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Eight Day Trip and Dining Adventures


Published May 23, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

Poutine grilled cheese at the Meltdown - COURTESY OF SEAN HOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Courtesy of Sean Hood Photography
  • Poutine grilled cheese at the Meltdown

Our sweet little state has lots to offer in the summer, from beautiful mountains and natural areas to unique and interesting museums to well-maintained bike paths and plenty of unique places to shop and stroll. There are also many wonderful places to eat along the way.

Here are just a few day trip and dining suggestions, culled from my family's favorites and from tips I crowdsourced on social media. Some of these places are only open seasonally, others offer year-round delights. Consider visiting them in the season to come. Bon appetit!

Grilled Cheese at the Meltdown

83 Washington St., Barre, 622-8277 or @themeltdownbarre on Facebook

The grilled cheese sandwiches at the Meltdown Grilled Cheese and Tap Room in Barre are so good that I'm happy to drive an hour for them. Its menu of imaginative takes on the basic, kid-friendly staple includes lobster; cauliflower parmesan-crusted; and apple, fig and brie options — along with sides, salads, soups, and a truly scrumptious mac and cheese.

Diane Hood, the incredibly sweet co-owner, took the time to chat with us on a recent visit and told us that the Meltdown's classic grilled cheese sandwich comes with a maple syrup dip because that's how her son (now grown) always wanted it as a kid.

When we went, the dessert special was a Boston cream cheesecake ($12). We were full from our grilled cheeses (Montréal smoked meat, $17, and spinach artichoke, $16) but took the cheesecake home to enjoy later. Another plus: ample outdoor seating if the weather allows. Sometimes there's even live music.

Pair with a visit to:

Hope Cemetery - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Hope Cemetery

Breakfast at The Spot

210 Shelburne Rd., Burlington, 540-1778 or thespotvt.com
The Rincon at the Spot - ASTRID HEDBOR LAGUE
  • Astrid Hedbor Lague
  • The Rincon at the Spot

Despite its laid-back surfer décor and vibe, the Spot in Burlington offers quick, friendly service and unique menu items. On a recent visit, I enjoyed a delicious cup of coffee ($2.50) and the Rincon, a vegetarian breakfast burrito with avocado and a side of home fries ($14). Simply delightful.

On the kids' menu: the Sand Dollar, one pancake topped with powdered sugar ($5); the Single Fin, one egg served with one slice of buttered toast ($4); and the Waimea Bay, a cheddar cheese quesadilla served with salsa and sour cream ($12). Great fuel for a day of walking around Shelburne Museum.

Pair with a visit to:

Shelburne Farms - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Shelburne Farms

Lunch or dinner at Red Panda

161 Church St., Burlington, 489-5479 or orderredpanda.com
Vegetable samosas at Red Panda - ASTRID HEDBOR LAGUE
  • Astrid Hedbor Lague
  • Vegetable samosas at Red Panda

Adventurous eaters in search of authentic Nepali, Indian and Indo-Chinese cuisine should stop by Red Panda in Burlington. My 17-year-old son told me that it is, unequivocally, his favorite restaurant.

When he and I went to dinner after a walk on Church Street, we shared some vegetable samosas ($5.99) and cheese-stuffed naan, or Indian flatbread ($5.99). He got his usual — chicken tikka masala ($16.99) — and I had a malai chicken curry ($16.99). The restaurant offers different levels of spice from mild to hot, and the mild is quite mild. Both of our meals were served with aromatic basmati rice. We happily finished every bite. If you have not tried Indian food before, I suggest you do — and so does my son.

Pair with a visit to:

Burlington Waterfront - COURTESY OF STEPHEN MEASE
  • Courtesy of Stephen Mease
  • Burlington Waterfront

  • Church Street Marketplace
  • The Burlington Waterfront

A Creemee at Devyn's Creemee Stand

Open seasonally. 752 North River Rd., West Swanton, 782-5577 or @devynsdelights on Facebook
Devyn's Creemee Stand - ASTRID HEDBOR LAGUE
  • Astrid Hedbor Lague
  • Devyn's Creemee Stand

In business for 26 years, Devyn's Creemee Stand in West Swanton offers a wide array of frozen treats: creemees, hard ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes and even ice cream cakes made to order. Its 24 flavors of creemees are available in one size only, but daily flavors come in five sizes, from junior to extra large. The junior is plenty big enough for me and a steal at only $2.

On a recent visit, I got my favorite — maple-black raspberry swirl. Want maple sprinkles? Add them to any creemee for an extra $1.50.

Pair with:

A Bagel at Huddy's

40 River St., Milton, 338-0776 or @huddysvt on Facebook
  • © Brooke Becker | Dreamstime
  • Bagel

A newer addition to Milton's culinary offerings, Huddy's sells fresh New York-style bagels, bagel sandwiches, coffee and other treats. I visited early in the morning and enjoyed a coffee ($1.99) with the eponymous breakfast sandwich — sausage, thick-cut bacon, fried egg, cheese, hash browns and secret sauce on a cheddar bagel ($8.29). Just what I needed to get through a hike up Eagle Mountain.

I look forward to visiting again for more and maybe picking up a dozen bagels to go for breakfast at home.

Pair with a visit to:

  • Milton Town Forest
  • Eagle Mountain

A Sandwich at Bessery's Butcher Shoppe & Delicatessen

1398 North Ave., Burlington, 862-1731 or besserysqualitymarket.com
Bessery's Butcher Shoppe - ASTRID HEDBOR LAGUE
  • Astrid Hedbor Lague
  • Bessery's Butcher Shoppe

Open since 1963, Bessery's has a fantastic assortment of meats and groceries, but it also sells sandwiches, burgers, wings, salads and hot dogs. My friend from Philadelphia says Bessery's Philly cheesesteaks are the best she's had in the area. The burgers are fresh and flavorful, and the fries hit the spot. On a recent visit, I got a bacon cheeseburger ($12.99) with fries (+$1).

If you arrive on a bike after a ride on the Burlington Greenway or the 127 Bike Path by the Ethan Allen Homestead, there's a small seating area in front of the shop where you can sit and eat.

Pair with:

A Burger at the Burger Barn

4968 Route 15, Jeffersonville, 730-3441 or @burgerbarnvt on Facebook
El Alamo Burger at Burger Barn - FILE: GLENN RUSSELL
  • File: Glenn Russell
  • El Alamo Burger at Burger Barn

Featured recently in Seven Days — and for good reason — the Burger Barn in Jeffersonville offers more than 30 different versions of its signature menu item along with hot dogs, some sandwiches and seafood options.

But really, go for the burgers. The array includes the popular Ethan Allen — think grilled apples, Cabot cheddar and cranberry-garlic mayo ($9) — and the El Alamo, topped with bacon, deep-fried onion rings, banana peppers, Cabot cheddar and barbecue sauce ($11). All the patties are made from grass-fed beef sourced from nearby Boyden Farm, except the veggie burgers. Be prepared: The Burger Barn is cash-only.

Pair with:

  • A swim at Green River Reservoir State Park
  • A bike ride on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail
  • A drive through Smugglers' Notch

A Sweet Treat From Hackett's Orchard

Open seasonally. 86 South St., South Hero, 372-4848 or @hackettsorchard on Facebook

You can get a maple creemee almost anywhere, but apple cider slushies are harder to find. You can't order one until around July 4, but it's one of my favorite summer treats, and I had to include it on this list.

Hackett's Orchard in South Hero went through more than one machine trying to find the one that gave just the right texture for the perfect slushie, which is made with cider from the orchard. It's an unbeatable way to cool down on a hot day.

Hackett's also has the best apple cider doughnuts around, if you ask me.

Pair with:

Alburgh Dunes State Park - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Alburgh Dunes State Park

  • A ride on the bike ferry to South Hero
  • A visit to Alburgh Dunes State Park

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