Welcome to The Valley Reporter’s celebration of winter and all that there is to do here both indoors and outdoors in The Valley, with or without snow!
While Sugarbush is open, with skiing on manmade snow, Mad River Glen is waiting on Mother Nature but does have the retail shop, and General Stark’s Pub opens on December 26. Ole’s Cross Country Center and Blueberry Lake Cross Country Center are also waiting on Mother Nature. For up-to-the-minute ski conditions visit www.sugarbush.com and www.madriverglen.com. For Nordic conditions visit the website for Ole’s Cross Country Center, www.olesxc.com, or call 496-3430; call nearby Blueberry Lake at 496-6687 for updated conditions at that center.
But even without snow, there are plenty of things to do over the holiday weeks. (See a full list of events at Sugarbush on Page 12 of this issue.) And do not miss the opportunity to take a tour of all the dazzling holiday stars and lights in The Valley. The star competition winners are on Page 3 of this issue with their addresses.
Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm in Fayston is offering winter trail rides that range from 90 minutes to two hours.
At the horse farm, guides will match riders with a horse based on their level of experience and they offer everything from guided tours for beginners to longer treks for more advanced riders. And riders at all levels will appreciate the Icelandic horse’s cute face, calm temperament and gentle gait. Contact the farm at 496-7141 or visit www.icelandichorses.com.
While The Valley’s ice rink, the Skatium, is waiting for colder weather, The Ice Center in Waterbury is open with indoor skating and skate rentals. www.icecenter.org.
Swimming, tennis, fitness classes
The Sugarbush Health and Recreation Club has an indoor swimming pool with free-swim times for those looking to do laps, as well as scheduled water aerobics classes. After swimming in the pool, members can transition to warmer water in one of the center’s hot tubs or its co-ed sauna. The Bridges Resort, located just off Sugarbush Access Road, also has an indoor swimming pool available to members or on a pay-by-the-day basis. Both of those resorts offer tennis and fitness classes as well. The Bridges, 583-2922. Sugarbush Health and Recreation Club, 583-6700.
There are also a number of small, independent studios scattered throughout The Valley, such as Awaken Yoga in Warren, Zoe’s Pilates in Warren, The Village Nest in Waitsfield, indyYoga in Duxbury and Mad River Valley Yoga.
Hiking, camping and mountain biking
Trails don’t close once they’re covered in snow, but explorers should double check weather conditions and make sure that they have all necessary clothing and gear before heading out into the woods. Even in early October, the summit of Camel’s Hump was covered in ice, so a couple of months later, climbing the mountain will most likely require mountaineering equipment such as crampons. The Green Mountain Club advises hikers to be prepared for changing weather conditions.
The U.S. Forest Service biking and hiking trails at Blueberry Lake remain open year round as do the Mad River Riders network of trails. See madriverriders.com for trail maps.
For those seeking less active things to do, there are many galleries and exhibits in The Valley and many places to enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.
Art galleries and rotating exhibits
While The Valley celebrates art in August, the region has dozens of galleries that exhibit media of all shapes and forms throughout the year.
In Waitsfield, Three Mountain Cafe has a year-round rotating exhibit and the Festival Gallery displays works by local and in-state artists all four seasons. Melanie and David Leppla’s glass creations are always on display at Mad River Glass Gallery in Waitsfield as are Barry Friedman’s stained-glass pieces at Luminosity Stained Glass Studio in Waitsfield and Pizza in The Valley’s sculpture garden is open to the public – and the elements – all winter long.
Creativity becomes even more concentrated closer to the covered bridge in Waitsfield Village, where the Madsonian Museum of Industrial Design features an eclectic mix of mass-produced items as well as special exhibits that change with the seasons and Walker Contemporary features the works of John Bisbee. Waitsfield Pottery is a studio and showroom on Main Street near Bridge Street.
In Warren, Parade Gallery features fine art and Moosewalk Studios & Gallery features watercolors and photography of the Vermont and New England landscape. A rotating exhibit at The Bridges Resort & Spa displays the works of local artists.
The General Wait House currently features an exhibit by the Waitsfield Historical Society, 19th Century Furniture and Quilts. The exhibit is meticulously staged with the exhibit pieces framed by realistic paraphernalia of daily living.
The Bundy Modern on Bundy Road in Waitsfield is showing Introducing Color, featuring the abstract figures and abstract expressionist paintings of Blake Larsen. The exhibit is open Saturdays and Sundays through January 18 from noon to 5 p.m.
John Matusz’s sculpture can be viewed at his shop on Main Street in Waitsfield.
The Valley’s full-service movie theater, the Big Picture Theater and Cafe in Waitsfield, offers film, food, art, political discourse and more. The theater has two screens and has recently converted to digital. First-run films are shown along with monthly film club pictures and more.
The Big Picture Theater also hosts local and regional musicians on a weekly basis in their cafe, which features a full bar as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner options. See bigpicturetheater.info for more information.
Local and regional musicians perform throughout The Valley nearly every night of the week. Sugarbush regularly features après-ski music at Castlerock Pub, the Green Mountain Lounge and Wunderbar and in the evening live music can be found at many watering holes throughout winter.
On The Valley floor, bands and artists regularly perform at Localfolk Smokehouse and Peasant restaurant in Waitsfield, as well as the Hyde Away Inn and Restaurant in Fayston. Phantom restaurant in Mad River Green Shops hosts live musicians. Check individual business websites or call for date-specific details.
The Valley offers no shortage of cafes, pubs and fine dining establishments.
Sugarbush skiers have the option of eating at Timbers Restaurant, Castlerock Pub or the newly opened Skinny Pancake. Just down the road from the resort, Chez Henri in Sugarbush Village offers classic French dining for lunch and dinner, Pizza Soul has pies available for takeout or eat-in and Mutha Stuffer’s makes great sandwiches. The Big Ridge Tavern and Grill at The Bridges Resort is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Heading south on Sugarbush Access Road, Paradise Deli offers tasty grab-n-go options and Terra Rossa Restaurant serves up American fare. At the bottom of the hill, Hostel Tevere is a good bet for music, drinks, beds and more.
Continuing south to Warren Village, The Warren Store deli is a must-stop for tasty breakfast pastries, hearty sandwiches and more and The Pitcher Inn offers fancier fare in their dining room, which they call 275 Main, and more casual fare is offered downstairs at Tracks.
Heading down German Flats, don’t miss The Common Man with fine dining in a restored barn and a great atmosphere. Slide Brook Tavern, just above The Common Man, also offers après-ski. New this year downstairs at the Sugarbush Inn is Fit 2Be Thaid, offering eat-in and takeout Thai food.
At Mad River Glen, General Stark’s Pub can be counted on for drinks, burgers and more in a convivial atmosphere. Heading back down Mill Brook Road, the Hyde Away serves up drinks, classic pub fare and creative entrees, as does Mad River Barn next door. Continuing east on Mill Brook Road there’s pizza, calzones and more to be had at Bongiorno’s. Localfolk Smokehouse at the corner of Routes 17 and 100 offers smoked, local meats plus Mexican fare and libations. Head south on Route 100 to get to American Flatbread, home of delicious wood-fired pizza, and The Elusive Moose.
In Waitsfield, don’t miss the soon-to-be-opened Blue Stone pizza, Three Mountain Cafe, Phantom, The Mad Taco, Mix Cupcakerie, The Butchery, China Fun, Sweet Pea Natural Market and Cafe, Pizza in The Valley, Big Picture Theater and Café, Irasville Country Store and Village Grocery. On Bridge Street, The Sweet Spot offers sweet and savory options for takeout and Peasant restaurant and Mint Restaurant provide a warm atmosphere for dining in.
There’s shopping in Warren Village. There’s shopping in Sugarbush Village. There’s shopping at Sugarbush’s and at Mad River Glen. There’s shopping at The Store in Waitsfield. There are two full shopping centers in Waitsfield: Mad River Green Shops and Village Square Shopping Center.
At Mad River Green Shops, people will find a hair salon, travel agent, coffee shop, hardware store, yoga studio, restaurant, home décor/toys and more, a ski/snowboard store, clothes and skiwear, souvenir apparel, a florist, a post office and a grocery store.
Across the street at Village Square, there are crafts, food, groceries (and the state liquor store), a drug store, real estate, a hair salon, Chinese takeout, books, yarn/knitting and a natural foods/grocery store.
At both ski areas, in Sugarbush Village, up and down the Sugarbush Access Road and in Irasville and Waitsfield people will find a great variety of ski,ride, paddle equipment, bikes and clothing shops.
And then there’s Bridge Street, where shoppers will find stuffed animals, Christmas ornaments, galleries full of artistic offerings, a confectionary/ice cream shop, several clothing stores, handbags, a consignment shop, a thrift store, a hair salon and more.
Just north of Bridge Street on Route 100, in Waitsfield Village, are a wine shop and a secondhand store and across the road, just a little further north, is a sporting goods store. Keep going north about a mile to get to a feed and variety store and another mile to get to an Apple computers store.
For those craving an out-of-town experience, head to Montpelier and wander up and down State Street for a glimpse of the Vermont State Capitol and eclectic stores.
What could be more relaxing than an après-anything massage? There are many places to get massages in The Valley. Mad River Massage on Route 100 in Waitsfield offers massage and a great gift boutique and Iverson Sellers Therapeutic Bodywork & Massage is also located in Waitsfield. Massage therapists are available at The Bridges Resort and at Sugarbush Health and Recreation Club. Additionally, there are private therapists who are available to do in-home massages. Complexions in Waitsfield offers facial care and massages.
Want to check email or access the Internet? Or just want to browse some books, newspapers and periodicals? The Valley has three public libraries, one in Warren, one in Waitsfield and one in Moretown. Call them or check their websites for hours.
Joslin Memorial Library, Waitsfield, (802) 496-4205, www.joslinmemoriallibrary.com; Warren Public Library, (802) 496-3913, www.warrenlibrary.com; Moretown Memorial Library, (802) 496-9728.
Day trip: Breweries
Brewery tours can make for a delicious day trip outside of The Valley.
In less than a two-hour drive from Waitsfield, beer lovers can sip award-winning smoked porters at the recently upgraded Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, try the Ridge Runner, a popular barley wine, at Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, and finish the day off with a refreshing session ale – and maybe even a sandwich – at Lost Nation Brewery just down the road.
The Alchemist may have closed its cannery, but there is plenty of Heady Topper to be had at local stores, including Village Grocery, Mehuron’s Supermarket, East Warren Community Market and a few others, which receive shipments of the sought-after double IPA every Tuesday. And The Warren Store is still one of the only places in the state where beer lovers can purchase bottles of Lawson’s Finest Liquids, made by Warren hobbyist turned full-time brewer Sean Lawson. Cans of Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine are sold at several Valley stores.
Afternoon tasting: Mad River Distillers
If it’s hard alcohol you want, you don’t have to drive far (and you probably shouldn’t, at all).
Mad River Distillers is located in Waitsfield at the intersection of Route 100 and Route 17. Stop by their tasting room to try samples of First Run Rum, Corn Whiskey and more Vermont small batch spirits. The tasting room will be open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.