My family and I recently finished a working vacation in Windsor. We had a great time, and it got me thinking that you don’t have to have family in Windsor to go there and have a great vacation. Here are some ideas for how you could happily spend a weekend in Windsor, Vermont.
Start off the morning with a stroll around Main Street. Start at the Inn at Windsor (106 Apothecary Lane, Windsor) and wind your way down to the Constitution House . Windsor was the first state capital in Vermont and the first constitution of the state was signed there. Many of the buildings you’ll encounter have been restored and preserved. Of particular interest are the Congregational Church , Inn at Windsor, the Evarts and Cox Houses , Snapdragon Inn and Constitution House.
The Windsor Station Pub. Each location will provide you with a great dose of an American institution, the local diner. Don’t forget to have a piece of pie. Relax with a stroll around Lake Runnemede From the lakeshore, you can view several properties in Windsor, including the Juniper Hill Inn.
For dinner, try Windsor Station Pub. The restaurant is housed in the former train depot building. And if you time your dinner right, you’ll be able to hear and see the train roll by on it’s way to and from Montreal. You can’t help but feel the history of the railroad and appreciate it’s importance to Windsor and the Upper Valley.
My family and I spent a delightful afternoon learning so much about Windsor’s contribution to American industry and art.
First we started at the American Precision Museum. It boasts a delightful collection of antique machines. Through the well organized displays, families can learn about the discoveries and technologies that were developed in Windsor that pushed the industrial revolution forward. There is a small area where kids can touch some machines, including an old fashioned typewriter that was the favorite attraction for our 5 year old daughter.
Next we drove a short two minutes to the old Winsdor Fire Station building to the Cornish Colony Art Museum. We were lead on a tour of the current exhibit by a very friendly and knowledgeable guide who custom fit the tour to a family with three young daughters. The collection of Maxfield Parrish art and artifacts from other Colony artists is fantastic. We really gained an appreciation for the process involved in creating some of America’s finest artwork.
Our next destination was the Simon Pearce and glass blowing factory. This is about a 5 minute drive from the art museum. The whole family thoroughly enjoyed standing just a few feet away from a pair of glassblowers as they worked. Their skill and teamwork were artistic all on their own, never mind the stunning glass bowls they were crafting. You can also go upstairs to visit a large showroom that includes seconds, if you are in the market for some slightly less than perfect pottery or glass. There is also a catwalk on the second floor so you can walk above the glass blowing operation and watch it from another point of view. And best of all, it’s FREE. Unless you buy something spectacular as a souvenir! The pottery building is also open for tourists to enjoy watching craftsmanship of another kind.
Windsor Vermont Mercantile. The kids had been so great all day that we rewarded them with a stop at the candy counter. Giant apothecary jars are filled with all kinds of goodies for kids to fill their own bags (with Mom and Dad’s help). I recommend the Lake Champlain chocolates for grown up tastes. Take a few minutes to peruse the fantastic line of home products at this modern version of the old-fashioned general store.
St. Gaudens National Historic Site
Pack a picnic and wear your hiking shoes. St. Gaudens is just over the river from Windsor in Cornish, NH. You’ll get to cross the largest covered bridge in the United States in order to get there. I can’t possibly explain all there is to see at St. Gaudens, so check out their website, it lists all the activities and tours for you to experience. We took the 28 minute Aspet tour, then wandered through the Little Studio, took a hike down the Ravine Trail to the Temple, then wandered through the New Gallery. We didn’t even make it to the Visitors Center. Next time we go, we plan to have a picnic near one of the gardens or just on the lawn in front of the Little Studio. Beautiful views of Mt. Ascutney are all around.
Paradise Park for dinner and roasting of s’mores. Paradise Park was created by the Evarts family of Windsor, which treasured their town and wanted others to enjoy it as well.
In winter, Ascutney Ski Area is located a mere 10 minutes outside Windsor. So if you want the skiing without the hustle and bustle of a resort, the Snapdragon Inn would be an ideal location for your stay.
Windsor is full of New England charm and American history. It’s located centrally to other historic and scenic destinations such as Hanover, NH (about 20-25 minutes and home to Dartmouth College) and Woodstock, VT (home of the Billings Farm and Museum and the Woodstock Inn). It’s a beautiful town that would make a great destination to get away from it all and truly experience New England living.