Just under 20 minutes from Stowe and 30 minutes from Burlington Waterbury is a small historic town in Vermont that is brimming with artisan food, craft drinks, and a tourist site or two. If you’re in the area it’s not to be missed whether you only have time for dinner and a drink, or you can hang around for a couple of days.
Where to go for Breakfast in Waterbury
Vermont Artisan Coffee and Tea
This giant barn-sized building houses a small coffee bar making excellent coffee of all varieties: pour over, espresso, drip, decaf, and any other style you can think of. It’s a haven for people looking for a high-quality caffeine boost, but they don’t shun people like me that order a decaf goat milk caramel latte.
No surprise that the maple lattes are very popular here, it’s in Vermont after all! They roast and sell their own beans. This specialty coffee roasted by experts would make an ideal souvenir for coffee connoisuers.
The outdoor seating has beautiful views of the surrounding green hills. Huge umbrellas keep you in the shade even on the sunniest Vermont mornings.
Vermont Artisan Coffee and Tea is also home to one of the best coffee training schools in the country. They offer classes for serious coffee professionals as well as dedicated enthusiasts. A trip to Waterbury, Vermont may be the only chance for many coffee aficionados to take one of these courses.
Maxi’s for All-Day Breakfast
It’s a Waterbury institution. Maxi’s serves breakfast all day alongside a full menu of American classic sandwiches and salads. Even though the toasted sandwiches look great, this is really the place for fluffy pancakes, loaded french toast, and giant omelets. It’s vacation so you can go ahead and turn breakfast into brunch with drink specials on bloody marys and mimosas.
The Best Restaurants in Waterbury, Vermont
Hen of the Wood
This is my favorite restaurant I have been to in Vermont (so far!). The menu changes every night to reflect what is fresh and inspiring to the kitchen. Of course, Vermont cheese has its own menu section and comes served with house made accompaniments like fresh maple crackers and raspberry butter. This is the first place I tried, and fell in love with, Bayley Hazen blue cheese from Jasper Hill farm.
For beer lovers, this is one of the only places that the beloved IPA, Heady Topper, from the Alchemist is served on tap. It changes the mouthfeel of the beer and makes it even more creamy and fruity, a must try!
Get reservations in advance and if you’d like to dine at one of the three outside tables (which I did twice) call the day that you’d like your reservation as soon as the restaurant opens.
Prohibition Pig is a two for one deal! In the front it is a barbecue restaurant that serves the beer that’s made in the brewery around back. I tried both sides of Prohibition Pig. I really loved the brewery because there was outdoor seating and I didn’t have limited time at my table (at the restaurant you’re limited to 1.5 hours). The snacks at the brewery are well made and a perfect pair for the wide variety of beers. The guacamole was my favorite. As far as beer goes they have something for everyone from dry-hopped blondes to dark German lagers and of course the ever-popular IPAs.
At the BBQ I suggest ordering what they do best, barbecue! We ordered the duck confite because it sounded fun and though it wasn’t bad it wasn’t nearly as delicious or interesting as the other dishes. The whole hog is the star make sure to try it with the different house made sauces!
Craft Beer Cellar
Right across the street from Pro Pig is Craft Beer Cellar, a bottle shop with an impressive and extensive collection. Huge sections of the store are dedicated to imports from Belgium, England, Germany, and other classic beer-making countries. (A real find for those interested in studying for the tasting portion of the Cicerone exams.) There is also a wide variety of locally made beers and beer from New England.
Anyone searching for geuze or lambic will be delighted in this store.
We didn’t have the pleasure of dining at Blackback Pub but I did enjoy drinks out on their small outdoor patio. Wow the staff and environment here was the friendliest I encountered in Vermont. Times are tough and service is (understandably) strained. But not at Blackback. The owner and servers were incredibly warm and friendly…I honestly felt like they were excited I was there?!
They have a well curated drinks menu with the cocktail list and the beer list looking equally appealing to me, not an easy feat.
I’ve mentioned Zen Barn before but it’s worth mentioning again because they are doing socially distant, seated….live music! The huge airy property is a befitting setting, speckled with small but comfortable tables and even a fire pit, there is plenty of room for everyone to sit comfortably.
Wow it was so nice to sit outside with some drinks and listen to live music. Even spread out it was refreshing to be around other people doing the same thing. It had been wayy too long since I’d seen any kind of live performance, what a thrill!
If you’re spending time in this area of Vermont check out my Off-the-Beaten-Path Beer Guide to Northern Vermont.
Things to Do in Waterbury, Vermont
Hike the Perry Hill Trail
The entrance to the 10 mile Perry Hill Trail network is in Waterbury. There are a few flat, easy hiking loops as well as more challenging trails that require a climb. Your most scenic views will be from top of the Permission trail, but the whole batch of paths are serene and clean. Plus, no trip to Vermont is complete without some fresh air.
Visit the Ben & Jerry’s Factory
Any visit to Waterbury is simply not complete without a stop at Ben & Jerry’s. Take a tour of the ice cream factory, which includes samples. Or make it a quick visit and just grab a scoop from the exclusive flavors at the scoop shop. Make sure to wander over to the pasture that has some friendly dairy cows.
Ben & Jerry’s has to be the only place on earth with an ice cream graveyard. Take a picture with the extinct flavors headstones and have a good laugh at the creative (often rhyming) inscriptions on each of them. Then, if you’re like me you’ll get some ice cream to-go and visit the gift shop. I’m now the proud owner of an official Ben & Jerry’s ice cream scoop.
There are also art installations, outdoor seating, and a small exhibit with the history of the ice cream maker scattered around the grounds. Plenty of room for social distancing!
Where to Stay in Waterbury, Vermont
To stay right in the middle of it all, there is only one good option, The Stagecoach Inn. It’s a former stagecoach stop turned hotel that is less than a 10 minute walk from the Amtrak station. It’s charming and clean with stunning mountain views, but as with many small inns, don’t expect luxury amenities.
For a more luxurious feel, look about 25 minutes away to Stowe. The ski town is packed with resorts. Two of my favorites that I would recommend are the Von Trapp Resort and Topnotch Resort. Even if you’re not planning to ski (and definitely want to take a drive down to Hen of the Wood) Von Trapp is a great option. It even has it’s own brewery which I absolutely gush about over here.