Montpelier Vermont

Montpelier Vermont is the smallest, most down-to-earth state capital in all the United States. With a population under 10,000, Montpelier Vermont is a typical small New England town that just happens to be the state capital. It retains a friendly small-town atmosphere without any of the self-importance usually associated with a center of government.

Montpelier Vermont centers on two main roads. Most of the government buildings are situated on State Street; stores and restaurants line Main Street. The New England Culinary Institute is based in Montpelier Vermont and former students have established many of the better restaurants in the town. There are several excellent hotels on both streets and from a base in Montpelier travel to any part of northern Vermont is quick and easy.

The most famous of all Montpelier Vermont attractions is the Vermont State House at 115 State Street. The Vermont legislator has sat in Montpelier since 1805, early in Vermont history, and the current capitol dates to 1859. (Two previous buildings on the same site were destroyed; one by fire, the other by disgruntled legislators). Set against a picturesque backdrop of forested hills, the gold-domed State House was modeled after the temple of Theseus in Athens. The granite that makes up the impressive columns (6 feet in diameter) was quarried in nearby Barre. The interior of the building was renovated in the mid-1990s, but most of the original furnishings are intact. Guided tours of the State House are offered every half hour on Monday through Saturday through the summer months (late June to mid-October). Self guided tours are a year-round option.

Outside the capitol building is another of the best-known Montpelier Vermont attractions: the statue of Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys militia in the early years of Vermont history.

The Montpelier Vermont attractions continue just down the street from the State House at the Vermont Historical Society (109 State Street). Intriguing artifacts and displays in the Vermont Museum on the first floor of the historical society include the last panther shot in Vermont and a gun once owned by Ethan Allen. The museum is open year-round Tuesday through Sunday for a small entrance fee.

From Montpelier travel to nearby Barre (pronounced Barry) takes just a few minutes. The town is famous for its granite industry, which once attracted stone workers from as far as Italy and Scotland (there is a statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns). Visitors are welcome at the Rock of Ages granite quarry, one of the largest in the world. This is well worth a visit: the huge canyon left by years of stone removal has been compared to the Grand Canyon and a scene from Dante’s Inferno.

Montpelier Vermont is also near to New England’s ice cream Mecca: the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury. Tours of the factory and cheap and fun and visitors are rewarded by a free sample at the end of the tour. The town of Cabot (home of the famous cheese) is also a short drive away.

There are several excellent hotels in Montpelier, including the historic Inn at Montpelier, which dates from the early 1800s. The town is located near Interstate 89 and is on a main train line, so to Montpelier travel is convenient and easy. It is also one of the closest major towns to Stowe Mountain Resort. Unlike many state capitals, Montpelier Vermont is well worth a visit.

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