This old mill town at the confluence of two rivers, the Connecticut and the West, has a population of only 12,000, but you’d never guess it given the community’s recreational and cultural options. Visual art is big here. Once a month the town holds a Gallery Walk, a free, self-guided tour of dozens of venues, most in the downtown area. Add to that the lively coffee shops, bookstores, ethnic restaurants, hiking trails, parks, and boating and fishing opportunities and it becomes clear that Brattleboro is a worthy rival to urban tourist king Burlington, Vt.
There are many options in the area and at least two good ones in and near the downtown business district. One is the renowned Latchis Hotel & Theatre (50 Main St., 802-254-6300, www.latchis.com, weekend rates $90-$190), located in a late-1930s Art Deco building, with a pub and four movie theaters. Rooms have period furniture and original art, and include modern amenities of WiFi and cable TV. Another good bet, a short walk from the business district, is Forty Putney Road (192 Putney Road, 802-254-6268, www.fortyputneyroad.com, rooms $159-$299), a B&B located in a 1929 French baronial-style home, with lawns, perennial gardens, and croquet court overlooking the West River.
For a small town, Brattleboro seems like a big city with its culinary offerings, many of them ethnic. Within a few blocks of each other are Indian, Thai, Mexican, and Korean restaurants. Anyone hankering for gourmet coffee, a sweet or savory quick bite, and a view of the Connecticut should check out Amy’s Bakery Arts Cafe (113 Main St., 802-251-1071, sandwiches $6.25-$9). Among the several ethnic options is Shin-La Restaurant & Sushi Bar (57 Main St., 802-257-5226, entrees $10.50-$14.95), a local institution for more than two decades, offering Korean and Japanese cuisine. Patrons would be well-advised to take home a $6 jar of the kimchi. For a fine-dining experience with vegetarian and vegan options in an unusual setting – an old refurbished diner – consider T.J. Buckleys (132 Elliot St., www.tjbuckleys.com, 802-257-4922, reservations recommended; entrees $40). For mainstream American fare, including seafood, fish and chips, burgers and pasta, drive a few minutes to the Marina Restaurant, (28 Spring Tree Road, www.vermont
marina.com, 802-257-7563, entrees $10.95-$19.95), just off Route 5, north. It’s an airy place with wide windows and decks offering panoramic views of the West River.
DURING THE DAY
As a prelude to dinner at the Marina Restaurant, consider a canoe ride on the Connecticut. Canoes and kayaks can be rented across from the eatery at Vermont Canoe Touring Center (451 Putney Road, 802-257-5008, two-hour rate for canoes $25, full day $50; two-hour rate for kayaks $20, full day $40) or take a day hike on the Retreat Trails system, offering 9 miles of paths, with views; five access points in town are marked by kiosks, where hikers can pick up maps (www.theretreatfarm
.com/trails-.html) If it’s cheese that excites you, drive to the Grafton Village Cheese Co. (www.graftonvilagecheese.com, 802-246-2221), about 1 mile from the downtown on Route 30, north, where you will also find a petting farm for the kids. Visitors will find dozens of varieties of cheese, fine wines and microbrews, specialty foods, and Vermont gifts. Or, for your fix of regional and international art, visit the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (10 Vernon St., www.brattleboromuseum.org, 802-257-0124, adults $8, seniors $6, students $4, under 6 free; also free admission to all after 5:30 on Gallery Walk nights.), located in the downtown in a historic train station. Still another option would be to simply stroll down Main Street to check out the many galleries and offbeat stores, maybe to buy colorful beads, jewelry and retro-toys at Beadnicks (115 Main St., www.beadniksvt.com, 802-257-5114); or a book or magazine or T-shirts at Everyone’s Books, a shop with the motto “For Social Justice and Earth” (25 Elliot St., www.everyones
After dinner, consider a movie at one of the Latchis Hotel’s four theaters, one spacious with Greek Revival ornamentation and a big screen. If you are in the mood for a play or concert, head to the Hooker-Dunham Theater and Gallery (139 Main St., www.hook
erdunham.org, 802-254-9276. For a grittier late-hour option featuring craft beers and live music, check out Inferno (19 Elliot St., www.gotoinferno
.com, 802-258-6529). The selection of bands tends toward the eclectic but local favorites include funk, Afrobeat, and jam bands.