12 hours in Bennington, Vermont

Big Bennington Moose.jpg
By Mike DiMaio

Time for another summer staycation. You know, when you need a change of scenery, but you've got to be home the same day. But where to? Well if you like scenery, history and ceramic moose you might want to give Bennington a spin.

Bennington Vermont is way closer than everyone thinks it is -- only a 50 minute car trip from Albany. That's it.

And it's got a lot to offer -- even if you're not big on ceramic moose.

Saturday, 8:00am

Hop in the car and head for Route 7 east. You'll drive through the heart of Troy, Brunswick and Hoosick Falls and be in Bennington in time for a great breakfast.

1) BREAKFAST 9:00am

If you ask locals where a great place to eat is they unanimously tell you to eat at the Blue Benn. This old diner car on Hunt Street serves up the good old fashioned greasy spoon fare. Make sure you get there as close to 9 as possible. Any later than that and the wait can get pretty painful. With three plate sized pancakes priced around $5, it lives up to its promise. Just be sure and bring cash. The Blue Benn doesn't take credit cards.

Blue Benn Diner
102 Hunt St
Bennington, VT 05201
Hours: Mon, Tues 6am-5pm; Wed-Fri 6am-8pm; Sat 6am-4pm, Sun 7am-4pm
More Information: (802) 442-5140

2) TO THE MUSEUM 10:30am

Bennington Museum.jpg

At the Bennington Museum you'll walk through the history of not only Bennington but America as well. The place is steeped in Revolutionary War relics, a permanent installation of Grandma Moses paintings, unique antiques, antique cars and works by local artists. It has the feeling of an old church or old schoolhouse, with lots of fun nooks and crannies to peek in.

Make sure to bring some walking shoes because the museum also maintains a nature trail that goes into the beautiful surrounding forest. It's a short hike that is easy enough for little children. You can even pack a light lunch or a snack to enjoy under the pavilion that is part of the trail. And a hike on the trail is free.

75 Main St.
Bennington, VT 05201
Hours: Daily 10am-5pm, Closed Wed, open everyday Sept and Oct
Admission: $9 adults, $8 students and seniors, under 18 free

3) THE BENNINGTON MONUMENT 12:00pm

Bennington Monument.jpg

By now you will have already noticed the big gray 306 foot obelisk on the horizon . So what's this mini-Washington Monument doing here? Commemorating The Battle of Bennington. In August of 1777, the British dispatched a foraging expedition to Bennington but the Benningtonians defeated the troops before they could find any supplies. This defeat forced the British to Saratoga where the defining battle of the American Revolution took place.

There is an elevator that takes you to the top of the monument where you can see Vermont's Green Mountains, Massachusetts' Berkshire Mountains, and New York's forests. There are various other monuments around the base of the main attraction as well as a nifty gift shop.

Bennington Battle Monument
15 Monument Circle
Old Bennington, VT 05201
Hours: Daily, mid-April to October 31, 9am-5pm
Admission: $2 adults, $1 children ages 6-14, children under 5 free

4) LUNCH DOWNTOWN 1:30pm

One of my favorite places to stop for lunch in Bennington is Madison's Brewing Company. It's right in the middle of Main Street and serves a great selection of sandwiches, wraps, burgers and other great lunch food. For the house brew, I recommend the Old 76 (a strong ale) or the Willoughby (a Scottish ale). You can sit at a table but the bar there is always a good place to meet interesting people passing through town.

Madison Brewing Company
428 Main St.
Bennington, VT 05201
(802) 442-7397

If a brewery isn't your bag or you want something lighter and quicker then check out what else downtown has to offer: Izabella's Eatery Alldays and Onions or Lil' Britain Fish and Chip shop.

5) WALK IT OFF WITH SOME SHOPPING 2:30pm

Moose in Bennington.jpg

Bennington isn't all bucolic landscape and historic monuments. There is a bustling downtown that is full of great shops and restaurants- not to mention plenty of ceramic moose. Every year Bennington hosts Moosefest, a fundraiser whose proceeds benefit a local charity. All over town there are various moose decoupaged by artists and sponsored by local businesses - kind of like Saratoga's ceramic horses. There is a moosemap that you can use to find all the moose your heart desires.

Potters Yard Bennington.jpg

There's lots of great non- moose related shopping too. Check out the independent bookshop Bennington Bookshop, Now and Then Books, clothing store Nature's Closet clothing HYPERLINK ", quilting shop Scarlett Creations.

But the biggest shopping draw in Bennington is Bennington Potters. Located a little outside of downtown, but totally walkable, is the 4.5 acres of gardens, shops and ceramic studios. There is no admission so you are free to take a guided tour, walk around the grounds, and poke around in the shop.

Bennington Potters
324 County St
Bennington, VT 05201
More Information (800) 205-8033
Open every day

6) HEAD OUT OF TOWN TO THE COVERED BRIDGE 4:00pm

Schoharie county may have the longest covered bridge in the world but Vermont has plenty of covered bridges to choose from. On your way back out of town you will pass the Bennington Center for the Natural and Cultural Arts which houses the Covered Bridge Museum. It's more than pictures of covered bridges. There are exhibits on history and engineering, a model railroad and computer stations where you can design your own bridge based on what you learned. The whole center is free so you can wander the grounds and look at the wind sculptures, the museum and galleries.

Bennington Center for the Arts
44 Gypsy Lane
Bennington, VT 05201
(802) 442-7158

7) DINNER 5:30pm

The place I'm going to recommend isn't actually in Bennington. It's on the way back home on Route 7 tucked into a bend in the road. The Man of Kent is known as a great British Pub transplanted into Hoosick, NY. The menu is warm and heavy but not too heavy on the wallet. And the beer selection is huge. Families are welcome so if you've got kids, feel free to bring them along. It is a little on the small and popular side so be prepared for a little wait.

Man of Kent
4448 Route 7
Hoosick, NY 12090
(528) 686-9917

8) TO THE BATCAVE 8:00pm

FYI: Bennington is a great day trip, but if you're going during peak foliage season, be prepared, the drive out Route 7 can slow down quite a bit.


Comments

Robert Frost's grave is in the graveyard of the church above the Bennington Museum (also very near the Bennington Monument). It's easy to find, and it's a beautiful area, especially this time of year.

Love the Blue Benn! Carmody's has great burgers, too.

Bennington does make a very fun day trip-- it's a lovely town with a lot to offer. But I noticed something's missing from this posting: maple sugar candy. It's rampant and tasty up there. I've made trips to Bennington just to satisfy a craving. I'd recommend slipping it into the 9A, 1:30P, and 5:30P time slots.

Don't forget a quick trip on the way out of Bennington to the Smoker's Den to stock up on McNeil's ale, as the lazy bastard won't bring it to NY.

Either that, or keep driving on Route 9 for another hour to the 'clothing optional' city of Brattleboro and hit up McNeils there!

There's also a huge confectionery on the way to Bennington, but I can't remember the name of it. We always stop there and load up on sweets. Just up the road on the other side from the confectionery, there's a little gift shop/cafe that has cute vermonty things for sale, and great soups and sandwiches.

Bennington is a cool town but forget all those restaurants and stop by the hot dog stand that sits on Route 7 just as you get into town. The guy who runs it is a hoot and told me that living in Albany was the worst three years of his whole life. This man was in jail for a few years.
Also if you go to Man of Kent, sit at the bar because the service is unbelievably bad. Great beers though.

I live in Hoosick Falls and eat at the Man of Kent every Friday night with my family. I'm very pleased to see you mention it here. It's an excellent little pub with great food and an even greater beer selection. I recommend the Young's Double Chocolate Stout or the Xingu Black. If you enjoy dark beers, such as myself, these will certainly be up your alley. If not, they have dozens of other beers to chose from so you'll always find something to fit your preference. I like to experiment and get a different one (or two or three) every time I'm there.

If you don't mind me plugging my employer, make sure to stop by Hemmings Motor News as well. We have a free classic car museum in addition to the gift store/service station. Just make sure to call ahead for hours for the museum.

As for breakfast, lately I'm digging Full Bellies right on Main Street. A little more homey and rarely as crowded.

The hot dog stand is awesome! The guy has a little picnic table, and chatting with him is awesome too, he's got some good stories!

Hemmings is a great stop, especially the cruise-in's during the summer. My daughter loves the popcorn wagon.

We live east of the Hudson, so for us it's an even shorter 30-35 minute drive. It's not unusual for us to get home after a long day and decide to take an impromptu trip to Bennington just to enjoy a nice drive and a beautiful setting.

Hint: the maple walnut cookies at that huge antique/wine/souvenir/crafts shop on the right just before you enter town...those are a must.

Our map that gives descriptions and locations of Vermont covered bridges is available at the Covered Bridge Museum.

I may as well mention that eating at the Blue Benn isn't always as "clean" as one may prefer! I ate there for lunch once, ordered the buffalo chicken wrap, and found a long, coarse, curly hair in the wrap! Yea, never eating lunch there again. What I recommend instead is "Your Belly's Deli" which is located on Pleasant St., right behind Main st. They have a wonderful array of sandwiches, wraps... and boy are they delicious! But, of course if it's summertime do Jimmy Joe and yourself a favor by getting a hot dog at his cart which is located across from Citizen's Bank on Main St. around noon in the summer. As someone pointed out before he is certainly a character, and in a bad way sometimes... but his hot dogs and kielbasa (w/kraut) are to die for.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR WONDERFUL COMMENTS!

BUT I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN PRISON....

I SAID THAT THE 3 WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE WERE SPENT IN ALBANY ...AND i wasn't there in jail ;)

thank you, thank you, thank you for your wonderful endorsements and i'm tickled that you find me to be a "hoot" (sometimes naughty)....

i've got some more stories when you visit again....

thanks,


jim carroll...(aka Jimmy-Joe)

After spending 4 years living in Bennington (I attended Bennington College), I have a few to throw in as well.

Better (in my opinion), and certainly closer than the Man of Kent is Kevin's in North Bennington. Great burgers and beer on tap. Easy on the wallet too. Also check out Power's Market which has been there for over 175 years. I recommend the Avacado Special.

The Vermont Arts Exchange in North Bennington also has rotating exhibits and a very cool studio space.

Most events at Bennington College are free and open to the public. You may be able to catch a great concert, gallery exhibit, or performance. Check out their events calendar at www.bennington.edu.

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