Last Updated on July 9, 2023

For a 19th-century, quintessential Vermont village with only two stoplights along its main downtown corridor, Waterbury sure has a lot going on. No matter the season, this little town packs a big punch. Winters are sure to please ski and snowmobile enthusiasts, with close proximity to some of the best skiing and snowmobile trails in the eastern United States.

Sitting squarely between the mountain peaks of Camel’s Hump, and Mt. Mansfield, winter offers a treasure-trove of outdoor activities. At the same time, autumn here is nothing short of a feast for the eyes. Hiking trails, state parks, and plentiful restaurants round out my four-season love for Waterbury, making it a must-stop destination on any Vermont road trip. Waterbury Village, the heart of the downtown area, boasts shopping, art galleries, and several restaurants sure to please any foodie palette.

With so much to see and do, there are even tours to help visitors fit in all in. I’ve put together a list of my 9 favorite things to do during your visit.

8 Best Things to Do in Waterbury

Tour the Iconic Ben & Jerry’s Factory

From a journey that began in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, back in 1978, to a full-out factory cranking out millions of pints of oddly and humorously named frozen treats, the story of Ben and Jerry is one not to be missed. Aside from creating pint-sized masterpieces, the duo’s commitment to “doing the right thing” has been a mainstay in their business model.

Having a passion for global issues, these two entrepreneurs are also known for improving farmers’ lives, campaigning against GMO ingredients, and even sharing their love for the non-dairy and vegan ice cream lovers of the world. According to them, these non-dairy euphoric flavors deliver everything but the cow.

Don’t forget to visit the flavor graveyard outside after your tour, where Ben and Jerry pay homage to their ‘dearly de-pinted’ flavors that are no longer being made. Each flavor has a headstone depicting its demise in a clever and humorous way.

Stay at a Bed & Breakfast Downtown

Do yourself a favor by opting for an overnight stay in downtown Waterbury Village. Built in 1826 by Waterbury’s first lawyer, Dan Carpenter, The Old Stagecoach Inn Bed & Breakfast ticks all those quintessential New England boxes. From the 1800’s ambiance and private air-conditioned rooms to an extravagant, complimentary full-course breakfast, staying here covers the entire wish list.

What makes this B&B even more special is the cozy library bar, where innkeepers amass added roles as both historians and barkeeps. Relax fireside, libation in hand as you soak in the Vermont hospitality during happy hour, or grab a nightcap before heading back to your room at the end of an adventure-filled day.

Visit Camel’s Hump State Park

View of Monroe Trail in Camel's Hump State Park
Monroe Trail, one of many in Camel’s Hump State Park. Photo by Colleen O’Neill Mulvihill

This large, undeveloped state park just outside of Waterbury is an outdoor lover’s Nirvana. Boasting over 1000 acres of outdoor space, trails are abundant for hikers of all ages and abilities. The Monroe Trail is somewhat challenging for the more experienced and has some of the most amazing mountaintop views imaginable.

For those less inclined to climb the mountain, the Loop Trail is a short 8/10ths-of-a-mile long, wide and flat trail, that comes with three distinct viewing spots making it perfect for older adults or young children. You’ll find designated parking areas at the trailheads along Camel’s Hump Road. Be forewarned, cell service can be spotty to non-existent here, so to be safe, I recommend you always hike with at least one other person.

Stop by Cold Hollow Cider Mill

If the scrumptious cider donuts and warm mulled apple cider aren’t enough to lure you in, let the expansive gift shop entice you inside, where scents of homemade bakery goods will certainly seduce you into staying awhile. One of Vermont’s most famous tourist attractions is Cold Hollow Cider Mill, and I can certainly see why.

Although apples and cider play the biggest role in Cold Hollow’s draw, it doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. An expansive bakery list includes everything from coffee cake to fudge, maple shortbread cookies, maple granola, and maple kettle corn.

Stock your pantry with cans and jars of jams, jellies, salad dressings, barbeque sauces, and of course – maple syrup, in all sorts of flavors from original to bourbon-barrel cask. Don’t forget to browse the Vermont souvenir shelves for that special keepsake or a new pair of Darn Tough Made in Vermont socks for your next hike up the mountain.

Eat and Drink at Prohibition Pig Restaurant and Brewery

View of the decorated side window of Prohibition Pig.
Decorated side window at Prohibition Pig. Photo by Colleen O’Neill Mulvihill

Offering a Latin-inspired menu, along with BBQ and a constantly rotating list of craft beers, Prohibition Pig is open every day of the week. Located in downtown Waterbury Village, the Pro Pig is a favorite of both locals and tourists. Dining is available in the upstairs restaurant, for a casual but elegant experience, or in the brewpub, known for a more laid-back atmosphere.

During summer months, dogs are allowed and welcomed on the brewery’s back porch, where you’ll find ample seating and friendly staff. Your choice of craft brews here is practically endless, while cocktail choices are equally abundant. In a hurry? Order ahead for take-out food and beer. A gift shop is also available on-site, where you can take home everything from T-shirts to beer mugs.

Sip a Genuine Vermont Rye at Whistle Pig Tasting Room

With what seems like an unlikely pairing, Whistle Pig’s humble beginnings started after the purchase of an abandoned dairy farm in 2007. Encompassing over 500 acres, this real-life working farm provides the backdrop for the finest of rye whiskey making. With a vision to respect tradition yet embrace progress, Whistle Pig’s team is always striving to make a better rye whiskey.

Sip on drams of award-winning whiskey at the fully equipped tasting room located inside the Vermont Artisan Coffee and Tea Company building, just off Route 100, not far from the Ben & Jerry’s factory. Enjoy the ultimate in not only rye whiskey but innovative craft beverages in a beautiful setting you won’t soon forget.

Excite Your Sweet Tooth at Lake Champlain Chocolates

View of the store's extensive chocolate selection lining the shelves at Lake Champlain Chocolate.
The store’s extensive chocolate selection lining the shelves. Photo by Colleen O’Neill Mulvihill

Handcrafted with love, specialty chocolates capture the essence of Vermont. In a quest to make a better chocolate, Lake Champlain Chocolates was born 35 years ago, sourcing the highest quality fresh and local ingredients and never, ever using preservatives or anything artificial.

Stop by their expansive specialty shop just outside of Waterbury, where you’ll find a love for chocolate like never before. Assorted chocolates, including organic, vegan, and keto-friendly, line the walls. At the same time, display cabinets house so many options, you’ll have a tough time deciding. Hot chocolate mixes, elegant truffles, gift baskets, and seasonal items are all available for purchase. My inner child almost squealed in delight just stepping through the door.

Observe the Ancient Art of Glassblowing

Ziemke’s Glassblowing Gallery and Studio is an experience like no other in Waterbury. You can watch an artisan in an enclosed observation studio, and owner Gary Ziemke creates his one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Each piece is different from the last; Gary heats molten hot glass in a 2000-degree oven, then masterfully and painstakingly molds what begins as a fiery glass blob on the end of a metal rod into the most beautiful and delicate works of art.

His Waterbury gallery offers for sale almost anything imaginable, from champagne flutes to perfume bottles and even paperweights in a rainbow of hues, in all sizes and shapes. Grab a keepsake ornament or an entire set of blown glass beer mugs. Gary’s masterful work can also be purchased online through his website.

Where to Stay in Waterbury

Wondering where to stay in Waterbury? There are many vacation rental options nearby and some hotels within easy driving distance. Check out some options below.

Is Waterbury Worth a Visit?

If Vermont travel is on your bucket list, you owe it to yourself to discover the magic of Waterbury. Whether you choose to stay for a night or a long weekend, this small town is big on adventure and one-of-a-kind discoveries. Route 100, is dubbed Vermont’s most scenic byway by Yankee Magazine. Waterbury’s quaint downtown village and outdoor exploration are most certainly worth the stop.

Author

  • Colleen O'Neill Mulvihill

    Colleen O'Neill Mulvihill is a retired career firefighter, certified holistic nutrition consultant, and certified health coach who has also become an avid travel writer. She is a wellness-travel seeker who enjoys sharing mind, body, and soul experiences along with holistic and healthy travel tips on her website and blog.