers on homemade breads and rolls and traditional Scottish dishes such as haggis, neeps and tatties, and minced beef and mashed potatoes. The Fullerton Inn & Tavern has live music most weekends.