The Mad River Valley in central Vermont is home to three ski areas: Sugarbush’s Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen as well as Mad River Glen Glen. You’ll also find cross-country skiing at Ole’s and the Blueberry Lake Cross Country Ski Centers. Throw in the numerous places to snowshoe, including the trail up to the Enchanted Forest in Camel’s Hump State Forest, and you certainly have plenty of outdoor winter fun for the whole family.
But what about when you’re done for the day or don’t feel like hitting the slopes? There’s exciting news on that front as well. Take a short drive down the mountain to Bridge Street in Waitsfield. In 2011 this small street was devastated by Hurricane Irene’s fury as the nearby Mad River breached its banks. But you won’t realize that as you stroll through this newly revitalized downtown area, which offers fun for all ages. So what can you do on Bridge Street these days?
Get a taste of art and design. Right next to the bridge you’ll find the Madsonian Museum, which claims to be the only museum dedicated solely to industrial design in the United States. Exhibiting everything from bicycles to vacuum cleaners to baseball mitts, this fascinating collection of objects represents the best-designed mass-produced objects from the past century, many of which still work. Stroll up the street to Quench Artspace and you’ll find not only exhibits from local artists but also concerts and other community events.
Eat local. Whether you’re looking for rustic Italian food or would like a vegetarian meal, you’re in luck on Bridge Street. Satisfy your carnivorous cravings with braised local beef at Peasant, the newest restaurant addition to the block. Or eat your vegetables (deliciously) at Mint, which offers vegetarian and vegan items on its menu.
Shop for Christmas and beyond. All Things Bright and Beautiful sells just about every kind of stuffed animal you can imagine – and maybe a few that you can’t. This shop also specializes in European glass and hand-painted wooden Christmas ornaments, making it a great place to pick up a souvenir of your visit to the Valley. Across the street at the Artisans’ Gallery you can find crafts and artwork from over 200 different Vermont artists, including cozy handmade hats, gloves, and sweaters made with local wool.
Satisfy your sweet tooth. The Sweet Spot is home to Sweet Simone’s, where you can purchase homemade cookies, cakes, pies, and sweet breads as well as coffee and other hot beverages designed to warm winter-cold hands. And you’ll want to warm up before you sample some of the most rich, creamy, creatively flavored ice cream at Scout’s Honor, located in the same shop. Flavors change regularly but might include salted chocolate or maple. Sample a homemade waffle cone or try that ice cream sandwiched between brownies or macaroons.
And of course, kids will also thrill to the fact that at the end of Bridge Street they can walk across its namesake: The second oldest covered bridge in Vermont. The bridge thankfully survived Irene intact and sits like an inviting smile at the end of the street. Make sure you bring your camera, as it makes for a great photo op. Can you say “next year’s holiday card”?