I’ll be honest: we wound up in Waterbury by accident during our New England trip when we spent time in Vermont. I had heard all the great things about visiting Stowe, and no one ever mentioned Waterbury to me. Now I’m wondering why, because it’s a perfect stop for anyone into food, beer, hiking and of course, ice cream.
Waterbury, VT, has been called one of New England’s best small towns. It has beautiful nearby nature, awesome hiking, superb offerings for accommodation and fantastic dining and drinking. When I booked us a hotel that I thought was in Stowe, we were actually based in Waterbury and it was a great thing!
Whether you’re figuring out your Vermont itinerary or you’re already set on visiting Waterbury, here’s a list of the essential things to do and see, along with local recommendations of where to eat and drink from my “Vermont friend,” Jordan!
Let’s get started with this travel guide for the best of Waterbury.
Top picks for where to stay in Waterbury, VT
- Our top pick (we stayed here): Best Western Plus (Stowe-Waterbury)
- Best hotel value: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Waterbury Stowe
- Best inn for old charm: Old Stagecoach Inn
Where to stay in Waterbury, VT
There are two main areas in Waterbury to stay in: Waterbury Village Historic District, and Waterbury Center. See my picks for where to stay, and then continue reading to see what to do during your trip. (Also, if you’re set on staying in Stowe so that you can also visit Waterbury, see a list of hotel recommendations in my Stowe travel guide).
We spent three nights at this Best Western and it was great for the value. We thought the room was perfectly comfortable, and the convenient location off the highway served us well for exploring the area and filling up on gas. I also really liked the big daily breakfast spread that powered us up for the Stowe Rec Path (see more about it in my Stowe travel guide).
This Fairfield Inn & Suites is impressively modern and recently renovated, with spacious rooms, an indoor pool, a fitness center and a grab-and-go breakfast. Because it’s a Marriott brand, it’s hotel quality you can trust when picking where to stay in Waterbury. Plus, it’s nearly next-door to Ben & Jerry’s, so the location is excellent.
This highly-rated historic Vermont inn has traditional New England charm and is in the heart of Historic Waterbury! Would you believe that the building was built in 1826? This place is a piece of history and now it’s an excellent accommodation in Waterbury. There’s a complimentary breakfast every day, and there are even “studio” rooms with kitchenettes.
What to do in Waterbury, VT
A lot of the attractions that seem like they’re in Stowe are actually in Waterbury. By staying in Waterbury like we did, you have cider mills, Ben & Jerry’s and the town at your fingertips.
Hike Hunger Mountain Trailhead (Mount Hunger)
What an awesome hike! I was introduced to the Mount Hunger hike by my cousin’s husband, an avid hiker in the area. We hiked the mountain on a perfect summer day, and the view from the top of the mountain is fantastic!
The hike itself is what I’d classify as moderate to challenging, but if you’re in really good shape you could start the hike and summit the peak in about an hour. The last parts up top involve scaling some rocks, and that’s a big adrenaline rush! It’s only a 15-minute drive from Waterbury, VT, and only 7 minutes from Waterbury Center! Check out my photos here.
Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury Factory Tour & Ice Cream Shop
Even though I’m lactose intolerant, I’m a fan of all of Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free flavors (and we picked up a pint at the Church Street Ben & Jerry’s store in Burlington, VT). We stopped by Ben & Jerry’s “headquarters” in Waterbury and got ice cream at the counter. We sat outside and enjoyed the summer weather!
Jordan recommends taking the Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury Factory Tour, which is how the company shares the secrets of their production with visitors. It’s recommended to get online tickets in advance for the 30-minute tour.
Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard
The small “graveyard” at the Ben & Jerry’s factory is a little “cemetery” with funny tombstones showing all of the retired flavors from over the years. If you’re a big Ben & Jerry’s fan, you’ll find this maybe worth a laugh. It’s near playground (good for kids!) and the big parking lot.
Visit Cold Hollow Cider Mill
I like apple cider quite a bit, and going somewhere where it’s made fresh is always a treat. Cold Hollow Cider Mill is one of the popular cider mills in the Waterbury-Stowe area, and it has a cafe, tasting room and pretty outdoor seating area. Places like these are why I thought Vermont was such a perfect babymoon destination.
There are great cider donuts and cold apple cider that you can sample right from the tank. We liked ordering healthy lunches and sitting out in the back to enjoy the fresh Vermont air. The Cold Hollow shop has all the Vermont treats you can imagine like cider jelly, maple butter, Vermont cheddar, baked goods, jams and sauces to bring home.
Stop for coffee at Stowe Street Café
Stowe Street Cafe is the go-to coffee shop in Waterbury Village Historic District, with great cafe atmosphere and wonderful staff. Locals say to go here for breakfast sandwiches, wraps, the grilled cheese with apple slices, chai lattes, scones, protein bowls AND banh mi.
Everything tastes freshly homemade, and there’s outdoor seating on a little patio. As the website says, it’s “more than just a coffee shop.”
It’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays!
Also, if you’re into coffee (like we are), check out Jordan’s cold brew Instagram, called Cold Brew Vermont.
Start your night at Blackback Pub
This pub has a great beer list, but everyone is talking about the pub nachos. Jordan says, “The pub nachos. They’re spectacular.” It’s a casual pub experience with great service, delicious food like the mac and cheese and sandwiches, taco salad, cider and brews. Check out the website.
Get into nature at Little River State Park
This pretty state park is right near town and has it all! There are picnic areas, playground slides, cabins for camping, wildlife watching opportunities, hiking, biking and swimming galore. It’s next to Mt. Mansfield State Forest and is one of the most popular state parks in the state.
Try Lake Champlain Chocolates
For premium Vermont chocolates, you’ve got to try Lake Champlain Chocolates. They make rich chocolates, truffles that will please any chocolate lover. The shop also serves ice cream and coffee. If you can’t visit the Waterbury store, head to the one on Pine St. in Burlington (thanks Jordan, for the tip!).
Bike, snowshoe or hike at Perry Hill Trailhead
The Perry Hill area of trails is a favorite for hikers and in winter, snowshoers. It’s also a dog-friendly trail system. Pro hikers describe the trails as a mix of technical and “flow,” and hikes for visitors of all abilities. The routes for mountain biking also come as highly recommended. You can see some trail info on TrailFinder.
Check out the historic train station (Amtrak)
Waterbury is lucky to be a town with an Amtrak station! The train station serves both Waterbury and Stowe and connects the area to Springfield, Massachusetts, Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut, and of course, NYC. It was built in 1875 and you can read about it at the Great American Stations website.
Get cheesy at the Cabot Creamery Store - Waterbury
The Cabot Creamery Store in Waterbury is open every day from 11 to 5. Rather than being located in Historic Waterbury, it’s further up Route 100 toward Stowe, and past Ben & Jerry’s if you’re coming from the south. This store has all things cheese, with spreads and jams to pair with your cheese, and wines, too!
With Cabot Creamery being such a big name, this store is worth a stop on your Vermont trip (unless you’re lactose intolerant like I am, but I travel with Dan, and he likes cheese!). There are so many cheddar styles, and some higher-end types of cheese from around Vermont as well.
See what everyone’s saying about it at TripAdvisor!
Dine in style at Hen of the Wood
Hen of the Wood is one of the best-known restaurants in the entire state of Vermont. According to Jordan, there is a second location in Burlington, but the one in Waterbury was renovated more recently.
Hen of the Wood is a gorgeous space for fine dining, and is a map star on every foodie’s trip plan. There’s a tasting menu, which is a great way to explore the farm-to-table cuisine. Try it for a romantic evening! Reservations are recommended, if not required.
Buy more beer at Craft Beer Cellar
Craft Beer Cellar is the place in Waterbury to get your beer, and the shop offers world-class beer with Vermont hospitality. All their beers are extensively researched before they get put on the store’s shelves and their “Beer geeks” are certified beer professionals. The selection of local New England craft beers is nothing short of huge.
Eat at Prohibition Pig
Probably the most hands-down popular place to eat in Waterbury, Prohibition Pig is a poppin’ place. It comes in two halves, with a restaurant side and a brewery side. Go for the craft beer, cocktails, outdoor seating, margaritas and specifically, smoked meats. For the atmosphere and quality of the food and drink, the thousands of five-star reviews online are no surprise.
Grab breakfast at K.C.’s Bagel Café
If you are from NY like I am, you may giggle that this cafe in Vermont serves “New York-style bagels.” K.C.’s Bagel Cafe is also a deli: there are sandwiches, wraps, meats, cheeses, soups and baked goods. I am finding their bagel flavor list pretty special, though. If you’re traveling as a vegetarian, this is a good spot to pick up some meals for your day and your hikes.
See live music at Zenbarn
Zenbarn is a cool restaurant and live music event space that is building community in the Waterbury area. The place also hosts weddings and private events. There’s a cozy bar inside, and a “concert menu” that has indulgent items like fried pickles, chicken fingers, “hand-punched French fries” and nachos.
Chill out at Freak Folk Bier
This low-key chilled-out taproom is open every day except Mondays and Tuesdays, and classifies itself as a “fermentation project.” It’s a humble little place, so don’t expect grandeur; that’s the whole charm in a more intimate-style brewery. It’s a minimalist place with great service, and everyone who stops by is glad they came. See more about the story at the website.
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