A Tank Away

Arlington, Vt., offers a peaceful refuge after a tough week

A view of the Vermont countryside from the West Mountain Inn, which features 150 hillside acres for hiking.
West Mountain Inn
A view of the Vermont countryside from the West Mountain Inn, which features 150 hillside acres for hiking.

In a pastoral valley between the Green and Taconic mountains, this town can serve as a blissfully peaceful refuge after a tough week. It’s a place where you can relax in one of many historic inns or B&Bs, hike or cycle country roads, or, in season, fish the Battenkill, a river well known among trout aficionados. And Arlington has history: It was a capital of the Republic of Vermont before statehood in 1791; it also was home to Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Norman Rockwell. For those seeking more shopping or cultural options, Arlington benefits from being a quick drive to Manchester and Bennington. But many will find little need to stray much beyond the borders of this quietly appealing village.


When it comes to charm, Arlington’s inns are top of the class. Among the choices, and perhaps the most geographically prominent, thanks to its proximity to town hall and the historic St. James Episcopal Church and cemetery in the center of town, is Arlington Inn (3904 Route 7A, 802-375-6532, www.arlington, rates $139-$319, depending on room and season; full breakfast included), a Greek Revival mansion built in 1847 by Martin Chester Deming, a regional railroad magnate. The inn has antique-furnished guest rooms, fireplaces, an intimate dining room, and an elegant little bar. If it is mountain views that you desire, consider West Mountain Inn (144 West Mountain Inn Road, 802-375-6516,, rates $155-$305, depending on room and season; full breakfast included), housed in an 1809 farmhouse that once sported grist- and sawmills. The West Mountain features 150 hillside acres for hiking with panoramic views of the Battenkill River Valley. Norman Rockwell fans can stay at the illustrator’s former home, erected in 1792 as Turner’s Tavern but now called the Inn on the Covered Bridge Green (3587 River Road, 800-726-9480, www.coveredbridge, rates $175-$225; full breakfast included). Visitors can also choose to stay in the artist’s former studio ($280 per night with breakfast; $240 without; two-night minimum), which is situated on the grounds and boasts two bedrooms, a kitchen, and fireplace.


The best in-town options for white-tablecloth dining are the Arlington Inn (entrees $28-$32) and the West Mountain Inn (entrees $25-$34). Both focus on elegantly prepared regional fare featuring locally sourced ingredients. For less-expensive options that kids will enjoy, try Chauncey’s Family Dining, (5403 Route 7A, 802-375-1222; dinner entrees $11.95-$18.95), an eatery especially proud of its burgers and homemade desserts. If you take the 16-mile drive to Bennington to visit the Bennington Battle Monument or the Bennington Museum, save time for a meal at the Blue Benn Diner (314 North St., 802-442-5140; entrees $7.95-$13.95), a Vermont culinary landmark, offering standard diner fare in a 1940s diner car, plus gourmet dishes with many vegetarian options. If you drive 9 miles north to Manchester, consider The Perfect Wife Restaurant and Tavern (2594 Depot St., 802-362-2817; dining-room entrees $22-$30, pub fare $5-$17.95), featuring “free-style” cuisine, with emphasis on local meats and produce, served in pub or a “greenhouse” dining room with garden views.



Take a self-guided tour through the 250-year-old St. James Episcopal Church Cemetery (Route 7A), a burial spot for relatives of Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen and for author and social activist Dorothy Canfield Fisher, who was born in Kansas but settled in Vermont in the early 20th century to write her novels. To learn about Rockwell and his involvement in the local community, visit the Sugar Shack (Sugar Shack Lane, Route 7A, 802-375-6747, www.sugar, a combination gift store, maple-syrup operation, and gallery exhibiting Saturday Evening Post covers and other works of the famous illustrator, who used local residents as his models when he lived in town from 1939-’53. To see the works of other regional artists, including Grandma Moses, visit the Bennington Museum (75 Main St., Bennington, 802-447-1571,; admission for adults $10, for seniors and students $9, children free). If shopping is your thing, there’s no shortage of opportunities in Manchester, home to some 20 outlet stores. It’s also the location of Orvis’s flagship shop (4180 Main St., 802-362-3750,, where anglers can buy rods, fly-tying kits, and trout-fishing-themed artwork, clothing, and mementoes. In Manchester, history buffs will want to tour Hildene, (1005 Hildene Road, 802-362-1788,; admission for adults $16, youth $5 and children under 6 free), the 1905 Georgian Revival estate of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the president.


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In-town night life options in Arlington are limited, though one should consider relaxing after dinner in the intimate bars at either Arlington Inn or West Mountain Inn. Theater lovers can drive 15 miles to the Dorset Playhouse (104 Cheney Road, 802-867-5777, www.dorset; tickets $20-25 for adults, depending on the type of performance, $10 for students) for plays and musicals in a barn that was converted to a theater 85 years ago. For cocktails in a plush setting, in a modern cosmopolitan atmosphere, with music, travel to The Falcon Bar at the Equinox Hotel and Spa in Manchester (3567 Main St., 800-362-4747, www.equinoxresort

Dirk Van Susteren can be reached at dirkpatrick@