Love One-of-a-Kind Towns? Try Brattleboro, Vermont
by Eric Hurwitz. Article updated on 11/30/16
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Downtown Brattleboro, Vt., was nearly silent on a late spring
Sunday afternoon, but the atmosphere of the town came across loud and
Two old townies conversed in front of the former Army Navy store now
known as Sam's Outdoor Outfitters. A middle-aged man with very long
hair walked the Main Street singing slightly out of tune some
unidentifiable folk rock song. A few families were headed out for
dinner, downtown. A group of travelers were walking the side streets,
complimenting the beautiful old homes and restored brick building
architecture. At the fire station, I asked the best way to get back to
Boston, and one of the firefighters with a conservative personality
talked with me like an old friend and went over ever detail to make
sure I was heading in that direction, and not toward Upstate New York.
It would be easy for me, like every other travel guide, to talk about
Brattleboro's great small-town arts scene (it is listed in John
Villani's book The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America) and the myriad
locally-owned stores, restaurants and cafes up and down the long Main
Street, but I'd prefer to talk about the feeling of the town. Sure, the
thriving downtown businesses and museums, theater and galleries are
something to revel in a town of only about 12,000 people. What I like
best about Brattleboro, however, is that you have an interesting mix of
people -- kind of like Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., comes to the
country -- and that citizens and local elected and appointed officials
came together over the past 30 years to revitalize this formerly drab
New England mill town into something special for the world to see.
Sure, some areas still have a rough-around-the-edges look but, for the
most part, the revitalization of this town has been nothing short of
miraculous. Plus, it's located on the Connecticut River and is
surrounded by mountains for an innate scenic beauty in southern
Vermont. For some like me, just walking around Brattleboro and taking
in its groovy-to-traditional makeup is enough (although I typically
don't sing folk-rock tunes in any downtown setting).
Clearly Brattleboro isn't just another town that has downtown shops and
restaurants. There are so many destinations like that. Brattleboro is a
place with its own personality, powered by the people -- whether it be
hippies and activists, rednecks, the blue blood, the middle class
enjoying affordable living, entrepreneurs, New Yorkers looking for a
new life or vacationers supporting the terrific downtown. People seem
to co-exist here peacefully and are genuinely proud to call this
southern Vermont town their own.
We also see amazing restoration happening in Bellows
Falls, and White River Junction, Vt., but those communities aren't
quite there yet (very close, though,and definitely worth a look).
Brattleboro, however has arrived, and seems to be getting better
Book a hotel room in
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