Brattleboro has a unique mix of three distinct groups. It’s almost as if the town was formed by a family-friendly committee, liberal artists, and the LGBTQ community. The committee got together, debated for a few minutes of which direction they should go in, and then mutually decided just to let all three coexist in perfect harmony. Well, that’s my fictional accounting of the story anyway.
It’s a town as quirky as Portland, Oregon, which also seems to have a subconscious spiritual connection to Sedona, Arizona.
And beyond those cultural descriptors, It’s a tow n with more resources than could be expected. Most cities of this size are lucky to have a diner or two. Still, Brattleboro has a multicultural restaurant of nearly every variety and many farm-to-table establishments. They have selections like Dosa Indian and Indian Masala to excellent pub fare at Whetstone Station. Whetstone seems to be the standard in town where all the locals go and is the example of typical Brattleboro where you find bar food and dozens of beers on tap and great burgers. This town is unbelievably multi-cultural and diverse and has so many more options than standard diner fare.
Finally, there’s its location. Looking at Vermont’s map, it’s tucked away far in the bottom right. As if somebody threw it onto the map in a haphazard afterthought to find Brattleboro a home. This location has a particular advantage as Brattleboro’s driving distance from everywhere in the Northeast is super convenient- 2 1/2 hours to Boston, three hours to New York, and an hour and a half to direct flights right out of Hartford Connecticut.
Now let’s get down to specifics…
We stayed at the Latchis Hotel and theater, constructed in 1938, which retains its character and charm from that era. It is a highlight of art deco architecture that will leave you in awe the longer you stare at it. The hotel is a piece of history, including elements like a record player in most rooms. The Latchis has a vast collection of vinyl to choose from, and we enjoyed looking through the collection. While retaining its old-school charm, the rooms include modern amenities, including USBs everywhere and excellent wifi.
In the lobby, you’ll find hotel manager Jonathan’s dog Biff. Biff runs the hotel and will nudge you for a hug and a cuddle. At times, they’ve discovered Biff in various guest rooms cuddling with the kids. How adorable is that?
Adjacent to the hotel is the original Latchis theater. Following that art deco theme, it is filled with Greek statues reflecting the original Latchis owners’ Greek heritage. Seeing a film here is a unique experience in itself.
They have box office movies, but they also allow for private theater rentals where you can bring your DVDs or blu rays as well. Fortunately, the pricing also follows that old-school mentality. It is well worth it to consider visiting for a weekend of movies because the savings on the ticket prices alone make it worth it. They recently added a feature where they offer private gaming hours where you can play on the big screen—playing Super Mario Bros. Mario Kart in this larger than eye format was exhilarating and possibly a bit emotionally overwhelming for the kids!
The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Brattleboro, and we spent many hours walking around visiting its unique shops. Brattleboro seems to have more antique shops, bookstores, and coffee shops than your average downtown of its size. Secondhand clothing shops such as “Boomerang” are highlights and well worth a visit. Certainly a better deal than running to the local mainstream store.
Breakfast each morning at The Works was a mandatory requirement as we love this place. Yes, it’s the type of coffee shop you can sit in for hours, full of culinary choices like ancient grains and locally raised products. And like everything in town, it is ridiculously affordable compared to the big city. The bagels here seriously put up stiff competition for those in New York.
In town, the art scene is alive and flourishing. Harmony Collective is an art collective where we met Ruth Schafer, who was kind enough to make custom art for the kids. The entire Harmony Creative world was filled with local artists supporting the local communities, with Ruth as one example.
But by far, the highlight with the kid as well as my wallet was Beadniks. I don’t even understand the economic business model, and I’m hoping they don’t realize how terrible it might seem! I mean, they are charging 5, 10, or 20 cents a bead. Not only was this a good purchase, but a great activity for the kids that I never saw before. They help you choose the beads; they talk about the beads and assemble the beads into a piece of jewelry. For less than five bucks, you have the option of letting your kid go wild in terms of choosing beads, and they’re pretty happy.
In less than a few minutes, you have all of the quaint wonders that make Vermont excellent outside of town. A few minutes drive north, and you’re at the West Dummerston Covered Bridge, an impressive wooden bridge built in 1872 and just makes for an adorable rest along the river.
Along the way, you can stop at the Grafton Village Cheese Company to stock up on sundries to make the most typical Vermont picnic filled with cheeses and local wines/ciders. A great store with essentially all of the foods you’d expect to pick up in Vermont.
Brattleboro is one of those cities that you can’t help but want to return and visit. Some towns are essentially one-visit towns, but Brattleboro seems to call you back. You’ll visit and want to follow the social media pages just to come back for the next big event or new restaurant opening. If you’re into towns like Sedona and love New England, then you’ll be wanting to visit Brattleboro.