The National Trust is participating in the 2012 Pacifico Beer summer promotion, Make Adventure Happen, in which we are competing for a portion of $100,000 based on the number of votes we receive (voting instructions at the end of the post).
To raise awareness for the contest, we've partnered with five preservation fans to highlight "Preservation Adventures" in cities and states across America -- the second of which is from Kaitlin O'Shea of Montpelier, Vermont.
Kaitlin writes the blog Preservation in Pink, which is one of the Trust staff's favorite preservation-related blogs out there! According to her bio, she "loves a good preservation conversation complemented with a strong cup of coffee and accented by flamingos." Who doesn't?
First things first: how many of you know the capital of Vermont thanks to that 1990s Cheerios commercial?
Nestled in central Vermont’s Green Mountains along the Winooski River and the historic Central Vermont Railway, Montpelier is beautiful year-round. An entire day’s itinerary can be within walking distance in this city filled with Vermont character, locally-owned businesses and eateries and architecturally picturesque and historic streetscapes; Montpelier is the perfect place for a traveling preservationist. Though more bustling during the work week or when the legislature is in session, the weekends show no shortage of residents and visitors.
1. Eat, Stroll, and Shop on State and Main
Begin on State and Main Streets -- the heart of Montpelier’s historic commercial district, where you'll find restaurants, cafes, retail shops, and professional offices housed in the colorful historic building blocks.
Grab breakfast and a cup of coffee at the Coffee Corner diner or at Capitol Grounds Café & Roastery (free wifi!), or enjoy a more leisurely breakfast at Kismet. Once you’re caffeinated and fueled, you’ll be ready to browse the practical and quirky stores nearby. Whether you’re looking for used books, new books, stationery, antiques, toys, new clothes, vintage clothes, outdoor gear, house wares, jewelry, candy, pet toys, groceries, hardware, pharmacies – you can find it all in downtown Montpelier.
As you’re browsing the stores, do yourself a preservation favor and look up: turn your eyes to the ceilings of the building interiors as well as beyond the first story of the exterior. There's always something interesting to see above your line of sight.
2. Lunch & a tour of the Vermont State House
Grab lunch from one of the many options on State and Main (try Pinky’s for a good sandwich). If you’re visiting during the week, there are likely to be many street vendors near State and Elm Streets.
On a Saturday, swing by the farmers’ market. If the weather is nice, get lunch to go and head down State Street to the 1859 Vermont State House. Montpelier has been the capital since 1805, but this Greek Revival building is actually the third state house -- the first two were lost to fires. The granite steps or the green lawn are both perfect places to pause for lunch on a warm day.
After lunch, head inside the State House for a tour, guided or self-guided. With its granite columns and steps, interior marble floors and plasterwork, the State House is a breathtaking. The house and senate chambers -- the oldest in the country -- are remarkably intact.
3. Bridges, Houses, and Parks
After lunch, a tour, and maybe resting again on the State House lawn, take to exploring. However you like to enjoy the scenery and outdoors, you have options. If you prefer walking neighborhoods for the architectural entertainment, you’re in luck. Montpelier’s neighborhoods can keep you entertained for hours. Research some walking tours to get you started.
The recreation path along the river brings you across and adjacent to the many truss bridges of Montpelier, including the 1929 Taylor Street Bridge, a steel parker through truss, which was recently rehabilitated. The path on Stone Cutters Way will take you along the rail line, through the industrial section of town, with signage along the route about Montpelier’s rail and granite industry history. Visit the historic 1907 rail turntable, a small park on Stone Cutters Way. Further down the street are the Hunger Mountain Coop and the Granite Street truss bridge.
Or, if you seek some peace, quiet, and nature, walk (though you might prefer to bike or drive) to Hubbard Park for miles of trails through the forested park, recreation fields and a stone observation tower. Hubbard Park is about 194 acres, 125 of which were gifted to the City of Montpelier in 1899.
4. Take in Dinner and a Show
After all that sightseeing and walking, you'll be ready for some evening entertainment. You can catch a live show at the Lost Nation Theater in the 1909 City Hall or a movie at the Capitol Theater (which has a great neon sign).
You have your choice of many nearby restaurants -- a short walk and you’re sure to find something you like. Try Sarducci’s in a former grain storage building, Positive Pie, or Julio’s Cantina, both in the historic building blocks on State Street. Following the show, grab a drink at one of the local establishments, where you’re sure to find locally brewed Vermont beer or a good glass of wine.
Historic buildings, excellent natural scenery, local coffee and food, shopping, good entertainment -- all in a city that is livable and walkable? Preservationists, come visit Montpelier. You’ll love it!
You can support our preservation work by voting daily at www.PacificoAdventure.com. A contest code is required to vote -- codes are available on specially marked packages of Pacifico beer, in bars and restaurants, by texting 23000, or by clicking “GET CODE" online.
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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.