If you are heading to central Vermont between now and Christmas try to stop by the capitol city of Montpelier for a couple of hours of shopping and relaxing. Montpelier’s classic New England downtown is certainly the antithesis of the shopping mall Christmas experience. There are no chain stores or chain restaurants here. Instead, Montpelier offers an eclectic mix of book sellers, handmade crafts and jewelry boutiques, organic clothing, wearable art, vintage collectibles, and independent coffee shops, diners and restaurants. For teens, equipped with cell phones and a buddy, Montpelier is small enough that mom and dad can turn them loose to browse and shop on their own for a couple of hours.
We found ourselves Christmas shopping in Montpelier,VT on Black Friday (dubbed Flannel Friday as part of a local holiday promotion). The horsedrawn wagon rides, cheerful sales people, and snow covered countryside made us feel like we had stepped into a modern day Currier and Ives print. Mom and dad enjoyed browsing the unique ornaments, pottery, textiles and jewelry at the Artisan’s Hand and picking up Vermont chocolates, maple syrup and tee shirts at Capitol Stationers . We also took a break for lunch at Sarducci’s, which specializes in Italian food.
The teens got their lunch at Village Pizza and had some fun checking out the wearable art at the Cheshire Cat. We all spent a fair amount of time browsing and buying at Bear Pond Books too. It is everything a small town bookstore should be.
The Montpelier Alive downtown business association is working hard this holiday season to provide a number of family friendly activities to encourage shoppers to spend time shopping on Main Street instead of at the mall. Free wagon rides are available from 11-3 on Saturday Dec 3, 10 and 17. Santa arrives along with the tree lighting on the evening of Dec 3rd. A holiday themed Art Walk with dressed up windows and live mannequins is planned for 4-8 pm on Friday Dec. 9th and a family movie is planned for the morning of Dec 11th.
The holiday fun in Montpelier keeps going all the way to New Years Eve where the annual First Night Montpelier celebration is one of our favorites. If you are in the area don’t miss the chance to let your teens and tweens explore and spend a few bucks to support these wonderful and unique local businesses.